Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

VoIP on a bike

Filed under
Sci/Tech

A bicycle-powered, Linux-based VoIP system: not your usual high-tech architecture. But what if you were one of the more than 1 billion people living without electricity? No power, no phone.

The mission of Inveneo, a nonprofit group of inveterate high-tech adventurers, is to bring developing communities that never reached a 20th century level of infrastructure into the 21st century. Its bicycle-powered system brings not just VoIP but also e-mail and Web browsing to remote areas, using a combination of Linux and the Asterisk open source PBX.

Inveneo puts everything together with off-the-shelf hardware that is low-cost, easily replaced, and — it is hoped — easy to troubleshoot and fix. It uses Wi-Fi networking to route traffic to a central hub with existing phone infrastructure, with a range as far as 100 miles.

The bicycle, mostly used as a backup to solar power, gives the rider one hour on the phone for every 15 minutes of work. In a village, a user might trade pedaling time for phone time — or get paid by someone who wants to use the phone but doesn’t want to work so hard.

When, at a meeting with Inveneo, I suggested that instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to hit a comet 83 million miles away, the U.S. government should support efforts such as Inveneo’s here on Earth, developer Michael Meisel took umbrage. He pointed out that if we didn’t pay for high-tech research none of the equipment Inveneo is using would exist.

Instead, according to Inveneo CEO Mark Summer, the goal is to get NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) such as ActionAid interested. Inveneo might have an impact on 10 villages, but ActionAid can fund and deploy communications systems to thousands of villages. In addition, Inveneo is working with Cisco to bring what it calls ICT (infrastructure and communications technology) to a half-million schools in Africa.

By connecting remote areas of the world, Inveneo’s efforts will help to improve the health, education, and business opportunities of millions of people. For companies such as Cisco, that’s a smart investment; because when these 1 billion to 2 billion people become connected, they will in short order become consumers.

It is estimated that in 10 years, the combined populations of what we call developing nations will make up 70 percent of the consumers in the world. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if those consumers were familiar with your products and services.

If you are interested in what Inveneo is doing, I suggest you look around its site. I’m sure it will be worth your while in the not-too-distant future.

Source.

More in Tux Machines

Parted Magic 2014.11.19 Now Has Boot Repair Option

Parted Magic is a Linux distribution that features numerous tools for disk management, such as GParted and Parted. It’s one of the best distros of its kind, but also a commercial OS. Read more

With Assembly, anyone can contribute to open-source software and actually get paid

The open-source movement has produced some of the most widely utilized software in the world, a huge economic value driven by a widely dispersed community who believe contributing good work is often its own reward. Outside of the world of computer science, however, these strategies are still relatively niche. A San Francisco startup called Assembly is trying to change all that, by evolving the open-source model to easily incorporate disciplines outside coding and to include a shared profit motive as well. Today the company is announcing a $2.9 million round of funding it will use to help expand its platform. Read more

French, German, Dutch and Italian hackathons fuel UK ODF plugfest

Hackathons in Toulouse (France), Munich (Germany), Woerden (the Netherlands) and Bologna (Italy) involving software developers and public administrations, are providing input for the ODF Plugfest taking place in London on 8 and 9 December. The first four meetings involve developers working on the Open Document Format ODF and the LibreOffice suite of office productivity tools. The ODF Plugfest brings together multiple implementers and stakeholders of this document standard. The plugfest is aimed at increasing interoperability, tests implementations and discuss new features. Read more

Europe Commission approves Tradeshift data format for goverment purchasing

A product of OASIS, the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards, UBL was developed in a transparent standards-setting process over a period of 13 years by hundreds of leading business experts. OASIS is the same organization that created ODF, the Open Document Format (ISO/IEC 26300), a widely used International Standard for word processing. Read more