Here's Some Great Technology to Track Your Kids — and Your Pets

First, a GPS for your pet

When a newly acquired cat wandered off from my son’s home recently, I joined his search through his neighborhood. We never found the cat, but did encounter another cat owner who raved about a product he was using to keep track of his pets’ wanderings.

The product is Whistle 3, a tiny matchbox-size device that clips to your pet’s collar. Used in conjunction with an app, you can keep track of your pet’s location and activities at all times. I got a sample to try from the company, Whistle, and like it a lot.

The tracker uses a built-in GPS chip and an AT&T cellular data connection to keep track of your pet’s location communicating it back to you. At the end of the day you can see where your pet has roamed and how active she has been. No, this is not yet a Fitbit for dogs, but something more practical  Using its well-designed app, you can get alerts if your pet wanders outside of your home’s WiFi range.

The device weighs less than an ounce and is small enough to easily clip onto your pet’s collar up to 1-inch wide. It’s about 1 ½ x 1 ¼ x ½ inch thick and completely waterproof (IP67), designed to survive a dunk in the pool or a bath. The company advises it’s best used for pets eight pounds and up, but it works fine on smaller ones as well.

While there are a number of pet tracking products – this category has exploded ever since Qualcomm developed the technology — the Whistle 3 seems to be one of the most popular and versatile. In fact, it bought Qualcomm’s original partner that created the category.

The GPS turns on when the pet goes outside of your WiFi range. This extends battery life by not using the GPS when your pet is at home. The app indicates battery life and lets you know when it needs recharging. The app also provides a summary of your pet’s daily wanderings, including a map, and is used for setup. The device unclips from the collar and snaps into the included charger base for charging. It gets 4-7 days of battery life.

The company provides a 90-day money back guarantee for the $80 device. Monthly cost is $10. The company is currently offering a $20 discount with a reduced rate for a yearly subscription.


Your Child’s first phone?

The combination of a GPS chip and cellular technology is also behind a product called Tinitell, that not only tracks, but allows you to communicate with your kids. The company calls it a cellphone for kids, and it’s one of the smallest ever.

The phone looks like a kid’s wristwatch with a circular ring of lights instead of a dial and is available in a variety of colors. The product, designed in Sweden, provides parents with the location of their child, and most importantly, allows 2-way communication over the 2G network. It requires a 2G SIM card and a $9 monthly subscription.

The Tinitell app is used to locate your children, call them, and add additional contact numbers to the phone for the children to call out. The lack of a screen makes it durable and more acceptable for use in school. It’s water resistant, but not waterproof.

The device uses a combination of WiFi, GPS, and cellular for accurate tracking. While there’s no watch dial, you can push a button to see a representation of the time using the circular ring of LEDs. Voice recordings used to designate the various numbers stored on the phone.

The Tinitell costs $126 plus the cellular subscription through Ting or T-Mobile. Ting uses the T-Mobile network.

The Seattle, Wash., based company offers three months free service and free activation.

Each of these products allows you to better keep track of the most dependent members of your family for under $10 per month.