goTenna is not going to be a company most have heard about as what they make is going to appeal only to those travelers and adventure seekers that find themselves in places without cell phone reception for long periods of time. They found a way to let you text and use maps on your phone when you don’t have service. goTenna uses a small radio device you hook on your bag that pairs with your phone via bluetooth. It then uses smart protocols and radio waves to allow you to text other goTenna devices within a few miles. It also allows you to access downloaded maps and use GPS.
Having been on many adventures with no cell phone service, including nearly a week in Glacier National Park where I was without a reliable map and missed many meet ups with people due to the lack of service and changing plans, I thought this would be a life saver in Europe so I got a pair for my wife and me. Cell service has changed a bit since my last Europe trip and I actually had the ability to text and use data almost everywhere on my trip. While that ended up making the goTenna unnecessary, I turned off my data for a while to give goTenna a test. The texting worked flawlessly and my wife and I were able to communicate without issue. The maps also worked well for the most part with some GPS troubles. While the GPS worked most of the time, there were some times in Amsterdam where I had the map available, but was not able to track my location.
So while these weren’t much use in Europe, I am still excited because the experiences I have had in places like Glacier National Park where I am desperate for a map and means of communication. If you are a photographer that gets out of the city and likes to shoot with other people, these are a perfect tool to keep in touch and not get lost. One of the coolest features is you can actually use the maps to send your location to other goTenna devices so meeting up is easy no matter where you are. If you lead workshops, a couple of these could be a lifesaver for keeping your group together. You can get a pair at Amazon, but check out their website to learn more.