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GPS Wristwatch for Kids 740

Posted by michael
from the calling-dick-tracy dept.
1010011010 writes "A company called 'Wherify Wireless' has created a $400 watch with a built-in pager, GPS unit and wireless data connectivity. It's targeted at families with kids. According to their website, 'Wherify's GPS Personal Locator helps keep loved ones safe by combining Wherify's patented technology with the U.S. Department of Defense's multi-billion dollar Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites plus the largest 100% digital, nationwide PCS wireless network.' It includes a pager, clock, two-button '911' calling (parent can disable this), and remote-control keyfob (to lock and unlock it) for the parents. It is apparently water- and kid-resistant, and can be locked onto the wrist so that it cannot be removed (easily). $400 plus $35 a month... that's a lot more money than those stretchy wrist-leashes I see at the mall." There are so many things wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin.
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GPS Wristwatch for Kids

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  • by radja (58949) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:20AM (#3239991) Homepage
    waterresistant I can believe.. now kid resistant.. THAT I gotta see..

    //rdj
    • Apparently, the next version will be kid resistant to 100 metres.
    • Re:kidresistant?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2002 @10:00AM (#3240639)
      The real danger with a device like this is parents believing that someone else is looking after their child and not watching them correctly. These things can be useful, in fact in some amusement parks you can rent them for the afternoon. It doesn't absolve the parent of their responsiblity to watch their kids. I can just see these parents crying on the 6:00 news "but we had the GPS device, we can't understand. We only let little Billy outside for 8 hours without watching him. We're going to sue the company."
  • To be fair... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cperciva (102828) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:20AM (#3239993) Homepage
    I don't think that the locking is intended to stop the child removing the beacon; rather, I think the idea is to ensure that any abductor would not be able to remove it.

    Given that most of the market for such gadgets comes from the oh-no-my-child-is-going-to-be-abducted-and-torture d-by-a-paedophile market, I'd say that the locking makes perfect sense.
    • I don't think that the locking is intended to stop the child removing the beacon; rather, I think the idea is to ensure that any abductor would not be able to remove it.

      Actually, it's probably both. Not only do parents not want an abductor to remove it, but they also don't want their three year old to take such an expensive little piece of equipment off and toss it in the street. And really, three years old DO do that a lot.
      • Re:To be fair... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Chelloveck (14643) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @10:36AM (#3240859) Homepage
        [...] they also don't want their three year old to take such an expensive little piece of equipment off and toss it in the street.

        Precisely! Actually, an abductor wouldn't care about the value of the device and would probably cut the band immediately and toss the thing out the window. A small kid, on the other hand, may remove it simply because he/she can. You'd want to prevent that. (Although, it'd be easy to find if it did get lost!)

        This device is not a bad thing. I wouldn't force it on an older child who didn't want it, but it sounds like a great thing for small children. Case in point -- We spend about a week each summer camping in the north woods. My wife is terrified that our 4yo will wander off. (Not that he's really prone to doing this, but moms are good at irrational fear. :-) Getting lost at a shopping mall is one thing -- The kid will eventually be seen wandering without parents and be taken to the mall office or some-such. Getting lost in the woods literally miles from the nearest houses is quite different.

        Those Garmin FRS radios with the GPS features are also wonderfully attractive, for the same reasons. They're all a bit too pricey, but once something like this hits the $100 price-point we'll probably get a few.

        These things shouldn't be used to check up on a kid you don't trust. I wouldn't want to use one to keep them honest. But don't discount them as "evil tools of Da Man". Like any tool, they can be used for good or bad.

    • I think the idea is to ensure that any abductor would not be able to remove it.

      Bolt cutters.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      There's a HUGE problem with this device that the creators obviously didnt put any research or thought into....

      GPS does not work inside or in a metal car. so unless little johhny is kept outside and long enough with the GPS antenna in the unit pointing skyward for 2 minutes while the GPS reciever get's a lock it is 100% worthless.

      The idea is great, and as a parent I would love for one of these things (actually a two way pair!) for places like cedar point,disney,the Cape, the beach, the park etc... anything that will allow me to give my 10 yuear old some freedom that I enjoyed in the 70's that you cannot do now because the ratio of sickos/idiots to normal has over tripled (and we are more socially accepting of the sickos now too... Mr, dan is just exercizing his freedom to do ritualistic killings of children, how dare we opress his beliefs!)

      but gps sucks giant potatoes anywhere that is not a clear open sky with high quality equipment... and I highly doubt they use a 12 channel GPS reciever with a high gain antenna and top quality reciever section.. (which cost me $1200.00 for my boat) in a $400.00 RETAIL device.
      • by MasterBlaster (71519) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @09:53AM (#3240588)
        I saw a story on the local news about this product and it does work indoors. They have their own PCS network that works with the GPS to track the location even without a clear view of the sky. If you dig into the web site far enough the information is there as well.
        This thing is actually a 2-way device like a cell phone. We all know it doesn't take GPS to find the location of a transmitter. If your phone will work there, this thing can be located.
    • Given that most of the market for such gadgets comes from the oh-no-my-child-is-going-to-be-abducted-and-torture d-by-a-paedophile market, I'd say that the locking makes perfect sense.

      Yes, but look at the facts. Parents are SO worried about strangers abducting their kids, but it would appear that parents and other adults they are in regular contact with are a FAR greater threat to kids than strangers are.

      I don't have any stats to quote yet, but most of the time you read about a court case involving sexual abuse or abduction, it is a parent or trusted adult who is the culprit. THAT is the real tragedy.

      We warn kids about strangers, we want to "street-proof" our kids, but the most dangerous people are the ones they know.
  • by yatest5 (455123) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:21AM (#3239998) Homepage
    and can be locked onto the wrist

    If you have to LOCK a location device to your child, I think you've lost your parenting battle already.

    cannot be removed easily

    Cars cannot be opened easily. Kids who need location devices LOCKED to their wrist may be able to conquer this amazing security.
    • I think a little aluminum foil wrapped around the watch should be enough to make these kids totally invisible to their parents.
    • Uhh, I think the point is to prevent an ADULT from unLOCKing the watch when they ABDUCT a child therefore rendering the watch POINTLESS.
    • You're missing the point, it's locked to the wrist to prevent an abductor removing it and dropping it in a trashcan or something.

      Child abduction is more common than you think. It's a growing problem here in the UK, not just youngsters either. Just this week, a 14yr old has gone missing, believed abducted.
      -
      • Child abduction is more common than you think. It's a growing problem here in the UK, not just youngsters either. Just this week, a 14yr old has gone missing, believed abducted.

        Just cos something happened this week doesn't make it common. I live in the UK and the last time I can remember something like this happening was a year ago.

        Either way - my point stands - if a child can remove it, I'm damn sure an abductor can - now, if it was an implant...
  • by gteague (58556) <accts@gtweb.org> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:24AM (#3240005)
    > " ... and can be locked onto the wrist so that it cannot be removed ..."

    . . . used to the cuffs early, i say. the police state isn't going away any time soon.

    /guy
  • What is Wrong? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Deltan (217782) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:24AM (#3240006)
    What is wrong with this? There is absolutely nothing more important to a parent than the safety of their child. Of course you're not going to tag your child with it 24/7 but if you're going to say Disneyland, or the beach or some other large public venue, it would be an excellent idea to place this on your child.

    Would you want to lose your child because you were too busy being a conspiracy theorist and trying to think up reasons as to why tagging your child is morally wrong? No.. I didn't think so.
    • It's this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Goonie (8651) <robert DOT merkel AT benambra DOT org> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:37AM (#3240057) Homepage
      On /., there are some fairly common beliefs about children that aren't as common in the general community:

      • Children, particularly as they get a little older, deserve some privacy.
      • Parents are overprotective.
      • That once parents get a hold of this kind of technology and use it with 4-year-olds, to track them down if they wander offthey're going to want to use it to monitor where their 15-year-olds go when they go out (which, IMHO, is a gross abuse of the technology).
      • More generally, it's the thin end of the wedge.

      Sure, I've got no problems strapping it to a little kid at the beach (though, frankly, it's hardly necessary - child abduction by strangers is *very* rare). Its use with older children, though, concerns me greatly.

      • That's a very good point, I can understand the privacy issue on children over the age of say 10. Chances are you wouldn't be able to get your child who's much older than that to wear it anyway, especially if they know what it is.

        Child abduction or even your child getting lost isn't as uncommon as some people may think. It's probably more likely than getting a power surge on your PC, yet we all buy UPS's to protect our PC's in the event that the "unthinkable" should happen. Why not do the same for your kids?
      • Re:It's this (Score:5, Insightful)

        by B'Trey (111263) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:21AM (#3240165)
        OK, so the argument is that this is a Bad Thing because, although it has legitimate uses, some parent might abuse it. Isn't that like arguing that DeCSS should be illegal because somegody might abuse it to pirate a movie?
      • Re:It's this (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chanc_Gorkon (94133)
        That's BULL! I don't care if your 15, 16, 17 or 18....if you are living with the parent then your subject to their rules. How is this an abuse??? I do agree some parents can be overprotective, but that's definitely not in all cases. Of course I was taught to respect my parent and not be a hellion and start doing bad things. It's this kind of thinking that led to the Columbine thing. If you want that to happen again, then fine, give your kids their "privacy". As a home owner or head of the house or parent, it's YOUR responsibility to know what they hell is happening under your roof, as well as watching/knowing who our kids associate with, and where they go. It's only after they leave the house that they should have ANY privacy. Period. End of discussion.
        • NO! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by flikx (191915)

          This right here is a perfect example of why so many good kids go bad. You can't rule your house with an iron fist .. that sort of extreme is just as likely to result in rebellion as giving them 'too much' privacy.

          A parent-child relationship should be built on trust. Just like a husband-wife relationship. Do you think it's a great idea to invest in a bunch of technology to constantly check up on your wife to make sure she remains faithful?

          When I was a kid, if my parents had imposed this sort of restriction on me, it would have sent the clear message that they don't trust me one damn bit. Maybe other people would become submissive to this sort of thing, but I'd be more of the type to reflexively trust my parents as little as they trusted me.

          Sure, you should know what your kid(s) is/are up to, and of course you have the right as the owner of the house to know what is going on under your roof. But to enforce things in this fashion is asking for disaster just as much as being a lazy, uncaring parent. There is no peace of mind in extremes. Building a trusting family is the only answer.

        • Re:It's this (Score:3, Informative)

          by sphealey (2855)
          That's BULL! I don't care if your 15, 16, 17 or 18....if you are living with the parent then your subject to their rules. How is this an abuse???
          I agree that the word "abuse" is overused and perhaps not applicable in this case. However, for a good treatment of this question you might read Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, which besides being a good novel with a poorly written ending has an extensive discussion of what happens to children who are raised in an over-protective environment and what risks it might be necessary for a parent to take to ensure that their children are successful in the long run.

          Hint: no challenge + no risk = no growth.

          sPh

        • Re:It's this (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Skyshadow (508)
          I think it's fair to say that's a pretty asinine attitude. Look, at some really basic level, parents have two big responsibilities:

          1. Keep the kid alive, reasonably safe from harm and generally undamaged.

          2. Prepare the kid to be an adult.

          Your "my way or the highway" attitude might facilitate #1, but you're neglecting a really big part of #2 -- forgetting to teach your kid self-reliance is just as serious as, say, forgetting to send them to school. Either way, you're producing an 18 year-old who isn't realistically prepared for the Real World (tm).

          Of course, the problem is that #1 is purely instinct, but #2 takes a certain level of rational intelligence. I encourage you to exercise that.

    • I'm no psychologue, but I suspect that if the child knows you can know were it is all the time this will have some effect. One thing childs need to do is cut the umbilical cord and become autonomous human. This kind of device might have the reverse effect. Have a problem? push the button.

      Also I fear that it will create a false sense of security for parents. This gizmo might work against people would kidnap kids (which is a rare event) but won't protect them from harm (which is much more probable).

      The bottom line is were is the line between protection and overprotection. If I were worried about the safety of my child, I would first consider moving to a safer place, and not letting it alone.

      • Re:What is Wrong? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Also I fear that it will create a false sense of security for parents. This gizmo might work against people would kidnap kids (which is a rare event) but won't protect them from harm (which is much more probable).

        No problem, just have it detect the pulse or sense blood or something. Hell, if Onstar in my car can call me when my airbag deploys this wristwatch Onstar thing should be able to tell the parents when their child is in trouble. Maybe they'll get a discount on their health and life insurance! Child Theft Recovery Device.

    • Re:What is Wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khuber (5664) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:05AM (#3240123)
      I did actually get separated from my mother at a store once when I was very young. I found an employee and they paged my mom over the intercom. I didn't like that and presumably I paid more attention in the future so that I didn't get lost.

      Parents today operate under a media-fueled safety paranoia frenzy. More to the point, there's too much irrational worrying about children. It's rather sad to me because I think it _harms_ the children psychologically and propagates the paranoia.

      Even though I don't have or want children, I don't want to live in a paranoid society where irrational laws are enacted "to protect the children" that don't actually do any good. This watch is a symptom of the paranoia, and of the oppression of the nanny state. "you can't afford $400 to protect your child????" Yeah, whatever. Put it in a college fund and your child will reap greater rewards.

      When I was a child, I didn't need a pager for my parents to locate me. I never got kidnapped and thrown into a trunk without an internal release. I didn't get corrupted by our TV's lack of "parental control" (what an oxymoron). My family never got crushed because we weren't driving around the mall in an armored SUV. Hell, I got through my childhood without a bicycle helmet and I didn't even crack my head open once!

      -Kevin

      • Re:What is Wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon@@@gmail...com> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:59AM (#3240243)
        I agree with this thinking. Making laws "for the children" is not needed. What I think SHOULD be done, is a parental responsibility law. Make the PARENT responsible for the actions of their kid. Now some might think that this would entail all sorts of tech, but it doesn't have to. All it takes is you to SPEND TIME WITH YOUR KIDS! That's it! NO vacations to Hawaii without the kids, NO vacations to anywhere without the kids and for god's sake do something, ANYTHING special with your kids at least once a week. They will thank you for it in the end.
        • Re:What is Wrong? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by jimbolaya (526861)
          I hope you are not honestly espousing a law that would prohibit parents from taking vacations without their children. Such laws would be much more restrictive and frightening than a child tracking device. Fortunately, here in the USA, where, believe it or not, we do still value our personal liberties, such an idea would never get serious consideration. However, even if you are not in favor of such a law, I hope you aren't suggesting that parents don't ever need time away from their kids.

          I assume that you do not have children (nor do I), so perhaps it is hard to imagine why parents might actually want to spend just a little time away from their children to preserve their sanity, but think back to your childhood. Didn't you, on occassion, drive you parents crazy? Didn't they benefit from a short vacation where Grandma watched over you? Weren't you a little bit relieved yourself that your parents had the opportunity to let loose for a bit? I know I was.

        • Re:What is Wrong? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by delcielo (217760) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @10:40AM (#3240886) Journal
          You obviously don't have kids. Some of what you say is right on the mark. "SPEND TIME" is exactly right. "...do something, ANYTHING special with your kids at least once a week" is another great point.

          But "...NO vacations to anywhere without the kids..." is a HORRIBLE idea.

          You have absolutely no concept of what 24/7 means until you have a baby, that grows into a toddler, etc. What are you doing to the child in the long run if you just give up your marriage and only do things as a whole family unit? A family starts with a marriage. Mom and Dad, they make the family work. The child can contribute love and enjoyment beyond belief; but not much actual work. To keep the family together requires the parents. And for the parents to be "THE PARENTS" requires that they stay together... be married... be a couple. You NEED, sometimes desparately to remember that.
          If your family is going to stay as a single and complete unit, it needs a good marriage at the top of it. And that means spending some time alone once in a while.
      • "I never got kidnapped and thrown into a trunk without an internal release."

        So, are you saying that you did get kidnapped, but that when you were thrown into the trunk it did have an internal release??? Just trying to clarify here....

        Perhaps you were never kidnapped, but you were thrown into a trunk...ahhhh...and that trunk did have an internal release...

        Any clarification that you could provide on this state would be greatly appreciated!!! :-)

    • I agree with ya man. I remember what it was like when I was a kid and got lost. Granted, some say that you should always know where your kid is when your at a place such as this, and I agree with that, but there are times such as when you as parent is paying for something or carrying food, or other things and you may not have your full attention on the kid and poof....they are gone! So, this thing is a good idea. I always say as a kid, I had no rights because I did not live in the US but I lived in the country called Mom and Dad's house and if you want to live there, it's their way or the highway!
    • Re:What is Wrong? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garethwi (118563)
      You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to know that locking location devices to your child is wrong (but it helps).

      What is morally wrong with this is that you are instilling from a very early age a sense of distrust and fear into your children. You should let your child walk free and enjoy life, and actually look at this whole thing realistically.

      Sure kids get abducted and murdered, but not really that many. When you compare the amount of children who get abducted and killed to that amount who die in road accidents, both as pedestrians and passengers, then you should really understand that you are paying money for very little protection.

      Not only is this idea an encouragement to lazy parenting, but it is also doomed to fail. These locks cannot be cracked at the moment, but they are crackable, and will be cracked soon. Within about six months of introduction, I bet that someone will be able to open them without a key within a minute.

      What parents should be doing is not trusting this wristband to look after their children. They should be raising them themselves. If this is too much work, then they should have kids in the first place.
  • by Wolfger (96957)
    ...with wrist leashes, too. Seems that we're actively forgetting what parenting is, and just turning our kids lose (or semi-loose in the case of those damn leashes). People have to realize two things:

    1) Short of giving them the Han Solo treatment (stasis inside a solid object), there's no way you can protect your kids from everything. Nor should you, since experience is the best teacher.

    2) No amount of technology is going to make you a good parent. Letting your kid run around is bad, whether or not you have him on a leash (GPS or otherwise).
  • by erobertstad (442529) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:24AM (#3240011) Homepage
    How much for a girlfriend model? Forget the kids, I wanna know where my wife is 24/7, reading her e-mail just isn't enough! :)
  • by Brento (26177) <brento.brentozar@com> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:26AM (#3240020) Homepage
    It's like a Lojack [lojack.com] for those who suffer from Alzheimers. I can see the mental health community latching right on to these. Every one of the benefits that makes them great for kids makes them just as great for the elderly.
    • i can definately see this being used for the elderly, and mentally incompotent, this would have been perfect if we had been able to use it for my grandfather who would wonder away from the house occasionally while everyone was asleep.
    • by thomkt (59664) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @09:21AM (#3240457)
      Don't forget special needs kids.

      Our eight-year-old is severly autistic and like to get out of the house and run away. We have to keep her bedroom door locked at night and during the day we have the doors dead-bolted shut, with keys needed to unlock them from either side.

      Something like this would be a godsend. Maybe then Child Protective Services would believe us when we say we're doing our best to watch her.
  • Not a bad idea! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JimBoBz (111826)

    There are so many things wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin.

    Obviously you don't have kids!

  • unless they fit a taser to it, works a treat on shutting up dogs - why not children too?
  • by borat (561207) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:28AM (#3240028)
    Do your kids know where they are?
  • This combined with our newly acquired Jedi MindTrick Wristwatches [slashdot.org] puts us one step closer to the portable office. This is fun. Next up, embed cell phones into them and we have our own Dick-Tracy wristwatches. =)
  • by pamar (538061)
    ... but I think they could be useful for pets.

    The cost is much too high, for now, and for smaller animals (like cats) size could also be an issue.
    If they can get both down (and in case of pets some of the functions like pager can obviously be dropped) this could be interesting for people whose cats/dogs can get lost. They list this as a "future application".
    I suppose that nobody would disagree with this (for a reasonable price).
    They also list an extimated duration of 48 hours for batteries, which is probably not enough for animals (cats don't usually give you any idea of where they will be in the next hours...)

    (Note that I do volunteer work at an animal shelter, so I do see a potential market for it).

    Obviously animals (especially cats) can get in such places that actual location pinpointing could be impossible, but I believe that having a not-too-vague idea of where they are could be useful.
  • It will create a generation of people willing to tolerate a severe invasion of their privacy for "the greater good"...had our ancestors been raised that way, we wouldn't even be here. (see .sig =))

  • Excellent (Score:5, Funny)

    by Captain Large Face (559804) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:40AM (#3240061) Homepage

    I'm always losing my watch, so this would be fantastic.. All I need now is one for my keys.

  • Although the odds are slim of a kidnapped kid actually wearing one of these, but it could work much like the "Lojack" system we use todays in cars. The "locked" watch may look a bit odd but the technology has a great deal of potential. We could even imbed the devices into all us citizens at an early age and give them a unique number to track.. er, nevermind
    • Funny you should mention implanted chips. Check out this BBC article [bbc.co.uk]. I linked to it in a story I submitted a couple of days ago, but in true Slashdot style, they rejected it, instead posting a less interesting story on an identical subject. </rant>
  • I hope that there also will be a way to let this watch create a logfile of the GPS info. Then I could really use this watch myself for finding out where I was and what I was doing the previous night when I had too much to drink (again). No more 'O my God, where have I been'. Great!
  • by kars (100858) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @06:54AM (#3240097) Homepage
    # ping johnny
    PING 12.21.87.193 (12.21.87.193) from 12.21.87.194 : 56(84) bytes of data.
    From 12.21.87.194: Destination Host Unreachable
    From 12.21.87.194: Destination Host Unreachable
    From 12.21.87.194: Destination Host Unreachable

    Uh oh..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:00AM (#3240110)
    I think this is a really marvelous idea. Please don't mod me down as flamebait here, I've heard of some AWFUL things happening to kidnapped children. Out here in SoCal we had thousands and thousands of posters with Danielle Van Damme's picture on it until she was found, dead, and burned, in the boonies. I think the /. eds are too rabid about this with the constant slippery-slope arguments about how the government's going to mandate this on all citizens to enforce the dictatorship. Please. I think this company has a great idea, and if they can get the price down to something reasonable I think it would be great.

    And while you're in the rabid dog civil rights mood, think about this. Danielle had every one of her civil rights taken by the creep who murdered her. On your guys' level, she did have all her privacy taken away by all the posters posted looking for her. This wristwatch idea could have _SAVED HER LIFE_. And in fact, _PROTECTED HER PRICACY_. This wristwatch is heavy on the scales of civil rights compared to some paranoid concerns. Accept it for what it is, don't bash it for something it's not.
    • by ewhac (5844) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:43AM (#3240200) Homepage Journal

      Okay, fine, having such a gadget on her person might possibly have saved her life. (We'll never know for sure, since we can't fork() a copy of the Universe and test both cases.)

      But in all likelihood, it wouldn't have done a damn bit of good. Some possible countermeasures include:

      • Whack the kid over the head from behind; remove watch at leisure.
      • Use chloroform/ether/other drug to incapacitate child; remove watch at leisure.
      • Seize child's wrist, squirt Krazy Glue into controls; 911 call now inoperable.
      • Seize child's wrist, cut watch off with tin snips (easily concealed, available at any hardware store).

      And that's just off the top of my head. Safety is not significantly enhanced by this product.

      Now, consider the possible abuses, not by law enforcement, but by psychotic parents. 13-year-old Melissa wakes up one morning to find one of these locked on to her wrist. Her mother, played by Joan Crawford, informs her that she may now go only where Mommy Dearest permits her, and that her movements will be tracked and reviewed daily on the computer. Deviation from the set Plan will be severely punished. Dawdling on the way home from school will be severely punished. Going to the library without permission (hey, there's subversive, Godless trash in there) will be severely punished. Removing the watch will be severely punished.

      One day, Melissa comes home to a stern lecture from Mom, who is standing in front of the home PC displaying the tracking log map:

      "What were you doing in the school bathroom near the auditorium at 14:37?"
      "I was peeing. Duh."
      "Don't you dare take that tone with me, young lady. You were fraternizing with those disgusting scum you call friends, weren't you?"
      "No, I wasn't. And the Drama club aren't scum."
      "No daughter of mine is going to be caught dead around those homosexual freaks."
      "None of them is gay, mom..."
      "As long as you're living under my roof, you'll obey my rules. You're grounded for a week for lying to me, and you stay away from those Godless freaks."

      Yeah, great idea. Instead of one Big Brother, we'll create a million little brothers, all of them unencumbered with such trivialities as regulations and public scrutiny.

      Oh, and as for that tired aphorism that goes something like, "Even if it saves the life of just one child, isn't it worth it?" No. No it isn't, because the world that child will grow up in will be a perfectly dreadful place to live.

      Schwab

      • RTFM Please (Score:5, Informative)

        by Dirk Pitt (90561) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @12:26PM (#3241584) Homepage
        Before spreading silly uninformed FUD, you might go read the website.

        Whack the kid over the head from behind; remove watch at leisure. [etc]
        The website clearly says that interfering with the device automatically initiates a tracking of the last location of the device and informs the parents.

        possible abuses, not by law enforcement, but by psychotic parents
        Again, RTFM. The parents must specifically request for the child to be tracked--I don't think they're going to sit in front of their computer and on the phone, constantly requesting for child tracking. No doubt this is only used for stress situations, like an alarm company does--my 10 year old was supposed to walk to my neighbor's house, and is nowhere to be found, etc. I don't think any parent's going to be locking these Pikachu-looking devices on a 17 year old's wrist. And if they are, the kid definately has bigger problems to worry about than privacy.

        Look, all doubters who love to flame based on Michael's half-baked criticism, just read the damn web pages for these stories before you go on an orgy of digital/children's rights protesting.

  • From their FAQ [wherify.com]:

    Will it work indoors?
    Yes. The Personal Location System incorporates enhanced GPS technology, which enables it to obtain location information indoors as well as outdoors.


    Either I've missed out on some pretty impressive new developments with GPS, or this company are talking out of their a***. My experience with the GPS device I bought less than 6 months ago is that the only time it works indoors is when you happen to be leaning out the window and there aren't any tall buildings across the street.
  • you can rig it to explode if the kid tries to take it off, or gets outside a certain distance from you... just be careful to disable it the next time you go on a business trip! *grin*
  • by sillydragon (18114) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:09AM (#3240134) Homepage
    beep! It's 10pm, do you know where your children are?

    Yes, with 1m resolution..
  • -Where were you last night, Cindy ?
    -I slept at Linda's. mom.
    -Don't lie to we saw everything on GPS PERSONAL LOCATOR (TM).
    -Ok, I saw Steve again.
    -I told you to get rid of that dweeb. We don't like him.

    Now the parents are going to know every step of their kids. While it can be good for pre-teens, it can be a hassle to teens.

    A question for the other ./'s: when you were teens, did you have boy/girlfriends that you didn't want your parents to know ? How would you feel if your parents knew exactly where you are ? I'd feel suffocated.
  • A third use... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nordicfrost (118437) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @07:13AM (#3240146)
    People here have mentioned kidnapping and elderly as groups with need for this watch. I also believe that victims of violent crimes will benefit from these watches. Here in Norway, some people with a special need to stay in contact with the cops, like women with abusive exes and imigrant women with psycho families get the "Voldsalarm" device. This device automatically connect to the police by pressing two buttons and sends out a homing signal.


    This wristwatch is much more practical for this use.

  • I want one (Score:2, Funny)

    by km00re (470624)
    I think they will come in handy when trying to find one's self. This may cut down on those pesky time-consuming journeys of self discovery.

    I'm currently out trying to find myself. If I should get back before I return, please keep me here.
  • I know I am not even able to understand how society will evolve in the next years. I have difficulties to fully understand in details the behavior of people 10 years younger than me, so I am sure that I will have difficulties with my childrens.
    Which, let me state it, is a good thing. A parent MUST not understand totally his/her childrens. There must be some mis-understanding in families, because otherwise the kid will grow up without enough moral strength to fight against the world, or just survive into it.
    Now, I think that a great part of being a children is doing something forbidden. When you do something that's forbidden, being it wathing pr0n or sneaking into a girl house or go explore an abandoned house, you feel like you're adult. Later you realize the dangers you have risked, and at that point you have grown up a little bit.
    IMHO growing up is reaching an equilibrium between what you CAN do and what you CANNOT do, and what you SHOULD do.
    As you grow more, you start understanding the reasons that pushed your parents to act like they did, and by now you'll probably be a parent yourself.
    I'm making it a LOT more simple than it is, bare with me - there's no "Kid How-To" out there, and those who are available are wrong because there cannot be a Kid How-To, except in dictatorships (but I digress).
    So, back into topic: if a kid is afraid of doing something because he KNOWS his parents knows where he is (and probably will know what he's doing..with the next generation of such watches) his maturity will suffer. He will never become an adult capable of making reasonable decisions; he has grown up with 'someone else' making decisions for him and HE COULD NOT EVEN HAVE A CHANCE to disobey, and be proven right.
    Such watches will endanger the grown up of such kids. Another point in favor of kids could be their popularity in schools.. think about people making fun of you because your parents don't trust you.. and forced you to have a gps watch.. enough here).

    Sure they/we will get used to it. Sure next generations will get used to it and either
    1. develop new ways to avoid such system (as right now fake ID cards are)
    2. suffer from it and become morons that are used to to what is told them to do, being it from parents or government

    So we will all become either criminals or perfect citizens. Cool. Now I understand the leading trend in society! (I'm joking here, this is a provocative sentence. That said just to avoid those of you that love not understanding sentences and waste time for a 'fun' phrase writing paragraphs trying to prove wrong a sentence that was ironic at the beginning).

    Just thought about it.

    Oh well of course I'm not even thinking about raising a children in the US. But that's another topic. Anyone would like to go colonize Mars with me and raise kids there? :)
  • It seems that this device is difficult to remove from wrist, which is obiviously a danger itself. It isn't a great danger, but I'd like to see this unit to break loose when twisted before the bones break.
  • Gee.. just one more step closer to barcoding people.. Kidproof? thats a barcode.. only 10 dollars a month and you have a network of phones that when in use by anybody will scan barcodes in the vicnity of the phone and will help triangulate barcoded inviduals for the location database? Lost your kid? no problem..
  • Practicality (Score:2, Interesting)

    I hope I'm not being stupid, but there seems to be a serious flaw to this system.

    How do the parents go about the process of finding their lost child? I'd imagine the parents would call up the company requesting the geographical location of their child? But how do the parents (or the company) know their own geographical location? Directions are always relative to the start point (in this place the parents), so it seems to me that you're really going to need two sets of GPS systems.

    When you add the variable of the child moving about, this is going to add extra problems. It may well be useful near your home, where the company can give you a street name, but what about when you're away from home?

  • by X-Nc (34250)
    > There are so many things wrong with this
    > that I don't even know where to begin.

    As mentioned in the comments there are some "practical" uses for this. And, as a disabled single father of a 5 year old son, I can definitely see some serious advantages in this product.

    That being said, this device still makes me very uncomfortable. It worries me on many levels, too. I honestly can't decide if this would be a Good Thing<tm> or not.

    There is one little niggle I have, too. It's $400 a pop and $35/mo for this. I can see people buying it for their young children and I can't shake the feeling that this is just exploiting the fears of parents to make a proffit.

  • Please! (Score:2, Funny)

    by nmnilsson (549442)
    Don't tell my girlfriend!!
    My leash is short enough as it is... :-)
  • by llauren (80737)

    Here in Finland we give our kids a cell phone. If they need to call home, they call home. If the parents need to call their kids, they can call their kids.

    A friend of mind, father of a teenager, has a deal with his kid. He provides the phone + pays the bills (you can set a limit to that as well), as long as the kid promises to answer the phone when his father calls. If not rightaway --nobody should be forcedly tied to the phone-- then within reasonable time.

    Even a one-or-two-character SMS message will do;

    • ? = where/how/when are you? Are you ok?

    • .. = hang on
      . = yes
      ! = sure! or, look behind you! i'm already here :)
  • 1. Keep track of employees
    2. Keep track of your boyfriend(for gurls)
    3. Keep track of multiple gurlfriends(this way you can tell if one is coming towards your place when you are with another one)
    4. Keep track of your boss(just wait for the multicasting version & every employee will tracking software running on his/her machine)
    5. Attach one to every cop car in your town(small towns) so you know how far the cops are from ya.
    6. Lock it on your bag of weed so when yer friends misplace it you can find it easily

    7th and best reason!
    Attach it to the Senator from Disney so we can catch him meeting with church of velenti all the time(this one needs the 4+ hours of recordable media on it)(with content protection scheme so he can't erase it)

    :)

  • That they haven't advertised these foremost for pet tags, most folks care more about their pets' safety than their kids...

  • does it also count down from 24 hours, so your kid always knows exactly how long he's got to get the President out of New York? [imdb.com]

    ~Philly
  • by lkaos (187507) <anthony@NOsPam.codemonkey.ws> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @08:41AM (#3240322) Homepage Journal
    A lot of folks are saying positive things about this because protects children against abduction.

    This system offers a means for someone to totally track every movement of a child. While the parent is intended to receive the data, what prevents someone else from hijacking this data? Wouldn't it become easier than for a potential abductor to observe the habits of the child and choose a time when the band was known to be off?

    Let's say that an abductor abducts a child with one of these things. What's to stop him from just wrapping something around the device to block the signal?!? It surely wouldn't be too difficult.
  • by gus goose (306978) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @08:57AM (#3240366) Journal
    So, all that happens now, is that the kid *does* get abducted, and one of three things happens:
    1. The abductor is an idiot and doesn't discover the 'watch'
    2. The abductor manages to defeat the lock.
    3. The abductor removes the kids hand *and* watch.

    Either way, a determined abductor is not going to be concerned ....

    gus
    • 1. The abductor is an idiot and doesn't discover the 'watch'
      2. The abductor manages to defeat the lock.
      3. The abductor removes the kids hand *and* watch.


      At least you would know an EXACT time and location of the criminal and victim. I'll bet the location of the watch-disabling could tip police of as to who he (or she) is. i.e.: library, store, classroom, home, church. Plus it would eliminate suspects that had reasonable alibi's for that exact time.

  • ...and five or ten or twenty years from now they'll be able to implant one of these into your skull at birth. Just think! You'll never have to worry about being "lost" again!

    Does the thought of this technology being used for ... other purposes ... scare the hell out of anyone else?
  • Having raised 2 kids of my own, I understand the paranoia that parents can go through. When they were about 3, they managed to let themselves out of the apartment (kids can be very resourceful). Of course we imagined the worst. A gadget like this would have helped us find them and eased our minds. Given the price, we would never have been able to afford it though. Living in the real world the worst wasn't what happened of course. We found them exploring the stair well a few floors up on the far side of the building. I see technology used for things like this (Young kids) as a non-issue. If you can afford it, and it gives you some piece of mind, then nothing is lost, and it sure a lot better than registering you kids fingerprints with police.
  • by Gannoc (210256)

    I wonder if they wander too far away if their wrists will explode.

  • pederass (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AsnFkr (545033)
    now pedifiles and perverts with some technological know-how can scan where their victoms are so its not hard to find them alone! trust your children to technology! eric.
  • by RTHeath (525210) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @10:27AM (#3240805) Homepage
    First, I'm suprised /. is just picking up on this now -- Whereify's been around for a long time, working on this for a couple years.

    Here's my 2 cents -- while I agree with the privacy advocates that there limits (at some point kid's old enough to take care of himself, deserving of privacy, etc), I also think that for younger kids this device is very useful. When I was two, I followed my grandfather's beagle into the woods when he turned his back for a second. I was gone all afternoon, and luckily was found before dark.

    I now live on the same property. It backs up to a huge state forest and mountains, and I hope my son (coming up on his first birthday now) will someday enjoy the same hiking, exploring, climbing and wandering that I did growing up (/. will be for rainy days!). A device like this would make me feel a LOT more secure about letting him ramble solo. Looking back, I did a lot of stupid things when I was 8 or 10, playing soldiers and running & jumping from rock to rock, climbing too high by myself in trees, not watching out for snakes on sunny rocks, etc. It's easy for a kid to get hurt and immobilized, and when you're talking about a couple thousand acres, finding them is not easy. Hell, this is exactly the kind of device that serious climbers, hikers and backpackers wear on purpose for exactly that reason - they want to be found if they're injured!

    I want my kid to grow up competent and able to handle himself outdoors, and to feel that I trust him to go out exploring on his own (at an appropriate age), but at the same time, if you can ameliorate some of the risk through technology, why not? It's not like this device is going to be permanently implanted; at some point, they'll outgrow it.

  • by jht (5006) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @10:30AM (#3240822) Homepage Journal
    My wife and I are expecting our first child in about three months. It'll be a couple of years before we have to worry about the wandering problem, but I, for one, am willing to give this product a long, serious look when that time comes. In fact, I had talked (half-jokingly) with a friend of mine about building something similar a few years ago.

    Why am I interested? It's not that I need to know where he'll be 24/7. It's not because I want to track him as a teenager. It's because children disappear just often enough that it's something I'll worry about in the back of my mind until the day he leaves for college. And a device like this is something that might help prevent that from happening. I really see it as something where, if I used it, it would be during the toddler years - when he could wander off on his own in a flash without thinking twice about it. I'm more worried about his getting lost than I am about someone snatching him, and the odds are much better that he'll get harmlessly lost. But it's still a nice way to let child's first watch increase his mom and dad's comfort level.

    Start putting them in adult watches, and then I'll worry about privacy issues. When my child is old enough to be aware of privacy, it's time to give him a regular watch.
  • by evilviper (135110) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @11:01AM (#3241011) Journal
    The best way to protect your child or yourself is to give them a de-activated cell-phone.

    Go out and but a cell-phone (can be damn cheap) and use it for the first month or whatever they require. After that, cancel the service. Far too few people realize that even an unserviced cell-phone MUST be able to call 911. Older cellphones might be difficult to locate, but newer ones come with GPS with the very intent that emergency personell may locate the origin of the emergency call.

    Now, that may not be an option for extremely young children, but after they can talk, the first thing every kid has hammered into his head is how to call 911.

    So, you have a much less potentially intrusive option, which just happens to not cost you anything per month.
    • Also check out this website [emergencycellphones.com] where you can purchase emergency cell phones, or reprogram an existing cell phone to work that way. Not only will it dial 911 (as all cell phones do, with or without a service plan), but with a credit card, you can dial ANY number for a little less than $2 a minute - but with no monthly service fee.

      If you don't use it, it costs nothing, but if you're really in trouble, you can call any number you want, and pay only for what you use.

  • Low-tech solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by waldeaux (109942) <donahue@skepsERDOSis.com minus math_god> on Thursday March 28, 2002 @11:02AM (#3241030)
    So, why can't the abductor (who is overwhelmingly a non-custodial parent, other relative, or boyfriend/girlfriend[*]) just cut the thing off with a pair
    of snippers?

    Even if it's the classic melodrama of seedy pervert hanging around the mall looking for the random abductee, it's a case of 1) find person; 2) grab person; 3) snip off watch; 4) toss in garbage.
    Meanwhile the idiotic parents, completely self-absorbed in their deluded state of irresponsibility, just think that Johnnie is taking an awfully long time at Sbarro's...

    [*] in this situation the kidnapped has run away or eloped, and the parents attempt to stop it from happening by filing charges of kidnapping on the other party.

  • so begin anyway (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aozilla (133143) on Thursday March 28, 2002 @01:34PM (#3242102) Homepage

    There are so many things wrong with this that I don't even know where to begin.

    Yeah, why spend your time adding information and opinions to the topic when you can spend it looking for more redundant writeups contributed by unpaid volunteers.

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