Firefox-OS based Chromecast competitor promises hotel-room-friendly ad-hoc mode

Matchstick, the Chromecast competitor based on Firefox OS that is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, may have just found a way to set itself apart from Google’s streaming stick: The startup promised backers in an update that it will develop a way to play local media directly on the device without the need for an internet connection.

This kind of ad-hoc mode was the most-requested feature by backers, according to the update, and it’s easy to see why: Not requiring an internet connection will, among other things, allow [company]Matchstick[/company] users to take the device to any hotel room, plug it into the TV, and play any media they have saved on their mobile phone or tablet.

That’s not possible today with Chromecast, which must connect to the internet before you can cast content to it. However, getting a Chromecast to connect to hotel Wi-Fi is challenging, since hotels tend to use captive portals to make guests accept terms of service, or even enter their room number on a dedicated website before they can go online — something that’s not possible with Chromecast.

Further complicating the issue is the fact that hotels tend to use AP isolation, which means that individual devices accessing the Wi-Fi network can’t discover or interact with each other. That’s helpful to prevent guests in the next room from accessing your shared files, but it also means that your phone won’t be able to connect to your Chromecast dongle.

Up until now, the most reliable option to get Chromecast working has been to bring a dedicated router and launch a separate network (check out the video below for a quick demo). A streaming stick with ad-hoc mode could simplify things a lot.

Coincidentally, members of Google’s Chromecast team were asked about making their device working during a Reddit AMA session Thursday. Chromecast Group Product Manager Ambarish Kenghe replied:

We have heard this a few times now and want to look into this. However, as you have pointed out there are a few technology hurdles to cross. Plus with our focus on simplicity we need to find a seamless way of enabling this that can work across all scenarios. So some challenges ahead on that 🙂

If you want to know more about the future of Chromecast, make sure to check out our Structure Connect conference in San Francisco next Tuesday and Wednesday, where I will interview Google’s Chromecast VP Mario Queiroz on stage about what’s next for the streaming stick.