Last November, we told you about goTenna, a palm-sized device that pairs to an iOS or Android phone and allows you to text anyone who also has a goTenna, even without a cell or WiFi connection. Now there’s Beartooth, which lets you text and make calls, effectively turning your phone into an off-the-grid Walkie-talkie.
“You can have one-to-one or one-to-many conversations, like in a conference call,” says Beartooth CEO and co-founder Michael Monaghan, who helped the company secure $3 million in funding.
Beartooth, which uses a radio signal to send communications between devices, also taps into your phone’s GPS chip to locate everyone on the network on a map. You have to pre-download the 24K-resolution maps, but they’re free and are detailed enough to show contour lines.
Monaghan and his co-founder Kevin Ames came up with the idea for Beartooth while skiing, but hope people use it in the developing world where there’s no cell service. It might also be used in crowded urban networks or during natural disasters.
The only drawbacks? A pair at retail costs $400 ($250 for the next 30 days)—or double what goTenna sells for. And Beartooth only has a two-mile range, compared to goTenna’s six-mile one. But if voice communication is important, and you’re in range, the convenience factor is huge.