This decentralized chat app is like a real-life Omegle

Quick Take

  • The app builds a decentralized mesh network automatically.
  • It’s a way to chat within a physically confined space – or in the street.
A new messaging app, Berkanan, lets you connect with people in a decentralized way in real life. Whether you want to chat with other people in real life or not is a different matter.
Created by Zsombor Szabo and Carmen Claudia Samaki-Hegyes, the project holds no chat data and connects two users via Bluetooth. Each device is separate on the network and there are no central servers.
"Berkanan is what people nearby are talking about right now," said Szabo. "We wanted people to be able to join the conversations, discover interesting people, and connect at festivals, conferences, and college campuses."
Because the network is a decentralized mesh the company hopes that it can be used for secure chat within events. The range for each message is about 70 meters but a wider mesh can expand that distance considerably.
The team was at least honest about their first project.
"We've failed at launching a Bluetooth-based dating app," said Szabo. "The feedback given was that it was too creepy — your potential match could be within Bluetooth range. Berkanan was a logical an iteration and with iOS 12 and Bluetooth 5.0 with its extended range now is the right time to build a messaging app like this."
The company is working on expanding the project to create a global decentralized chat app - something that even privacy advocates like Telegram and Signal have yet to perfect.

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