We’re so used to being constantly “connected” now that it can be frustrating when you see that “No Service” message at the top of your phone.
But what if you’re lost on a camping trip? Or your texts to teenagers keep showing “not delivered” at a crazy-crowded amusement park? Or if you’re trying to meet up with your ride home at the end of a music festival, and can’t reach them? That frustrating “No Service” moment can become downright scary.
GoTenna is a new device that is trying to solve those issues by connecting you to others, and allowing you to message and share your location with others who have the gadget whether there’s a signal or not. It bills itself as a “high-tech buddy system” and there are lots of situations, like the ones described above, where I could see it coming in really handy.
How does it work? Pair your GoTenna with the iPhone or Android app via Bluetooth (like other wearables or speakers you might be familiar with), and have your buddy do the same. Then each GoTenna uses WHF radio waves to send text messages and GPS location information to the other, and the app relays the message. It’s like your own network that lets you communicate without cell service or Wifi.
With just one very specific, limited function, though, is GoTenna worth the investment ($200 for a pair, $389 for a family pack of four)? Let us break down the pros and cons of its functionality and features:
- If you’re in a situation where service is spotty often, it could really save you. It pairs with your phone via Bluetooth and uses radio waves that will connect you to others with GoTennas within about four to five miles in open environments.
- It’s small and light. The design is compact and almost even chic, with a strap you can use to easily fasten it onto your bag.
- The battery can last more than 24 hours on standby, so you’ll be protected on travel adventures like long hikes or climbs (although it will be exhausted faster if you’re using the device to send messages a lot).
- It only works if the people you’re trying to reach also have it, which is why it’s sold in pairs.
- When using it, you can only send messages or share your location. Don’t think of it as a replacement for cell service: you can’t send photos, make calls, or use your apps. You’ll just be able to communicate with other GoTennas within the specific app.
- In congested environments, the distance it works at is significantly reduced. GoTenna says in a city, for example, the top of the range may only be a half to one mile, so if you lost service during an emergency in a crowded place, you’d have to be fairly close to another person using one for it to work.
In the end, it’s probably a smart device for adventurers and others who find themselves in these specific situations often, or for a family who’s experimenting with letting teenagers roam free… but wants some high tech strings attached.
What do you think? Are there situations where you could see yourself utilizing the GoTenna? Share with me in the comments!