There's something about becoming a parent that seems to raise your paranoia quotient; it probably has a lot to do with becoming responsible for another human being's safety and welfare--especially when that being lacks the years of experience, wisdom, and distrust that adults eventually accumulate. Of course, it doesn't help when the evening news is rife with stories of child kidnappings. Whether rational or not, it is this primal fear of losing a child combined with propensity for the news to cover seemingly every child kidnapping story that has given rise to the burgeoning market of child-tracking and child-location devices.
There are number of different child-tracking and child-location devices from various manufacturers on the market--and they use a variety of different technologies ranging from RF to GPS. RF solutions work indoors and out, but typically function only over limited distances of several hundred feet--or even less if they are transmitting though walls (the BrickHouse Locator, which is featured in a Duracell commercial uses RF). GPS has potentially unlimited range, but only works when the device has a fairly unobstructed view of the sky--and they seldom work when indoors.
U.K.-based company, Lok8u, has just announced its GPS-based child-tracking device, the num8. The num8 is disguised as a working digital watch that your child wears; inside the watch is a GPS antenna and "proprietary Cell ID technology.
" The device is waterproof and can work for up to 100 hours on single charge.
You can locate your child from either a mobile phone or from an Internet-connected computer. From phones, you can send a text message that reads "WRU," and receive an SMS message back with the closest street address and zipcode. On a computer, you use the "Lok8u secure portal" and "your child’s location is then presented as an icon on Google maps." If the device is removed from your child's arm, it sends out an SMS or e-mail alert. You can also setup "safe zones," where you will receive an automatic alert if your child moves outside of the designated area. The num8 is accurate to within about 10 feet.
The num8 is not shipping yet--it will be available starting in the U.K. in March for £149.99 (MSRP), and then in the U.S. in "late spring
." A price has not been set for the U.S. yet, but the U.K.'s price presently converts to about $222 U.S. dollars. In addition to the cost of device, there will also be a monthly subscription plan to utilize the service. U.K. pricing for the various subscription plans range from £4.99 per month (for one text alert per month, additional alerts cost extra) up to £19.99 per month (for unlimited texts).
Some folks will regard this type of technology as too invasive or potentially delving into the realm of paranoia; while others will see it peace of mind for when their children are out of sight. For those who are considering the num8 or other similar GPS-based technologies, be aware that they will only work when outside; once your child enters a building, the GPS antenna will no longer be able to ascertain its location--although presumably it should remember its last known location and the cell service should still be able to transmit.