There’s an epidemic raging in America, affecting nearly a million kids each year. That’s how many go missing, at least temporarily; according to federal statistics, about 900,000 kids are reported missing by parents each year. The vast majority — over 95% — are located within hours.
According to the people at Israeli start-up HereO, “even if your child is missing for ‘just’ 2 minutes, it will be the longest 2 minutes of your life.” It’s to save parents the trauma of “losing” a kid, even temporarily, that the HereO watch was designed. HereO is the first fashion watch designed for kids with a GPS chip installed, enabling parents to keep track of their little ones via an app which can locate them at all times.
While there are GPS watches on the market aimed at children, most notably the AT&T Filip, HereO is the only one designed specifically for young kids, in the critical ages of 3-8. The HereO is also notably smaller than its competitor, and actually looks like the kind of colorful, cheap low-tech watch that kids like — unlike the Filip, which is bigger and bulkier. “For the first time, tracking technology has been miniaturized to fit in a trendy kids watch,” said the company. “A team of experts miniaturized the technical components in order to make the smallest children GPS watch in the world.”
In addition, the watch is designed to take the beating its designers — CEO Gill Mendelson, COO Allon Gladstone and president Daniel Ivesha — expect kids to give it during rough-and-tumble play. HereO’s are water resistant, made out of very hard-to-break plastic, weighs only 300 grams, and is secure enough to stay on “even in the heaviest of play,” says the company.
With the watch comes HereO’s family location app (the app will also be usable without the watch, as a way to keep track of kids via their smartphones). The app sends parents real-time alerts not just when kids go missing, but when they arrive at school, soccer practice, etc. If someone attempts to remove the watch from the child’s wrist, it sends out an emergency alert, indicating the exact location, so parents can take quick action — in case it’s a kidnapping, and not horseplay. In addition, the watch can be programmed to send out alerts to multiple family members, and send out directions to the child’s current location.
The watch itself has a panic button, which kids can press to activate the emergency protocols (the button is on the outer edge of the watch, positioned in a way that makes it less likely to be pressed by accident, the company said). Parents also have the option of installing a SIM card, to enable cellular triangulation to get the watch’s (and hopefully the child’s) location in places where GPS is unavailable, like indoors.
HereO is still under development, with the watches expected in stores by July (the iPhone app will be in the App Store next month, the company said), when they will cost $149, with a $5/month subscription to the triangulation plan, which will work in 120 countries. HereO has sales offices in New Jersey and the UK, and plans to market its watches all over the world, the company said.
The company is self-funded, with founders raising nearly a million dollars from family and friends — as well as from crowdfunding site IndieGogo, where HereO has been running a fundraising campaign for the past two months (with about 3 weeks to go, the company has raised about $85,000 of its $100,000 goal). Contributors to the site will be able to get a watch for $99, plus a free six-month cell subscription.
For kids, said HereO, the watches are a fashion statement. But for parents, “HereO makes it easy to provide peace of mind for your kids and the whole family,” said the company. “With ‘Place Notifications’ and ‘Panic Alert’ features, your child will always be within arm’s reach. It’s fun for kids, but essential for parents.”