What is the Bricophone ?

The Bricophone is a low-cost Open-Source DIY mesh-network independant wireless communication system for smart communities

What is a mesh network ?

It's a network of devices where any device can automatically route information coming from a close device to another close device in order to reach the final destination. The network doesn't require centralisation of information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesh_networking .

Is it another Linux phone system ?

No, the Bricophone project has no intention to create another open source cellular phone for actual telephony networks. The Bricophone serves different goals and has to be an alternative solution to actual cellular phones economy, infrastructures, size, use of privacy, and politics.

Do It Yourself ?

Yes. As an Open Hardware/Open Source Software project, all components, codes and schematics of the Bricophone will be public and under Open source licence. The electronic design will be adapted to DIY methods.

What are the usages of the Bricophone ?

The general goal is to enable dialogues between unequiped areas and human communities needing low cost communication systems and no infrastructure:

Areas: Human communities:
  • rescuers and public in big areas destroyed by disasters
  • activist communities ( G8 or WTO summits, ecological, social or political activists in dictatorial regimes )
  • social, creative or cultural networks
  • hubs and ICTS
  • any human community

Are there some similar infrastructures ?

Yes, many armies use such mesh portable communication technologies for their combatants. Some companies sell such mesh systems for rescuers, mining and industrial uses, but at unaffordable prices, and proprietary technologies.

What about privacy and Bricophone ?

As actual cellular phones, a Bricophone call could be intercepted, but we envisage to implement an optional encryption to the hard/soft, if compatible with our technical solutions.

What are the components of a Bricophone network infrastructure ?

A bricophone network works with two different Open Hardware devices:
  • The Bricophone itself, a very basic device that can communicate directly with other Bricophones in a mesh network.
  • The Bricopod, a simple repeater
  • The Bricophone router, called Bricoroute, plugged to some wifi routers like wrt54G models, which can route bricophone calls through internet for long distance calls to other bricoroutes/ bricophones. Running on the base of Open Source software OpenWRT. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenWrt

Can I connect the Bricophone to actual cellular networks ?

No. The Bricophone is independent of actual phone infrastructures.

Wireless communications are restricted in many ways and forbidden in some countries ?

Yes, but the Bricophone project uses industrial wireless sensor technologies permitted in most countries, even for long distance emissions, in free wavebands (ISM).

This is a technologically ambitious project, do we have the technologies to build this hardware in low cost ?

Those technologies just arrived in the last two years. Their cost is now compatible with a low-cost project in rich countries, but not yet in poor countries. The cost will decrease strongly in coming years. Even if the performances are limited in the first draws, they will increase quickly in the future. Unknown parameters in the future are parasitic interferences because of the increasing level of wireless devices in similar waveband ranges. We want to buid a software layer capable of running on any wireless digital device.

What are the features of a Bricophone ?

You can only call another person from the same bricophone network, if you know his/her phone number. The Bricophone is designed for a very low cost and very low power cunsumption, and eventually contain its own powering system ( solar or muscular). In this purpose, we don't plan other communication features yet, except text. But as any open source project, many other implementations could join the basic functionnalities. The first prototypes will be text-only.

How many people can be in the same bricophone network ?

We don't really know yet, because software and hardware will interact strongly : potentially, more than thousands in the same network. And there can be many networks. Further software developments will allow communication through different networks.

Environmental implications
We are already working on prototypes to make Bricophones ecologically sound, and relevant to the environment of local communities. For instance we are working with bamboo designs in Latin America and are researching the usage of recyclable materials in European Bricophones. The Bricophone is also safer to use than conventional mobile phones, with less radiation.

What is the Bricophone project's future ?

Technically: a lot of work. It depends on the interest of the open source and activist communities and the manner in which they focus on it. This website will contain hardware and software discussions and deveelopments on the project. Most importantly - We need you, and your input.

Are there some prototypes ?

Some people have worked on the technical side with good results. They have validated the concepts, but no complete prototype has been completed yet. The software layer is too complex to improvise in simply a few tests, and therefore is ongoing.

What is the open source licence of the project, software and hardware ?

Project, electronic design and hardware design are located on Creative Commons Licence http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en, software in GNU GPL 3

How can we contact the team?

infobricophone ( à ) craslab.org

Who is behind the Bricophone project ?

An informal team of artists, open source activists and some NGOs all over the world. We invite all interested NGOs and individuals to join our project, write their name here, present themselves on the list and make some propositions: and many others

How can we communicate ?

You can subscribe or unsubscribe to the Bricophone mailing list here

Are there some documents on the project ?

-yes, you can download an english presentation in pdf here