Children have a remarkable ability to vanish the second your back is turned, so a watch that not only tells your child the time, but also acts as a locator and heavily controlled cellphone has its attractions. With this in mind, AT&T and Filip Technologies have entered into an agreement that allows the telecommunications giant to bring the FilLIP child locator smartwatch to the US market in the coming months. According to the deal, AT&T will act as the exclusive network provider for the device as well as controlling distribution and billing.
According to founder Sten Kirkbak, FiLIP was inspired when he lost his 3-year old son Filip for thirty minutes. The result of three years of research and development, FiLIP is a smartwatch in a very colorful bracelet designed for children aged 4 to 11. The user interface is designed to be very child friendly, with the controls simple and the functions limited. For example, instead of a strap with a buckle that a child might find difficult, FiLIP has a solid bracelet with a gap to let the child’s wrist through. Also, though the watch can receive text messages, it cannot send them because the designers felt this to be too complicated for a child to master.
FiLIP connects via the cloud to a smartphone app that allows the parent to locate the child using an online map and call the child via two-way GSM cellular voice capability. It also lets the child call five phone numbers selected by the parents using a simple scroll and press system, and the parent can send text messages to the child. The app also allows for entering profiles for a number of children to accommodate large families.
Another feature is that FiLIP allows the parents to designate safe zones for their child. The watch can be set with a destination. When the child reaches it, a notification is sent to the app. Another way is by setting a safe zone around a particular point, allowing the child to explore freely at a radius from 25 to 500 yards. If the child leaves the zone, a notification is again sent. FiLIP can also be programmed to send location updates at intervals from 3 to 60 minutes.
FiLIP also has an Intelligent Emergency procedure. The child pressing a red emergency button for three seconds triggers an automatic location beacon, sends a text message to the parent, records ambient sound, and the watch automatically rings each of the five programmed contacts in turn until there is an answer.
Because GPS, cell tower location, and WiFi triangulation each has its limitations, the designers opted for using a combination for all three. This allows for greater accuracy and reliability. It also meant some extreme miniaturization. "Our team created three of the smallest antennas in the world, which is a lot of technology in such a small package," says Will Darden, Head Engineer at Filip Technologies.
FiLIP was granted FCC certification in July. For the safety conscious, the company stresses that the watch emits radio waves only when active and the radiation is directed away from the wearer.
According to Jonathan Peachey, CEO of Filip Technologies, the purpose of FiLLIP isn't to put a tether on children, but to allow them to explore with security. "Our goal with FiLIP has been to create a product that empowers kids to explore their world while remaining in touch with those who care about them the most."
AT&T says that details about pricing and service plans will be available in the coming months.