Open Garden, the tech firm responsible for creating FireChat, has come up with an even better way to make offline messaging not only possible— but also so much more convenient.
In case you didn’t know, FireChat is a downloadable app that lets users within a vicinity chat with each other, even without WiFi and mobile network signal.
The technology behind FireChat makes use of what is called the Multipeer Connectivity Framework (MCF) in Apple iOS 7 devices— and a feature that works the same way is also available in Android devices via bluetooth.
The app lets users send both messages and photos by creating what they call a ‘wireless mesh network’, through the MCFs of the users’ mobile phones.
Each phone in the ‘wireless mesh network’ works as a ‘node’, and every data sent by the user is passed around on each node until the message reaches its intended user. Each of the messages are sent securely, so none of the nodes who aren’t the intended recipient will be able to read any of the messages. In fact, messages sent through FireChat are far more secure than those sent using other platforms simply because it does not utilize the internet to pass the messages around. This way, hackers will have no means of infiltrating the network.
When a FireChat user opens the app, he will be prompted to enter a screen name. After which, he will be taken to the app’s main screen, where he has the option to enter a chatroom that has ‘Everyone’ in it, or another that has only the ‘Nearby’ users in it.
FireChat’s ‘Everyone’ chatroom will automatically include all users, while the ‘Nearby’ option will only include users who are within WiFi and Bluetooth range of the handheld device.
But the fact that FireChat only works for users who are within about 200 ft of each other, limits the app’s capabilities. And that’s exactly why its makers came up with Greenstone— a pocket-sized device that also works as a ‘server’ for FireChat messages, as well as a ‘booster’ for the localized network that FireChat makes use of.
Open Garden hopes that Greenstone and FireChat will someday change the way messaging works.
According to Open Garden Chief Marketing Officer Christophe Daligault: “The combination between the nodes and the smartphones will enable a community, or a neighborhood, or a hospital, or any other situation where they want resilient communication, even in the case of not having any connectivity.”