How much did you pay for your Internet service last month? You probably shelled out $50, $100 or even more to connect to the World Wide Web. Throw in your phone's data plan and that's a lot of money every month spent to connect to the world's largest information source. What if I told you could receive data completely free? It's true.
Lantern is a product that's currently posted on crowdfunding site Indiegogo. It's a small receiver that receives a data stream from satellites in space called the Outernet. The developers describe Outernet as "Humanity's Library." It's full of critical information like educational materials, disaster updates and also includes Web pages, videos, e-books and more. The library is always growing, and you get to decide which information is stored on your Lantern gadget.
Lantern continuously receives radio waves broadcast by Outernet from space. Lantern turns the signal into digital files, like webpages, news articles, ebooks, videos, and music. Lantern can receive and store any type of digital file on its internal drive.
The project has huge possibilities. Not only could it help us save on everyday data connection expenses, but it could also bring much-needed information to people around the world who don't have access to the Internet. School, towns and communities could get educational materials, engineering designs and medical information they never had access to before!
The project has already exceeded its funding goal of $200,000 but the developers aren't stopping there. They want to raise $10 million so they can launch more Outernet satellites into space.
The people behind Lantern and Outernet compare it to FM Radio. Just like radio, Outernet uses radio waves to send information. Your Lantern is like the car radio, except it converts the waves into files you read and not music you listen to. Outernet includes critical content, sponsored content and content asked for by the global community. It says it discloses which content is sponsored.
Lantern can also help improve digital privacy. Using the gadget is completely anonymous, so no one can tell what kind of information you're looking at. That's a big deal, especially for people living in countries where the government censors Internet use.
You can get a Lantern by donating $99 to the Indiegogo campaign. The creators estimate that the gadget will be available in July 2015. You can also donate $99 and choose to donate your Lantern to an organization or community in need.