I recently came across a relatively interesting device on the Internet which is called GoTenna. What it is goTenna mesh and how popular and useful is this tool.
In fact, I had some doubts to write or not about it, but seeing how popular GoTenna is in the search engine, I decided to make my own short review. Honestly, I never have this device and know about it just theoretically. Even more, I am not sure I ever need this kind of communication tool, but who knows?
Well, the basic concept of goTenna it to turn your smartphone into an off-grid (off-the-grid is a system and lifestyle designed to help people function without the support of remote infrastructure, such as an electrical grid. In electricity, off-grid can be stand-alone power system or mini-grids typically to provide a smaller community with electricity) communications tool, enabling you to text and share GPS locations on detailed offline maps, no service required.
Sounds Great. Isn’t it?
The coolest words in this phrase I guess is „no service required.“ By words „no service“ I mean free of charge. No mobile network towers, routers and communication satellites required!
Only you need is a smartphone and goTenna mesh stick. Even more, your phone can be switched to Airplane mode to reduce power consumption and at the same time be in touch with other mesh network members.
How it is possible.
I will not overwrite already written stories and facts by Kickstarter gulls and guys just the basic features and my conclusions about given project.
What can I do with this device?
Communicate by text messages with other goTenna users and sharing your geographical position. In some specific situations when any of goTenna Mesh devices are in the range of cellphone network your message can be forwarded to other contacts accordingly.
How it works.
Download free app for Android or iOS device.
Pair goTenna Mesh to smartphones via Bluetooth low energy.
One watt UHF (ultra high frequency) radio (tunes to frequencies & power permissible in your region) goTenna mesh stick will transmit and receive the 160 characters text message or GPS offline map position to your smartphone.
Communication range varies depending on environment and weather conditions from 1 to 3 miles (1.6-4.8 km). I even found a statement of a 15-mile range. Theoretically and even in real life, it is possible as I use VHF radio in my day job and in specific weather conditions I can hear Stockholm Radio 270 miles away from Riga.
Where can goTenna be used?
When traveling overseas, spending time outdoors, attending a crowded event, or preparing for an emergency, etc. whenever cellular network or WiFi is not reachable.
It can be useful if there is a whole network of such devices. Each goTenna mesh device is powered by incredible networking protocols which privately relay messages through other users. Range depends on the number of users.
Have I ever had a situation where such kind of communication has been irreplaceable or very beneficial? Beneficial regarding money, yes, but today this is not relevant anymore in the European Union as common cellular costs are implemented. Honestly, I can not remember a situation when my cell phone has lost the signal. The exception is high seas, but even then, your boat has to be located at least 30 nautical miles offshore to be out of GSM coverage. I do not think that in sailing mode goTenna is a smart communication solution.
Do I need this device?
I’m not sure if I’ll buy a pair for almost $ 200, but if I get them for free, then perhaps it’s possible to use it when having fun on skiing or ice fishing adventures.
The first I wondering when came across the goTenna mesh, why not using walkie-talkie instead? It is free as well, and VHF radio prices are the same or even less.
Here is an answer phrase from Kickstarter FAQ section
„goTenna Mesh enables you to intelligently relay your messages through other users to get to your recipient(s) when they are out of point-to-point range. This makes it more likely your messages will get through in difficult situations, and creates a network that gets stronger the more people join it. And not to worry: this all happens automatically and privately.
In addition, goTenna Mesh offers many features walkie-talkies cannot, including message delivery confirmation, the ability to create private groups and 1-to-1 chats, and the ability to share GPS locations on free, detailed offline maps. Plus: You never have to worry about channels or interference!“
The only considerable dissatisfaction I have found in forums is Tax issue for European customers. This is the USA product, and customs tax have to be paid abroad. Not always for customs officers is clear what is the price of a device. Either it is printed too small or cannot be found at all what could lead to high custom tax fees.
Despite the fact that I’m not likely to be the owner of this device, this is another independent mean of communication with their range of users and fans.