A researcher from Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia has developed a new technology that uses software giving Android smartphones the ability to directly connect to each other without needing a mobile carrier. The software is apparently for emergencies where the normal infrastructure is down, such as in some areas where flooding has been bad in Australia.
The invention has two components with one of the components being a temporary, self-organizing network that is also self-powered with towers dropped by air. The second feature is a permanent mesh network that allows WiFi enabled mobile phones to communicate directly.
It sounds like this differs from normal VoIP in that not only do you not need a mobile carrier, but the direct connection means you don't have to be near a WiFi network either. It sounds a bit like VoIP for WiFi Direct to me. "Phones running our software relay calls between themselves," said Gardner-Stephen in a university news release. "If even just one of those can see a cell tower, then calls can be with any of the phones, thus sustaining communications in affected areas. A balloon is not necessary; a phone running our software at any vantage point can suffice."
Via Information Week