Companies are using balloons, planes and other high-tech apparatuses to provide WiFi in underserved areas. In the Australian outback, Saatchi teamed up with Flinders University to find a way to turn the massive fleet of Toyota LandCruisers into mobile communication hotspots using Wi-Fi, UHF and Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN). The solution is a small capsule-like device that attaches to the vehicle's window with suction cups, providing a signal range of up to 25 km (15.5 miles).
The moving network allows folks to make emergency calls or send geo-tagged messages that are passed from vehicle to vehicle. When one of the LandCruisers is in range of a base station, the data is then sent to first responders and the rest of the world. The LandCruiser network could also be useful during disasters like fires, handling communication between crews on the ground attending to the situation at hand.
It's not just a proof-of-concept endeavor, either. The system is being tested in the Flinders Ranges, one of the most remote parts of the outback. Toyota is examining the results of the project to determine the next step, which could include employing the network in other areas and eventual commercial use. Of course, this part of Australia benefits from the number of LandCruisers used as everyday vehicles.
This article by Billy Steele originally ran on Engadget, the definitive guide to this connected life.