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Serval Project Lets People Use Phones Without Reception Or Internet Access

Submitted by on July 15, 2013 – 9:55 amNo Comment

A new app enables phone users to make calls directly from device to device, without the use of internet or cellular networks. Though the Serval project was developed with the Red Cross to aid disaster victims, those in rural areas, and those in the developing world, its potential for wider usage is apparent.

Serval created an app for Android phones that allows the device to join an ad-hoc “mesh” network with any other nearby phones. Not only can the user connect with these phones, but it can then connect with any other phones to which the nearby phones are connected, and so on. In a promotional video, the system’s creator compares this to a traditional two-way walkie talkie, but with all the modern technology of a smartphone.

The organization has even created a “mesh extender,” a small portable device which extends the range of Wi-Fi radios up to several miles. This will help users by relying on a traditional Wi-Fi connection, which is easier to use and burns through less power than the ad-hoc setting.

The company is currently soliciting donations through an Indiegogo campaign to further develop the mesh extender.

Though the group makes clear that this is limited technology, commentors on news articles ar already buzzing about “giving some competition” to cell phone service providers.

Serval joins a growing group of organizations trying to bring service and access to disaster-stricken or remote areas. Last month, Google’s secretive Google X labs unveiled Project Loon, a new initiative to provide high speed internet with routers attached to large balloons high in the atmosphere.

What do you think of the Serval project?


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