Emergency radio broadcasts are a staple when it comes to being prepared for most types of crises, whether a major storm or a blackout. The only problem is that many of us are no longer using AM/FM radios for much else. Three students are looking to create a more modern solution to that problem with the Readi, a combination Bluetooth speaker and lamp that also doubles as what the team calls a “crisis communication dashboard.”
“We often only realize in the midst of an emergency that we lack the necessary equipment to communicate with help and to receive alerts,” the Readi team writes on its website. “This type of equipment is so important to our survival, and yet it is rare to find a household that might invest in them in times of non-crisis.”
At first glance, the Readi looks like a fairly standard speaker/lamp combination, albeit a stylish one. A lamp sits on top, while a display on the front displays the time and current temperature. The speaker can play music from your mobile device via Bluetooth, or with the flip of a switch, it will automatically tune in to National Weather Service radio.
Flip it over, and the Readi is something else entirely. On the bottom of the speaker, controls for the built-in AM radio can be found, allowing users to listen in on crucial emergency bulletins, regardless of whether cell towers are down. The Readi also features a walkie-talkie, allowing for easy communication with emergency personnel.
The team behind the Readi is uniquely aware of the types of circumstances it may be useful in. Designers Kohzy Koh and David Al-Ibrahim were in New York while Hurricane Sandy swept through in 2012, and Elushika Weerakoon saw the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “There was no communication. The cell towers weren’t working well,” Weerakoon told Fast Company. “None of us is ever ready for something like that.”
The Readi isn’t yet available for sale, but the team — whose members are still in school — is moving forward on the design with more research and user tests. For more information, see the Readi website.