Want to text? No signal? No problem.

FireChat

Imagine you’re taking the subway with a friend in New York City from Grand Central Terminal to Union Square, where you’re planning to meet some other friends for a few cocktails. You’re en route when all of a sudden plans change unbeknownst to you, because you got separated from your friend who lives in the city while riding the subway and have been underground without a cell signal for the last 15 minutes. Your friend, though, is aware of the plan change, and texts you to let you know of a change in venue. Unfortunately, you don’t receive the messages until you get off the subway at what proves to be the wrong stop.

Thanks to a revolutionary new app that is available for both iOS and Android, such situations may very well become a thing of the past.

Introducing FireChat, an application engineered by Open Garden that enables smart devices to connect directly to one another rather than having to go through an intermediate hub. In other words, the app allows smart devices to communicate with one another without having to leverage a cellular network or WiFi hotspot. If two smart devices can connect to one another via WiFi radios or Bluetooth, the app will allow them to talk to one another as well.

Users of FireChat will notice when they log into the app, they’ll enter a chat room and be able to talk to anyone who is in their vicinity and using the app.

Widespread Implications

In addition to just simply being a cool app, FireChat empowers its users. If you live in a country where the government censors the Internet or blocks Twitter, you can communicate via FireChat. If a storm runs through your neighborhood and knocks out a cell tower, thus jamming service, you can communicate via FireChat.

The app also creates a hyperlocal network. For example, imagine a student entering a lecture hall. With FireChat, students can communicate with other students in the room with ease. Or, if you were attending a conference on industrial machinery, you could use FireChat to communicate with three of your coworkers nearest you.

In our era of government surveillance, FireChat offers an off-the-grid communication network that the NSA won’t be privy to. This implication is crucial when one considers the importance we as a society are beginning to place on our digital privacy.

It Will Get Even Better

As it stands now, anyone can pick a username and begin chatting. However, the company says it’s working on enabling users to pick circles or groups to join, so the local network is truly private. Additionally, Open Garden says it’s working on making it so iOS and Android devices can communicate with one another.

“FireChat reached the top 10 amongst social networking apps in 80 countries around the world, adding more than one new user per second,” explains Micha Benoliel, the company’s CEO.

This app is suited for situations that lack strong communication networks like concert festivals, conferences, sporting events and construction sites. In any environment, FireChat is an app that will invariably prove to be essential and helpful.

Written by Alicia Lawrence

Alicia is a content coordinator for a tech company. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking healthy meals, and blogging about health, tech and communication.
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