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.
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.