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Republic Wireless announces a clever walkie-talkie for tracking your kids

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Plus a smart speaker phone

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Republic Wireless has announced two new communication devices called the Relay and Anywhere HQ. The Relay is a screen-less, water-resistant device that works like a walkie-talkie, but has the added ability of being able to locate children with GPS, so you can check on them whenever you want.

To talk, you just push the button and hold the device close to your face and speak. It connects over 4G LTE and Wi-Fi networks, and also features music, games, and Google Assistant. Other hardware features include a 3.5mm headphone jack, NFC, an accelerometer, haptics, and a LED notification ring. There’s also a companion app for Android and iOS devices, and the battery lasts several days. The Relay will be released in early 2018 and sold in pairs for $149 or three for $199, plus $6.99 per month for service per device.

The Relay.
Photo: Republic Wireless

The Anywhere HQ is a voice-activated smart speaker phone that lets you make and receive phone calls synced to your mobile phone number and contacts. It’s portable, offers 4G LTE connectivity, and also lasts several days on a charge. The company says the speaker is an extension of the Republic Anywhere service, which lets customers text or call from Republic’s iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows apps. (The speaker also syncs to devices with the Anywhere app.) The HQ can also dial 911, something that Wi-Fi-based phones can’t always do.

When you lift the phone off its dock, a full numerical keypad appears and allows you to dial in what’s called private mode. HQ can screen calls from robot callers and spammers, and through LTE, the device can continue working even when your home internet goes down. There’s no firm release date for Anywhere HQ yet; Republic notes that it’s set to enter a testing stage where it’ll be refined with user participation.

The Anywhere HQ.
Photo: Republic Wireless

Both devices seem to be a nice alternative for location tracking and communication if you’re looking for something that works without a screen. There’s a similar tracking device called Snowfox, which lets parents call a kid’s tracker. Samsung also has a trackable tag, though there’s no functionality for talking.