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Summary:

Family member locator apps will grow into a big business as tracking services gravitate from specialized devices to the smartphone, according to Berg Insight. Sixteen million people use a GPS or cellular tracking service today, but smartphones will drive that number to 70 million in 2016.

Life360 family tracking locator

If you thought GPS in your phone was only useful for finding the closest Starbucks, think again. A growing number of North American and European households are using GPS and cellular location services to keep track of their family members. Berg Insight forecasts that the number of active users of family locator services in those two regions will grow from 16 million in 2011 to 70 million in 2016, driven by smartphone usage.

Tracking vehicles and assets is a big and growing segment in the machine-to-machine (M2M) communications industry, but tracking people is becoming just as important, according to Berg. Companies are using location services to keep tabs on their mobile workforces. Doctors and hospitals are tracking patients with conditions such as autism and epilepsy using special monitoring devices. The trend has spread to encompass the elderly living at home or in assisted living facilities.

The advent of cheap family tracking apps on the smartphone, however, means that these kind of social alarm services can expand beyond a specialized sector into the mainstream. All of the major mobile operators now sell some form of family tracking and monitoring service, often linked to a family plan, but a growing number of apps such as Life360, Family Locator + and Family Tracker are appearing in smartphone app stores, undercutting the operators’ services in price.

  1. I’m sure the investors behind Location Labs aren’t too happy to see this. Sounds like the carrier-based locators are dead

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  2. A new one entered the market this month and includes social media alerts in addition to location and driving alerts. MamaBear App. All new tools for a new era of over-sharing our children live.

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