GPS Cell Phone Creates an Invisible Fence for Kids

Ever wish for a better way to keep track of your children?

Our Guest Blogger, Lisa Zyga, is a science writer who is interested in many areas of science and technology, including the impact of science on society. She is excited about exploring new inventions in science, medicine, and space, and inspiring and fascinating readers interested in the creative frontier of science with the readers of Here's her article:

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For the next new feature in GPS cell phones, Brian Boesch has invented a system that not only allows parents to track their kids' locations, but also set boundaries on their traveling. The GPS chip allows any member in a programmed network to see where other members are located with their own cell phones, as well as see how close to a boundary line they are.

The system has a graphical display and can even issue a warning when you get too close to a boundary line. Although invisible radio waves can't physically keep anyone from crossing the boundary, there's probably a quite unpleasant auditory alert when it's been overstepped.

Assuming, of course, that the kids keep their phones with them, their location can be monitored at any time. Not exactly what the teenagers want, but the ethics of privacy is another subject. (Yeah, here's where you might be concerned about suspicious lovers. But if you're reading this, you'll know to check your phone if it starts making a strange sound as you approach somewhere you shouldn't.)

In a way, the system here is an extension of what 911 providers have-the ability to know where a cell user is when calling for emergency. But instead of just sending the location to a base system, Boesch's system enables other mobile phone users to immediately know their kids' locations from their own phones, no matter where they themselves are.

Interestingly, this system is somewhat similar to the one that prisoners on parole are familiar with. Sometimes, prisoners are required to wear a data sensor that tracks their location at different times, allowing them to go to work during the day (within a set boundary line), but restricting them to their homes at night (a smaller boundary line). But with the phone as the medium, hopefully your kids won't feel like prisoners, especially if they understand that it's used primarily for their own safety.

In addition to setting boundaries, the system can also monitor the location of group members relative to one another, and provide this information to one or all members of the group on a graphical screen.

But ... that would seem to take all the fun out of hide-and-seek.

Lisa Zyga
Guest Blogger