GoTenna, which created an off-the-grid communication device of the same name that earned our Editors' Choice, is rolling out a new product—the GoTenna Mesh.
Where the first GoTenna product was able to carry out point-to-point communication using VHF (Very High Frequency) radio, the new product can set up a long-range, consumer-ready mesh network.
"We're addressing something bigger than just unreliable service," says GoTenna co-founder and CEO Daniela Perdomo. Mesh differs from the first generation GoTenna, which is limited to sending a message between two individuals or a select group of users within range of each other. The Mesh operates on a different frequency, selecting publicly available frequencies on the UHF spectrum. This allows it to be sold internationally, since it isn't subject to the same regulations that hampered some aspects of the first GoTenna.
The Mesh can also send one-to-one messages with text and GPS over long range, but most importantly, it can use a technique known as store and forward to create a mesh network and extend range. So the more GoTenna Mesh users there are, the stronger the network range and connectivity will be, increasing what people can do while remaining a compact, off-the-grid device with no fixed nodes.
Perdomo talked up "people-powered connectivity" that runs in tandem with traditional communications infrastructure. "We're set on redefining communication based on need as opposed to access, and with GoTenna Mesh, we're one step closer to achieving this on a larger scale," she said. "It starts being useful when you don't have service, but we believe mesh networking of this kind will soon be a part of the everyday communication stack."
The GoTenna Mesh will have dynamic protocols, allowing it to react to network changes in real time, provide delivery confirmations, and support end-to-end encryption for chats, both one-to-one and for groups. Public "shout" broadcasts will also be able to contact all Mesh users nearby.
Most intriguingly, the Mesh can use people as a relay, so if you have a group of Mesh users, and one of them has outside network connectivity, other Mesh owners can use them to contact emergency services, something the previous GoTenna couldn't do.
Like the first-generation GoTenna, the Mesh pairs with any Android or iOS device, and centers around the same GoTenna app, which should automatically detect which GoTenna device you have. The GoTenna SDK will also be made available, allowing additional functionality, such as sending pictures, video, and voice clips in small bursts of data.
Finally, GoTenna Plus is a $9.99 per year subscription service launching alongside the Mesh, allowing users to take advantage of special features like topographic maps, trip statistics, automated location tracking, sharing with trusted contacts, group delivery confirmation, and network relays into traditional SMS.
The GoTenna Mesh will be available for pre-order on Kickstarter. A pair of Mesh devices will initially set you back $139, but that will rise to $179 after 30 days.