Startup goTenna is accepting pre sales of their new device that is intended to bridge the gap between cell and satellite phones.
The device is a 2 ounce wand that communicates with your smartphone via bluetooth to transmit via low frequency radio waves to other users of the device. The range can be a mile in urban areas, 9 miles in the outdoors and up to 50 miles in the mountains.
Conceived after cell towers went down during Hurricane sandy, the device is intended to give an alternate option for communicating when there's no cellular service available without the expense of a satellite service.
You use an app installed on your smartphone to send out text messages and GPS coordinates to others within range. Certainly not a replacement for surfing the web while off the grid, but can certainly help in a pinch.
For us RVers, this might be handy when camped out in the boonies and during festivals like Burning Man, to keep in touch with others or get out an SOS.
Of course the downside, the usability of the product is only as good as how many people own the device and are using it within range of you. It's definitely an interesting concept to keep an eye on to see if strikes a cord with the market.
Pre-orders are priced at $149 for a pair of devices for the first 50,000 sales. Regular price will be $299 per pair. Which does seem a little discriminatory towards solo travelers.