When Bluetooth was introduced, it was to exchange data between devices connected to a local area network wirelessly over short distances. The Bluetooth concept is now going to do more than that, as Rodgers Wambua, a Kenyan student from the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) has created a Bluetooth app that enables one to send messages without incurring any data charges.
Known as “Bluetooth Chat”, the app enables one to chat with others when they have an Android-powered smartphone that is installed with the app.
“With the Bluetooth Chat, you can chat with your friends even when you do not have data bundles on your phone or WI-FI fitted within your surroundings. No charges are incurred,” Wambua, who is a third-year student taking a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, was quoted by local media Standard Digital.
He said he got the idea when he was still in his second year. “My colleagues used to mock me when I started working on the invention. They said I had run berserk but I used to remind them that I was looking for solutions to their problems of being unable to chat over lack of money.”
Wambua said many students in the university have now embraced the application as it is helping them to save money that would have hitherto been used to buy data bundles. But since the app works on a Bluetooth concept, users of the app can only chat within a radius of 100 metres. Wambua said he is doing more research to modify the app so that distance does not hinder people from communicating with their relatives and friends.
Wambua has already patented his invention and he is hoping to earn some cash from it.
“Currently, I get some money from google adverts but ones I will have fully developed the app, I will reap big,” he said.
Wambua’s invention adds to the number of young people in Africa who have come up with solutions to ease the problems they face on a daily basis. In 2016, a student in Namibia invented a phone that does not require a sim card or airtime to make calls. The boy, Simon Petrus, was a grade 12 student at the Abraham Iyambo Secondary School in the Ohangwena Region of the country.
Early this year, a 26-year-old Rwandan student, Deodate Mugenzi figured out a prototype that will enable WhatsApp users to make local and international calls without the internet.