After Kim Gavin lost track of her then 3-year-old daughter at an indoor bounce house birthday party — it turns out Lyla had been able to wander undetected into the venue’s lobby — the Manhasset mom created an app called Monkey KID Sensor that warns parents if a child ventures outside a given perimeter.
Users purchase a sensor that attaches to a child’s shoe and download the free app that accompanies it. Then, if the child wanders outside the distance the parent chooses, a warning is sent to the parent’s phone.
“That was a nightmare,” Gavin says of the birthday party, where she had been chatting with other parents and panicked when she suddenly realized her daughter wasn’t with the other kids. “If I had known she was wandering off, I could have done something.”
After years of development and prototype testing, Gavin and her identical twin sister and business partner, Renee Wisniski, 44, of Garden City, debuted the app at The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. In the past three months, they’ve had more than 500 downloads of the app, Gavin says.
What the app doesn’t do is locate or track the child. It’s not GPS technology. It’s more like a geo-fence that can be set anywhere from 15 to about 150 feet from the phone, Wisniski says. It runs on Bluetooth technology; a data plan isn’t required, she says. It works well indoors as well as outdoors, she says.
The sisters chose to make the beacon attach to a child’s shoe because watches or lanyards aren’t as child-friendly, Wisniski says. The beacon sensor is about the size of a quarter; inserted into its holder makes it about the size of a 50-cent piece, she says.
The app can track multiple children simultaneously. One beacon costs $39 per child; two are $69 and three are $99. The battery lasts about four months, after which another beacon would need to be purchased, Gavin say.
Gavin says the sisters have seen a lot of interest from parents taking their children on vacation, or into a situation with crowds, such as an amusement park. “There’s a big fear of being separated in such a large, congested space,” Gavin says. The app also helps prevent a child from being traumatized if he or she gets lost, Gavin says.