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A GPS Device for Keeping Tabs on the Children


Gone are the days when parents stood on the back porch and shouted for their kids.

The AmberWatch Foundation, a nonprofit group focused on preventing child abduction, announced the pending launch of a Global Positioning System software application called AmberWatch Mobile. Parents can use the application to monitor their children's movements and children can use it to send an alert to their parents notifying them of their exact location.

The software enabling the service can be downloaded to a child's GPS-enabled cellphone. It then allows parents to log on to a dedicated Web site, amberwatchmobile.com, and quickly pinpoint their child's cellphone location. The child can also zap his or her location from the GPS-compatible handset via text message or email to the parent's phone by hitting a few keys on their cellphone.

The application can also be set up to send an alert to a parent's cellphone when the child gets home from school, or strays from a designated area, creating a kind of digital fence.

Eventually, the application could also be linked to a panic button on the child's cellphone which, when pressed, emits a high-decibel sound to ward off potential abductors.

It's still unclear when the software will hit the market, and it's still being developed by WaveMarket Inc., a company that develops location-tracking technology for cellphones. The foundation says it's in talks with major wireless carriers to support the service, which users would be able to download from a Web site onto their handsets for $4.99 a month. Half of the fee would be donated to the AmberWatch Foundation. No carriers have committed yet.

The service is part of a wave of new GPS products appearing on the market, as GPS chips are built into an increasing number of handsets, partly a result of government regulations that require them for 911 purposes. Other GPS services include navigation tools and "buddy finders" that help track locations of friends.

A few companies have already developed products that keep tabs on children, such as Walt Disney  Co.'s Disney  Mobile and Sprint Nextel  Corp., which both offer similar Family Locator services that let parents look up their child's location on a Web site or cellphone.

But AmberWatch Mobile will be the first GPS application that also lets the child initiate the sending of exact GPS coordinates to parents.



Entry #1,187


LOTTOMIKEComment by LOTTOMIKE - June 22, 2007, 2:43 am
pretty sad that we've reached this point.i'm happy about the device but it shows we're at a juncture where we can't even let our kids step outdoors.
Comment by bambini - June 22, 2007, 10:52 am
Since I have never personally known a kidnapped victim (the odds are 1 in 5 million). I wouldn't purchase one.   Its just another way for communications corporations to exploit parents fears, to make money.   Children are over suprevised these days, its ridiculous.
justxploringComment by justxploring - June 22, 2007, 5:09 pm
I agree with bambini on this matter. Once children are old enough to be left unsupervised, then they need a little personal space. I know it's important to watch your children and teach them well, but I'm not sure that knowing their every move is necessary. Sad that kidnappings happen and we hear these terrible stories on the news.

BTW, as long as a cell phone is left turn on, it's a GPS device anyway isn't it? I've known parents who get family plans and each child has a cell phone.   They check up on them every once in a while. I suppose it wouldn't hurt, since we put chips on our pets in case they get lost, but dogs can't speak for themselves. I'm pretty sure the police can always track a cell phone if it's powered on. I suppose as long as the kids aren't doing anything they're not supposed to, it wouldn't be too invasive if it saves their lives, but it's getting to the point that we camera phones all over the place and there's no privacy any more.   We are becoming a very paranoid society. (and maybe for a good reason)
SlingKingComment by SlingKing - June 22, 2007, 5:51 pm
Since the herd didn't crash the gate to get chipped on their own, it time for plan B! Chip everything else!

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