goTenna addresses the need for off-grid communication when you need it. It is a small, rugged device that pairs wirelessly with your smartphone and attaches to your gear. It works anywhere on the planet, regardless of whether a cell signal or Wi-Fi is available.
Users can text and share locations, even when Wi-Fi and cell service is unavailable.
The device was launched last year after passing regulatory hurdles and, several iterations were released based on beta testing.
The Brooklyn based start-up says this technology is reliable, even when centralized communications infrastructure is not.
The idea for goTenna came during Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.
A quarter of cell towers were unavailable and power and Internet went down.
Millions of people across the 10-state area affected by the storm were unable to communicate when they needed to most.
Founders (and siblings) Daniela and Jorge Perdomo realized that people needed to be able to communicate without relying on cell service or Wi-Fi.
Even if you are not in an emergency situation, you might need your phone: hiking in remote areas, traveling abroad, attending music or sporting events.
The product aims to become a part of everyone's technology essentials. The start-up wants to reduce our reliance on cell towers and Wi-Fi routers.
It aims to provide anyone the ability to create a network on their own terms, anywhere in the world, free from charges or fees.
The device is not only for when you are actually off-grid, but whenever you want to go off-grid - wherever you are. The device is private ensuring no spying, snooping or prying.
The antenna allows you to send and receive text messages for free and share locations on detailed offline maps. It gives users the ability to instantly transmit within range, have 1-to-1 and group messaging
It also delivers "Shout broadcasts" to anyone who happens to be within range of the device. It has end-to-end encryption with 224-bit elliptic curve and is compatible and interoperable with iOS & Android devices.
To activate the device, pull the antenna out of the housing and wirelessly pair to your iOS or Android device by Bluetooth.
goTenna is sold in pairs so you can stay connected to at least one friend using the device.
It has a two watt radio, flash memory to store hundreds of messages and weighs under two ounces.
After bootstrapping its way through its first year, the company raised a round of venture capital in late 2013.
Its product launched for pre-order in summer 2014, and started shipping to customers in fall 2015.
The company has been awarded government grants to provide the product to beneficiaries who live in areas that are vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change.
For me, goTenna would be fabulous when I am out of the country skiing, and lose contact with the rest of the group. I would never miss out on the après ski again. This is such a great device for keeping in touch wherever you happen to be.
With the patchy cell coverage in my area right now I hope it becomes much more widely available across the world - especially in problem areas. It could save lives.