FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, May 06, 2005

A GPS "Panic Button" for Kids

Every story about a child abduction is one story too many. So it comes with relief to many parents that technologies are appearing that promise to help track children when they're not in their parents' line of sight.

A Tampa-based company called GuardianLion has introduced a GPS tracking device for kids it calls the "Amber Alarm." The palm-sized, child-friendly device is essentially a GSM-based "panic button" that kids can press if they feel threatened; the signal is sent to a local 911 dispatcher, who notifies police with the exact whereabouts of the child.

Unlike many GPS systems, the Amber Alarm does not require a clear line of sight to transmit a signal. So a child could be indoors or among tall buildings and still be able to send a distress signal. The Amber Alarm also features "geo-fencing," which automatically and silently notifies 911 if a child were to leave a pre-programmed "safe" zone, such as the perimeter of a school.

The Amber Alarm device costs $350, and is activated with a $40 monthly plan. Such a device has a lot of potential in helping to protect not only children, but the disabled and elderly who might find themselves in distress... as well as average adults concerned about their personal safety.

RELATED: The Korean National Police Agency has established a service that uses mobile phones for locating wayward Alzheimer's patients. The system is similar to the Amber Alert system used in the US for finding missing children; authorities can issue SMS messages to cell phone users with descriptions of individuals who are reported missing.

Source: GeoCommunity