Throwaway product ideas: Hybrid
There was a time when it seemed like most major cities would have consistent free wi-fi coverage - not from a centralised internet provider, but from all the people who had unsecured wi-fi networks.
It never really came to be.
Unlimited broadband plans became plans with caps, and people perhaps also became more conscious of the security risks of unsecured networks.
Since the NSA’s blanket internet surveillance has become big news there has been renewed interest in how we can properly decentralise internet infrastructure.
Mesh networks are exciting, but I wonder how feasible they are as a total replacement for the internet as we know it - can a mesh network match the data transfer rates and latency of the current net? I may be wrong but it seems unlikely.
The idea of Hybrid is to create a product that brings the best of both worlds together - a decentralised mesh network for communications, and a secure way for people to share a portion of their home internet connection with other people in the area.
At the base of Hybrid might be something like this - a Raspberry Pi with a 1k range wifi antenna.
Hybrid joins your existing wi-fi network and has an interface that lets you configure how much bandwidth you want to share with the public.
The Hybrid network is a separate network that keeps your main home network secure.
I’m not sure about the details but perhaps Hybrid could also include protections for the person using the network.
To prevent leachers you could optionally have a credit system that prioritises giving bandwidth to other people who also share their own home connection, and the system might limit how much data any one person could use on your network.
Hybrid would also run an encrypted mesh network (like Hyperboria - http://hyperboria.net/).
An app for connecting to Hybrid might include a basic secure messaging product & a browser for mesh network sites.
To make the product fun, and out of recognition that we live in the age of on demand manufacturing, the Hybrid device/antenna could be supplied with custom 3-d printed shells - choose two animals and colors and the case will become a hybrid of those two. Ligers & honey badgers here we come..
I don’t have the engineering skills to realise a product like this, but if developers of existing mesh protocols/hardware like the idea I would be happy to contribute ui designs & front end dev, create Kickstarter marketing material, and bring general product development skills to the project.
Mesh networks face a barrier in that the people who will install nodes & use the network tend to be a small niche, and people on mesh networks are still going to want traditional internet access.
Hybrid makes creating a mesh network node appealing to a wider base of users - both by being a fun sculptural object, and by also creating a network of free traditional wi-fi.
Please feel free to discuss this idea further on Reddit
Beaver Duck anyone? (low poly animals by Timothy Reynolds) .