In a world where technology is slowly consuming our every day lives connecting with people around us and the Internet has increasingly become a daily necessity. Open Garden, a software company based out of San Francisco, has been working to allow all technology devices work together in order to make the best connections possible between one another allowing communication and Internet accessibility. The concept involves having a community between users with 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi and bluetooth access to create a "mesh network." In order for mesh networks to operate people must organize themselves within a 70-meter (about 230 feet) radius to communicate with one another without relying on cell phone reception.
Open Garden built FireChat which is an app that takes advantage of mesh networking. It can be downloaded on iPhones and Androids allowing people to connect in places where there is poor cell phone reception and Wi-Fi connection. The software company worked on this concept in India with 10,000 Android tablets donated to entrepreneurs who used their technology to use the devices as routers allowing them to connect to the Internet where they had no Wi-Fi access. This app has also helped in Hong Kong when thousands of students protested in the streets where cell reception became slow and at times didn't work altogether.
The peer-to-peer network app sounds like a good direction for Open House to continue to pursue for the sake of our future where there are more devices than people to connect to them, making the obligation to connect more and more essential for people in their every day lives. However, the app isn't entirely secure, everything posted through FireChat's chatroom's are public and can be a problem for people who are trying to organize like the pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong where approximately 100,000 people downloaded the app when organizations were assembling in the streets.
Christophe Daligault, Vice President of Marketing and Sales, said that Open House is working on adding encryption to the app's capability making it secure rather than an online public news feed of local comments. Until then, the app still provides a convenient way of communicating between people in nearby proximity when there are at mass crowd events like large scale protests and music festivals where people are constantly trying to connect with one another and access the Internet where there is sparse Wi-Fi connection and cell phone reception.
This will be an interesting company and project to keep tabs on for their future developments and to see what impact they make in the technology world. I think it's especially important for college students who are trying to make a difference in the world as emerging professionals. After witnessing protests as a student at UC Davis (with the pepper spray incidents and tuition increases) and attending countless music festivals where there was little to know cell phone reception, it's encouraging to hear that there's a company trying to assess and solve this problem.