Recently Xiaomi unveiled a new line of smartwatches for kids called the Mi Bunny Smart Watch. These are low-end wearables (approximately $46 USD) that allow kids to place calls. But more importantly (and why these wearables could be of incredible value) they allow parents to track the whereabouts of their children, record the history of your child's movement, allows the parents to set up a virtual "fence" (and alert parents when the child goes beyond the boundaries of said fence), and even give the wearer an SOS button they can press which will immediately send location data as well as seven seconds of audio to their parents.
At the moment, Xiaomi has not indicated the watches will make it stateside, but if they do, expect them to be gobbled up by parents everywhere.
The perfect case for wearables
The Mi Bunny does a number of things: First (and most importantly) it gives parents peace of mind. They can
track their child and know that, should something happen, help is just a button press away. These wearables also give kids something "cool" to sport. Yes, I realize this borders on enabling a new generation of entitlement, but if you're going to start your children on the path of tech dependence, you may as well benefit from it as well.
Even with the caveat emptor of empowering your children's need for technology, this is the perfect case for wearables. Beyond your schedule, beyond your ability more easily answer calls when you're on the go, beyond your need for an up-scale, interactive fashion statement...the Mi Bunny watches serve the much higher purpose of protecting your family.
The big "what if"
It could very well be that Xiaomi will not bring the Mi Bunny watches to the United States. If this doesn't happen, another company needs to step up and make this so. Of course this would be an add-on to a current data plan...but it would be a cost that most parents would be willing to incur. And to any company willing to make this happen, you will succeed...of that there is little doubt.
How this should work
First off, you cannot expect your child to run around with a smartphone in their pocket. Not only is that not cost effective, but the phone could easily get lost, stolen, or smashed to bits. The Mi Bunny watches solve that problem by being child-proof and cheap.
The Xiaomi Mi Bunny watches work on a "pay to play" system. You fill up a card that adds minutes to the wearable. When the card runs out, you fill it up. That, is not a perfect system...especially considering you could easily lapse in restocking that card with minutes at the very moment when your child goes missing.
For this to work well, a Mi Bunny-like wearable would have be be associated with your current carrier data plan. This ensures that your child will not wind up with a non-functioning tracking device (unless you forget to pay your bill).
I also believe another must have would be seamless integration into an existing Google Account. Not only would this allow you to more easily keep tabs on your child, it could also work with Google Maps, so there'd be even less of a chance you'd lose your child.
If you look closely at the official description of the Mi Bunny wearables, it's clear these devices use an LED dot matrix screen. I believe this is a crucial feature for keeping battery usage to a minimum. A standard OLED touch screen would use far too much battery and the chance of your child being out of reach and their device running out of battery too great. Besides, these wearables aren't about giving the kids another means to play games or chat with their pals. This is about safety, plain and simple.
Mobility that makes sense
You'd be hard-pressed to find a negative in this. The Mi Bunny line of wearables makes perfect sense for all involved. It's smart, it's inexpensive, and (best of all) it adds a layer of security to your family you wouldn't otherwise have. This is mobility that makes sense...perfect sense, in fact.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.