The smartphone accessory that lets you send emergency texts even when there’s no cellular signal!
We've become used to having cellular and Wifi signals just about everywhere we go, but that can change during a natural disaster or even on a hike in a mountains with no signal.
Now, a tiny satellite dish for your smartphone called the SatPaq can keep you connected almost anywhere you can see the sky.
"We are some hikers and we wanted to be able to have connectivity even when there’s an emergency in the wilderness and the SatPaq allows you to do that by connecting to satellites," explained Darren Reis, an engineer with Higher Ground, the company that makes the small device.
The SatPaq clips on to the back of an iPhone or Android and connects to your phone using Bluetooth.
The device lets you bypass cellular signals to send and receive texts pretty much anywhere you have a clear view of the southern sky.
"Think about DirecTV or Dish network, it comes down to your house and everywhere in the states is covered. It's the same with the SatPaq. You’re always connected to the satellite," explained Reis.
Texts can be sent to any standard phone number, but you must send and receive them from SatPaq's propritary app. This means that your recipient will get a text from a number that isn't yours, but it will have your name attached, along with a signature that says it was sent via satellite.
"So you hit send, retrieve and then you go into the pointing screen and the pointing screen orients you until you find the satellite," said Reis.
Messages travel 22,000 miles above the Earth and are then routed to loved ones, emergency help or anyone else you want to stay connected to.
It's tough to believe these messages travel so far from the palm of your hand, but the device worked perfectly and we were able to exchange back and forth even without a cell signal. Also, the messages are sent and received faster than you would expect. It took just seconds for my phone to chirp after Darren sent a test text to my device.
"So, [satellites are] really far up there and that was one of the major challenges of trying to connect to a mobile terminal because it’s really small," said Reis.
The $250 SatPaq is miniature tech that could come in handy during a natural disaster, wildfires, power outages or any spot without a signal.
"It’s really great for emergencies, so I keep one in my car. so if anything goes wrong I know that the satellite will always be there and I can get in touch if I need to," said Reis.
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