Bridgefy, which is launching in our Disrupt SF Battlefield now, allows a mesh network to be built by developers in their mobile programs that programs and their users can still communicate, even if those devices aren’t connected to the Internet.
If this sounds familiar, that’s probably because you have heard of Open Garden, which found in our Battlefield and which had an unexpected hit with its FireChat offline messaging service a few years ago. Bridgefy essentially does the same thing.
Bridgefy co-founder and CEO Jorge Rios tells me that the founders met right before a hackathon and that they decided to play around with ideas “until one of us thought of making a messaging program that worked without Internet.” After a long bus ride to San Antonio, the team came in second and decided to keep working on the program, but as Rios tells me, the team quickly realized that the way forward was to work on an SDK that other programs could use rather than working on a stand-alone item.
The Bridgefy SDK for iOS and Android, which uses Bluetooth to create its networks, allows developers to create mesh networks for delivering messages over distances and to enable communications to are limited by the 330-foot variety of Bluetooth. They can use the service to create a broadcast network that spreads messages out to all users that are nearby. Unlike the MeshKit of Open Garden, though, Bridgefy doesn’t look like it’s in a position to use one of these phones in its network as an on-ramp into the internet.
What about the use cases for this? “We’re passionate about natural disaster efforts, but also education, gambling, and social media,” Rios tells me. “We have learned there is a great demand for individuals to use programs, but can’t because they oftentimes do not have access to Internet.” The business cites cruise ship programs turn-based games , ride-hailing programs and apps that are check-in as use cases.
The company’s technology is currently on about 35,000 devices and Rios tells me that the team is in the process of shutting several contracts “that represent millions of customers.” The company plans to charge program developers based on the number of users engage with their programs thanks to its technologies.
Open Garden has gone through some direction changes and it has been quiet around them though their MeshKit SDK was launched by them earlier this year. Mesh networks such as these only work when there’s enough devices around that run programs that support this technology and that’s a hard barrier to overcome outside of some particular events where everyone uses the same program (think a concert or seminar). Then it will be a step ahead of the competition, if that can be overcome by Bridgefy.