Go Far, Stay Close – The Story of Our Latest Product, Relay.

We have something totally new to announce today, and if you don’t read the rest of this post, we want you to know this:  We’ve designed and built a new product, but it’s not a smartphone.  It’s a LTE & WiFi powered walkie-talkie that’s portable, durable and screen-free – designed to keep families connected.  We think you are going to love it, and we think your kids will love it too.

Just watch…

I had no idea you guys were working on this!

Yeah? We’re good at keeping a secret I guess, but we’ve been working on this one for a while, over 3 years in fact. Here’s the story:

When Republic launched 6 years ago, smartphone service was dominating the family budget.  Plans normally topped $100 per line per month.  We’re proud to have built a service, powered by our technology, that helped our members save for the most important things in life.  In the last 6 years, our members have saved hundreds of millions of dollars – that’s a lot of family vacations.

Smartphones are great, but…

Since our business is smartphones, we saw a new, growing problem.  Smartphones began to dominate family time.  Too many distracting screens are stealing our attention away from the most important things, like having a family meal, truly connecting with friends, or just getting on the floor to play with Legos.  We saw the effects on ourselves and our families but realized the problem was happening everywhere, it wasn’t just us.

There are 25 million kids in the US between ages of 6-12.  Half to a third of those kids already have a smartphone.  66% of parents say their kids are getting addicted to smartphones (50% of kids self-report the same).  Lastly, a third of parents say the smartphone is a source of daily conflict in the house.  All of this sounded familiar to us, maybe it does for you too.

We saw an opportunity to make a big impact

With this problem in mind, we watched a huge technology shift take shape – the rise of voice, or voice first interfaces.  Our kids started asking Alexa to tell them a joke and asking Google Home to play their favorite movie soundtrack.  It came naturally to kids, and there were no distracting screens.

We began research & prototyping over 3 years ago, looking for unique ways to combine our software with purpose-built hardware.  Our team grew to include some incredibly talented folks with tons of experience designing and building hardware products.  Early prototypes emerged and we began to imagine a device that was simple to use with your voice, but portable enough for kids take on the go, packed all the smarts of a smartphone – just without the screen.

That’s why we built Relay.

Relay is a screenless mobile device built to give families and friends a safe and fun way to stay connected with each other.  


It works just like a walkie-talkie, except with unlimited range thanks to 4G LTE & WiFi.  This means you can talk to family and friends outside, down the street, or across the country.  Simply press and hold the button to talk and other Relay devices immediately hear your voice.  It allows you to connect one-on-one, or to a group of devices all at once.  Relay is rugged, water-resistant and small enough to fit in a kids pocket.  Instead of giving your kid a smartphone, you can give them a Relay – and you can feel good about it.

Relay can give kids the freedom to explore while giving parents peace of mind.  Parents can use the companion app on iOS or Android to instantly locate and communicate with their kids.  But we also built Relay so that kids can communicate with each other, safely and securely.  It can do some other amazing things too, such as interact with Google Assistant, play games and jam some music.

We’ve had the chance to show Relay to some parents with kids…here’s what they said.


“I like that there is nothing that can be distracting on this product. I do not want her going outside to play only to be using another screen. I want her to enjoy the outdoors as I did when I was a kid.”

“I like that this product would give me the added security that I need to feel safe when my child is not in my presence, It will allow me to let my child have that freedom and independence to be their own person … but I will never be too far away.”

“I like to know where my kids are at all times and at the same time I want them to be able to be more independent.”

In addition to kids, we think Relay is great for anyone who wants to simplify communications to a single button press.

When is Relay available? How do I get one?

Relay comes in 4 color options Slate, Mint, Brick, and Blue. It will be offered for $149 for a 2-pack, $199 for a 3-pack and $99 for a single Relay device.  Monthly service will be $6.99/month per device.

We expect Relay to be available in early 2018.  In addition, we will be starting a beta trial very soon with a select group of users to help refine the product.  If you are interested, please go to http://relaygo.com and sign up to be the first to get updates.

We are going to be revealing more details about Relay in the weeks and months ahead.  We encourage you to ask questions and engage with us on the Relay Facebook page.

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Notable Replies

  1. ngufra says:

    Interesting idea.
    Would be great if it can communicate with cell phone (a la zello) so parents don’t need a second device.
    Would be great to be able to see where are the devices on a map, so you don’t have to ask “Where are you”, you can just see where your child is on a map (a la familo.net) with a list of family locations “home” “school” “chruch” “work”.
    Make sure there is a mute button. even better, auto mute based on location and schedule (mute during school hours)
    Would be great if it can be used as a presence tag with smart things.

  2. Hi @ngufra

    There will be a companion app that runs on Android or iOS… The app will let you communicate to the device using your smart phone.

    Details about whether the companion app show location without being asked have not been released yet.

  3. “NFC contact sharing” is among Relay’s specs. Can anyone who gets his NFC-enabled smartphone within five inches of a Relay exchange contact info with it? What parental control over contacts is possible?

  4. Exactly how all this will work hasn’t been revealed (and if I had to guess even decided).

  5. Would be interesting if bluetooth was included on a similar product or on the relay.
    Allow me to explain. For several parents with children with Type-1 diabetes, their blood sugar is monitored via an app. Most of those kids currently carry around a phone so that the phone can communicate with the monitor and relay the information to the parents.

    It doesn’t make a ton of sense for a 5-year-old to have a full-feature smartphone. However, if this could communicate with the monitor(via bluetooth) and then upload the small amount of data via a data connection, this might become the default device for many kids with diabetes and similar monitored diseases.

    While they currently have a full app on the kid-carried phone, I don’t know that it is necessary. We are talking about a fairly light-weight portal.

    Just a thought Republic. Be the heroes!!

  6. Republic should team with Amusement Parks, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, schools etc. to lease these to groups during outings. Smartphones get lost or damaged, and wear out too quickly. But this is ideal for teams / groups to stay in touch without the hassles. Especially if group leaders can monitor GPS of multiple Relays, then field trips just got a lot safer and better coordinated. Put a lanyard on it, wear it on your neck, etc.

  7. Relay sounds like a great start, but I am not sure it goes far enough. My husband is legally-blind and had his arm amputated a few months ago. He has not been able to master using his Republic Wireless smart phone with one hand. He wants me to switch him back to Verizon Wireless and an iPhone. I have no choice but to do it. Relay sounds like it is almost what he needs. If he could use Relay and call any cell phone number in his contacts from Relay, that is all he would need. It would also be more rugged and easier for him to use with one hand.

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