Imagine a world without internet, it’s easy to forget what that might be like. Yet there are still many places and communities in the world who do not have internet access. For people without internet the location might be too remote; the cost of a mobile data plan too high; perhaps even an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane has wiped out communication infrastructure.
What ever the reason, access to digital information transforms peoples lives, and so for people living in third-world developing countries; or working in disaster relief environments; or as a field worker in remote locations, this is how hexology can make a difference.
hexology empowers people to bring digital information into the physical world. The hex Beacon we have developed is a small portable / wearable device that stores your information and broadcasts it to anyone within a 25 metre radius – without the use of the internet.
Compose a message, but instead of posting your message online, send it to hex and it will share it with anyone nearby. The built-in memory enables people to read and write information to and from the device using low-power bluetooth technology, that exists in every smartphone.
Ultimately, hex works at sea, in a cave and even on Mars.
Use Case: Refugee Crisis
During the Syrian refugee crisis in 2016 many of the people that fled the war zone travelled with smartphones but they did not have a Mobile Data Connection. Instead they used their smartphones at wi-fi hotspots they found along the way. It was during this crisis that we realised our hex beacon technology could help them communicate. The authorities could use hex Beacon to share information with people in and around the refugee camps; to guide travellers or break news. Where as the Travellers could use hex to leave messages in locations, we thought they might use hex to help them find missing persons and reunite families.
In situations where food parcels, blankets and other items are being distributed in large quantities by only a handful of people, we started to understand the benefit of enriching these objects with digital information. For example, what if a water purifier kit was capable of broadcasting the assembly instructions or user manual in multiple languages, for people to discover when ever they are nearby – no internet needed.
Use Case: Project Buendia
There are many different applications for hex Beacon technology, yet my favourite is an integration with Project Buendia, an open-source medical records system which was originally created by MSF, Google Crisis Response, and a group of volunteers in response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. In this scenario, hex could be used as a device to store someone’s medical records which the patient would then wear around their neck.
Use Case: Mesh Network
Storing digital information in objects and locations is one way to hex beacon technology, but what if there were lots of hex Beacons installed into a larger area to bring a mesh network level of connectivity to a location. This type of lightweight infrastructure can be used to relay messages around a site from device to device, to create a daisy-chain messaging effect. Used to create a shadow network or a location-based intranet, hex Beacon has the potential to transform public spaces – without internet.
Connected without internet
Remembering that no specialised technical knowledge or training is needed to use hexology, the hex Beacon is a low-cost lightweight portable infrastructure than can be quickly and easily deployed. We imagine hexology transforming remote field hospitals, pop-up mobile education centres and public spaces where there is no internet, into locations where people can engage and share digital content. Our aim is to work with partners and support developer teams, by giving them access to our software developer kit which we intend to open-source.
Inspired by the potential to create a positive impact, we have in the past supported humanitarian projects. The School Bus Project converted a double decker bus into a pop-up classroom which was set up to tour the refugee camps, offering children hope, shelter and language lessons. You can read more about this project here.
To raise awareness of this project, hexology sponsored the production of three Radio programs for Radio Reverb and later that year the radio programs won the prestigious Silver Community Radio Award.
Given that our technology can transform locations without internet and our ethos is to create a positive social impact, we see a lot of potential to work with organisations who share a similar vision or goal.