Spy Kids

More Children’s Wearables, More Questions

Whereables_lCCS Insight has written about child-tracking wearables before, but several new products shown at CES 2015 and on crowd-funding sites serve as a reminder that the market is still looking for its footing.

Parents of very young children are eager to have the latest and greatest: the newest baby monitors and mind-stimulation background noise, the safest cribs and the softest toys. However, kid-tracking devices have yet to be a major hit. Such products have been around for more than a decade, but most have come and gone without much notice. Will the latest round of wearables take?

In July, we noted that the wearables trend could spill into the market for children’s devices (see Daily Insight: Children’s Wear). Smaller components have enabled compact connected products that children can wear with relative comfort. Some use Bluetooth, others have a cellular connection and a few are GPS-enabled. The technology approaches differ, but the intention is the same: geofencing of wandering kids.

One product shown at CES 2015 was Kiband, a Bluetooth wrist-worn device that connects to an app on the guardian’s smartphone, sounding an alarm when the child moves beyond a given circumference. The band displays contact information for those trying to help the child home, and works at a distance of up to 200 feet.

Child Angel is another new crowd-funded gadget for kids, which combines GSM, GPS and Wi-Fi connections that relay the child’s location to a smartphone app. AT&T sells a similar product, FiLIP, which uses GPS, Wi-Fi and a cellular connection to provide parents with location information. In theory, the kids are never off the map.

Some of these products are said to be inspired by personal stories: a child lost at a crowded venue, a panicked parent or two. It happens, and it’s certainly a valid concern, but parents are also worried about the health effects of a wireless device so close to a growing child. Some child development specialists have also pointed to the potential privacy issues of having children on a wireless leash. Can children develop their independence when watched 24 hours a day?

It’s yet to be determined whether this is a market all major device brands should address. Although wearables are going mainstream, most top wireless manufacturers have yet to introduce children-specific devices. It continues to be a niche.