If you've ever been travelling and struggling to find somewhere with internet access, you may be in luck. A new smartphone app allows users to share mobile Web access for free with other people nearby who have the same app.
Open Garden, a startup which won most innovative startup award at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC this year, takes the WiFi and Bluetooth connections from the different smartphones and laptops out there and uses them as individual routers, creating a new network. To put it simply, it allows its users to piggyback off someone else's internet connection, but before you start worrying about people accessing your connection without your permission, both the person providing the connection and the person wanting to connect must have Open Garden installed.
The idea is that instead of paying for roaming charges or you're in an area that doesn't have the infrastructure to properly provide WiFi access, you can connect to a device for free (provided there's one to connect to) and surf the web. If the person you're connected to leaves the vicinity, the app looks for the next best connection and connects to that instead.
The makers of the app are saying that by utilizing these devices, Open Garden could reduce network congestion and offload traffic from an overburdened WiFi connection to one that isn't being used.
We can only imagine that mobile carriers won't be too happy if this app becomes popular, but those places which have open WiFi access tend to be slow because of the volume of people connected to it so having an alternative WiFi route can only be a good thing. The only problem is that this app's success will greatly depend on how many people actually use it. The app is available for Windows and Mac computers and for Android smartphones.