Special Lecture by Dr. Jason Ernst: Mobile Mesh Networks, Blockchain, and How to Connect the Next Billion
Date and Time
Summerlee Science Complex 1504
Join us October 25, 2017 in SCIE1504 at 4 pm for a special lecture by Dr. Jason Ernst of Left.io.
Dr. Ernst earned an MSc and PhD from the University of Guelph with expertise in Wireless Mesh and Heterogeneous Wireless Networks. He co-founded Redtree Robotics which developed a plug-and-play mesh-enabled robotics platform. Following this, Jason joined Left in Vancouver, BC where he turned a hotspot-based offline messaging app into RightMesh - an Android SDK / API which provides baked in mobile mesh networking capabilities for any app.
Mobile Mesh networks, Blockchain, and how to connect the next billion - starting with remote Northern Canada
People in most of Canada and the rest of the developed world depend on many valuable services that we take for granted because of connectivity. We monitor our environments, receive mental health support, consult doctors, transfer money, book trips, and share pictures of cats with our friends. All of this depends on reliable, expensive, infrastructure-based networks - fibre optic cables, ISPs, and servers in far away places. Even if you’re right beside your friend and send her a message, there is a good chance it will travel from your device, to a Wi-Fi hotspot or cellular tower, through the ISP, to AWS, and back to your friend on a reverse path, when it could have made a single wireless hop. Infrastructure exists, but it is often overburdened.
This problem is not unique to the developing world. In Canada’s North, a digital divide is happening right in our own country. During our last trip to Rigolet, Labrador, average data transfer speeds were observed to be 0.75Mbps, while in Vancouver, my home connection is 1000Mbps. The lack of opportunity and effect on people is becoming evident. Rates of suicide in Northern aboriginal communities range from 5 to 25 times the rates of Canada as a whole. An Inuit report identified some of the challenging factors affecting Inuit life to include poverty, stressful home environments, and lack of access to health care. These are just a few examples that could be greatly improved with better access to connectivity.
Companies like Facebook and Google are trying to solve these problem with networks of satellites, drones, and balloons, but these are just more expensive, infrastructure-based solutions. Many people in the developed world and in remote places like Rigolet have smartphones; however, they are not connected because internet access is still not affordable. The top 10 free apps on Google play store, for example, can cost as much as 40 hours of minimum wage work to pay for the data to download them in some countries.
We propose connecting people using the devices they already own; and, we want to change the concept of connectivity. Connected doesn’t always have to be connected to the Internet, it can be connected with other people in your community. It can be more intelligent connectivity where a few hops in a mesh is better than going all the way to AWS and back. We’ve built an SDK to do this, and I’ll talk about the tech details of how it works, how it involves Blockchain and why you should build apps with it, or come work with us.