This Little Black Box Could Revolutionize Offgrid Internet Access

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Brck router sitting on a wooden table

Stephen Gacheru / BRCK

Most of our readers have no problem getting on the internet every day for communication or research or sharing LOLcats, but if you live or work in areas that don't have reliable internet access due to lack of basic communications or power infrastructure, that simple access that we take for granted can be quite difficult.

But if this little black box, appropriately named BRCK, gets a boost in funding and development to build it into a field-ready device, that may radically change the way that people off the grid and off the beaten path gain access to the web.

The device is being developed by Ushahidi, a non-profit tech company that built the Ushahidi Platform for crowdsourced information collection, visualization and interactive mapping, as well as Crowdmap, the hosted version of Ushahidi, and SwiftRiver (a filtering and verification service for curating real-time data from the web). Their successful Kickstarter campaign for BRCK garnered enough financial support to get the product off the ground, and the team is now looking for additional backing to take this device to the next level.

The features of BRCK include:

  • Portable and easy to set up
  • It supports up to 20 devices
  • WiFi powerful enough to cover multiple rooms
  • 8 Hour battery backup
  • 16 GB harddrive
  • 8 GPIO pins to connect sensors
  • Software infused allows for apps, remote management, and data collection
  • Documented API
"As the next 4.5 billion people (65% of the world) start coming online, the need for rugged, reliable, and simple connectivity becomes critical in places with poor infrastructure and limited resources. While existing technologies work well in modern cities, the demands of emerging markets necessitates a rethinking of how technology is engineered, packaged, delivered, and supported. BRCK was conceived in exactly this type of environment. In particular, our struggles in Africa with reliable connectivity inspired us to rethink the entire concept of rugged internet access device - designing the world’s first go-anywhere, connect-to-anything, always available internet device.
Whether running an office of developers or collecting sensor data from the field, the BRCK was designed to ensure that nothing gets in the way of staying connected." - BRCK