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.
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.