There is something compelling about the walkie-talkie interface: push a button, talk, release, listen. Simple and instant. Public safety workers — cops, firefighters, EMTs — love it, and they still mourn their old Nextel phones. Now, a couple of guys with a background as emergency medical technicians (and some impressive big data cred) are reinventing push-to-talk (PTT) for the internet age, and have some great ideas about fashion, too.
Orion makes the Onyx and Ruby devices. The idea is simple: a small Bluetooth device that you clip onto your clothes that lets you communicate with a group of other people wearing a device by a simple touch of a button. Couldn’t you just do that with a phone app? Sure — but that would mean digging out your phone, opening an app, sending a message, waiting for a response. The Orion guys are fans of heads-up communication: touch a button and it’s done.
The Onyx is a $100 plastic disk with a glowing pulsing light. But where Orion gets really smart is with the Ruby.
The Ruby is functionally identical to the Onyx: push to talk to your group. But the device itself is entirely different, and designed for the luxury market. It comes in a variety of metals and finishes, and starts at $400. We’ve seen and held them: they’re very nice pieces of jewelry, and the tech is entirely hidden.
The Onyx is available in limited quantities; the Ruby will be out later this year. We’re in the process of getting our hands on a set of Onyxes to test, and will keep you posted.