Forget a smartphone; does your younger child need a smartwatch?
The folks behind Filip think so, but the planned device is more of a take on a location and communications service for young children than it is about apps on the wrist. Still, there’s a relatively underserved market for wearable kids devices that provide the basics that a parent would want. And Filip is designed to be a device that young kids would want to wear: it’s rugged and splashproof.
Filip comes in four different colors and has a plain, almost toy-like look to it. But make no mistake, this little watch — yes, it tells time too — has some smarts.
Embedded GPS, Wi-Fi and GSM radios support location tracking and two-way phone calls between parent and tot. Parents can use their iOS(s aapl) or Android(s goog) phone to locate their kids wearing Filip. Plus, they can call their child and have an actual conversation: Filip is limited to send calls to up to five numbers only, which are configured by the parent. Filip can also receive one-way text messages.
The device also supports geofencing technology. Parents can set a safe zone and be alerted whenever their Filip-wearing tot wanders outside the invisible fence. Likewise, Filip can be used to tell parents when their child has arrived in a preconfigured safe-zone, such as school or the local library.
I especially like the red emergency button on the side of Filip. Once held for three seconds, a sequence of events happens:
- A text message to up to five pre-defined phone numbers are sent with location data.
- The device will start recording ambient sound.
- Calls are made to the pre-defined phones in succession: If there’s no answer at the first, Filip calls the next, and so on.
- In the event of no answer from the five phones, Filip can directly call emergency services.
While all of that sounds good from a children’s smartwatch/security device, there are still a few details missing. For starters, the Filip has no price yet. Preorders start in the third quarter and at that time, more information we be made available. I’m also not sure what the actual services will cost. The ability to make cellular calls and receive texts mean there will be some type of service plan required by carriers, of course.
Regardless, I like the concept of Filip. A smartwatch for younger kids serves multiple purposes between location tracking, security and communications. And it provides that without the complications of an actual handset, which parents are likely considering for kids under 12 or so. Both of my kids — now aged 13 and 15 — use smartphones, but if I now had a younger child in elementary school, I probably would buy a Filip for them as opposed to a phone and add-on location service.