In a move likely to be popular among parents and unpopular among kids, Verizon Wireless today launched a new mobile phone service called Chaperone.
The service uses Global Positioning System (GPS) data to let parents track the whereabouts of their offspring—as long as they’re using an LG Migo phone.
High-tech industry research firm ABI predicted that Verizon’s launch of Chaperone could help popularize GPS-based tracking services.
“By combining tracking and cellular technologies, wireless carriers could jumpstart what has been, to date, a sluggish segment of the GPS market," ABI analyst Ken Hyers said in a statement to the press.
Hyers cautioned, though, that “vendors will need to set realistic expectations for their customers. In many cases, this will mean educating the public on the real-world availability and accuracy of cellular A-GPS.”
Chaperone provides two main tracking options:
Child Locator – Lets parents use a GetItNow-enabled Verizon Wireless phone, or a Web-based account, to locate a child’s Migo handset.
Child Zone – Lets parents use a Web-based account to construct a geographical zone within which their child can move with a Migo handset; when the kid leaves that zone, parents are notified with a text message.
In a press release, Verizon said that the new service “is designed to supplement the parameters parents have already established with their children.”
Lee Daniels, a product developer at Verizon, said in the press release that Chaperone is “just one of the ways that Verizon Wireless is leveraging location-based technology to provide our customers with services that are relevant to their lives.”
To prevent unauthorized use, Chaperone services are available only to Verizon Wireless Family Share Plan customers—at Verizon Wireless retail stores, and through the company’s verified agents and telesales group.
Basic Chaperone Child Locator service is $9.99 monthly per line; Chaperone with both Child Locator and Child Zone is $19.99 monthly per line. Migo phones are sold by Verizon Wireless for $49.99.
ABI noted that Verizon is not alone in seeing potential for this type of service. Disney Mobile recently unveiled a similar offering and Sprint (News - Alert) Nextel provides a tracking service called Family Locator.
Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page.