If you ever find yourself in an area where you are out of cellular range, you may have felt pretty helpless. Well now you can now stay connected in those dead zones thanks to a new invention. Sonnet Labs has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for its two-way system for sending text, audio, and images without any cellular connection.

The Toronto startup has built a smartphone add-on that lets anyone communicate without a cellular signal or wireless networks at all. Sonnet uses long-range radio frequency bandwidth to connect phones over a range of several miles. It essentially turns your phone into a two-way walkie-talkie! It’s all built on existing technology but the Sonnet adds some interesting features.

The hardware itself is just a rugged plastic hexagon about the size of a portable make-up mirror. You can clip the gadget to your clothes or backpack and it communicates wirelessly with your phone. Sonnet provides a built-in app so you can send text messages, voice recordings, images and GPS coordinates to any other Sonnet-equipped phone within range.

Just as you would send and receive audio in a two-radio connection, the Sonnet system lets you send and receive data packages like pictures, texts or recordings. The hexagon-shaped device works as a permanent transceiver and is a dedicated “walkie-talkie connection” that you control with your smartphone.

The general idea for developing it was to give smartphone users one more option in situations where they can’t get access to cellular networks. Off-grid hikers should definitely find this option very useful, but you could also switch over when you can’t get a signal at a crowded convention or festival. Sonnet is also a backup communication system for the worst-case scenarios in life, such as a natural disaster or even post-apocalyptical situations (zombie or otherwise we suspect).

The rechargeable lithium-polymer battery lasts up to 24 hours, and in a pinch you can use a USB cable to power your phone from the Sonnet device. The Sonnet’s GPS function can be used with a database of offline maps, stored within the unit itself. If you’re out hiking, the Sonnet app can track the location of others in your party and you can leave digital “breadcrumbs” to mark your routes. For genuine emergencies, the Sonnet has a wide-band SOS feature that puts out a distress call on all frequencies.

A pledge of $89 or more will get you your own pair of Sonnets and if all goes as planned shipping will start in November of this year after funding is complete.

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