Big Brother tags the kiddies = Big $$$$
Ulster group develops child-tracking kit
Thursday, August 19 2004
by Ciaran Buckley
A consortium in Northern Ireland has received STG250,000 from the EU to develop a satellite-based tracking device to reduce the incidence of child abduction.
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The KinderGUARD system will allow parents to track the movements of their children in real-time on the Internet. The device not only uses tracking technology to indicate the location of the wearer, it also monitors biometrics. An alarm is raised if the child leaves the area in which he or she is expected to be, if the biometric sensor indicates that the child may be in distress, or if an unauthorised person puts on the device.
The consortium received funding of STG250,000 from the EU through Invest NI, which will allow it to develop a prototype and to start carrying out trials. The consortium is composed of Internet service provider TIBUS and the University of Ulster. Lawrence Gillen, research director at TIBUS, told ElectricNews.Net that the consortium expected to produce a prototype system by December.
The gadget can take the form of a watch, jewelry, or an in-pocket device, which are designed to be attractive to children and to ensure that they will wear them.
The system will initially use the US global positioning system (GPS), but the consortium envisages that it could also use the Galileo system, the EU's planned equivalent to GPS.
Child abductions are a huge concern in the US, where one child is reported missing every 45 seconds. But its understood that firm is also looking more closely at launching the product in Europe sooner than originally anticipated due to similar concerns over child safety here.
Interest in the technology is not restricted entirely to the use of KinderGUARD as a child safety device. Other potential applications include national security, controlled access to key facilities (such as airports, container ports and government buildings) and access to financial services. The personal location-based services (LBS) industry is expected to be worth EUR7.3 billion in Europe by 2005 and more than EUR5.7 billion in the US.
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