How do you get connectivity in, say, in a Kenyan field? That was open-source crowdsourcing organization Ushahidi's question. And its self-assembled answer is the BRCK, a highly robust block that connects through ethernet, 4G cellular, or wireless bridge—whatever’s available on the fly. R&D head Jon Shuler says the BRCK can pass the "falling on to concrete from a bookshelf" test, but also live with rain, including monsoon season in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ushahidi, a non-profit software developer, specializes in remote information collection and crisis-mapping. Head of software Philip Walton says the BRCK should help gather data. "It’s a challenge to get sensor data in the field. We saw this ability of the BRCK to become really an on-ramp for the 'internet of things,' to have those sensors be enabled and have them monitored remotely."
For example, the BRCK might help rangers track the illegal ivory trade.
"There’s a great game preserve just south of Nairobi that Usahidi has done some collaboration with," says Shuler. "I think getting some BRCKs into that situation is part of what we would like to see happen. It’s hard for the rangers to keep track of what’s going on down there, because it’s such a vast region. So we hope that we can get some sensor data and help long term.
The BRCK is currently on Kickstarter, and looks good enough for San Francisco as any savanna. The packages range from an early-bird $150 special, all the way up to a $1,000 kit which comes with long range antennae and solar panels.
So, take a look and think about buying a BRCK. You’ll be supporting research and investing in a rugged communication device at the same time.