By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Wherify expects to start shipping its GPS-based personal child locator device in September with the primary retail rollout taking place the following month.
The company has already accepted several thousand pre-orders for the product said Timothy Neher, Wherify's president, through its Web site and toll free number. Neher could not identify which retailers would participate in the rollout other than to say it would be in the major consumer electronic chains.
The initial suggested retail price is $399 plus a $24.95 monthly service charge. A major advertising campaign will support the rollout and it will be merchandised with standard point of purchase displays in stores, he said. The increased media attention child abductions have lately received has given the company extra exposure, Neher said, but it is trying to walk the thin line between making itself known and not seeming to take advantage of the current climate.
Wherify has partnered with about 55 children's groups and organizations to help get the word out and give them a recurring source of revenue, Neher said with each receiving a commission for units they help sell.
The product uses enhanced GPS and cellphone technology combined into a wristwatch size device that locates lost or kidnapped children. The locator's band is locked onto the child's wrist and has the ability to track a child even indoors. Neher said it is guaranteed to work inside wooden structures, but in many cases will work inside a concrete building such as a hotel or office tower. The other feature is a 911 button that when pressed will call the police to the scene.
Wherify originally intended to launch the product last year, but had to delay the introduction to make several changes, such as waterproofing.
Two other incarnations of the personal locator are now in the works. A version for elderly people, particularly those with Alzheimer's Disease, should be ready in 60 to 90 days and a sports model geared for women joggers will follow. The next-generation model is expected to be about 50 percent smaller than the type shipping this month. Also on the road map, Neher said, is to fully activate the cell phone embedded in each locator. The first models have the voice transmitter turned off, but this will be reversed allowing the wearer to make calls.
The technology is also being developed for several vertical markets such as vehicle tracking.
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