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Parents in the UK will soon be able to track the whereabouts of their children using a GPS device that can be partly disguised as a badge.

The product, called Kidcontact, is due to be released before Christmas and uses both GPS and mobile technology to monitor the location of the child wearing it. Kids can also alert their parents in an emergency with the click of a button, its makers have claimed. When released, it will cost £495 plus VAT.

According to John Bell, the inventor of Kidcontact, a "button" is worn on the outside of a jumper or shirt, which is attached to a GPS tracking device the size of a cigarette packet. "Because the button is disguised as a patch or badge on the child's clothing, a potential abductor would never know that the device is present," said Bell.

He added that at any sign of trouble, the child can push the button and a text message detailing their latitude and longitude is then sent to the parent's mobile phone. This is then forwarded to the Kidcontact call-centre where it is translated into a street-map and either posted on an Internet site or sent back to the mobile phone.

Bell told ElectricNews.Net that the process takes two to three minutes and is accurate to within 20 yards of the wearer's position. Similarly, parents can use the device to just check on their child's whereabouts.

Bell said that his invention may not prevent all child abductions, but should act as a deterrent. "The threat to children will never diminish, but we don't have to feel helpless," he remarked. "A potential abductor will be less confident approaching children. After all, many children love to wear badges of one design or another. The abductor will never know if a child is wearing a Kidcontact device."

He commented that he had been inspired to create Kidcontact as a result of his own concern for his grandchildren and the shock of recent events involving children.

The recent murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, who were both 10, in England has left many parents concerned about how to effectively monitor their children and it is likely that Kidcontact will be just one of many products released in the coming months that promise to track children. It has recently been reported that several parents in the UK have even gone so far as to have tracking devices implanted in their children's skin so that they can keep a closer eye on their movements.

Currently, the Kidcontact system is patent pending and its production is set to start in the autumn. Bell is also planning to market the system to other potentially vulnerable people such as the elderly or the infirm. The device should be capable of being used anywhere in Europe, he added, and its cost should fall to around £200 by next year.

© ENN

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