An estimated 4.3 billion people around the world don’t have internet access. In times of natural disasters, internet and phone connections also frequently fail. Lantern is a pocket-sized device designed to bring connectivity to those without internet access, using satellite-broadcast radio waves. The company behind Lantern, Outernet, aims to provide users with an anonymous, portable library that constantly receives free data from space. The device is currently acing its Indiegogo campaign, so read on for details on becoming an early adopter.
So how does Lantern work? The device continuously receives radio waves broadcast from space by Outernet’s satellite transmitters. It turns the signals into digital files, such as readable webpages, ebooks, videos, and music. The device can receive and store any type of digital file, and to view stored files users simply turn on its Wi-Fi hotspot and connect with a Wi-Fi-enabled device. Users just need a browser installed to get going. A homemade satellite receiver could perform the same function, but the Lantern packs down the equipment requirements into a flashlight-sized unit. The device even has its own solar panels to charge itself.
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Outernet use the analogy of an FM radio to best describe how the system works: “Outernet is like the radio station and Lantern is the radio.” Users are not accessing the full internet, but rather a curated package of information transmitted by Outernet. Running with the metaphor, they say they are open to receiving requests from users. While this maybe enough to inspire whole forums of conspiracy theories, Outernet are at pains to point out the device’s emergency and remote educational applications.
There is plenty more information about Lantern via their Indiegogo page. A $99 pledge nabs you your own Lantern; a substantial saving off the eventual $149 estimated retail price. Now that they’ve passed their initial funding goal, Outernet are pushing on for the big one: $3 million will allow them to launch their own dedicated Cubesat, $10 million will launch a whole fleet.
Photos by Lantern / Outernet