If you need to keep track of customers, workers or even your kids, but don't fancy the idea of implanting a chip, then the familiar form offered by Ekahau's T301W may be of interest. The unobtrusive watch-like wristband tag enables real-time location monitoring over a Wi-Fi network. It's accurate to within a few feet, allows for simple two-way communication and, being waterproof, can be safely disinfected for re-use.

A standard hospital wristband can be slotted through the body of the T301W and placed on the wrist or ankle. It's equipped with a remotely triggered vibration alert that can be used to signal the wearer that a pre-determined action needs to be undertaken. The device communicates with the real-time location system over a customer's own Wi-Fi network which, according to Ekahau, gives an, "unprecedented degree of location accuracy, movement tracking and workflow visibility."

On the face of the tag is a big red push button that, when activated by the user, sends a pre-programmed message back to the system - to indicate the completion of a task or allow the wearer to check in or request urgent assistance. In the latter case, the company states that the technology guarantees, "precise location capabilities down to less than a few feet in both confined and open spaces."

Such a device would no doubt be of benefit to hospitals (to monitor the movement of patients or visitors); to secure facilities or military installations (to make sure only authorized personnel are on site); in isolated working environments (such as mines and sewer systems); or even to ensure the safety and security of children at amusement parks, shopping malls or busy transport terminals.

The T301W can be fully immersed in various disinfectant/cleaning products, allowing it to be safely re-used over and over again. How long the Li-ion battery lasts between charges depends on how it's used, but Ekahau claims at least a "few weeks to over a month."

The Ekahau T301W tags will be available shortly for around US$60.