Firechat is a new iPhone app that allows nearby users to chat and share photos (anonymously, should you choose) without an internet connection. Using WiFi and Bluetooth, it enables users to communicate phone to phone (node to node) through a mesh network capability characteristic to Apple’s iOS 7 Multipeer Connectivity Framework. Though this is the first implementation of a wireless mesh networking chat client that we’re aware of, Apple’s Airdrop works similarly, and Google is soon entering the mesh networking game. Open Garden, the developers of FireChat also offer a wireless mesh networking client (without chat) for iOS and Android.
Mesh networking has far reaching applications in disaster areas where cell towers are down, in small communities lacking wireless services, in school classrooms, at trade shows, concerts, malls, and by teens who may not have phone contracts. Because Firechat can be used anonymously, it provides a secure method of communication between users who desire to go undetected by communicating over the internet.
Once ubiquitous mesh networking will fill the gaps where connectivity isn’t possible, or create pockets of anonymity when one would rather go unnoticed.