Companies wanting to win designing and marketing wearables to young children have the unenviable task of convincing both parents and children that their devices are worthy. While parents control the purse, those of us with kids aged 4-11 (really 4-8!) fully understand how difficult it is to convince them to want to play with or wear anything that they or their friends don’t use. In other words, yes, parents pilot the taste making ship, but their children are certainly in no worse seat than the co-pilots! This difficult challenge has kept many companies from successfully launching gadgets aimed at this tricky dual demographic and left many on the dustbin of history.
Recently, we covered GeoPalz, which promotes activity to unlock rewards and application use in games. Last week, a fresh idea from FILIP Technologies was announced to drive kids’ freedom, exploration, and discovery by providing peace of mind to parents to enable kids to “explore, discover, and just be a kid”. Enter FILIP, the world’s first smart locator and phone (limited and safe) for young kids. After earning FCC certification for its new product last week ,the company claims that this wristband is the “first wearable phone with full voice capability to earn [this] certification” and intends to have to product ready by fall 2013.
Overall, the device is aligned with the company’s philosophy that “A phone for kids is best if it’s not a phone,” and the product is well designed for kids 4-11, (the company’s target users, though we think 4-8 is more likely) while having several important features for parents. In addition to voice, the device allows parents to track location, set safe zones, and send text messages through applications for iOS and Android. Kids can use the device as a watch, call their parents with the click of a button, and activate an intelligent emergency procedure if needed. This feature prompts location beacons and a direct line to emergency response services if parents cannot be reached. FILIP is unique because it is self-sufficient. It includes advanced voice features and location tracking without requiring a smart phone, which makes it feasible to connect parents with young children.
FILIP is led by Jonathan Peachey (CEO, former exec at Virgin) and a seasoned management team including Founder Sten Kirkbak. Because they are trying to build a consumer brand at the intersection of a kid-friendly smartphone and a cool wearable wristband, they will need all of that experience, and money to win the hearts and minds of both kids, parents, and retailers. There are awfully large differences between 4 year olds and 8 year olds, so convincing a large enough piece of the market for this gadget to become a large interesting business is a lofty challenge. We’d love to better understand FILIP’s next products to see how they migrate the youngest in that band of potential users into more complicated products and what lessons the team has learned from the missteps of singularly focused kid-phone companies like OwnFone/1stFone, Kytephone, FireFly, Just5 Migo, and others. Our guess is that a lot of attention has been focused on Nike’s Fuelband. In other words, its really a cool watch!