Local News

Raleigh company provides walkie-talkie alternative to smartphones for families

Posted June 13, 2018 4:39 p.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2018 5:57 a.m. EDT

— Smartphones are powerful devices, but in young hands they might be a little too powerful.

From screen addiction to all the stuff lurking on the internet that’s inappropriate for children, the decision to give a child a phone can be tricky, but a local company is creating a cellphone alternative for families.

Relay, a new device from Raleigh-based Republic Wireless, is a cell-based, nationwide walkie-talkie. Users can press the button, say something, and have it heard on the family’s other devices and in an app.

The most notable part of Relay may be what’s missing from the phone—a screen. Republic’s CEO says it’s a dilemma many parents face.

“I could give them a smartphone, but they’re already having all these screen addiction issues with iPads and computers, so do I really want to add to that with arguably the most addictive screen in our lives as adults,” CEO Chris Chuang said.

David Anderson of Raleigh uses Relay with his 8-year-old. He says he doesn’t want his son getting addicted to a smartphone and ignoring the people he is with.

“This lets him do active things, but still gives us that connection,” Anderson said.

A two-pack of Relay devices costs $149 and the subscription is $6.99 per month for each.

Republic Wireless said the Relay devices are rugged and include GPS tracking. PC Magazine said it found the device gets two or three days of battery life with moderate use.