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Tech industry All Stars developing 'Star Trek'-style communication badges

Former Nextel, Google, Apple and Amazon designers and engineers to push communications into the next generation.
By Matt Bradwell Follow @mckb26 Contact the Author   |   Updated Aug. 21, 2014 at 2:38 PM
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Innovators from Silicon Valley's top communications and technology firms have come together to form OnBeep, a startup hoping to make Star Trek-style communication badges a 21st century reality.

"It's for any mobile team that needs to be connected in real-time," OnBeep's founder and chief executive Jesse Robbins explained to Wired.

Backed by $6.24 million in funding, Robbins and his team of former Nextel, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple employees -- and those of other less widely-known but significant communications and technology firms -- plan to make it happen.

"There are countless mobile messaging apps, and none of them give people a way to stay connected to each other without having to look down at their smartphone," venture capitalist Rich Levandov said on the Avalon Ventures blog. Levandov's Avalon Ventures added OnBeep to its roster of investments that includes Cheezburger and Zynga.

"We backed OnBeep because we believe they will fundamentally change the way the world communicates."

The primary benefit of OnBeep's proposed product, of which Robbins won't even reveal a prototype, would be instantaneous communication on a constantly open channel that would not require the user to divert their eyes or significantly occupy their hands.

"Nextel has left this giant hole," Robbins said, alluding to the once-popular "chirp" feature that saw its demand dwindle when the first iPhone came out in 2007.

"We estimate that there are 40 million Americans, in many jobs, that require them to be connected to each other throughout the day."

"All of these things are inspired by Star Trek," observed technology analyst J.P. Gownder of research firm Forrester. Gownder specializes in emerging wearable technology.

"The idea of creating wearables that aid in communication -- though it may not make sense from a consumer angle -- can be very useful, particularly in the enterprise."
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