Messaging Without a SIM card or Internet? There's an App for That! An App that doesn't need internet or even cellular signal to text? Sounds unbelievable but its true!

By Rustam Singh

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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FireChat

Smartphones are really, really smart devices that have revolutionized the way we communicate in less than a decade since their popularity. Every year, except this year (courtesy: Apple SE), we've witnessed implementation of technology previously thought impossible into devices that are getting more and more efficient, compact, and powerful. The most immersive experience of smartphones are that they've practically taken over our lives as necessary as carrying a wallet when we step outside our homes. However, one crippling factor has always plagued smartphones and the communications of the future – cellular data and network. This is why, no matter what device you use – from a basic Nokia cell phone to the latest Samsung Galaxy S, always carry the statutory warning that a cellphone should be the only way to communicate in an emergency.

For the most part, cellphone signals are very variable and work as they please. To top up the trouble, consumers can only choose their service provider, since smartphones do not easily reveal their build structure to handle the most essential component of a cellphone (antennas). This leaves very little wriggle room for consumers to have a device that is guaranteed to work even on the 10th floor, basement, remote location or when there's a natural calamity. Enter FireChat that works almost exactly like Whatsapp – minus any signals or internet connectivity!

How does it work?

No, you thankfully don't need a bulky hardware accessory that needs its own charge. It does work entirely via the app itself. FireChat uses Bluetooth & Wi-Fi on your smartphone to communicate with other devices nearby. However, there are obvious limitations to the same – its range is currently restricted to only 70 meters in perfect obstruction free conditions.

What are its limitations?

Apart from just a limit of 70 meters, it also needs better physical conditions than your cellphone signal would usually require. Bluetooth based communications better in an environment without obstructions such as walls but that's not like it won't work if the communication is happening to someone in the other room. Apart from this, like all communications apps, there needs to be as many users using it as possible for efficient working. Naturally, the person you want to communicate with also needs the app installed and running.

What's it used for?

In a perfect universe, if lots of users have it running and installed, the communication network bounces around to establish a longer channel. Thus the limit of 70 meters can be extended to a larger radius. Imagine the possibilities of free communications in a closed are, such a college hostel, a dorm room, university, or even a flat full of people if everyone's on the network. Similarly, in emergency situations such as earthquakes, floods or other disruptive natural calamities where cellphone signals may be jammed or blocked, this might prove to be an efficient way to communicate.

The possibilities are endless, and can prove to be a competitor previously thought unimaginable to messaging apps because of the fact that it uses hardware mechanisms already installed in everyone's smartphone to communicate without need expensive data packs or even a basic cellular signal. What do you think of the app? Let us know in the comments on our official Facebook page Entrepreneur India

Rustam Singh

Sub-Editor- Entrepreneur.com

Tech reporter.

Contact me if you have a truly unique technology related startup looking for a review and coverage, especially a crowd-funded project looking to launch and coverage.

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