Sonnet Labs has introduced a new device that enables smartphones to connect with each other without the need for network connectivity. Yes, the Sonnet lets you survive off the grids without having to worry about not having cellular connectivity. Moreover, the device will also let users send text messages, photos and GPS coordinates in placed with nil cellular connectivity. Presuming that the Sonnet works as advertised this is a big deal, cases of missing hikers or people on an expedition are not something new and in such cases, they can use the SOS feature available on the Sonnet to connect with other users.
This is how Sonnet Works, the smartphone needs to connect with the device over the Wi-Fi and then it uses the low-power, long-range radio frequencies to communicate. With the Sonnet, one can wirelessly connect to any smartphone and send data. The caveat, however, is that the other device should also be connected to Sonnet. The use cases are interesting indeed, one can use the device while hiking, when lost, during a natural calamity and also to save on roaming charges during abroad trips.
Sonnet uses mesh network and creates a point-to-point range and all of the communication is encrypted. What happens is Sonnet makes use of other Sonnet devices as a range extender and thus the data will be relayed to the final destination. In simpler words, this is more like how the runners hand over the baton. The device also comes with an offline map that will give you directions and also allow users to send their location via the GPS.
The Sonnet is powered by a 4000mAh battery pack and it connects to the smartphone via Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. The battery is rated to last for 25 hours and moreover, the Sonnet can also be used as a powerbank to charge your devices. Sonnet is IP66 rated. The company says that the range is limited to 5KMs while the same doubles to a 10KM line of sight. The only problem I see as of now is the number of Sonnet devices that will exist since the Sonnet relies on mesh-networking to indefinitely increase the range.
Sonnet Labs is running a Kickstarter campaign and the pledges for the device starts with as little as $89. The shipping is expected to begin in November this year. It would be interesting to see if the Sonnet will make it to the quintessential list of hikers and backpackers.