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NEWS ANALYSIS
27-Sep-2011
Tech Tackles Family Tracking
 
 

Consumers turn to their smartphones for staying connected—i.e. making calls and sending texts, checking email, social networking, and playing games. Now, location-based smartphone applications designed to use the devices as personal GPS locators are adding yet another layer of constant connectivity to our lives.

In the business world, GPS tracking devices and solutions are used to keep track of assets such as fleets and shipments. Among consumers, a similar trend is developing, except the technology is tracking humans rather than pallets.

This time of year, as kids head back to school and Halloween is just around the corner, a number of GPS apps targeted specifically at families with children are sure to experience a boost. App developers such as Nearparent, www.nearparent.com, which launched a tracking app this summer, are responding to a specific niche in the consumer market—parents whose children have GPS-enabled cellphones or smartphones.

Nearparent offers a free app for iPhone and Android users that can track a child’s realtime location. If a child needs help, he simply hits a button to alert the adults in his network. His location will be instantly plotted a map, so his parents and/or trusted adults can reach him quickly. For those without smartphones, the app is SMS compatible.

For older children, there is a less-obtrusive “check-in” feature that allows the child to post a location update at any time. This gives kids a greater sense of control, while still providing parents the peace of mind of knowing their child is safe.

PocketFinder, www.pocketfinder.com, also offers an app that turns mobile phones into GPS locator devices. The company offers a vehicle-tracking device, and is launching similar tracking devices for people and pets as soon as next month. Its Mobile PocketFinder app for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry can be used with these PocketFinder devices as an on-the-go management tool, or on its own to plot realtime locations.

One other company looking to transform cellphones into the ultimate family-tracking tool is Life360, www.life360.com. Designed as a safety precaution, the GPS tracking app for iPhone and Android can track family members on a map, send safety notifications with one tap of a button, and even display safety threats near your location.

When it comes to the wellbeing of your loved ones, it’s better to be safe than sorry. As smartphones proliferate among all ages, app developers want to help you keep tabs on what matters most.
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