When I was a kid, I remember taking off on my bike on summer mornings and not returning until lunchtime (mmmm, bologna and Kraft singles). Sure, I had boundaries I was supposed to stay within, but my mom didn't have real-time knowledge of my location without calling around to a bunch of nosy neighbors. These days, all she'd have to do is strap a GPS to my wrist and track me with a smartphone app.
Aimed at kids ages 3 to 8, HereO looks like a low-tech digital watch, except for the bulge on the side of the colorful plastic band. That little lump is a small GPS chip, and the motherboard is actually a small flexible strip built into the watch's band too.
This tiny tech lets HereO boast a watch that's smaller and lighter than the other two we've gotten our hands on recently: The FiLIP, which also includes a working cell phone, and the I'm Tracer, which is a GPS-only device with no watch.
The companion HereO Family app will support iOS and Android at launch, with Windows Phone support coming soon. It can track your whole family--both the kids wearing HereO watches, as well as other family members or even friends (say, the babysitter) who install the app and agree to let it peek at their locations. And you can customize what info family and friends can see about each other: For example, family could see all other family members, and friends could see the child's location but maybe not where the parents are. In fact, a family doesn't need any HereO watches to start using the free HereO family app, as long as they all have smartphones running the app itself.
For kids, the app lets you set up "safe zones" such as home and school; you get a notification when your child arrives or leaves. Click on a family member or a friend in the app to see a map of their location plus a history showing their recent movements. The app even suggests new safe zones if a child returns to the same places over and over: the same playground, a ballet class, a best friend's house, and so on.
The water-resistant HereO watch also has a panic alarm and motion sensor, designed to alert a parent if the child taps the watch face quickly three times, or experiences sudden violent motion. Such an alert will have the child's location, though without any two-way communication in Here), parents will have no choice but to frantically run to that location, or try calling other phone-toting adults who may be nearby. The FiLIP watch, on the other hand, is an actual phone, so when parents get an SOS alert they can call the watch directly to find out more--much less nerve-wracking in the case of a false alarm.
The HereO watch's built-in SIM card sends the GPS data to HereO's cloud using 2G networking, which goes easy on battery life (it's estimated to last 24--72 hours between charges) and works on virtually any cell network--the company says your $5 monthly fee will get you service in 140 countries without data roaming fees.
HereO is crowdfunding on Indiegogo now, with early pricing of $99 for the watch and six months of service ($5/month after). When the product ships later this summer, retail price will jump to $149.