Hi Ed, I’ve looked at similar technologies which have popped up in the last two or three years. Mostly aimed at getting remote area emergency comms. There is one fundamental flaw in all of them. They rely on a significant “critical mass” of people carrying and using them at the same time, so relay is possible.
For emergency use I suggest a simple PLB on the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system.
For two way comms it’s hard to beat a InReach device, now owned by Garmin, which uses the Iridium satellite network (currently being refreshed - Iridium satellite constellation - Wikipedia). You can Spot yourself using this, anywhere on the surface of the globe with a moderately decent view of the sky.
I have personal experience of both of these systems.
Edit: just spotted Andy’s reply… his was similar to mine, if a bit more direct
Yes Andy tends to be more direct … That’s fine and I agree the achilles heel is that there has to be a sufficient number of these devices close enough to communicate with each other. It’ll be interesting to see if they get used by groups of walkers in remote areas (where cell phones don’t work) so that if they get split up they can communicate with each other - but then why not use walkie talkies I guess.
It was interesting to me that it appears to be using MESH technologies, similar to what several Amateur groups are doing.
Actually an app to use the already in the phone WiFi to connect to an Amateur MESH network (by amateurs) would be interesting. Not requiring the extra, bluetooth attached separate TX/Rx box.
It’s so completely a non-starter. A range of 0.5km (and that will be idealised) requires a metric shedload of people to have these items all milling about between you the user and the nearest phone with a connection.
It has backing from an EU government and when I read that an image of Neil Hamilton and Mohammed Fayed sprang to mind as the only way you could persuade politicians this was viable
The solution to these problems orbits above our heads and uses a mesh network to communicate too.
I too have doubts that something like this could really take off in the promoted applications, for the reasons already discussed here. But I find the approach pretty interesting. They´re planning on using 868/915MHz at decent power levels which promises, depending on the used modulation, a much greater range than anything built-in into a mobile phone (eg. WLAN, Bluetooth). It basically could be a radio modem with a Bluetooth connection to a relatively cheap, universal and widely available device - a smartphone.
Imagine a device like that for the 2m/70cm amateur band, connecting to DMR repeaters, linked over HAMNET/AMPRNet. Providing voice, text and data transfer just like modern messengers. I am pretty sure that we will see something like that in the not too far future.
it relies on a number of people for a mesh network to work. Isn’t one of the reason you go to the outdoors and the fells is to escape the crowds and the people?
if your that determined to be contactable when in the fells get a sat phone/device like Gerald said, or become a radio amateur like all of us, then you can get points. hehe