With the flurry of news reports chronicling how cell phones distract kids in school, video games make them more violent, and Internet chat rooms open them up to predators, it might be refreshing for parents to hear (and disappointing for sensational journalists to learn) that gadgetry is finally doing something to make their kids safer – or at least easier to keep an eye on.

The PocketFinder portable GPS personal locater from Location Based Technologies is basically a tracking bug for your kids. No, you don’t have to implant it in them at birth or covertly slap it under a car with a magnetic harness like in spy movies, it’s just a small, cookie-sized plastic device for them to voluntarily carry around at the request of Mom and Dad.

PocketFinder GPS
Image Courtesy of Location Based Technologies

It works based on two simple, already established technologies. Once turned on, the PocketFinder uses GPS satellites to establish where it is, then uses a connection with cell phone towers to transmit the information back to PocketFinder. From there, anxious parents can log in and check on Timmy from the Web, or call a number and receive the information via phone.

Even more impressive, the service can also be configured with automatic alerts queued by rules that parents set up. For instance, it’s possible to define a “danger zone,” so that if the device reports back from a forbidden area, PocketFinder will automatically trigger an alert for the parents. Similarly, speed limits can be set to help prevent older kids from pushing their newfound freedom a little too far on the open road.

Although the device has been marketed toward parents, the company’s literature also emphasizes other uses for the device, like keeping tabs on an elderly parent or pet. In a car, it could even be used as an improvised LoJack system in case of theft. Less scrupulous users could doubtless find many other covert uses for the device, and we wouldn’t be surprised to find them turning up in the hands of freelance detectives and employers who want to find out what’s really going on during those four-hour-long delivery runs.

Since PocketFinder relies on cell phone towers for transmitting, checking out the company’s coverage map may help determine where it will actually be of any use to you. Living in Florida? You’re in luck. Alaska? Not so much.

While PocketFinder is currently undergoing consumer trials, it hasn’t hit widespread availability, so pricing information is still unknown. An early report from Gizmodo claimed the unit would cost $129.95 USD, but Location BasedTechnologies later rebuked the article in a press release.

Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Fitbit Versa Lite tips and tricks to get started with your new smartwatch

Got your hands on a Fitbit Versa Lite? The smartwatch may be the pared down version of the more expensive Fitbit Versa, but there's still plenty for you to tweak in the settings. Here are our Fitbit Versa Lite tips and tricks.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Researchers gave alligators headphones and ketamine, and all for a good cause

Researchers in Germany and the United States recently gave ketamine and earphones to alligators to monitor how they process sounds. Here's what it reveals about alligator evolution.
Emerging Tech

Cheese tastes different when it listens to Led Zeppelin, Swiss study finds

A funky new study says that exposing cheese to music changes its aroma and flavor. What’s more, the genre of music matters. Researchers from the Bern University of Arts played music to nine, 22-pound wheels of Emmental cheese.