All those smart device apps got you down? Too overwhelmed by all the features and functions of your phone/tablet/whatnot that you can’t even place a phone call? A company called Insensi aims to return to the simplicity of the family phone, with a few modern upgrades.
The device, called Ily, can connect to Wi-Fi, Ethernet lines, or (gulp) even old telephone landlines, and instead of being chock full of other things to do, it aims to do one (or two) things really well: make phone and video calls.
The gray base unit has an eight-inch HD touchscreen, flush-mounted handset, speakers, camera, and IR sensor and can also be used to send drawings to adoring grandparents. Bluetooth enables it to act as a phone relay, and it’s compatible with Spotify.
A big part of the idea is to prevent the dreaded pass-the-smartphone around so family members (read: kids) can talk to the grannies and grampies but not accidentally call one of your business contacts.
The idea first came to Insensi CEO Ilan Abehassera, when he was traveling for work. He wanted to talk to his children while he was out of town, but his wife doesn’t like to give her cell phone to the kids, which made it difficult to get in touch with them. Their grandparents were also pestering him to talk more to their grandchildren, and he thought there had to be a better way for the children to connect with family without putting himself or his wife in the middle.
Ily is coined from part of the word “family,” and it’s an acronym for “I Love You,” which Insensi felt was fitting as its core purpose.
Because smartphone devices are so successful and can do so many things, they’ve left open a human desire to create devices that have more singular functions, Abehassera told Wired. That may be so with digital overload so rampant today, though the “family phone” may not engender the same kind of nostalgic appeal as, say, vinyl record albums and turntables.
Pre-orders are available for $199 until July 30, then it will progressively increase up to the regular retail price of $299. There is no service charge, unless you use a telephone carrier.