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Hardware to improve mobile phone signal strength & software to direct you to the nearest signal when you have none. Read more

San Jose, CA Hardware
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159
backers
$9,266
pledged of $100,000 goal

Funding Canceled

Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on February 22, 2014.

Hardware to improve mobile phone signal strength & software to direct you to the nearest signal when you have none.

San Jose, CA Hardware
Share this project
DOTS911
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DOTS911

First created  |  5 backed

See full bio Contact me

About this project

Good news for all that have pledged to our campaign: 

 1. We are starting a new Kickstarter 30 day campaign where we will lower the goal to only $5000, which is a fraction of the now over $9000 that is already pledged, and we will send you the link as soon as it is up and ready for you to transfer your pledge. Your initial pledge will be cancelled. We will also have the new link available on our dots911.com website. To get your same originally selected rewards, you will need to pledge again to the new campaign.

 2. We'll be able to ship all of the signal enhancers requested by our faithful supporters in our originally described delivery dates of May and June. The new campaign won't cause any delay! Our original quantity limit for each reward was 25000 units, which would have required more expensive molds to be fabricated, but by reducing this number to 1000 we can use the existing molds. We aim to have a good user friendly version of the app available at the same time so you can record your own dots, allowing for further updates that allow the app to integrate with our cloud database to upload and download crowd sourced signal strength dots. 

 Thanks for your support, John Wilbur DOTS911

We have had a very good ratio of Kickstarter pledges to the number people that have viewed our project, but our media campaign has been lacking and we haven't shown up in a large number of blogs or publications so we're not getting as many eyes as we'd like on this site.

There's a new story about us up at Fastco Labs:Meet the Magician Who Can Fix Your Crappy No Bars Cell Signal.

Whether or not we reach our Kickstarter funding target, we'll be able to ship all of the signal enhancers requested by our faithful supporters in our originally described time frame. We aim to have a good user friendly version of the app available at the same time so you can record your own dots, allowing for further updates that allow the app to integrate with our cloud database to upload and download crowd sourced signal strength dots. Of course, if we hit our Kickstarter target we'll be shipping the Signal Enhancers and polished apps in our originally described time frames.

Good news! After the Kickstarter campaign the signal enhancer prices may be higher on our website direct sales, but we will honor our current Kickstarter campaign prices until July 31, 2014 to those of you that pledge to us on Kickstarter. We have your names and pledge numbers and will provide details of how to secure your priority status through the message system on Kickstarter.

What if I want multiple rewards?

Kickstarter allows you to choose one reward. If you would like to add additional rewards, simply 'up' your pledge amount. When the Kickstarter campaign is over, we will send you a survey asking you exactly what rewards you want and verifying your shipping address.

Links to HD versions of our videos with subtitles available in most languages: Main Video, Example Incidents, Testimonials, Hardware Demo, Phone App Directions Demo

***See demonstrations of our Signal Enhancer hardware and Signal Finder App at dots911.blogspot.com.

***Check out our latest investigation of a December incident near Lovelock, Nevada.

Why you need the DOTS911 app:

 1. For everyday use to record a dot where your car is parked and then get back to it easily.

 2. For recording dot breadcrumbs to retrace your exact path back to your hotel or the start of your hunt, hike or car journey.  So you don’t have to depend on the kindness of strangers.

 3. In an emergency or not, DOTS911 will lead you to a usable cell signal.

Why you need the Signal Enhancer: 

(that works with every cell phone and involves no wires or batteries)

 1. To get a better signal inside your house, giving you a more reliable connection and faster data speed.  Just leave it in the DOTS911 phone holder while it charges, make calls via Bluetooth accessories, and use it as a hot spot to provide internet service to all your devices.

2. To provide improved signal strength in emergencies.  This allows your phone to work in many places where otherwise there is no usable signal.  When your car is broken down or you're on a hike, the Signal Enhancer will let you call for help when otherwise you'd be stuck without any phone service.

DOTS911: Mobile Phone Signal Finder Software and Signal Enhancer Hardware

The DOTS911 app for Android and iOS directs you from wherever you are to the nearest mobile phone signal when you want help and need to make a call. Mobile phones are everywhere - in February 2012, there were over 5 billion active mobile phone accounts. Globally, nearly everyone carries a mobile phone almost all the time and these ubiquitous devices are great tools for getting help when you’re lost or trying to resolve infrequent but critical events like a car accident or an injury. However, accidents on the road or on trails often occur in locations without cell phone reception, and the economics of improving signal coverage are such that wilderness areas and a huge fraction of roads will have massive coverage gaps for decades to come.

When you're stuck in one of these no-coverage areas and need help, our signal finder app will lead you back to the nearest signal.  Our Signal Enhancer hardware will amplify whatever signal you do have, often making the difference between having no useable service nearby and being able to instantly make a call.

DOTS911 is insurance against getting stranded without mobile coverage.

When an accident happens and you have no mobile signal, the lifeline in your pocket becomes no more useful than a brick. Unfortunately, when you don't have reception, there's no easy way to tell where or how to find it. Tragic stories based on this conundrum frequently make headlines, with stranded hikers or motorists unable to find help despite being close to a location with good phone reception. That reception isn't useful to them because it’s invisible. See some examples in our video below: 

The DOTS911 app is insurance against getting stranded without mobile coverage.

When you can’t make a call, the DOTS911 app uses a combination of the individual user’s data and crowd-sourced data to find the nearest available mobile phone signal. In areas with user-provided data preloaded from our servers, you’ll find the nearest signal for your phone, but even if you’re the first explorer in a new area you’ll be led back to the last place where you personally had a signal. These two features are highly complementary. Neither depends on a current data connection, making them unique among signal-related smartphone apps. When a user has an accident and needs to find cell phone reception, the first feature shows the last location along the road or trail behind him where he can find it.  The second feature provides crowd-sourced signal data collected before the signal was lost, leading the user to the nearest location where anyone has ever seen a useable signal.

Signal location data will even be accessible on our website so you can view it with your computer and print it before a trip through a remote area, making it useful for those without a smartphone.

The DOTS911 app and signal enhancer prototypes work for our beta testers today.

Both hardware and software prototypes already perform exceptionally well. The software has already allowed beta testers to find a signal and avoid getting lost on multiple occasions. The hardware has been used to make calls in many isolated areas where there is usually no useable mobile signal, and closer to home it’s been used to increase data transfer rates by a factor of 10-100x by increasing 4G signal strength, instantly converting a 3G connection to 4G. Check out feedback from some of our beta testers:

The DOTS911 signal enhancer can boost your signal by 30x, works with every cell phone on the planet, requires no power, and is 10x cheaper than the competition.

Our signal enhancers don’t require any special port on your phone. Set your phone in the cradle and you can boost your signal strength signal by 15 dB with no wires, no required power source, and at a tenth the price of powered signal repeaters that are much less successful at finding a signal in remote areas. This can be the difference between no service and 2-3 bars of signal, between a patchy 2 bars and steady 5 bars of signal, or between a 200 kbps and a 20 Mbps data transfer rate.

Three Signal Enhancer models: Compact, Full Size, and Ultra
Three Signal Enhancer models: Compact, Full Size, and Ultra

DOTS911 belongs in your cell phone.

Imagine that you’re driving on a road in the mountains when it starts to snow or you have engine trouble. Before long you pull over and need to make a call for help, but you see you have no reception on your phone. What do you do? For all you know, there’s a signal 200 feet in front of you. Or maybe there’s a signal 5 miles back the way you came. Were you paying attention on the drive in? With our app you simply look at your phone and have immediate visual directions to the last place where you were able to make a call. If you’re not the first user on this road, you have crowd-sourced data for the area as well and can see whether the nearest signal might be further ahead or off your road but still nearby. Every year in the United States alone there are hundreds of serious or deadly incidents in no-coverage areas that could have been avoided with a phone call. Most of the time this sort of incident occurs within walking distance of mobile coverage, but the victim has no way to know that.

DOTS911 signal map near Gold Beach, Oregon
DOTS911 signal map near Gold Beach, Oregon

DOTS911 belongs in your car’s emergency kit.

We have developed a device that can improve cell phone reception as well as any external antenna, but which is similar in portability to a phone and which requires no external antenna port. This signal-enhancing device is compatible with every mobile phone, regardless of design, and improves signal strength by up to 15 dB, a factor of thirty increase in power. We envision one of these signal enhancers in every car and in every hiker’s first aid or survival kit. With the signal enhancement device’s assistance, the five, ten, or twenty mile hike to good mobile connection can be shortened or completely eliminated, turning a desperate struggle for survival into a short wait for a tow truck or a helicopter rescue.

The DOTS911 Signal Enhancer will be an important companion in your car or on a trail
The DOTS911 Signal Enhancer will be an important companion in your car or on a trail

DOTS911 belongs in your home.

Many potential customers are simply people with poor signal strength in their homes, which is a common problem due to the signal attenuation of construction materials. A 15 dB gain can be the difference between 0 and 3 bars of reception or 20 kbps and 10 Mbps data speed. The hundreds of millions of mobile phone users with poor signal strength at home would see a clear and immediate benefit from our hardware signal enhancers.

Example Signal Enhancer increasing data transfer rates by 100x by enabling 4G
Example Signal Enhancer increasing data transfer rates by 100x by enabling 4G

We need your support.

We’ve refined our signal enhancer engineering designs through several generations of prototypes. The current iterations are effective and can be produced efficiently. We’ve fabricated 3-D mold forms from several materials using CNC machines for the main reflector and laser-cut phone mounts and bridges. Coatings materials that reflect signals as high as twice the frequencies used by current mobile phones have been selected and validated as well. These designs have been field tested by our development team and beta testers, and as you can see in our videos above, they’ve been found to work extremely well.

Our existing molds are great for prototypes but in order to bring the unit price down to consumer-friendly levels we need to transition to aluminum and steel molds, which involve a substantial capital investment but will allow us to create tens of thousands to millions of units without any variation from part to part.  We plan to use these molds to fabricate our signal enhancers in USA.

Our client software is feature complete on Android but needs development on iOS and further interface refinement to make the user experience as smooth and entertaining as possible, and the server side needs scaling up and interface development as well. In other words, we’ve already shown that the software works and works well, but we need to make sure everyone can use it without any difficulties caused by user volume or unique phone hardware.  We need funds for our app and web developers and for server resources to support our data infrastructure.

This is the right time to transition to production, but doing so requires capital. Your pledge is that capital. Our pledge to you is that you won’t be disappointed with the results. Together we can reduce countless dangerous or fatal accidents into mere inconveniences and convert many more inconveniences into complete non-events. Make a difference for yourself and for the world.

We developed these products because we wanted to stop seeing stories about people stranded and unable to get help.  We can change a huge number of these incidents with sad outcomes into easy calls to 911 or simply to AAA.
We developed these products because we wanted to stop seeing stories about people stranded and unable to get help. We can change a huge number of these incidents with sad outcomes into easy calls to 911 or simply to AAA.

Q&A

Why are some pledge levels only receiving the Android app?

We apologize for the confusion.  Let us clarify: if a pledge reward level includes a copy of the mobile phone app, it can be on your platform of choice.  However, we expect the Android app to be ready with our first batch of production signal enhancers while the iOS app is targeted for launch when we ship our second batch of signal enhancers.  However, if you want a signal enhancer from the first batch and pledge at that level, you can request the iOS app and receive it as soon as it's launched.

Why isn't International shipping included?

International Shipping prices vary by location and country and the size of signal enhancer you ordered. It’s simpler (and cheaper for you) for us to handle this separately. After the Kickstarter campaign is over and we are ready to start shipping, you will receive an invitation to go to our website and enter your shipping information to pay the appropriate amount. 

Why are the international signal enhancers slightly higher priced?

At the moment, the additional handling, regulatory requirements, shipping costs in case of replacements, and support needs abroad demand more of our team. We currently have no manufacturing or assembly operations outside of the USA, so for now we cannot reduce our costs by shipping from a different country. We really do care about shipping our products to all parts of the world, so please understand.

How big are the signal enhancers?

  • Compact enhancers with bridge, phone holder, stand, and packing can fit in an 
  • 8 1/2” x 11” x 2 ” OD box. weight 16 oz
  • Full size enhancers with bridge, phone holder, stand, and packing can fit in a 
  • 12” x 12” x 2” OD box.      weight  1 lb 8 oz
  • The Ultra enhancer with bridge, phone holder, stand, and packing can fit in a 
  • 19” x 19” x 2” OD box.

Will DOTS911 offer a warranty?

Yes.  We will guarantee that you will receive a working signal enhancer and will warranty it against manufacture defects for 1 year. We will provide written and video instructions on our website showing you how to test and use your signal enhancer.

Will uploading my signal data be anonymous?

It’s up to you!  You can upload completely anonymously if you’d like.  On the other hand, if you upload signal information and would like to have your account associated with it, that’s an option as well.  In the latter case, we’ll be sure to give you recognition when a user benefits from your data.  With sufficient funding we plan to add an achievement system to recognize our explorers.

How do $5 Pledge Postcard backers select the national park of their choice?

When the Kickstarter campaign ends on Feb 22, 2014 and our $100K goal is reached, you will be sent a questionnaire asking you for your preference of national park along with your mailing address.

What if I want multiple rewards?

Kickstarter allows you to choose one reward. If you would like to add additional rewards, simply 'up' your pledge amount. When the Kickstarter campaign is over, we will send you a survey asking you exactly what rewards you want and verifying your shipping address.

Thanks for Reading

Thank you for taking time to view our Kickstarter campaign!

If you can’t afford or don’t want to buy our signal enhancer, no hard feelings. We’re still going to tell you a fact we discovered along the way that may end up saving your life. It’s simple, but can be deadly serious!

Consider the following example we investigated while developing our products. We heard a news story of a missing couple in California who had driven in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle to Burnside Lake, 5 ½ miles off the junction of highways 88 and 89. Their timing was ill fated – once they reached the area a heavy winter storm left their car immobilized in snow. They had no working mobile phone signal where they were stranded.  The next morning, as the storm continued, one of them tried to escape the area to find help on foot and died a mile north of the lake.

Once the weather cleared, we drove to Burnside Lake to test our signal enhancer and determine whether it would have prevented this tragic loss.  On the way we had lunch at a resort less than a mile from the entrance to the dirt road leading to the lake.  An employee at the resort told us that he had gone there himself only two weeks before the couple got stuck.  He had the same major mobile phone carrier that we use and he told us that he got a strong signal there, so strong in fact that he could watch YouTube videos in his tent at night.

We then drove to the lake to verify his claim.  He was right.  We realized that if one of the couple had a phone with one major mobile carrier and the other used the other major carrier, that instead of needing to call 911, they probably would have called for a tow truck and gotten out before the heavy snowfall and maybe even had a pleasant lunch at the nearby resort.

This is often the case: the service areas of each mobile phone carrier can be radically different from the others, especially away from major cities.  When choosing a carrier or planning for a trip to an area that may be isolated, we urge you to remember this story and the benefits of having access to emergency services through multiple independent mobile phone networks.

We don’t want you to be the lead story on the nightly news!  We want you to be the lead story on our website, detailing how you used our products to get help when you’d have otherwise been stranded.

Strong signal found at Burnside Lake, but only with the right mobile carrier
Strong signal found at Burnside Lake, but only with the right mobile carrier

Our CEO has a long record as a critical innovator in the tech world.  Please take the time to read the linked biography.


Acknowledgements

We would like to thank those who were an inspiration to us through their personal ordeals.  Because of you and your experiences, many lives will be saved.  With additional thanks to our team members and beta testers:

George Crow

Jeffrey Wilbur, Ph.D.

Lauren Kinnee, Ph.D.

Matt Spergel

Marty Spergel

Arun Luthra, Ph.D.

Michal Drewniak

Art Broughton

Dan Jacobson

Matt Lariz

Barbara Wilbur

Chris Carlucci

Risks and challenges

EXPERIENCE

Different Kickstarter campaigns have different mixes of risks depending on the project and experience of the teams. What is easy for one project and team may be a monumental task for the same project but different team. Our team members consider all of the forward looking tasks to be routine. For example, our CEO has managed large projects for decades and been contracted by numerous firms to successfully solve their production problems. Notable firms included in that management experience are Steve Wozniak’s CL9 in Los Gatos, CA, SRD laboratories in Campbell, CA, M&R Enterprises in Santa Clara, CA, and US Billiards in Amityville, NY.

VENDORS

On some projects, supplier-side issues can lead to delays or out of spec products. Our experienced team plans to avoid these issues by contracting multiple suppliers and carefully monitoring all stages of the manufacturing process to ensure repeatable results. This allows us to proactively eliminate bottlenecks in the production pipeline. We have developed our signal enhancer models with this in mind – each of our parts is designed to minimize production complications and allow for easy fabrication at multiple suppliers.

ORDER FULFILLMENT

Contracted packaging and shipping can be a surprisingly large source of delays or cost problems with inexperienced suppliers. We plan to directly manage fulfillment and shipping rather than rely on a center to handle, package, and ship, ensuring the quality and timeliness of our shipments.

TEAM

We already have an awesome team, one that can deliver on the pledge categories and timing that we have described. With that in mind, we realize that with more talent, we will be able to grow and service what we see as a huge market (there are over 5 billion active mobile phone accounts in the world!). Thus, with additional funding we plan to add to our team to allow us to expand our feature list and deliver on our pledge more rapidly.

SIGNAL DATABASE

Our signal database, which allows precaching of signal data that will lead you to the very nearest location where you can make a call even if you’ve never been there before, depends on crowd-sourcing from our users. We plan to seed the database with signal data in popular locations, but in order to make the precaching feature have the most impact we need a lot of users. Each user’s app will periodically upload signal data to our database, giving us an ever expanding and more useful map of signal strength as our users explore the world.

In other words, we depend on you to be our explorers, mapping out signal strength around the world to save the lives of other users when they run into trouble. Even without crowd-sourced data, the signal enhancer will work perfectly and the app will lead you to the last place you had a signal when you tell it you need help, but with data from our users you’ll also know whether there’s a signal even closer in a place you haven’t yet visited.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    $5 reward

    2 backers

    Color postcard showing a potentially life-saving signal map in a specific region (See FAQ for more details)
    (Choose One National Park per $5 pledge): Acadia, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Yellowstone, Yosemite Valley, Zion, and Grand Canyon.
    Includes USA mailing. (International mailing paid separately)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $9 reward

    2 backers Limited (49998 left of 50000)

    Pocket phone spacer 5/8 inch. Works by passively spacing the phone away from body (no metal shielding). Fits in shirt or coat pocket for better reception and reduced phone radiation. Includes USA shipping. (International customers- Shipping and handling paid separately.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $35 reward

    42 backers Limited (24958 left of 25000)

    Early-Bird pricing!
    Compact 8 inch Signal Enhancer includes phone holder / bridge / disk / stand / DOTS911 app (Android). You are first in line for the entire main production package!! (USA Only) Includes USA shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    $37 reward

    24 backers Limited (24976 left of 25000)

    Compact 8 inch Signal Enhancer includes phone holder / bridge / disk / stand / Android and iOS DOTS911 app. You are second in line for the main production whole package! Includes USA shipping.(International customers- Shipping and handling paid separately.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $45 reward

    18 backers Limited (24982 left of 25000)

    Early Bird Pricing!
    Full Size 12 inch Signal Enhancer includes phone holder / bridge / disk / stand / Android DOTS911 app. You are first in line for the main production whole package!! (USA Only) Includes USA shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    $47 reward

    12 backers Limited (24988 left of 25000)

    Full Size 12 inch Signal Enhancer includes phone holder / bridge / disk / stand / Android and iOS DOTS911 app. You are second in line for the main production whole package! Includes USA shipping.(International customers- Shipping and handling paid separately.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $57 reward

    8 backers Limited (12492 left of 12500)

    Early Bird Pricing!
    Ultra 16 inch Signal Enhancer includes phone holder / bridge / disk / stand / Android DOTS911 app. You are first in line for the main production whole package!! (USA Only) Includes USA shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    $59 reward

    15 backers Limited (12485 left of 12500)

    Ultra 16 inch Signal Enhancer includes phone holder / bridge / disk / stand / Android and iOS DOTS911 app. You are first in line for the main production whole package! Includes USA shipping.(International customers- Shipping and handling paid separately.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $130 reward

    20 backers Limited (4980 left of 5000)

    Early Bird Pricing! Get all 3 sizes. Compact 8 inch, Full size 12 inch, and the Ultra 16 inch Signal Enhancers. Each includes phone holder / bridge / disk / stand / Android DOTS911 app. You are first in line for the main production whole package!! (USA Only) Includes USA shipping.

    Estimated delivery:
    Only ships to: United States
  • You selected
    $135 reward

    11 backers Limited (4989 left of 5000)

    Get all 3 sizes. Compact 8 inch, Full size 12 inch, and the Ultra 16 inch Signal Enhancers. Each includes phone holder / bridge / disk / stand / Android DOTS911 app. You are second in line for the main production whole package!! Includes USA shipping.(International customers- Shipping and handling paid separately.)

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    $5,000 reward

    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    We seed color data dots for 20 miles of road or 10 miles of trail anywhere you choose in the USA (and approved by us).
    Choose an area you want to make safer. Maybe a friend or loved one could have benefited from this if it had been done previously. This data will also be preloaded into our DOTS911 apps.

    Estimated delivery:
  • You selected
    $10,000 reward

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    We seed color data dots for 20 miles of road or 10 miles of trail anywhere you choose in the world (and approved by us).
    Choose an area you want to make safer. Maybe a friend or loved one could have benefited from this if it had been done previously. This data will also be preloaded into our DOTS911 apps.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (60 days)