Jiobit CEO John Renaldi once lost his young son in a public park in Chicago for a nerve-wracking 30 minutes. After he recovered the boy, and recovered from the experience, the former vice president of e-commerce at Motorola Mobility decided to test out every kid- and pet-tracker on the market.
There were several problems, he found. His son refused to wear a watch or a band. The battery on most trackers required daily recharging. And nothing he could find was durable enough to keep up with a snowman-building, puddle-stomping kid.
So Renaldi created Jiobit for parents -- and pet-owners -- seeking greater peace of mind.
The Jiobit sells for $100 plus a $10 monthly fee for data and location services. The waterproof device is about the size of two quarters, and can be slipped into a kid's backpack, pocket, or clipped to their shoe or sleeve. One charge lasts for a week or more.
The Jiobit uses a combination of WiFi, cellular networks, GPS and Bluetooth for tracking. That means it's not reliant on WiFi, which can be a problem if signals are weak.
Renaldi explained, "Let's just say you're at a music festival and your kid just took off... In that case, [Jiobit is] going to try to figure out how to connect. Because in this area, maybe there is an overloaded WiFi network, we don't use just one network. We traverse over all the different cellular networks to try and find a connection across all of them."
Parents can use the Jiobit smartphone app to set up safe areas for their kids – like the pool where they take lessons, their friends' and grandparents' houses, school and Mom's office. If a kid strays from those areas, the Jiobit app will alert the parent and help them pinpoint the child's location. Its also beta testing a feature that will allow parents to zero in on their kids' location indoors, knowing which floor their kid is on within an airport, mall or museum, for example.
The app and tracker work all over the world. That makes them handy for international travel.
Renaldi said while the device was created for kids, some companies are starting to use it to keep track of workers or equipment in the field, especially at sprawling construction sites.