Have you ever felt the desire to find a way of tracking your children’s whereabouts at all times night and day? Have you ever wanted to give your child an old-style phone without all the “smart” features, like internet access, that most of today’s phones have? If you answered “yes” to both questions, then you will be pleased to learn that there is now a device that can meet both needs without exposing your child to many of the dangers of smartphones.

It is called the VIVOplay and it has just been shown off for the first time at the 2013 Las Vegas Comsumer Electronics Show. The device is said to combine the best features of a GPS locator and a phone and can be worn as a wristwatch, Dick-Tracy Style.

Sten Kirkbak, the CEO of the firm that is marketing VIVOplay, Evado Filip, came up with the concept after he lost his own son in a shopping mall in 2009. Kirkbak told Forbes magazine that, apart from anything else, the device is designed to make it simple for children to communicate with their parents in the event of an emergency. Referring to the incident with his son and the technology then available he said:

I could either buy him a smartphone, or a GPS tracker. But I wouldn’t buy a smartphone for a 4-year-old! And I realised it wasn’t worth buying a GPS tracker either, because it wouldn’t work (reliably) indoors.

So Kirkbak decided to use his own technological expertise to solve the problem by building a solution that would also be affordable for other parents. Evado Filip claims the VIVOplay is now the world’s smallest consumer communications and location device and says it can be programmed with up to five phone numbers for the child to call by pressing a single button. It can also be set up, by using a smartphone app, to receive calls and text messages from approved contacts.

So the next time your children insist they need a smartphone in order to contact you or for safety reasons you can give them more (or less) than they bargained on. The watch will be available in a range of colors and is water-resistant. Although there is no official launch date or price yet, it is expected to be available from around the middle of this year.

William West

William West is a Sydney journalist.