Haltian’s Snowfox Offers Screenless GPS Child Safety ‘Phone’

Photo: Snowfox

Photo: Snowfox

A new device called Snowfox has been developed as a less cumbersome and easier to use alternative for young children compared to a typical smartphone. Its developers, Finland-based Haltian, have described the device as a tracker phone aimed at giving parents "peace of mind" about their kids' whereabouts.

When it comes to GPS innovations, the hot topic is Pokemon GO, as the new Niantic developed app, which combines GPS location with augmented reality, has veritably taken the world by storm. However, while that app has been in the news recently for the safety concerns that have appeared through its use, Haltian's recently released GPS based device is a screenless alternative that is focused on ensuring children's safety.

As reported by TechCrunch.com, Haltian company CEO Pasi Leipälä has said that the idea is to offer a simple communications device to children who may be too young to have a full-featured phone of their own. The device gives parents the ability to call the device if needed.

While the device that is carried around by the child has no screen, an app that will be downloaded to the parent's smartphone will allow them to receive notifications about their child's location. The device, for example, can automatically send geofenced notifications to the companion app to tell the parent that their child has arrived at or left school. Similarly, safe-zones can be set up on the companion app, prompting the app to send a notification if the device-wearing child has strayed outside of the area.

Aimed largely as a dependable communication device in case of emergencies or a child getting lost, a simple charge through a micro USB port can last up to a week. Up to five guardians such as parents, grandparents and caretakers can view a child's profile.

Ville Ylläsjärvi, a co-founder of Haltian, has described part of the reasoning behind the design of Snowfox as a screenless device:

"I see way too many young kids with smartphones these days. Simply looking around, you can see kids playing with their devices and not doing stuff kids should be doing, like playing with friends outside, being in social situations and also interacting with the world around you.""

While Haltian, a company largely composed of former Nokia employees, has designed Snowfox primarily as a safety and communication device, there has been a further incentive for them to creating a device which removes apparent developmental barriers created by modern smartphone usage. Ylläsjärvi elaborated:

"There have been multiple articles on kids suffering from delayed speech development, neck pains and posture development, which have been related to excessive smartphone usage at a very young age."

An Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for Snowfox will last until August 4. So far, as reported by LiveScience, the project has raised almost half of its $50,000 goal. Haltian aims to start shipping Snowfox to its backers in October.

The device, which will cost €149 with a monthly connectivity cost of €9.90, is only currently available in Finland, but Haltian are looking to broaden their reach. To begin with, the company hope to expand to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, and further countries may be added depending on the crowdfunding campaign's success.

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