Before cell phones gained popularity, pagers were the messaging tool of choice for people who needed to be reachable even when they were out and about. For the most part, they were used as a one-way system. If a hospital needed to reach a surgeon, for example, they’d page them. Then the surgeon would know to call the hospital immediately for more information. Smartphones have made pagers obsolete for most people, but they’re still used by some emergency personnel. Now, Philippe CADIC is bringing the pager into the modern era with SnapOnAir.
CADIC is, not surprisingly, a medical doctor, and so he’s one of the few people who still relies on pagers. But, traditional pagers obviously lack a lot of modern functionality, which is why so few people use them. CADIC wanted to build a pager with the kinds of features people need these days, while still retaining the reliability that makes pagers ideal in emergency situations. His designs feature text messaging, and can even send their GPS coordinates. To accomplish that, he designed a LoRaWAN communicator called SnapOnAir.
LoRaWAN is a good choice for a device like this, because LoraWAN networks can serve large areas without needing to use expensive telecom infrastructure. CADIC has gone through many iterations, but the current one is built around an ESP32. That has WiFi and Bluetooth built in, and CADIC added an RFM95 LoRa radio. Some of the SnapOnAir models are very simple with an OLED display and a couple of buttons, while others feature touchscreens and even hardware keyboards. All of the designs are open source, and available on CADIC’s GitHub page if you want to build your own.