by Paul Rackley - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
While I don’t consider myself a helicopter parent, I am pretty protective of my kids. I want them to be safe, but still earn a few scars and some great stories to share later in life, which is why I’m both thrilled to see and highly concerned about devices like the FiLIP.
The FiLIP is a watch, as well as a restricted-number phone and GPS tracking device for children. It was designed by a Sten Kirkbak after becoming separated from his 3-year-old son, Filip, for 30 minutes at a mall in Norway. When Kirkbak realized that at the time there were no devices available to help prevent a similar situation from happening again, he decided to create one.
Made in Virginia, the FiLIP is available in four bright colors, and is IP63 rated, meaning that it is dust proof and water resistant. It cannot be immersed in water, however, the average splashing that can be associated with kid games shouldn’t be a problem.
The phone on the device can be programmed to call and receive calls from up to five numbers that are programmed by parents through a smart phone app, available for both IOS and Android. This app also uses GPS satellites, cell-tower locations and Wi-Fi hotspot triangulation to monitor the device’s location both indoors and outdoors. Finally, FiLIP has an “Intelligent Emergency” feature, activated by the child, which triggers the location beacon, activates an ambient sound recording and proceeds to call each number programmed into the phone until someone answers.
Basically, the FiLIP allows your child to call and receive calls from a few select people, be tracked if he or she wanders off the beaten track and push a panic button that will let you, and the people who happen to be near your child, know that something is amiss. You can even program safe zones and receive notification if the child leaves that zone.
Now it is obvious that this could be a great tool for keeping kids safe, and it looks a lot better than the monitors used by Vin Diesel in “The Pacifier.” However, I can’t help but think how much I would have disliked this device when I was kid. Of course, it was a different era and it is certainly less obtrusive than implanting your child with a GPS chip.
There are actually quite a few other devices and apps for tracking children, personal property and even yourself; a Seattle company has developed an app that allows the company to track your movements, and sell that information to businesses and advertisers, in exchange for gift cards and prize opportunities. I think I’m going to dig around and find my old copy of “1984.”
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