Imagine you’re a coder. You’re coding away, engrossed in your work, which just so happens to be the newest software for health care technology, and this software is going to change the world, when suddenly- darkness. The power goes out.
You lose all your work. The time you spent, wasted. The progress you made, pointless. You’re probably thinking, “That’s bananas. Anyone working, in the United States, on a software that could change the world would never be in this position,” and you’re probably right. But, what if you were designing software that could change the world, and you weren’t from the United States? What if you were from Nairobi, Kenya? Does this seem more plausible? This is entirely plausible, and entirely the basis of BRCK, a device created in 2014 by a technology start-up team that outsmarts both electricity and problematic Internet connection due to poor infrastructure.
The device acts as a back up to the Internet, so that when the power goes out and an individual is working on a world-changing technology, it connects over to the nearest GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) network. As the picture so eloquently states, it’s “your backup generator for the Internet.”
Said best in a TED about the device talk given by Juliana Rotich, an information technology professional, “Mobile connectivity in Africa is pervasive.” (full video can be found here) Developers of BRCK wanted to leverage that pervasive connectivity, and thus, the device was conceived. It also has an eight-hour battery life, so if and when electricity goes down, the BRCK can act as the base of your work-life, just as bricks act as the bases of many people’s home lives. For rural areas (where brick homes, as well as Internet connection are much less common), BRCK can be that primary source of connection.
As shown in the above graphic, you can have an on-ram for “the Internet of things.” You could, essentially, attach a weather station to this device and successfully achieve Internet connection in very remote areas. There would have been so much less blood in the movie, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, had the characters had this handy-dandy BRCK device to connect to the internet and to contact help in the remote area of which they were stranded, and ultimately, well, massacred. Eeeesh…poor girl.
But seriously…what does this mean for the start-up nation? Forget nation. What does this mean for the start-up globe? This means everything. In order to grow businesses and products, connectivity is essential. How can entrepreneurs expect to catapult and launch their businesses and products without having unlimited and boundless access to the people across the world? With this evolutionary product on the market for only $250, small companies, global companies, and really all companies, have access to more connection and more power-saving resources than ever before.
For start-up businesses just starting out, a group of people may be working out of a barn house. This small and relatively cheap device, for the services it provides, gives customers the ultimate form of convenience for their circumstances. BRCK is making connectivity just as accessible for the entrepreneur working out of a field in Kenya as it is for the CEO working out of the high rise in Manhattan. Not only was the product, itself, created and currently being run by a technological start-up, it has the potential to pay it forward to its fellow start-up peers in both the near future and in the long run. Even more inspiring and providing further evidence of BRCK’s long term reimbursements to future start-up companies, BRCK has founded a new model for tech-based teaching in Africa.
BRCK Education was launched in Nairobi, Kenya to address the country’s education problems, including a lack of access to technology and a lack of overall technology literacy. Forbes says,“Clever confluence of technology and entrepreneurial spirit is the way it has been designed to teach both unknowledgeable teachers and children about technology.” A device that pays it forward to both its fellow start-up starters and the future (potentially start-up powering) brains of the world? I know what you’re thinking, “This innovation is hitting me like a ton of bricks.” Me, too.
In an article published by WIRED, the man who wants to turn clothing into modular gadgets says, “Communication has always been the drive for technology…to enable communication in an organic, smart-phone free way,” he’s creating clothing that is embedded with wifi access points, a GPS, a crowdsourced playlist and a battery pack. He’s creating, essentially, a wearable communication hub. A communication hub similar to the goals laid out by BRCK.
In a sense, BRCK aims to provide this same communication necessity to countries and infrastructures with limited access to this often taken-for-granted luxury. If the United States is at the point where we’re able to create wifi-ladden clothing for convenience beyond belief, BRCK is a much more modest and more heroic version of this convenience. It’s providing those, who aren’t normally granted the luxury of necessary communication, with access to an affordance that so many individuals, in more affluent countries with reliable infrastructures, don’t even think twice about. Seriously, we’re at the point of wearable wifi. Although this device might not seem as snazzy as a wifi jumpsuit, the least the start-up developers of BRCK can do is provide connectivity to places that normally lack it, and hey, maybe someday Kenya will be on the fast-track to wearable wifi, too.