Thursday, July 10, 2014
LG unveils child-tracking Kizon device
LG has announced a wrist-worn device designed to let parents keep track of where their child is and listen to what they are up to.
The Kizon uses GPS and wi-fi signals to identify the wearer's location and sends the information to an Android app.
LG is targeting the device at families with pre-school and primary school children.
However, others have raised concerns about the idea.
"A parent should never solely rely on a device alone. This will only give a false sense of security," said Peter Bradley, director of services at the charity Kidscape.
"Children still need to be taught about dangers - particularly 'stranger danger'."
"There are ethical points to consider too - should a child be able to be traced as part of going about their daily lives? How can a child develop their own coping strategies knowing a parent is watching over them?"
Privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch has also called for more details to be made available.
"Parents must be aware that any technology with location tracking and mobile phone services come with added security concerns, which are only heightened when the user is a child," said acting director Emma Carr.
"The companies developing the products must be explicitly clear what they are doing to enhance the security around the data collected to ensure that it is only the parents who will ever have access to the child's location and contact details."
A spokeswoman from LG was unable to discuss the issues raised.
The South Korean firm is not the first to market such a device - start-ups including KMS Solutions, Tinitell and Filip have announced similar products - however, LG's launch marks the entry of a major tech company into the sector.
Even so, one industry watcher suggested the design of the Kizon could limit its appeal.
"If the wristband looks like a bulky Star Trek machine, it will be a deterrent against adoption - that's true of all wearable devices - the aesthetics are very important," said Saverio Romeo from the Beecham Research consultancy.
"In this specific case you would want something that's not too obtrusive."Connected children
LG says the Kizon can run for up to 36 hours between charges, is water resistant and works with 2G and 3G cellular networks.
The wearer can call a pre-configured phone number by pressing a button on its front.
The button also allows the child to accept calls from approved numbers, and if they fail to press it within 10 seconds the device will automatically let the caller listen in to the machine's built-in microphone.
"New technology has a way of throwing up parenting conundrums that get right to the heart of the line between being responsible for your children and invading their privacy," the Mumsnet blogging network's founder, Justine Roberts, told the BBC.
"Some parents may want to know the precise location of their children, but most will probably remain happy to yell across the playground or send a text.
"The key thing is to establish good lines of communication with your children, and let them feel that they can talk to you about any tricky situations they find themselves in."
LG said it planned to launch the device in South Korea this week, and introduce it to Europe and North America before the end of September.