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goTenna just made your off-the-grid communication better

goTenna communication tool
goTenna communication tool
Photo courtesy of goTenna

Are you heading out to the backcountry and not quite sure how you’ll stay in contact with friends meeting you there without a satellite phone, Wi-Fi or cell towers? What if there was a device that not only didn’t take much space on your pack but also enabled you to communicate without any need for central connectivity whatsoever? The goTenna device does just that when you wirelessly pair it to your smartphone.

How it works is pretty simple. The goTenna device needs to be within 20 feet of your phone so the two can communicate with each other. Use the free goTenna app to type out a text message or share a location. Your smartphone will send the message to your goTenna, which will then shoot it out, via long-range radio waves, to the intended goTenna(s). The same thing happens at the other end in reverse: the recipient goTenna sends your message over Bluetooth-LE to the smartphone app it’s paired with. This all happens within a matter of milliseconds.

The goTenna will transmit to any goTenna user within range. The range you can expect greatly depends on your geography. Calculated ranges using industry-standard RF propagation calculators, assuming ideal conditions, came up with a range of anywhere from 27 to 50.5 miles. Elevating the goTenna increases the range drastically. Your range improves if you externally attach it to your backpack or gear as well. You can also create your own network with other individuals or specific groups with the goTenna device that allow for a “shout” message to go out to everyone within range if an emergency arises. Each network is completely private so there isn’t any interference or overlap.

The goTenna is compatible with both iOS and Android. Encrypted text messages (up to 160 characters) and GPS locations can be shared with other goTenna users. The device is made of rugged molded nylon and metal hard shell that is water resistant and easily attaches to gear. The lithium-ion battery power supply can be recharged with any micro-USB cable.

The goTenna is an alternative to expensive field radios or satellite phones that can cost more than $1,000. At $149.99 for a pair and no subscription fees, you can save a significant amount of money. This resilient device will start shipping in late fall 2014, so pre-order yours now!

For more information on goTenna, please visit http://static.gotenna.com/.