Jun 25, 2016 | By Tess
A Croatian startup, which just months ago made headlines for MeshPoint, their innovative 3D printed WiFi solution for refugees, has just been named best startup project in the category of Best Humanitarian Tech of the Year at The Europas. The MeshPoint team was presented with the award in London earlier today and beat out 11 other teams within their category.
MeshPoint was developed by a team of volunteers from Osijek, Croatia, who, while helping the mass of refugees coming into Croatia, realized how crucial having access to the internet was for the disenfranchised peoples. After trying a number of different portable WiFi solutions and facing difficulties with all of them, the team set out to create their own durable, easy-to-use, and efficient WiFi system for the benefit of the refugee populations. Ultimately, they create MeshPoint, a stand-alone hotspot with a waterproof and rugged 3D printed casing, ideal for outdoor and even crisis areas.
The device, which consists mainly of a router, batteries, and a tough 3D printed casing, was designed for use in the most dire situations, being able to withstand heavy weather conditions, all the while providing internet access to 100 to 200 people simultaneously. What’s more, the technology is easy to use, meaning that any volunteer or inexperienced user can set the system up and have WiFi running in no time.
The team behind MeshPoint have also adamantly kept their product open-source, so that anyone, even someone with little experience, could feasibly build the versatile WiFi hotspot themselves. All of the parts are reportedly widely available, including the OpenWRT-friendly routers, and structural parts that can be easily 3D printed or CNC milled.
So far, the team has produced about twenty working MeshPoint devices and are in the process of further developing and perfecting their product, making them as easy as possible to handle. The Osijek based team is also currently in the process of registering their company, as well as developing other products, such as the u:Plug, a smart outlet with direct charging for cellphones.
The recognition from The Europas, the premier award for Europe’s most promising tech startups, is certainly significant. Meshpoint is a topical and useful device that could at worst improve and at best save the lives of refugees struggling in their arrival to Europe. Having access to the internet, no matter what camp they might be settled at or what journey they might be on, could be crucial to the survival of refugees, for navigation, documentation, and communication purposes. In times of crisis, it is hopeful to see such innovative and humanitarian technologies come to the fore.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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