Walkie-Talkies Let Little Spies Group Video Chat
It's a small screen, but it squeezes in four views.
CREDIT: Stewart Wolpin
Except for the screen, the tiny Spy Gear walkie-talkie does not look exceptionally high-tech. But it's got a unique capability — it's a video walkie-talkie far more advanced than Dick Tracy's two-way wrist radio or anything from Star Trek, primarily because you're not limited to simple one-on-one communications.
Each walkie-talkie channel allows up to four people to videoconference simultaneously. The 160-by-128 pixel, 1.8-inch monochrome LCD screen divides into quadrants so each caller can see the others and themselves. The walkie-talkies also have two channels, so users can switch if one of them is getting interference.
Users can converse up to 90 feet apart indoors and up to 300 feet outdoors, and they can also record conversations of up to 30 minutes on a microSD card.
The demonstration units at the International Toy Fair in New York City were early preproduction samples, so they are likely to look a bit more finished when they go on sale in October. While the video stream from each caller will remain constant, audio is walkie-talkie push-to-talk. Since the samples were not fully functional, it was unclear how push-to-talk would operate in a four-way confab.
A rechargeable lithium-ion battery supplies up to 30 minutes of video chatting. The devices will come with a variety of straps, including one for your wrist so you can wear it like a watch. It can be clipped anywhere – to a Nerf or paint gun to coordinate missions, for instance, or even to someone else's gear so you can spy where they're going.
This walkie-talkie is designed for kids ages 8 and up. Grown-ups might use Skype or Facetime on a smartphone to video call, although that's limited to just two chatterers at a time. And then there are cellphone data caps, which won't be a problem for kids with the video walkie-talkies.
The walkie-talkies sell for $100 per pair and will come out in October.
Other stealthy gadgets from Spy Gear's 007 Jr. line will soon include a neck-worn hide-under-your-collar walkie-talkie array, a microphone-on-a-dart that you slingshot into another room to eavesdrop from up to 75 feet away and a 360-degree complete sphere-encompassing panoramic video camera.