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Digital phones double as tracking devices

Category: Hardware Published on Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Disney Mobile, NIM adapt GPS systems to digital phones

Scripps Howard News Service

It's 11.p.m., do you know where your children are? Better yet, do you know where you are?

Two companies --- Disney Mobile and Networks In Motion --- have harnessed the endless capabilities of the digital age to help you answer both questions.

The creator of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck has just introduced a digital phone system geared toward families that believe that a family that communicates together stays together.

Disney Mobile GPS Phone

The folks at Disney have teamed up with LG Electronics and Pantech to develop a digital phone system where you can not only control your offspring's minutes on line, but can track them at the push of a button using a built-in GPS system.

What you pay depends on the plan you choose, which can range from $39.99 to $169.99 per month for individuals or $59.99 to $249.99 per month for families.

The phone system I played with was pretty easy to use. I simply allocated a set amount of minutes for the "child's phone" and for the "parent's phone." When The child's minutes expired I received a notification asking if I wanted to allocate more to him.

Using the GPS system to track the whereabouts of his phone was also a fairly simple process. All I had to do was enter my PIN number using the Family Locator feature built into the phone's GPS using either my phone or computer.

Other key features include:

The ability to send "family alert" messages to one person or everyone in the family.

You can select from a preset list of commonly sent messages, such as "When's Dinner".

You can restrict days and hours when calls can be made or received.

You can set up priority numbers that can be accessed at any time of day.

You can block specific phone numbers.

Access to an extensive array of Disney entertainment features, including videos, themes and games.


Networks In Motion VZ Navigator

Although the new VZ Navigator from Networks In Motion ($9.99 per month or $2.99 per day) won't keep your family communicating together, it will tell you where you are and where to go.

Right now only available for Verizon Wireless phones, this online GPS system can help you get to Aunt Minnie's house and then to the nearest restaurant, giving you turn-by-turn directions.

The one I played with was preloaded on a Motorola Razr phone and worked as well as other GPS systems I've used, missing a turn here and there, but on the whole getting me where I wanted to go.

Other features include:

Voice-prompted turn-by-turn directions.

Auto rerouting if you miss a turn.

You can search nearly 14 million points of interest in the U.S. including restaurants, attractions, gasoline stations and ATMs.

Maps can be detailed and zoomed.

Maps are easy to navigate using the directional buttons on your phone.


More information can be found at and

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