On a family ski trip Peter Celinski unexpectedly found himself negotiating his way down an expert trail, when suddenly he became aware of the need for a hands-free way to communicate with his more experienced companions – which happened to be his young children. This was the catalyst for Milo, and as its founder and CEO, Peter is setting out to provide outdoor sports enthusiasts with something they’ve never had before – hands-free group communication. He describes Milo as an “action communicator,” and it’s the first fully integrated communication device designed specifically for outdoor adventure sports. It’s also the first device of its kind to integrate audio and network connectivity, which means no Wi-Fi or cellular connection is necessary.
2020 has incentivized many of us to take to the great outdoors as a way to socialize at a socially acceptable distance, but who wants to yell at each other over the crashing waves or risk taking our hands off the handlebars so we can push a button on a walkie-talkie? Milo offers a way to speak to others in your group without pushing any buttons or yelling over the action. The networking functionality also allows Milo devices to create their own mesh network, making it possible for up to 16 people to communicate with each other at a range of up to 600 meters, with a low latency, high quality voice experience. That range can be extended further with Milo devices making it possible for transmission to hop from one device to another.
Peter has spent three years developing his idea, and the Kickstarter he launched in support of Milo is dramatically outperforming expectations. In fact, Peter has taken orders for nearly 10,000 units and expects to begin shipping by the end of the year – just in time for ski season. There were two key challenges Peter needed to overcome to deliver on his vision: high quality audio and reliable connectivity. Being able to hear everyone in the group clearly while careening down a hill on a mountain bike required paying a great deal of attention to the acoustic design, including microphone placement and the audio processing algorithms that suppresses background noise. The second critical element he knew he had to get right was the proprietary mesh networking protocol, which he’s nicknamed “Milo Net Protocol.” The team developed the custom protocol with the explicit goal of bringing reliable voice distribution in dynamic conditions.
Peter invested a lot of time evaluating a range of radio options from various vendors with an eye on performance, low power, and flexibility – all of the elements that would be necessary create a great user experience. Ultimately, the Silicon Labs Flex Gecko SoC was selected because of its ability to deliver on these three requirements.