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Radio News: Company hopes app can create giant mesh networks

Oct 13, 2015 6:38 pm
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Wired reports about the FireChat app from the company Open Garden. FireChat, and the similar Serval Project, build mesh networks by connecting smartphones via the device’s Bluetooth or peer-to-peer Wi-Fi. Every smartphone with FireChat then becomes a node that can carry and deliver text messages. People can build their own decentralized networks without any corporate or governmental interference. “In a sense it’s like a blind postman,” says Christophe Daligault, Open Garden’s chief marketing officer. FireChat launched in the spring of 2014, and it has been used during protests in Iraq, France, and Ecuador, and also in natural disasters. During student protests in Hong Kong recently, more than 500,000 people downloaded the app over a couple days. "FireChat works on phones as long as they’re less than 200 feet apart, but in times when the density is spotty, the company will use a GreenStone, a little plastic module that stores messages and uses Bluetooth to extend the network," Wired reports. The company hopes that enough people will use the app that they can turn it into a totally free mobile carrier that could replace one's paid phone service. “I don’t know when we’ll cross the chasm so that this technology will become ubiquitous enough that everyone can benefit from it,” says Daligault from Open Garden.