US MVNO Republic Wireless unveiled a new communication device using voice control to connect children and parents – without a screen.
Designed to combat what Republic Wireless CEO Chris Chuang dubbed “digital distraction” the handset, named Relay, consists of just a single button and a speaker. The device functions like a walkie talkie, allowing children to connect to their parents and friends using voice commands given to Google Assistant.
Relay can also play music and games, and offers location tracking so parents can keep tabs on their children’s whereabouts on a companion app.
In a statement, Chuang claimed digital distraction is a “massive problem in today’s society”. Relay’s screenless design is an intentional attack on “the smartphone’s domination of family time and attention,” he added.
Slated to launch in early 2018, Relay will be offered in packs of two units for $149 or packs of three for $199. Service, which includes Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity, will be offered at $6.99 per month per device. The device does not require users to have a Republic Wireless smartphone subscription, the company noted.