YodelUp is essentially a ruggedized smartphone remote on a wrist strap designed to fit over gloves. It can control music functions (play, pause, and volume) and works as a walkie-talkie with the Zello app. The functions aren’t revolutionary; they’re just handy and well thought out. It’s the heft of the body that makes YodelUp stand out.
YodelUp’s appearance is counter to the smart gear trend toward smaller, slimmer, and trimmer. No one wants to wear a massive smartwatch to a wedding or the office, but the cold wetness of a day on the mountain, plus a rough fall or two, could easily spell the end of more delicate wearables.
YodelUp is not trying for be-all, everyday-wearable status. It’s designed to be large and in charge, that’s the whole point. If it were slim and small with a touchscreen or minimal buttons, it wouldn’t fit the niche for people who want to keep their gloves on while they’re up on the mountain. The rugged body is not just a design conceit: tactile edges are an important addition that makes it easy to feel what you’re doing through your gloves. It’s also waterproof and shockproof.
Brothers Ramin and Darius, the minds behind YodelTech, are both music lovers and avid skiers, and YodelUp is clearly born to address their frustrations. Anyone who watched their glove or worse, their phone plummet to the snow under a ski-lift knows the struggle is real. That can happen when people take their gloves off for calls or to manage music for the ride. But with YodelUp you don’t have to pull your phone out of your pocket or take off your gloves.
At $71 to $101 via the Kickstarter Campaign, YodelUp isn’t cheap, but it’s a less pricey option than smart helmets (many of which are still in development themselves) or gloves with built-in remotes. While it may not offer the wealth of functions found in your other wrist-wearables, it’s more useful on the mountain than your Apple Watch simply because it’s not buried under layers of fabric.
But do you need gloves or a winter landscape to appreciate YodelUp? Not really. Since it’s waterproof, it’s also handy as a remote in any wet situation. The Bluetooth range is about 30 feet, so if you spend the majority of your days in the pool but want to have music control, YodelUp can do double duty. Yes, there are other devices that can serve as a poolside remote or a hands-free device for driving (YodelUp could fill in there too), but none that will do just as well on the mountain. And, since the walkie-talkie uses a cell signal, it’s a year round go-just-about-anywhere chat tool.
The YodelUp Kickstarter campaign hasn’t been feeling the love. Perhaps it’s the timing — it’s nearly the end of the season, the hype train for winter gear pulled out of the station in last year. The first YodelUps are set to ship in December, 2016, just in time for the next powder season. Yodeltech has until March 25 to hit the $43,000 campaign goal a relatively modest amount for a piece of smart tech. There are still YodelUp rewards available for $81.