num8’s “breakthrough” is to deliver this locator on a watch, although it’s hardly the first GPS watch – Casio delivered one years ago.
In a similar vein, this isn’t the “world’s first” GPS locator device for kids, either.
iTWire reported on a device called the “iKids” back in 2006 which offered similar GPS location capabilities in a mobile phone with a handful of buttons to make calls to pre-programmed numbers.
The i-Kids site used to have a link to Australia, but it mustn’t have been very popular over here because the Australian link has now been removed, and indeed, while the main site works, each link now exclaims that the "service is no longer available", so a lack of interest seems to have killed that device.
Still, the i-Kids device was a phone that needed to be attached to a lanyard and worn like a necklace – the LOK8U from num8 is a watch that attaches to your child’s wrist, making it much harder to lose and much more practical to "wear".
num8 makes note of this crucial difference, saying on its website that “unlike similar locator products, num8 has been cleverly concealed in a child’s digital watch that is securely fastened to your child and cannot be removed or deactivated without your knowledge. No other child locator in the world can match this.”
Like the i-Kids device before it, and like on GPS-equipped phones that are set up with GPS location software for parents or employers to track children or employees, the LOK8U can also be set up with a virtual fence as a ‘safe zone’, which also alerts you by SMS and/or email “if your child steps outside this zone”.
num8 says the LOK8U uses the same “pinpoint precise GPS technology used in SatNav systems” and is “accurate to within 3 metres.”
So, what else makes the LOK8U different, what other features do it offer, and what are the costs? Please read on to page 2.
num8 says that it has also implemented its own “proprietary Cell ID technology which provides a swift approximate location of your child” which then works with GPS signals for the claimed 3 metre accuracy.
Parents can connect to the LOK8U customer portal from any computer or Internet equipped mobile phone to locate their children, and they can do this wherever they are in the world, although the service is currently only sold in the UK.
Operating for “up to” 100 hours on a single charge, the device is also fully waterproof, even when swimming, and because it sends an alert if the watch strap is undone without your authority, it certainly sounds like a very robust and hard to defeat solution.
num8 says they’ve worked hard to make the device “look cool”, gives them “the freedom to play without visible adult supervision”, and provides more opportunity to play with other kids outside away from the TV, computers or games consoles.
With allergies being an important issue for parents and children these days, the LOK8U has also been “dermatologically tested and designed for all-day comfort” with the makers saying it is “ideal for children aged 3 - 12 and also young adults”.
There’s plenty more detail at the num8 website, but one question you’ll want to know is how much it costs.
The site notes that “subscriptions start from £4.99 per month”. This gives you 10 text messages per month if your kids stray out of their safe zones or messages need to otherwise be sent.
There’s also a £9.99, £12.99 and £19.99 per month package, with additional SMS message alerts able to be purchased in add-on packs, and international tracking available with any of these three more expensive packages.
If you’re a “heavy user” of the service, then the £19.99 per month package will be the one to go for as it offers “unlimited” text messages.
The watch comes with a 12 month warranty.
Some telcos now offer similar services through increasingly standard GPS-equipped mobile phones, and third party software programs that use GPS location and link in with online maps are also available.
Big Brother was here long ago, and I saw a newspaper headline referring to this as “Big Mother”, but it’s legal and if parents want this for their children, the technology is simpler and easier to use than ever.
Certainly if it helps find a missing child it could save a lot of Big Bother, although in cases of child abduction and removal of the watch, you’ll only get to know where the child last was and not where they are now.
Truly paranoid parents might want to buy two such devices and attach one to a child’s school bag, although a separate GPS-equipped school bag may well be available, as they've reportedly been on sale in Japan for some time.