Sharing internet data over sound waves
Four billion people are still not connected to the internet. Much of the developing world lacks the infrastructure for online connections; for example 3G covers just 8% of Africa. Even if a connection is available, data plans often prove unaffordable for the majority of the population – many can cost as much as 20% of a person’s salary in some African cities where 3G is available.
With the days of dial-up long behind us, we’re so used to thinking of the internet as digital data, that we forget that sound waves can transmit the same information – text, images and sound.
Romanian entrepreneur Vlad Iuhas, together with his partners Rad Iuhas, Sebastian Presecan and Marco Scotti, is going back to the internet’s roots to connect a near third of the world’s population. Through Pangea – his US-based company with engineers in Romania – Iuhas has developed an app that turns data into a sound wave and back again.
Android users first have to download the free app, and then when they lose Wi-Fi or data connection, the app immediately makes a quick phone call, transferring the data to the user’s phone at 64 kilobits per second. Given the slow speeds, Pangea can only load text pages for now, but for many users this means staying connected to loved ones and accessing vital information.
The service currently has 70,000 users following pilots in India and Nigeria, and Iuhas plans to expand the service further with a $200,000 seed round raised earlier this year.
He hopes that in the future, phones on certain networks in Africa and Asia will come pre-loaded with the app, and that it will prove useful during natural disasters when data networks fail. John Hopkins University is already interested in the system for sending medical information, instead of relying on text messages. Find out more at http://www.getpangea.com
Image courtesy of United Nations Photo
Last updated: 13th of September, 2016