Experience at PSX (Dec 8-10, Anaheim)

At the beginning of December, I attended the PlayStation Experience at the Anaheim convention center. Since I knew lots of friends and coworkers who were going, I took 12 GoTennas and handed them out the week before, to everyone I wanted to meet up with. This gave me the opportunity to show people how they work, help them get it setup, etc.


No one had issues setting up their GoTenna with the App. The users were mixed iPhone and Android. The setup experience seemed to be, generally, pretty straight forward for everyone. The only thing that would have been nice is the ability to skip pairing a GoTenna until later. At one point I had everyone together in the same room, but did not have the GoTenna’s so while everyone downloaded the app and immediately opened it, they couldn’t get very far at all. This actually created some confusion. “Wait. So I can’t use this without the widget?” “What am I pairing to, your phone?”


PSX took up the entire ground floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, which is just shy of 814k SqFt. Everyone had their GoTenna’s powered up and on their person, usually in a pants pocket or purse, the whole time. Additionally, I had one GoTenna in relay mode hanging off my 17th floor balcony railing, facing the convention center. No one had issues communicating, and personally, I never observed a message being sent through relay; everything sent direct.


There were three notable issues, two of which can be entirely placed on the Android App.

  1. User Education
    Several of the users were adamant about turning off bluetooth, either for battery or security concerns.
  2. App Exits
    Since the convention required the use of it’s own app for access to events and schedule information, the GoTenna app was frequently background. As a result, most of Android users missed messages only to reopen the app and have them all flood in. Personally, this was really disappointing. This really feels like a failure mode a communication tool should not have.
  3. Unexpected Unpairing
    Two of the Android users experienced unpairing from the GoTenna. If the app would exit while backgrounded, reopening it would display the “Pair Gotenna” text instead of the reconnection spinner.

To summarize, setup was straightforward and the GoTenna’s had fantastic coverage, despite the throngs of people and proliferation of RF generating technology. The main issues stemmed primarily from the Android App and to a much lesser degree, user education.


Are there features you wish you had more information about? What are they? What was the hardest thing to explain to one of your friends?


I don’t think I’m in a position to reliably answer this question because I have a better than average understanding of the technology for lots of reasons:

  • I’ve been part of beta tests of both these and the V1 units.
  • I’m an active Ham Radio licensee
  • I’ve built mesh radio networks

Obviously, that they wouldn’t work with bluetooth disabled and that it wouldn’t drain the battery much if left on. :wink:

Seriously though, in hindsight, I should have explained the use case of these better. I told people it was so we could still communicate in the convention center. But that failed to explain why we otherwise wouldn’t be able to. I should have said something like, “With so many people in one place, the cell networks will be overwhelmed. This system provides texting that will work anyway, by using an app on your phone plus these widgets to create their own network.


:grin: I know you’re a pro! :raised_hands::raised_hands::raised_hands: Just curious if you thought there was anything we could provide more information on so new users could get stated more efficiently.

Great point on:

It might not be intuitive to some!


The practical consideration is really, if it works, great. If it doesn’t work, it’s not an effective communications tool. At the end of the day, anyone, including the sales pitch on the GoTenna website should simply be able to say “Install the app, and carry this thingy so you can reach everyone else that’s doing the same. It just works.”

Features like the relay counters and relay mode and even the per-message indication on whether your message went direct or was relayed are almost unlocks for experience level 2. :slight_smile: All a user should have to care about is “I sent you something. Did you receive it?” But naturally, many of us want to care about other stuff. However, I think that lots of those wants are proxies for spots where things fall short. From that perspective, I can think of things that I want, but also the real fix sin’t providing that feature.

For example, I want an indicator that tells me the difference between delivered to the destination gotenna versus delivered to the destination app. But in reality, that’s because I know that often my app goes away (for various reasons) and I don’t know I have messages waiting until I check it. Therefore, I want to know whether the same is happening at the other end. Those “true issues” are what I’ve tried to call out in my writeup rather than asking for features around them. It reminds me of the BlackBerry Messenger read indicators, which were less about whether someone read a message and more about whether it made it all the way through the system. “Sure, the server says it got there, but I don’t really believe it until someone actually reads the message.”

As for information specifically for new users, I’m not sure how to address the bluetooth thing. More wordage in the setup likely won’t help because people simply won’t read it. It might be a small animation that can play while pairing the gotenna that hits all the high points?


@akraut we are definitely fixing the background bluetooth disconnect issue soon. Glad you had a great time at PSX. Thanks for the feedback.

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