The Airwave... borne from a near death experience at Whistler Blackcomb's Couloir Extreme and Chainsaw Ridge back in the epic season of 2007...
I was riding with a group of friends I met on my very first season on a very foggy day up on the top of Blackcomb. I didn't know the mountain very well at that point but recall going past a bunch of red poles and seeing what looked like a cool drop ahead. As I approached the edge for some reason I thought rather than just jumping straight off, I'd stop and check it out first. As I came to the edge and peered over, I couldn't even see the bottom so figured it was something reasonably big, possibly too big for someone on their first season! I took my earphones out and turned round to see (and hear) my friends waving and shouting at me. It was only later back at the chalet when I looked at the map did I realise that the drop was several hundred feet onto avalanche debris. In fact I'd stopped right on the cornice which itself was unstable and not the best place to hang out on for any length of time.
I already knew listening to music when you're riding in a group can be a bit of a hassle if you need to talk to one another, but this experience made me realise that I needed a device that allowed me to switch between my favourite tracks and communicating with my friends.
To be quite honest, the idea was effectively dormant for a long time. I knew such a device would be awesome for me and my friends, but I really had no idea of how to go about building it. It was back in 2012 during a solo trip to Big White to get away from the rat race of London that I was finally convinced that it was an idea worth pursuing.
Fortunately I think a lot of different things have conspired to make the Airwave much more of an achievable and useful product; the phone has now become the device of choice for the majority of the developed world that performs all functions (we think we need) such as email, messaging, internet and of course music. Also thanks to Apple and movies like Body of Lies, it’s fairly normal for people to use the standard shipped earphones with microphone to make calls and listen to music; indeed the majority of earphones that are sold today come with a microphone as standard. All of this and the fact that the participation figures in skiing and snowboarding continue to rise amongst the younger generation.
Despite all the modern advances however, one of the major things that hasn't improved is the reliability and coverage of mobile/cell reception in even the more developed ski resorts on the planet. Some telecoms companies have introduced WiFi into the snowparks and such, but do they really offer us skier/snowboarders much? I'm no longer much of a park rat, but when I'm out riding I don't care about the internet or who's just followed me on twitter...This is why professionals like ski patrol, film crews and of course backcountry riders rely on the power and simplicity of walkie-talkies.
The Airwave is designed such that not only does it work with any walkie-talkie, you can leave it safely stowed in your pocket or backpack all day and access its functionality from your earphones connected to your phone.
Whenever someone hails you, your music is automatically paused and restarts once the chat ends. If you want to reply you simply athe button on your microphone to open up the channel, speak then press it again to close the channel...it's really that easy. Gone are the days of waiting for your friend to come over that brow of the hill, or waiting down at the lift in case he/she shows up. It gives you the freedom to ride together but do your own thing to your own soundtrack. You can of course use it whilst riding, so you don't ever need to stop to agree a new line, you can just head where you want, safe in the knowledge that your buddies are only a button press away.
We've spent a lot of time testing the Airwave in the field and are really looking forward to launching the product on a crowdfunding site in the very near future. Hopefully you guys like what you see and are similarly excited to get an Airwave in time for this coming winter season. The rest of the Team and I can't wait!!
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