LG has unveiled a smart watch for children which allows parents to track their location and call them directly.
Even if they don't pick up.
This has unsurprisingly hit a chord with privacy advocates, who are concerned about not only the legal implications of a tracking device for children but also the influence it can have on young parents.
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Emma Carr, acting head of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch said that parents should consider the security implications of the new LG KizON before sighing up to become their childrens' own personal NSA.
“Parents must be aware that any technology with location tracking and mobile phone services can come with added security concerns, which are only heightened when the user is a child."
"The companies developing the products must be explicitly clear what they are doing to enhance the security around the data collected to ensure that it is only the parents who will ever have access to the child’s location and contact details.”
The LG KizON has been designed for pre-school and primary school children, and includes a feature called 'One Step Direct Call' which allows the parent to call the child directly through the smart watch.
If the child doesn't answer within 10 seconds the call is connected automatically allowing the parent to listen in on what's happening.
As well as 3G (for calls) it comes with WiFi and GPS allowing parents to connect the watch to their Android phone. Once connected the parent can then track the location of their child.
Dave Maass, investigative researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the philosophy behind the tech isn't new -- but the implications of raising kids in a "police state" mentality could be serious.
"Transparency is always important whether we’re talking about the government. It’s not necessarily a super new thing, the size of the technology has changed, I remember when I was growing up in the 90s and I had a pager, my parents gave me a pager and I was under strict rules to call them back if I got a page. "
"It’s not a significantly different concept, but it’s more the involuntary method of it, and the issue of setting up a parental dialogue with your whereabouts. There was a level of trust before, when you remove that interaction, it’s just tracking them and I’m not sure it’s really teaching them anything positive. It’s teaching them how to exist in a surveillance state."
LG, unsurprisingly perhaps, insist that the gadget could be helpful to worried parents.
Dr. Jong-seok Park, president and CEO of LG, sees the KizON as a way of creating peace of mind for parents. He said:
“Children as well as the elderly are ideal customers for wearable technologies, wearables allow us to stay connected without the worry of losing a device or the inconvenience of having to carry a large item in a pocket. At LG, we’re committed to exploring more ways to incorporate wearable devices into consumers lives in line with our vision to become a leader in wearables.”
Another feature of the gadget, 'Location Reminders', allows the parent to set specific alerts throughout the day which will send you your child's location.
The KizON will initially launch in South Korea, but LG has plans to rollout the kids watch in North America and finally in the UK.
This will be the second smart watch that LG has made after it announced the LG G Watch which runs Google's Android Wear software.