Teeny tiny GPS?
May 30, 2016 6:30 PM   Subscribe

My 7 1/2 year old just got glasses. Having been 8-year-olds with glasses ourselves, we know that some level of damage and loss is probably to be expected. We paid for the damage insurance plan, but that won't help if he loses them. What's our best option for a GPS-like device to help us (literally, if possible) keep tabs on them?

I have looked at the sites for Tile, Trackr and StickNFind, but they seem to be too big to attach to glasses (or can the StickNFind sticker be wrapped around the arm?). We could put one in/on the glasses case, but that assumes he will reliably keep his glasses in the case, which is a level of conscientiousness that - if he had it - would probably keep him from losing them in the first place. Plus he only needs them for classroom use, not all day every day. Ideally we would love to find something that would attach to his glasses in a comfortable unobtrusive way, that we could track via an app or web program if he left them somewhere not in the house.

If you've tried any of the GPS-on-stuff devices, what would you suggest? I'd also love to hear any non-tech solutions that worked for you.
posted by Mchelly to Technology (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
(Not a glasses wearer but) my impression is that many / most glasses these days can be had for cheap (e.g. $20 or so, if you buy online).

There is no insurance policy or device that makes sense for a $20 item.

Much easier to instruct your kid to be careful, but then model good behavior regarding cost/benefit analysis if (when) they lose them.

If your kid "loses" the glasses often, then consider other ideas (e.g. it's willful, the glasses suck or are socially stigmatizing, they are acting out at you, etc...)
posted by soylent00FF00 at 6:38 PM on May 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

Having been an eight-year-old with glasses, the biggest improvement in glasses since I was a kid is how ridiculously cheap it can be to buy glasses online. You can get several spares for the cost of a tracking system. Recent Ask with options.
posted by asperity at 6:40 PM on May 30, 2016 [10 favorites]

I agree that extra glasses are probably the easiest option (one for home, one to keep in his desk at school?) but if he has an unusual prescription that might not be possible.

What about keeping the glasses on some kind of sports strap and attaching the tile or whatever to that? But one thing you need to keep in mind is that most of these devices use bluetooth, so you still need to have a bluetooth-enabled phone within a fairly small distance (Tile says 100 foot radius) to locate it.
posted by mskyle at 6:55 PM on May 30, 2016

Yup, with internet glasses being so very inexpensive, I think that's the solution. Get some spare pairs now so that you're ready.
posted by quince at 6:56 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, if he really needs them to see .... they are less likely to get lost after he's used to them. I mean, my glasses are only ever on my face or on my nightstand, because I can't see. Our 7 year old is already in the same habit after a year of glasses.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:59 PM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

I was disappointed by the Tile, it works but only trying it out, it basically needs a full time bluetooth sync to the owners iphone, a big battery drain. I have not seen anything significantly smaller and not expecting until there are some "killer apps" in the wearable or IoT's tech where basically everyone has one of X new tech.

I've had luck with a bit of string just long enough to get on and off and hides under hair, but not sure it that would work for a kid. Perhaps an elastic string? The heavy straps are just annoying and obtrusive.
posted by sammyo at 7:19 PM on May 30, 2016

Having been a child with glasses, I never once misplaced them, but occasionally damaged a pair over the years.

Having children now with glasses, I'm always sure to keep a copy of the prescription with the pupillary distance measurement, so if necessary I can order bonus pairs super cheap from Zenni or similar sites. It hasn't happened in eight years of kids who wear glasses, so far. But it's nice to have it in my back pocket, and when my kid who is prone to losing things inevitably needs them, I'll probably just proactively order some bonus pairs.
posted by padraigin at 7:37 PM on May 30, 2016

I have two kids with glasses; in my experience, they lose and misplace all kinds of things, but never their glasses, and they've been wearing them for years. I think once you're used to wearing them, you just notice if you don't have them on.
posted by escabeche at 7:48 PM on May 30, 2016

I wore glasses from 5 to 10 and never lost a pair. I wouldn't worry so much.

Note: cheap glasses may have less accurate prescriptions. This drives me nuts and gives me a headache. I'm aware some people don't care. Be aware your child may be either type. Good luck.
posted by Kalmya at 8:59 PM on May 30, 2016

Sticknfind won't wrap, and they are absolutely useless.
posted by goshling at 9:01 PM on May 30, 2016

Your kid takes the glasses off and on a bunch during the day so have you looked at sport goggles? They hang around your neck when you don't need them but you can put them on pretty quickly. That idea feels either super cool or super uncool for a 7-year-old boy.

I don't know about small GPS trackers but I have a beeping doohicky on my keychain about the size of a nickel. It beeps when I press its larger fob. It won't let you lojack his glasses but can help find them nearby. Plus, if a freebie conference giveaway is nickel-sized, I bet you could buy one that's much smaller.
posted by thewestinggame at 9:23 PM on May 30, 2016

Not to be a conspiracy-theorist, but is there enough data to indicate that it's safe to have that much radiation near the child's brain? I may worry about Bluetooth or GPS signals... just a thought..
posted by leslievictoria at 9:35 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

I didn't have a very good experience with the TrackR Bravo. No range worth a damn and the batteries ran down super fast. They were also too big to wear on glasses, though they'd probably be fine on Croakies or some kind of sports leash.
posted by bink at 10:00 PM on May 30, 2016

My kid goes through glasses - when he first got them around age 9 he managed to break/lose a pair on an average of once every six months for two years ... but it was more breakage than loss (a pair was lost for about three months). As others have said, you are more likely to have glasses break, which no tracking system can fit, and unless the script is really weird* you are better off just having a spare pair. We live in a country where glasses are hellaciously expensive so I have made sure to get cheaper pairs from the UK and have them on hold.

*I have a weird and expensive script, so if that is the case I understand. I have two pairs of relatively cheap glasses, otherwise I would be paying $$$$ here in Turkey to have them replaced.
posted by Megami at 10:26 PM on May 30, 2016

I'm putting in another vote for a zenni optical type solution. All my friends in college who were constantly breaking/losing their glasses just resigned themselves to well, $15(or whatever) glasses.

They're cheap enough that you can just keep more than one pair on hand. Broken pairs are kept around to tape up while new pairs are on order if you lose all the good ones.
posted by emptythought at 10:33 PM on May 30, 2016

GPS receivers just receive signals, they don't generate them. Not that anyone has repeatibly shown danger ever from such signals.

GPS doesn't work because the glasses would know where they are, but you'd have to be looking at them to see. They'd still have to interface to something you have, so Tile and such are about as small as you can do. So, it would probably be annoying, but maybe a thing that chirps every so often? At least you would know which room to search.
posted by flimflam at 10:34 PM on May 30, 2016

I was also disappointed with the Trackr. They're also way too big for glasses, never mind kid glasses. I had high hopes of attaching them to my cat collars, but even that was too clunky.

Nthing everyone else and just get glasses online for cheap. I love Zenni Optical for this. I have a half dozen pairs of prescription sunglasses because they're so cheap and I have a bad habit of leaving them places.
posted by cgg at 10:44 PM on May 30, 2016

I have this problem and did a ton of research looking for the same thing you are. Sadly, it doesn't exist -- all the existing solutions are too big for eyeglasses, and reviews say they work spottily at best anyway.

I settled for getting a tiny matte metal tag engraved with my name and phone number, which I glued to the glasses' inner temple. It's unobtrusive. Strangers have now returned my glasses twice, yay.
posted by Susan PG at 11:26 PM on May 30, 2016 [6 favorites]

Not to be a conspiracy-theorist, but is there enough data to indicate that it's safe to have that much radiation near the child's brain? I may worry about Bluetooth or GPS signals... just a thought..

For what we should worry about this is not "radiation".

These are radio waves. While also electromagnetic, they do not ionize stuff like cosmic waves and x-rays do.

They're only an issue when there's enough of them to actually cook stuff, which is what a microwave does.

Likewise the light from a flashlight: not harmful but technically 'electromagnetic radiation'.

And tens of thousands of scientists have looked into this and gotten null results.
posted by sebastienbailard at 11:28 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah actually getting them engraved or a custom sticker on the sidepiece with contact information and name is going to be a better bet than anything else. Think about it - your kid isn't old enough to be going places without ample adult supervision. If he loses them at school, a janitor or teacher will find them and contact you. If he loses them at a friend's house, parents will do the work to return them because they will understand.

Since he's only using them in the classroom, could you get two pairs and have him keep his main pair in his desk? Then have a pair at home that have one place where they belong when they aren't in use, preferably near where he does the activity that calls for glasses. This way there's no back and forth for the glasses, and he can pack the house pair with other stuff if he's making up a bag for a day trip or something.

His eyes will probably get worse, I'm sure you know this, so get him on track with good glasses etiquette from the start. I started wearing glasses when I was 6 and never lost them once, and I'm a total flake who had lots of sensory issues at that age. Now, my retainer... that I lost multiple times, once on purpose. But I think as long as you are consistent with asking where his glasses are and making sure he knows he is responsible for their location, the habit will lock in faster than you'd think.

He might be okay with a glasses strap, which come in lots of different forms. There's the long thin lanyard kind and thicker elastic that actually keeps the glasses on tightly - so he can wear them while running around - and very thin cords that can blend into hair and more. If he's taking them off all the time but they just hang around his neck, he won't lose them. There is stigma around glasses straps, but he might not care.
posted by Mizu at 1:09 AM on May 31, 2016

Short answer is a lanyard, but good luck getting kids to wear one. In my experience those were a no-go. Both my boys (6 and 9) have had glasses since they were 3 and they are pretty well blind without them. No way around it, when kids first start wearing glasses they will destroy a few pairs. So far, our kids have only lost one pair. Our youngest still scratches the heck out of his lenses. We get glasses at Costco because they have an absolutely kick-ass 2-year repair policy. They repair or replace kids frames and lenses for free no matter what the damage is. Its crazy. My youngest had one pair of frames that were replaced twice because he broke them. We have had scratched lenses replaced many times.

Cheap on-line glasses can really suck. One set we got had lenses of such poor quality the poor kid looked like he was wearing coke bottles. It just wasn't worth risking crappy glasses for kids who need them for school, and they are much more willing to wear them and take care of them if they work well and like the way they look. There are also a lot of really indestructible frames (like turbo flex) that take a lot of beating and just bounce right back.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:27 AM on May 31, 2016

As mentioned, just get cheap glasses. If you paid for a glasses damage insurance plan, you probably paid a lot for the glasses. Try out a much cheaper pair from Zenni or Coastal. They have anti-reflective coatings, high-index (thin) lenses, etc just like $250 glasses. They just charge dramatically less.
posted by reeddavid at 9:55 AM on May 31, 2016

I think for the current pair, the suggestion of name and number on the glasses is a good bet. (We also didn't have any luck with lanyards.)

Nthing that the best solution going forward is cheap online glasses. We've had nothing but good experiences for the whole family with Zenni, and having backups (plus not having to agonize over the purchase of a new pair, whether the previous was lost, broken or outgrown) has been a sanity-saver.

As for looks and quality: we get effusive compliments on our glasses all the time. Pictures, reviews, and knowing the right measurements can steer you toward excellent frames, and they offer high-index lenses as an option (no need for the coke bottle effect).

Sorry it's not your ideal solution. Good luck.
posted by moira at 11:29 AM on May 31, 2016

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