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Experimental Android hotspot app lets you bank credit for sharing your signal

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airmobs (mit media lab)
airmobs (mit media lab)

The Viral Spaces research group at MIT’s Media Lab has developed an Android app that could let you make the most of your mobile data plan. Airmobs is a community-based P2P Wi-Fi tethering market; you let other users tether to your phone when they need network access, and you get credit to leech off someone else the next time you’re stuck with no connectivity. The system optimizes for a number of conditions, including motion, battery life and signal strength, so if your connection is weak or if your phone is about to die, Air Mobs won’t let anyone else piggyback off of you. The app also lets users choose how much data to share, forestalling any resulting bill shock.

Cash in your credit the next time you take a trip, offsetting some of your roaming costs

It sounds like a great idea — give others access to your data, and cash in your credit the next time you take a trip, offsetting some of your roaming costs, for example. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly in the carriers’ best interests to have users running their own market for data. Speaking to The New Scientist, the app’s creator Eyal Toledano says that he’s hesitant to release Airmobs on the Play store because of how the networks might react. Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing possibility, and yet another example of how distributed computing and the creation of new markets can be used to take the slack out of our systems.