New company goTenna has developed an off-the-grid communication device that pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth LE to enable you to send and receive encrypted text messages (up to 160 characters) and share GPS locations with other goTenna users without the need for cell or satellite service.
In addition to enabling you to communicate with others within 32 mile range depending on terrain (via a 2-watt (max power allowed) radio transmitting in the 151–154 MHz band), it also lets you create your own networks with other individuals or with specific groups. Very similar to the Uepaa! app in Europe, goTenna allows for a “shout” message to go out to everyone in range if an emergency arises. Each network is totally private so there isn’t any interference or overlap (like what you might experience with a walkie-talkie).
After the goTenna Apple or Android App is set up and the device is paired to your phone, it is ready to be used, even with the phone in airplane mode. Its rugged molded nylon and metal hardshell is weather-resistant and easily attaches to your backpack or other gear. The lithium-ion battery can be recharged with any micro-USB cable.
At $149.99 per pair and no subscription fees, goTenna is less expensive than traditional satellite phones or messengers.
Thoughts on this one? I can see it as a fun device to have to communicate with a large group of people if you should get separated or to communicate with people out of shouting range, much like you would a two-way radio. The company has raised almost $2M dollars to date, so clearly someone saw a market for the device. I am also curious to see how this works in a real-world environment as normally a 2-watt radio will only reach about 10 miles maximum in perfect conditions.