There’s a great possibility you’re going to get lost at Black Rock City this year. Here’s an app that runs without any cellular/WiFi network that will help you locate your friends.
Introducing Firechat, a messaging app based on the concept of “peer-to-peer mesh networking“. It runs on smartphones and tablets like a normal chat programme, but as well as communicating with a central server to upload and download messages – as services such as WhatsApp work – it can work without any centralised control at all.
Out on the playa at Burning Man, there is no pervasive, reliable, centralized network to collect and redistribute our messages. Firechat listens out, on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, for other phones running the same app. If they “hear” one, they can talk to each other, and even pass on messages meant for other phones in the vicinity. With enough phones in one area, a “mesh” is built up, letting any phone speak to any other phone, and all without going on to the internet at all.
There’s no server needed, no weighty infrastructure, just all us individuals and our connected devices, weaving together the community one packet at a time.
This is a brilliant example of the power of community. The more we connect, the stronger the mesh will get, and the more useful the network will be for all of us.
Mesh networks are changing the game. So, consider these tips and download some apps before you drop out of civilization and, when you arrive on the Burning Man playa.
(Cover Image Courtesy: thewynss.com)