Finding a lost child before he gets lost
April 7, 2008 7:41 AM   Subscribe

Is there an affordable GPS locator solution on the market? I know about the personal locator beacons that are often used by hikers and skiers, but I am looking for something more appropriate for use with a disabled child.

My son is 14 years old, and autistic. Over the years we have had a few scares where he got out of the house and wandered away, but thankfully we have been able to control that pretty well. Still, I worry about the worst case where he wanders off, gets lost, and is not able to ask for help. We do absolutely everything we can to minimize that risk, but as he gets older, stronger and smarter it becomes increasingly probable that he will sneak out at some point.

I recently tried a device called Loc8or Plus ( that uses little RFID tags, but I found that while it worked well for finding stationary items in a known search area (I.E. - "where the heck are my car keys?"), it did not work well at all on a moving target in a crowded public place with lots of obstructions. To me, the ideal device is the combination of a GPS locator and a web-enabled handheld device like an iPhone that can plot the current location of the tag on a map. Does this already exist? I know that Wherify Wireless used to have a GPS locator watch (it was crap, not durable at all) and currently has a GPS enabled cell phone that can be worn on a lanyard. I am just curious, with the growing popularity of geocaching and personal GPS devices, if anyone here has experience with a better possible solution.
posted by Lokheed to Technology (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Mologogo. I've used it had interesting experiences, MeFi mail me if you're curious.
posted by phrontist at 7:49 AM on April 7, 2008

Most cellular services offer a child locator service, but it does require the cell phone to be turned on. If you want something less dependent upon the cell battery, the child remembering to carry the phone, etc. there are an awful lot of choices.
posted by caddis at 8:06 AM on April 7, 2008

The Wherify Child locator watch might be what you are looking for. I haven't read their info in a long time but it looks like it might fit the bill.
posted by pearlybob at 8:31 AM on April 7, 2008

Ok, I should have read the whole question. Sorry about that.
posted by pearlybob at 8:32 AM on April 7, 2008

Best answer: I'm seconding mologogo, but if he leaves the phone behind it's not going to be very helpful. What about these GPS enabled shoes?
posted by jquinby at 8:40 AM on April 7, 2008
posted by rlef98 at 8:48 AM on April 7, 2008

The Spot Messenger might work, if he remembers to carry it with him and there is good satellite coverage where you are -- but if he is going in and out of buildings a lot, then perhaps a cellphone solution would work better?
posted by Forktine at 9:16 AM on April 7, 2008

i second the spot messenger. i have not used it yet but it MIGHT do it for you. you could teach him to use the (for lack of better term) "i need help but not 911" button. or maybe the google maps overlay?
posted by joshgray at 10:25 AM on April 7, 2008

Response by poster: So far, I like the idea of the shoes best because they are completely passive and because he is unlikely to run off barefoot. Mologo also looks interesting, I will look into that some more.
posted by Lokheed at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2008

No GPS suggestion, but if he's nonverbal, could you also get him some identification that's hard to lose and doesn't require electric power? Maybe a bracelet or pendant/dog tags kind of thing that he could wear all the time with your home contact info and "My name is X. Please keep me in a safe place and call my family at [phone]."
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:47 PM on April 7, 2008

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