Milo action communicator keeps outdoor enthusiasts talking
Though you can haul a walkie-talkie along for a ride down forest trails with your buddies, it's not ideal for natural conversations. You have to push to talk, only one person can talk at a time, you might suffer wind noise issues, and they can be quite bulky. The Milo wearable communicator is designed to better help adventure-loving types keep in touch.
Currently raising production funds on Kickstarter, the so-called action communicator facilitates conversations between friends while out on the slopes, catching waves or belting down trails. And it does so without needing to be linked to a smartphone, operates without a Wi-Fi signal or mobile network, and can be used hands-free.
"The idea for Milo came to me when I was skiing with my kids, who are much better skiers and often beat me to the bottom of the hill," said Peter Celinski, Ph.D, founder and CEO of Loose Cannon Systems, which is developing the Milo communicator. "I was tired of yelling for them to slow down, grabbing my phone or a clunky push-to-talk walkie-talkie with freezing hands, and hoping they'd 'answer' (they rarely did!) I knew there had to be a better way to communicate."
The Milo is built around a proprietary wireless networking protocol called the MiloNet, which operates over the sub-gigahertz and 2.4-GHz ISM bands, and is reported to enable multi-way group voice communication over a dynamic ad-hoc mesh network. The range between two devices is 2,000 ft (over 600 m), but as your group spreads out the network can extend to over a mile (1.6 km).
Setting up a group network is as simple as bringing Milos close to each other, pressing a button and waiting for a confirmation sound. Then group conversations are encrypted to ensure no-one outside the group can eavesdrop, and the setup will also notify the group if someone goes out of range or rejoins the party.
The device is 64 mm (2.5 in) wide and 20 mm (0.79 in) thick, and weighs in at just 72 g (2.5 oz). It can be clipped to a jacket pocket, backpack strap or armband, or mounted to handlebars or a helmet with a magnetic lock. It's built for action too, with IP 67 waterproofing meaning that it can be submerged in 1 meter (3 ft) of water for up to 30 minutes, and it can also survive a drop from 2 m (6 ft).
Its development team has packed in six high-performance microphones, and onboard audio processing tech helps ensure comms quality at a natural conversation volume, and will even suppress wind and other ambient noise. Audio output is via a custom speaker and amp, though it can optionally be paired with a Bluetooth or plug-in headset for extra clarity.
It features quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processing brains, rocks multiple radios, and the integrated battery could last a full day between charges. And though there is a mobile app available for tutorials and extra configuration options, the Milo units don't require it to operate.
The developers say that two pre-production runs have been undertaken with a "Tier-1 electronics manufacturer" and has now launched a Kickstarter campaign that runs until November 11. Pledges for a single unit start at US$169, a twin pack come in at $319, three at $449 and $549 for four. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in December. The video below has more.