Speak Freely is an initiative to allow smartphones to communicate even during disasters when cellular networks are unavailable. The campaign is currently seeking for support on Indiegogo, where it has raised $7,478 out of its goal of $300,000 to date.
The team behind Speak Freely have also developed free software called Serval Mesh, which uses the Wi-Fi radio on a smartphone to connect to so-called impromptu networks made up of other mobile phones. Serval Mesh was developed out of three years’ worth of experience with the New Zealand Red Cross.
Already, the Serval Project has released an experimental version of this software as an app on Google Play. Called Serval Mesh, the app which is open-source and free to download will allow consumers to make encrypted calls, send encrypted text messages, share maps, videos and files. The Serval Project likewise permits consumers to retain one’s phone number, so that they can be contacted by people they know.
Meanwhile, with the Speak Freely campaign, the Australia-based team envisions creating Serval Mesh Extenders that will allow for communication 10 to 100 times better than short-range Wi-Fi. This will let consumers make calls, send messages or files up to tens of kilometres away. Such technology does not require rooting or jail-breaking a device in order to work.
Furthermore, the project hopes to manufacture several hundred of these Serval Mesh Extenders, which they will give to humanitarian organizations with which they have formed partnerships, as well as bleeding-edge adopters. These will be responsible for testing the technology and providing feedback that will be used to introduce improvements.
Out of the $300,000 goal, one-third will be used on hardware components, while the rest will be used for processes such as designing, assembly, distribution, collecting feedback and gathering results.
If they do not meet the $300,000 goal, the team promises to use the collected funds for the development of the Serval Mesh and Mesh Extenders. It will then continue with the design process, reduce the scope of the testing, and provide the available number of Mesh Extenders to testers.
The team also accepts volunteers, particularly testers and software developers, or even advocates, to join their team.
You can also browse our other featured crowdfunding projects here.