Improvement ideas

I’ve had the original Gotenna for a while - it’s a great idea - but some of the flaws really limit their usefulness when you really need them - these are the things I would change :slight_smile:

  1. to use gotenna you need online access to register an account or it’s useless while this makes sense - it also severely limits the device

I have two gotenna here for emergency - UNLESS I registered accounts ahead of time and have preinstalled the app on both devices and an account on each phone - they can’t really be used

better option - build a mini wfi server into the gotenna device itself - it runs a little wifi server.
in an emergency any friend or person you are with can connect via wifi to the gotenna local server on the gotenna itself - download and install the .apk file - and install the gotenna app and then they can connect and pair to a gotenna stick

i’m just picturing a situation where everything is down - I have two gotenna here - but whoever I want to use the other one so that we can stay connected can’t do a thing because they haven’t downloaded the app ahead of time - this would solve that probem

or another option - build a simple wifi server into the gotenna app itself on my phone if you don’t build it into the stick (this is probably better) - so now here i am - emergency - i’ve got two gotenna - i can start the app on my phone - start the wifi server app so that my buddy can connect to my phone and download and install the apk file (app ) to their phone - and then he can pair his phone with that 2nd gotenna and we’re in business

but even this won’t work - because as is currently first thing you get after you start the app for the first time is it wants a working internet connection so that you can register an account - well that’s not going to be the case when everything is down - so that’s the weakest link right there - breaks the chain. you’ve got two working gotenna two working smart phones - but one of the smartphones never heard of used or downloaded AND registered an account - so they can’t do anything - even if you manage to get the apk app on their phone


add a wifi server to the gotenna app that lets you send an apk (app) to another person

and don’t require network registration before you can use the app (at least in an emergency)

this way these things can really be useful in an emergency

scenerio - everything goes nuts - internet and cell all down

but I have two gotenna at home, or in my trunk or whatever

so now I can get the app on my buddy’s phone even though there is no internet
and also he can USE the app because it doesn’t require network internet access to render him
a usable account!

bingo - the gotenna became super useful - i can pair a friend or loved one with gotenna - get the app installed for them - and have them up and running! success!

now I tried a work around on my phone - so i download a wifi server app that lets me share/serve files from my phone to others - ok great - so I can get the apk to the other person and they can install it


when they go to use the app - as it is currently made - the start the app and are presented with a register screen - that requires network access -

so their gotenna is completely useless…

so build the ability to get the apk/app to another person by either building a wifi server into the stick itself
Or at minimum build that function into the gotenna app

and #2 get rid of the requirement that you register an account (which only works over network acccess) so that the device can be used by anyone that can get the apk/app on their device!

that network access registration really screws up the usefulness

hell - just have some little crypto unique key generator that creates a unique id for the app when you’re first pairing the device instead of requiring internet acccess for that initial setup

they get so many thing right with the idea for gotenna but you gotta think of things like this to make them truly something you can count on in a disaster

hell - build these functions in and you have a disaster like the hurricane in puerto rico and you can bring in a couple cases of these devices to the city and have a complete instant mesh network instantly that will really blanket the area!

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The idea of the app setting up a wifi server on your cellphone is intriguing and probably doable. Many support becoming a hotspot as an option, so the capability seems inherent in most smartphones.

However, as a commercial product, I really can’t fault goTenna for doing registration online. This covers all sorts of legit needs from warranty verification to marketing. goTenna is really good about providing privacy options for users to consider, so I don’t see a problem from that angle .

What could happen is that the app could store such info and drawn from these off-grid registrations, then could forward the standard group of needed info when connectivity was restored. There’s a possibility that this may not be supported on cellphones, though, as I’m assuming.

I’d hate to clutter up the design with something complex, though, in the GTM device itself. Plus there’s already a solution for emergency distribution that might be or already is available, although it’s use is restricted to goTenna Pro right now. You can get a hardcase that includes a number of devices, plus a device that programs them off the grid. It’s not cheap, though.

While I somewhat share your concerns, I think it’s also important to note how short-sighted it is to wait until the last minute or until the crisis is upon you to make emergency preparations. Talk to any emergency manager and they will tell you their toughest thing to overcome is the widespread complacency of populations who face fairly well-defined (if not always likely) disaster situations. Adding in another factor that accommodates this sort of procrastination is not going to change much, I’m afraid.

Another argument in favor of the importance of disaster prep long before it may become necessary is that your use of the mesh depends on on having a viable contact list. Otherwise you’re reduced to using Shouts which neither hop nor or very useful if everyone and his brother are trying to do so at the same time. People need to consider the benefits of thinking far enough ahead to have their mesh devices at hand where they can be found and easily put into use, unless you’re already a regular user. If you’re never used a goTenna Mesh before, the learning curve isn’t steep but it’s not something that should take place under emergency conditions for the best outcome. That includes downloading the app and installing it prior to need for it.

While I definately agree tis better to be prepared ahead of time - the fact of the matter is while you might be prepared whoever you find yourself in the company of will most likely not be so if you wanted to share 1 of the 2 Gotenna with someone else you happen to be in the company of - which is often the case in a disaster - well then all the prep work as far as having the Gotenna goes down the drain as even though you had 2 of them - both of them are rendered useless by the two factors as things are currently 1) the app has to be pre-installed on both phones you want to use (workaround provided if wifi server built into app to let 2nd user download app/apk) but the 2) requiring network access (while it’s great for the company it’s not the best option for the two people who are now stuck out without any network because the app needs internet access for it to register and work - which really defeats the whole purpose)

a flashlight just works if you have it with you in a disaster

these things - with these flaws - don’t

just think of the hurricane in Puerto Rico - if these things didn’t have these limitations - you could quickly get a complete stand alone mesh network up and running by just distrubuting the devices in the region. It wouldn’t be hampered by the “lack of preparation” on the part of the people living there. While is fine to tisk tisk and reprimand people for not being prepared - isn’t it far better to just have something that works in just about any situation as long as you have it - what’s the point of making a device that is designed to provide communications if the networks are out - if the device itself is dependent on the internet to register the device and use it…

Also the whole “learning curve” shouldn’t be that much of an issue - the app can have simple standalone instructions for pairing the phone with the device which would be all that would be need done in order to make the device useful. And if you have the Gotenna in your hand surely you could have a single “Quickstart” card in it that takes you through minimal steps to get the thing up and running or how to download the app/apk using the apps built in fileserver to get the app installed on a 2nd phone that doesn’t have it. A one page instruction sheet included with the devices would be sufficient to get things up and running.

Basically if the thing is “stand alone” like a flashlight. It has everything you need for it to work - no internet access required - no prior downloaded apps that you can’t either get from the app if you have it installed on at least one phone, or a built in file server on the gotenna itself (lots of cheap chinese devices readily incorporate that kind of functionality - it’s not hard)

so then as long as you have a gotenna and a phone - you have everything you need for the device to operate… stand alone

drop a bunch of them into a disaster area - and anyone can pair them with their phones and then the mesh network is built out and and exponentially stronger with each additional user that gets a gotenna in their hands…

now THAT would be cool

It should be noted that the last big hurricane to devastate Puerto Rico was just about the same time that the giTenna Mesh hit the streets. Significant numbers of the devices were sent to PR on an emergency basis and used rather successfully to help reestablish communications. This is not to discount the issues that concern you, just that workarounds seem to have succeeded. It’s hard to stop the mesh.