If you are one of the multitude of grey nomads who regularly incurs the wrath of their partner by happily spending ‘forever’ at the amenities block, laundry room, or just milling around the campsite chatting to fellow travellers … be afraid be very afraid!
A new breed of wearable walkie-talkie could gain popularity in the grey nomad community meaning that soon there really might be no place to hide. While the idea of taking some sort of short distance two-way communication devices on the Big Lap is not new, the relative bulk of most has made them useful only for specific events, such as when one person is going on a bushwalk and the other is staying at the van.
What is exciting – and frightening – about the new StarVox walkie talkie is that it straps to your wrist and so, theoretically, you can be in direct contact with your nearest and dearest 24/7, no matter how far (within reason) you roam.
As well as being a two-way radio, the StarVox is an outdoor-specific smartwatch. With a colour touch screen based interface, it gives the user GPS tracking, step counting, temperature reading and altitude logging. It also includes Bluetooth, a compass and a hygrometer.
The 400- to 470MHz radio system can apparently support an unlimited number of users, so you can also keep connected with other friends in the caravan park.
“Hey, you guys on site 29, get over here quickly. Your drinks are getting warm!”
With so much technology to pack in, the device is thicker than your average watch but certainly not ridiculously so.
The designers say the antenna is integrated into the watch strap, and the rechargeable 420mAh battery offers up to 1.5 hour of active talk time, or 192 hours in basic watch mode. It charges in approximately 100 minutes.
Okay, for all grey nomads who are terrified their cherished minutes of Big Lap ‘freedom’ are about to be snatched away from them, the news isn’t all bad. The device only has a radio range of about two kilometres so, if you manage to park your van at the far end of a large park at the furthest point from the amenities block, you might still be able to claim you were out of range when the ‘summons’ came through.
The StarVox designers are raising money to launch their product, which will have an estimated retail price of around US$110.