Bonx brings tunes and talk to the slick and slippery slopes

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Electronics and water go together like, well, electronics and water. But how are you going to talk to your friends when you’re knee-deep in snow or plunging down a mountainside on a bike? Bonx to the rescue.

The Indiegogo-funded Bonx Grip brings group-chat to the masses. Shipping this month, the $139 device is coming to an extreme-sports fan near you.

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    Bonx Grip is bulky, but that's a good thing -- you have to be able to operate the device wearing gloves
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    Priced at $139, the Bonx Grip is shipping this month
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    Bonx Grip fits securely around the ear to ensure it doesn't fall off -- even when you're zipping along.

The problem the company is solving is one most extreme sports fans will have experienced at some point. There’s a group of you being all sporty and sweaty and happy, but keeping in touch is tricky, because you need both your hands to stay alive. Or maybe you’re wearing gloves and your adventurous streak doesn’t extend to frostbite and hospital visits.

The unit is water and shock proof, and the idea is that you stick your phone in a waterproof pouch somewhere in your backpack or in a pocket. The Bonx app, available for iOS and Android, introduces group chat. There are no buttons to press; just speak, and your friends can hear you shout “watch out for that tree” or coordinate runs down the mountains.

I took a closer look at Bonx Grip at the TechCrunch Tokyo event, and it’s a very clever piece of kit indeed. It is designed to not isolate you from the outside world completely so you can stay aware of your surroundings.

The unit features a couple of oversized buttons to make it easy to operate while wearing gloves, too, which is a nice touch. The buttons control volume and can put you on mute. Handy, for when you prefer not to be overheard as you’re recovering from failing to watch out for the aforementioned tree, perhaps.

Bonx Grip can be used either as a regular Bluetooth headset to listen to music or talk on the phone, or in conjunction with the Bonx apps to unlock its group-chatting hands-free superpowers.