Irish company KidSpotter are set to see their child tracking system deployed in theme parks in a matter of weeks. The second generation Spotter, a high tech wristband which enables parents to keep tabs on their children in high footfall environments like theme parks and waterparks, will be debuting in one park in the US and two in Europe in June.
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KidSpotter was founded in 2007 by Andrew Dunne (pictured left), Liam Darling and Klaus Brohl, with the initial product launch in 2008. By 2010 Dunne says, “we had a wish list of what we wanted for the second generation: tamper proof, waterproof, wrist watch style, high volume charging racks and long battery life”, which would better fit the needs of Theme Park customers and operations. With the aid of a €400, 000 investment from Enterprise Ireland under a high-potential start-up programme, Dunne and his co-owners were able to undertake costly product development with a new hardware supplier.
The new Spotter is a lightweight device mounted on a watch-like wristband (see image below). Using state-of-the-art GPS and Zigbee technology, the Spotter can report the location of the child wearing it both outdoors and inside buildings. On arriving at a visitor attraction parents rent the wristband and register the device using their mobile phone, then if the child becomes separated from his parents they send a “HELP” text. This triggers the Spotter to display its location every 20 seconds via the KidSpotter web based platform monitored by park Security. The device is also tamper proof, sending an alert if it is forcibly removed, or if it passes outside the boundary of the park.
Dunne is keen to stress that a lot of the investment made has been on high quality components for key features. “We have the best in brand GPS chip set, the one that Mercedes and Porsche use for their sat nav. Another crucial element is having a decent battery to give a continuous tracking time of up to 24 hours.”
In terms of the deal for park operators, KidSpotter provide the hardware and software: Spotters, chargers, location nodes and web based platform. The park provides the sales and security staff and revenue is shared, meaning that parks can trial the Spotter with little initial cost and scale up easily. At this initial stage rental guide prices are around $10 per unit in the US and €7.50 in Europe.
In addition Dunne points out that there could be sponsorship opportunities both in terms of both branding the device and text messages. “There is huge positive association potential, right from the text hoping that you will have a great day to saying for example, “Coca Cola has located your child”.”
Further technical developments planned in the near future include a mobile app that can report locations direct to the parents’ smart phone. Dunne is optimistic about the potential for the Spotter. Following the three attractions to be finalised this month, he anticipates that there will be a further five theme parks and FECs using the Spotter this year, with the ultimate ambition being to make the Spotter as much a part of a parent’s theme park budget as a fast pass.