Privacy advocates aren’t so hot about having an internet-connected microphone sitting in their home, but there’s a good chance it would have been a lot worse. Information has surfaced that suggests that Amazon wanted to add child tracking functionality to Alexa.
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This information came from Bloomberg, which uncovered documents allegedly describing a concept that Amazon didn’t follow up on.
Bloomberg claims that the project was called “Seeker” and first landed on Amazon’s research and development table back in mid-2019. Seeker would take the form of a wearable gadget designed for children aged 4-12 and would give the kid access to voice commands suited for them.
This wearable would also contain a GPS chip that allowed Amazon to track where the child was at all times. Worried parents could then track or communicate with their child via the wearable device.
Amazon was very keen to sweeten the bitter pill of encouraging your child to wear a tracking device:
The e-commerce giant planned to sell the kid-focused Seeker wearable for $ 99, including wireless connectivity and a year’s access to the company’s FreeTime Unlimited subscription, which has since been rebranded Kids+. The subscription costs $ 2.99 per month for access to books, movies, television shows, apps and games aimed at children and lets parents set limits on screen time and filter content based on a kid’s age.
The Seeker was scheduled to release in 2020, but no such device was released. However, Bloomberg does note that there is no evidence that Amazon has scrapped the idea entirely; all it knows is that Amazon toyed with the idea of Seeker once.
Bloomberg also discussed a recent partnership between Amazon and Disney to release a smart band for kids. It’s called “the Magic Band,” and Bloomberg notes the similarity between its name and the tracking MagicBand that the entertainment giant uses in its theme parks. However, there’s no confirmation if the Magic Band uses Seeker technology or any tracking whatsoever.
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Amazon’s Seeker project hasn’t come to light yet, but we don’t know if the company has scrapped the idea entirely or merely put it aside for another time. So we’ll have to keep our eyes on Amazon and look for anything in the future that might resemble Seeker.
It’s easy to point fingers at Amazon, but child-tracking GPS technology is nothing new. In fact, there are lots of gadgets out there designed to help parents track where their children are.