Serval Project a finalist in innovation competition

According to the Serval Project website, the software program promises mobile phones to work "anywhere, anytime"

An open source software program that promises to enable mobile phones to communicate, despite normal phone lines being down, has made the finals of a global innovation competition.

The Serval Project, currently in development, is one of 11 finalists in the Ashoka Changemakers Citizen Media Competition. It beat a field of about 500 entrants worldwide.

According to the project’s website, mobile phones will work without infrastructure, satellites, towers, Wi-Fi hotspots or carriers.

Instead, Serval uses Wi-Fi radio to connect phones to each other, allowing users to make calls by “bouncing” off other devices carrying the software in a range of about 100 metres.

This means handsets will be able to continue running when networks are destroyed or do not exist.

Only two phones are required to start a network and the technology can be shared between devices at any time, eliminating any start-up or operating costs.

In addition to making calls, the software can also share files, maps and data during a disaster.

Its creator, Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen from Flinders University’s School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, developed the software in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The software is expected to be publicly available as a free Android phone application by August 2012, and later rolled out across the Nokia and iPhone markets.

The Serval Project has also made it to the finals of the World Embedded Software Contest for the second year running. The finals will be held in South Korea later this month.

Voting in the Ashoka Changemakers Citizen Media Competition closes November 23.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

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Tags open sourceNetworkingmobile phonessoftwareTelecommunicationsWi-FiFlinders UniversityPaul Gardner-StephenServal Project

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