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KGPS To Enter Kid-Tracking GPS-Watch Market

New York — Israel-based start-up KGPS is entering the market for kid-tracking GPS watches with the HereO GPS Watch, promoted as the smallest and lowest-priced GPS tracking watch announced to date for kids.

The company plans July shipments of a GPS watch that’s smaller than competing models so it fits better on the wrists of a 3- to 8-year-old, said North American VP Sherone Noyman. The watch measures 1.26 inches by 1.18 inches by 0.55 inches.

The HereO, which lacks voice and messaging capability, will be priced at $149, including six months of tracking service that normally costs $4.99/month per tracked device. The presale price is $129, or $99 for the first 500 people who purchase from the company’s website.

The water-resistant watch, which displays only time, can be used with the free HereO Family Location app, which lets users view the whereabouts of watch-wearing kids via iOS and Androids apps. Tracking apps for Windows and BlackBerry smartphones will be available shortly after the watch becomes available in June, Noyman said. Location can also be monitored via web browser.

The apps also track the location of other family members if their smartphones run the apps.

Other app features include the ability to broadcast text messages to multiple phones running the app or sending individual messages to those phones. The app also uses a phone’s Apple or Google Maps app to plot a route to meet a tracked family member who is wearing the watch or using the Family Location app.

The company, which launched an Indigogo funding campaign, will initially focus on direct sales to consumers but will later target sales through carrier stores, Noyman said. The company, however, will also offer bulk distribution packs of 10 HereOs with six-month subscription for $950 during the campaign for retailers that want to offer the product. Retailers will also be able to contact the company in July to determine distribution packages and large quantity purchases, a spokesperson added.

The device enables multiple tracking features. Parents can set the watch or apps to send a location signal periodically, but parents can also request location on demand. The watch can also be programmed to send signals only when a child enters or leaves a safe zone.

Children can send a panic alert by tapping the watch twice and shaking it once. App-equipped phones can also send alerts to family members’ phones.

From a smartphone or web browser, users can view the watch’s whereabouts by date going back months.

In tests, the watch’s rechargeable battery was found to last from 24 to 72 hours with a median of 52 hours, Noyman said.

The watch features an adjustable band that 3- to 5-year-old kids can’t remove easily, and it incorporates quadband GPRS data service provided by international M2M MVNO Wyless of Boston, said Noyman. The watch operates in 140 countries.

Noyman also noted that the watch was designed with kids’ input to be attractive to kids. Kids also helped choose the selection of watch colors.

The watch’s price compares to the $199 price of the Filip GPS watch in AT&T stores and prices ranging from $256 to $303 for the Lok8u sold through Amazon.

Filip service pricing, including voice and messaging, is $10/month. Lok8u service pricing is $20/month.

The Filip measures 1.85 by 2.06 by 0.64 inches, AT&T’s website shows, and comes with a watch band that fits 80 percent of kids ages 5 to 11. A second wristband for larger wrists is planned.

The Lok8u is targeted to kids ages 5 to 13, the company’s website shows. It measures 1.65 by 1.54 by 0.57 inches.

KGPS, founded in 2011 by three friends with children, operates R&D facilities in Israel, has manufacturing partnerships in China, and runs sales operations in the U.K. and U.S. The company’s North American facility is in Fort Lee, N.J.