Electronic Design

Wi-Fi Tracks Down Lost Kids At Amusement Parks

Summer is here, and it's time to plan a vacation. But taking the kids to one of those big, crowded amusement parks can be a scary proposition. What if they wander away? How will you find them, short of alerting park security and paging the crowd? A startup company in Denmark known as KidSpotter offers up a solution. Parents seeking some peace of mind can rent a simple set of wristbands.

These devices operate according to the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. When a child is missing, the parent sends a message via the wristband to the park's central system. Using triangulation, the wireless system instantly locates the child's wristband—and presumably the child—with precision that's accurate within a few feet. It immediately sends the child's coordinates back to the parent's wristband. Parents match these coordinates against a map of the park that's distributed with the wristbands, and then they can go retrieve their wayward child.

So far, the devices are available at Legoland Deutschland in Billund, Denmark. In addition to safety applications, KidSpotter anticipates more practical uses for the system. Park management could potentially track pedestrian traffic, determining queue lengths and attraction popularity. It also could help promote restaurants in the park, alerting families to the day's specials and waiting times for tables. Other logistical uses are possible as well.

For more information, go to www.kidspotter.com.

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