A Different Kind of Speaker: Onyx from Orion Labs is Like an IP Walkie-Talkie Featuring Amazon Alexa

September 15 2016, 03:00
Orion Labs announced that its smart walkie-talkie with unlimited range, Onyx, is now available across the US and that Onyx will have Amazon Alexa integration in Q4 2016. Onyx is a different kind of smart miniature speaker, allowing voice connections at the touch of a button using cellular networks or Wi-Fi, including group conversations. A free software update will add integration with Amazon Alexa, creating an ideal portable and hands-free voice personal assistant.

Designed by Orion Labs, a new company based in San Francisco, Onyx makes it easier than ever to instantly talk with friends, family and colleagues without the distraction of a phone screen. Simply at the touch of a button, Onyx broadcasts voice messages to other selected Onyx, delivering individual or group communication in an instant, no matter the distance. Once integration with Amazon Alexa goes live later this year, Onyx users can access Alexa to get the latest news headlines and weather forecasts, control smart home devices, order food or a car.

Onyx seamlessly connects with iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth LE wireless technology, delivering instant voice messages from over cellular networks or Wi-Fi to other Onyx in the user’s selected group. Users are able to have as many conversations with as many people as they want, using the companion Orion Labs mobile app to create and manage groups and contacts.

To talk, users simply push down and hold the face of Onyx for their conversation to be instantly broadcast to contacts in their selected group. Volume button, twist-to-silence function and headset option make communication easy, without having to look at a screen. Focusing on a heads-up experience means that Onyx is ideal for use in situations where looking at a screen would be distracting. For example: looking after children in a busy playground, when out for a run or bike ride or when managing events.

The Onyx speaker is dust-resistant (IP5x) and uses a built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery and features integrated electronics for Bluetooth LE (4.X), Wi-Fi and celular network data access and works together with an Orion app (iOS 8.0 or above and Android 4.4 or above) for setup and in-depth control. Integrated electronics combine dual microphones, speaker, volume control and headphone port (3.5mm).

“We started Orion Labs to build a world powered by voice and help people get more done together with their eyes free, instead of being glued to a screen,” says Orion Labs founder and CEO Jesse Robbins. “Onyx makes communicating — with people and with exciting new voice services like Amazon Alexa — faster and better.”

“We created the Alexa Voice Service so developers could bring the power of voice to devices anywhere,” says Aaron Brown, Director, Amazon Alexa. “The Orion Labs Onyx is an exciting new way for people to gain access to information, thousands of skills, and control their smart home devices all through Alexa.”

Onyx is available at Amazon LaunchPad, b8ta and through the D&H network of dealers and resellers today, and retails from $199.99 for a pair of Onyx (MSRP of $249.99), with additional single devices starting at $129.99.

“Our consumer electronics marketplace customers have a huge appetite for innovative devices that make consumers’ lives easier. We’re enthusiastic about the potential of Onyx and look forward to introducing it to our customers,” says Rob Eby, vice president of purchasing at D&H Distributing.

People who purchase Onyx will be able to get it up-and-running quickly and easily, by using the free Orion Labs companion app available for iOS and Android. Onyx is available in four colors: Gradient Black, Gradient Silver, Iridescent Cobalt and Iridescent Rose. Weighing just over 1oz (35g) and measuring just 2 inches in diameter, Onyx can easily be worn on clothing, bags or even necklaces through its innovative stainless steel clip, making it simple and stylish to wear all day.

The integration with Amazon Alexa will be available as a free software update in Q4 2016. Existing Onyx owners will be sent details so they can upgrade their Onyx and start using Amazon Alexa. According to Amazon, the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and the Alexa Voice Service (AVS) are allowing developers to build new capabilities for Alexa and integrate Alexa into their own products. Today, there are tens of thousands of developers building Alexa skills, and over 3,000 Alexa skills are now available to users.

“I’m delighted to be able to launch Onyx to help people talk more with who matters most to them. I’m doubly delighted that we’re building in the integration with Amazon Alexa,” adds Robbins.
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