A project called “Homeless Hotspots” is turning homeless Austin residents into mobile wireless hotspots outside the South by Southwest convention center.
It’s part marketing stunt, part genuine charitable initiative — and it’s generating lots of double-takes and chatter from those who pass by.
“I’m Melvin, a 4G hotspot,” reads the T-shirt of participant Melvin Hughes. “SMS HH Melvin to 25827 for access.”
Access is pay-what-you-want, though $2 per 15 minutes is the suggested donation, payable through Paypal or Venmo. BBH Labs, the project’s organizer, says it will pay all the proceeds directly to the participant who made the sale.
Reactions are definitely mixed, Hughes says. He’s handed out hundreds of cards explaining the project, and says a few dozen people have actually logged on.
“Some people want nothing to do with it, for whatever reason,” he says. “I think it’s a great thing. It’s an opportunity.”
Do you think the “charitable experiment” is only helping the company make a buck by objectifying homeless people or is the project helping them?