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Survival Cool Product Pick: Brooklyn Born goTenna Turns your Smart Phone into an Intelligent Walkie


goTenna, a small two way long distance radio communications device, can be used with a smart phone when cell phone service is down.

Ah yes, necessity is the mother of invention. In Fall 2012 Super Storm Sandy wreaked havoc in NYC and power and communications systems failed. During the crisis two frustrated Brooklynites decided that if there was a next time, instead of sitting in the dark, unable to talk with others cut off grid, they would be more prepared.

Siblings Daniela and Jorge Perdomo invented goTenna, a clever, two way long distance radio communications device, which can be used with a smart phone when cell phone service is down. goTenna can communicate with anyone else in range that has a goTenna transmitter. It is sleek, rugged and will work on all Apple devices running iOS7 or above, and on Android smartphones running 4.x or above.

Gotenna Close up.jpg

The goTenna can fit in the palm of your hand and makes your smart phone into a smart walkie talkie that send texts and messages and geolocations of users who need to communicate off grid.

goTenna is a real New York story because the design of the hardware and housing for the Perdomo siblings invention was done in collaboration with design firm Pensa, also based in Brooklyn.

When you set up your account with goTenna, you can use your cell phone number so any of your contacts can easily contact you. The goTenna app features include the ability to send and receive text messages for free, share locations on detailed offline maps, instantaneous transmission within range, automatic message retry and delivery confirmation, individual and group messaging, ”Shout” broadcasts to anyone within range and proximal friend map and location pinging.

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A goTenna hanging discreetly on a backpack.

The range of the goTenna is not great, with the high estimate at 50 miles. The company states the range will look more like this in common scenarios: city street to city street: 0.5-1 mile, forest to forest: 2-3 miles, water to water: 4-6 miles and desert to desert: 4-6 miles. The most important thing to understand about the range with goTenna is that it is greatly dependent on your geography: specifically your terrain and elevation.

Granted, the range is not huge. However, if you and your local friends and family get a goTenna to enable your smart phone when cell service or wi fi is down, it fosters a really cool, peer to peer communications system and this locavore network might just come in handy when most needed.

Pre-orders are being accepted, and goTenna will be available in the fall.

The goTenna must be purchased in pairs, and the device currently is being offered at a 50 percent discount, for US$150 a pair.

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