TECH SPOT: The Leo

The Leo is a watch that has been designed with children in mind, but has been targeted at their parents.

More specifically, it is aimed at parents who want to ensure their child is protected at all times, as not only does the Leo tell the time, it also acts as an emergency GPS device should a child be kidnapped.

Yes, you read that right. Kidnapped. While that might sound like a far-fetched notion for a watch, it is not the first time that a watch has doubled up as a tracking device or an emergency signal. Just look at Breitling’s Emergency timepiece that helped to save the life of a stranded Alaskan fisherman last year.

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But back to the Leo. Naturally this invention is the brainchild of a father, American Jason Sullivan, who founded the company Guardian Lion Wireless through which the watch has been developed. Sullivan’s dream was made a reality thanks to a crowdfunding campaign.

The Leo watches have been designed to appeal to children, thanks to chunky styling and colourful cases, but its main function is to offer peace of mind to particularly worrisome parents.

First and foremost, the watch can be locked on to the child’s wrist meaning that they cannot lose it, nor can a potential kidnapper cut it off easily. The strap is titanium and features both an optional locking mechanism and sensors that will notify emergency responders if an “unauthorised attempt” is made to remove the device from the child’s wrist.

Within the case is technology that Sullivan has patented: a 911-GPS emergency locator with voice communications and a panic button system that a child can press if they are snatched or find themselves in an intimidating situation. If any of these functions are used parents have a web-based interface that can be installed on any computer operating system or smartphone that will allow them to locate their child in seconds.

The watch has won praise in the US, and was hailed particularly important by a man called Marc Klaas, who founded a missing children’s foundation called KlaasKids after his own daughter went missing. He has dubbed the watch the “Holy Grail” of child protection devices, and even used the recent Sandy Hook tragedy to highlight the features of the watch and how useful it could have been in that situation. The brand is even pledging to donate a portion of the proceeds from its online crowdfunding campaign to the families of the victims.

The watch has also appeared on The Ricki Lake Show in the US and was showcased at the CES electronics show in Las Vegas. To date, Sullivan is mid way through his fundraising target with only a few weeks to go. “Everything has indicated that this potentially life-saving device is being wildly accepted by the public, so we decided to reach out to the people directly to help bring the Leo to market,” he explains.

The watch is also being touted as a potential aid not just for children but also the elderly, those taking part in outdoor adventure sports, people who work alone, those with ill health and even celebrities. “I originally invented the Leo out of a passion to create a device that could protect our children from the impacts of abduction and predation,” says Sullivan. “The outcome has evolved into a wristwatch that can literally be used by all ages for virtually any emergency situation.”

Whether this is a gimmicky timepiece that plays on our deepest fears or an intelligent watch that will prove a potential lifesaver, the Leo is a timepiece built to help, even if the wearer has to be locked into it.

The Stats
• Strap: Tamper-proof lockable strap that transmits a tamper alert to parents, guardians or caregivers via text message and to emergency services with the user’s precise real-time location, address, speed and direction.
• GPS panic button: This instantly transmits a panic alert via text message and to emergency services.
• Speed alerts: Data can be given on the speed and direction of the wearer, with alerts set up if they break a prescribed speed limit.
• Case: Titanium with a number of colour options.
• Communication: Waterproof speakers and microphone within
the case.
• Indicators: On-screen indicators for remaining battery, mobile signal and GPS signal.
• RRP: About £95
 

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