Yes, you can use your phone to communicate with friends when you get separated while exploring forests and backcountry trails. Until, of course, you eventually get to an area that doesn’t get any cellphone reception. In those cases, there are other things you can use to stay in touch, such as two-way radios, localized cell signals like the goTenna, and satellite messaging devices. The Milo offers another option.
Billed as an “action communicator,” the device is, basically, an always-on radio that lets you communicate with your group as if you were next to each other. That’s right, you can simply start talking and have your group immediately hear it, with no need to dial in a frequency, push a button, or fiddle with any controls.
The Milo is a small teardrop-shaped device that measures 2.5 x 0.8 inches (diameter x thickness). It has a magnetic mount that can be clipped to arm bands, bike handlebars, backpack straps, and clothing, allowing you to put it at the perfect position, such that the onboard microphones can pick up anything you say. According to the outfit, the magnets are strong enough that the device should stay in place, regardless of whatever activity you find yourself engaged in, making it ideal for folks engaged in different kinds of outdoor pursuits.
It’s built around a proprietary protocol called MiloNet that operates over the 2.4GHz ISM and sub-gigahertz bands. Basically, it creates its own secure mesh radio network that allows multiple units to communicate simultaneously. According to the outfit, the maximum range between two units is 2,000 feet, so as long as you stay within that distance of another device, you will be able to stay in touch with your crew. And yes, this is just the first iteration of the device, with a future version currently in development that can operate at distances of over 5,200 feet, so this can even get better over time.
Each Milo comes with an onboard speaker and six high-performance digital mics with a noise-suppression algorithm – a combo that, the outfit claims, will allow your group to hear everyone’s communications clearly even in noisy outdoor environments. Don’t want the constant murmur of people talking on the radio when you’re hunting? Not a problem, as it has a 3.5mm slot for plugging in wired headphones and onboard Bluetooth for pairing with your wireless headphones, along with volume control buttons. Don’t want everyone to hear everything you say? Not a problem, either, as it comes with a Mute button for silencing the mic with just one push.
Not all Milos can talk to each other, by the way. Instead, there’s a grouping process at the start. Essentially, you bring your devices close together and press a button on each to set them as one group. Basically, if there’s another group using Milos in your area, they won’t be able to listen in your conversation (and vice versa). It’s IP67-rated for waterproofing, too, so you should be able to use this for your adventures in both land and water alike.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for Milo. You can reserve a unit for pledges starting at $169.