Bright. Yellow. Cheap. These are words practically screamed by a new smartphone made for wrists. Adults would look insane to wear it, but that’s because it’s not for them, it’s for kids, and for keeping them safe.
If you’ve ever tried to look for a cheap phone for kids, chances are you’ve argued with yourself and someone else on if the child is ready yet, and even if they are, there’s the question of what you get them. After all, phones aren’t cheap, some are hard to use, and what you end up buying might not be easily found or charged when they need to be.
But what if there was a different solution: what if instead of leaving the handset in the child’s backpack, you strapped it to their wrists? You could check on it when they come home, see if they’re wearing it, charge it every few days, and know that the child is always be looked out for with a phone in a watch.
That’s the idea for the Aussie Safe Kids watch, a gadget that is essentially a quad-band GSM phone with GPS connectivity sitting inside of a bright thick plastic watch, held to a wrist with a rubbery silicone band.
The watch phone also has a microphone and speaker, making it more like something out of Dick Tracy or even possibly the future, able to make calls by speaking into the watch, and there’s even a clock if the owner needs to, perish the thought, tell the time.
Making calls and checking what the time is are only two functions, and the Aussie Safe Kids owner and founder is quick to point out has more to do with easy location, and relying on a GPS signal to make that happen, finding your kids in a jiffy.
The system is supposed to work by simply texting a code to the phone, similar to a USSD code on your phone. In reality, it’s the number five, a hash, and then your own password for the phone which will be a set of numbers. Once received, the Aussie Safe Kids watch phone sends grabs the GPS coordinates and sends this over SMS to the phone that sent the password to begin with.
Testing this feature, it tends to work half of the time, with a second or third text required to get the system going. When it does work, you’ll get a text back shortly with the coordinates, which Google Maps can take and show you where the watch last was.
If, however, the watch is too far away from a signal, the watch might call out to its wearer using the speaker and tell them to go outside, which happened to us twice.
Similarly, the phone also supports a code that can switch on the microphone of the watch and let you listen in to what’s happening around the watch.
Families keen on this service will likely be impressed, that said, even if the watch isn’t the best looking product in the world, with its bubbly exterior and buttons everywhere. And we’re talking buttons everywhere, with numbers zero through nine sitting on the top, dotting the border of the clock, with a green start call and red hang up button sitting in the 12 and 11 o’clock positions respectively.
With this array of number buttons, it would be easy for your kids to make all manner of random phone calls, but Aussie Safe Kids tells us that you can also out your kids from making phone calls using the buttons up top, with the side buttons set to speed dial specific numbers, useful in an emergency.
From what we’re told, though, Aussie Safe Kids hopes this will provide families with a sense of security for their loved ones, while not taxing the wallet too much.
To that end, the company is suggesting Amaysim to its customers thanks to the telco’s “As You Go” plan which lets you pay only for what you use.
When asked if this was a suitable use for the service, Amaysim’s Ged Mansour told GadgetGuy that it was “a solid option for kids who aren’t (or at least shouldn’t be) using their phone much.”
“If mum or dad have given their child a phone to use for emergency purposes travelling to or from school, or to use rarely, they can choose As You Go prepaid and link the child’s service to one master My Amaysim log-in,” said Mansour. “Parents can then manage their kids’ accounts in the same portal they manage their own service (if the parents are also with Amaysim), so children know their parents will be monitoring usage.”
“That said, no matter what company or plan parents choose, education is key here,” added Mansour, going on to say that “showing children how to use a phone properly, educating them on how much calls, texts and data cost and letting them know there are consequences for misuse are also great ways to teach children some financial awareness.”
The phone watches from Aussie Safe Kids can be locked out of making calls, as far as we understand, which could assist with this, but that won’t stop the phones from making phone calls themselves. In fact, if you accidentally bump or push down on some of the speed dial buttons, these can make phone calls, as we experienced during the course of our hands on.
But with enough practise, and a dose of education for good measure, this is something that could be nipped in the bud, and if you’re concerned about the constant location and safety of your kids, something like the Aussie Safe Kids watch could help out, too.