One of the biggest challenges that outdoor enthusiasts face on any backpacking or camping trip is how to stay in communication with one another while off the grid. After all, cellphone service can be at a premium in the backcountry, which makes it difficult to stay in contact or coordinate activities away from the campsite. But a new smartwatch that recently launched on Kickstarter promises to alleviate this issue by putting walkie-talkie-like functionality right on your wrist.
The StarVox hopes to revolutionize the way we communicate in remote areas by providing voice communications directly from your watch. The device allows individuals or groups to chat with one another over a distance of up to 1.2 miles (2 km) without the need to carry bulky radio equipment or ponderous handsets. You simply raise the watch, tap an on-screen button, and begin the conversation. Other StarVox users within range will hear the message and can just as easily respond. In other words, it is a bit like having a two-way radio with you at all times.
In addition to being a portable communications device, the StarVox also includes a number of features often associated with smartwatches, particularly ones designed for use in the outdoors. For instance, in addition to being able to tell time, the wearable also comes with a built-in pedometer for counting your steps, as well as an altimeter for measuring altitude gained and lost while hiking. It also comes with a built-in thermometer, barometer, and hygrometer which can come in handy when keeping tabs on changing atmospheric conditions or trying to predict potential shifts in the weather.
The StarVox is even equipped with a digital compass to aid in navigation, and the designers promise both GPS capabilities and Bluetooth connectivity, too, although they don’t share just what form either of those features will take.
The team behind the StarVox is hoping to raise $20,000 to get its device into production. At the moment, it’s about a third of the way toward that goal with a little over a month remaining in the Kickstarter campaign. If all goes according to plan, they hope to have the walkie-talkie/smartwatch in production by March of next year and begin shipping in April. The device is expected to have a price tag of $109.
Of course, early bird backers can get their own StarVox now for as little as $59 for a single watch or $99 for a set of two. But as intriguing as the device is, there are some unanswered questions that remain. For instance, the Kickstarter page doesn’t indicate how long of a battery life the watch has, nor how easy is it to recharge in the backcountry. The 1.2-mile range isn’t especially impressive either when you consider that standard walkie-talkies often communicate over distances of 20 miles or more. Still, as a lightweight, easy to use, and multifunctional tool for use in the outdoors, the StarVox definitely shows promise.