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Have You Tracked Down Your Kid Today?

May 25, 1999|RENEE TAWA

"They can track cars," Bill Brown's wife told him. "They ought to be able to track kids."

It made sense to Brown, who was worried about the safety of his 3-year-old granddaughter. Surely he could go out and buy some kind of a child-tracking device, the type that people buy for their cars. He was wrong.

But a year later, he and a business partner, Dan Booker, have developed what they say is the first-ever portable satellite child-tracking system.

The system includes a 1 1/2-pound device, about the size of a cellular phone, that can be hidden at the bottom of a backpack, in clothing or in a fanny pack. When the device is turned on, a child with the unit can be tracked anywhere in the United States within 30 seconds, via satellite signal.

Working out of an office in Anderson, S.C., Brown and Booker have formed Grandparents Inc. to develop and distribute the devices. They do not plan to sell them for profit, Brown said. Instead, they hope corporate sponsors will buy the units and distribute them for free. The partners are working to get the cost of each unit down to about $200, with a $5 monthly fee. They also are talking to nonprofit groups and prosecutors in child custody departments nationwide about ways to distribute the devices.

So far, the unit is available only through Child Search, a Houston-based nonprofit organization, (281) 350-KIDS. Child Search plans to give away 500 units to at-risk children in an application process that has yet to be determined. Potential corporate sponsors should call (800) 557-2842.

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