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Raleigh-based wireless company creates ‘smartphone’ for kids

March 20, 2019 GMT

There’s a new option for parents with children who may be too young for a smartphone -- and it started right here in the Triangle.

Relay works with a phone app and features GPS tracking and voice communication. Creators compare it to a walkie-talkie but with more family-friendly features.

Justin Shedd says his three kids, ages 5 to 11, aren’t ready for smartphones.

“You know, they just get overly emotional and mean when they are just glued to the phone like this,” Shedd said.

Relay was the perfect fit, Shedd said, and it’s not another high-tech device from Silicon Valley.

Barbara Sharnak with Republic Wireless said the concept grew from employees’ concerns about starting smartphones too soon for their kids.

“Relay was born in Raleigh from Republic Wireless on N.C. State’s Centennial campus,” Sharnak said. “But we’ve removed the screen to make it simple -- with one touch, press to talk communications.”

Relay has the same technology as a smartphone, but users can program up to 25 different contact channels.

Shedd’s 9-year-old daughter, Samantha, uses all of them.

“I have soccer teammates that have it, so I can talk to them,” Samantha said.

Meanwhile, her mom and dad appreciate having a second option for family togetherness.

“We want them to go out, have fun and lead an independent life -- but be able to reach them when we need to,” Shedd said.

Republic Wireless launched online sales of Relay last May and will soon introduce the device nationwide in retail stores. The device costs around $50.

Learn more about Relay on Go Ask Mom.