Firechat may become primary messaging app at music festivals
At a time when music festivals have surged in popularity, one universal struggle that organizers continue to face is the ability to provide suitable Wi-Fi and cell service for festival goers and employees alike. New app Firechat, however, may be the next up-and-coming essential for large-scale events where cell phone towers may fold.
Firechat was created by San Francisco-based startup, Open Garden, and allows users to send and receive messages by using a smartphone’s Bluetooth and WI-Fi capacities to create a “‘mesh network’ of connected phones” — sans internet connection or cell service. Mesh networks permit the sender’s message to hit the receiver’s phone by passing through nearby devices. Whereas with traditional Wi-Fi and cell towers the more phones means weaker service, Firechat works best with a large volume of devices. The technology is possible because now Bluetooth and peer-to-peer Wi-Fi can extend 40 to 70 yards, allowing the formation of a network based on peer-to-peer connections.
Initially seen at Burning Man 2014 and again in Hong Kong during the government protests, Firechat is about to make its first attempt in the live entertainment sphere at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in India. Open Garden’s CMO Christophe Daligault comments, “Hong Kong or Burning Man are both examples of situations where people either have or expect to have no connectivity whatsoever or patchy/unreliable internet/cell phone coverage. In fact, we had a big jump yesterday [Nov. 20] in Mexico, where Firechat jumped to No. 7 on iTunes because of the student protests.”
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