In this 24-7 connected world, it’s easy to forget that there are still places in the United States without cell coverage. But in rural areas, national parks, and remote spots for hiking, fishing, and hunting, it’s often difficult or impossible to get a signal. Additionally, hurricanes and other natural disasters can cause widespread outages, which is, of course, when many people need emergency assistance.
Whether you’re off the grid or recovering from a natural disaster, the SatPaq from Higher Ground, a 2019 CES Innovation Award Honoree, helps you stay in contact with the rest of the world and get help in an emergency.
The SatPaq ($249) is a credit card sized accessory that clips onto your smartphone and can send and receive texts, transmitting your messages 23,000 miles into space and on to its destination.
And because the SatPaq connects to geostationary (GEOs) satellites, which are always in view and allow for real-time communications, it offers a reliable connection.
The use of GEOs sets it apart from satellite phones, which use low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites which can move out of range. Additionally, GEOs are less costly to use, so there’s no monthly fee for SatPaq’s service. Messages are pay as you go and the SatPaq can send up to 200 texts on a single charge, and when left unused retains its charge for up to 5 months.
It also offers weather forecasts via Dark Sky and first aid advice from Dr. Dex, a medical artificial intelligence service. If you need emergency assistance due to an injury or if you get lost or trapped somewhere, you can send out an SOS to request a rescue. You can also share your location with your contacts or on Twitter.
The 4-ounce device can easily fit in a pocket, connects wirelessly over Bluetooth using Higher Ground’s SpaceLinq app and works with the iPhone 6 and later running at least iOS 10. Android support is coming in 2019.