This Kids Smartwatch Could Make Nagging Parents Feel Less Guilty

Kids smartwatch makers have generally had the right idea in mind when they develop devices for kids, giving parents a way to track children with GPS, communicate with them and give them help when they're lost. But they may be too bulky are more complicated than they need to be. The new Octopus Smartwatch from gadget developer Joy, unveiled at tech trade show CES 2017, however, has a simpler goal: teach kids how to independently stick to schedules for daily tasks while still enjoying the energy and excitement of their everyday lives.

Similar to how the average smartwatch and even fitness tracker for adults sends users calendar notifications, the $79 Octopus watch, synced to a free parent-managed app available for both Android and iOS devices, can send an alert to a child's wrist when specific tasks need to be done, like brushing teeth, going to school, coming home for dinner and taking a bath. A parent would schedule specific tasks within the app, sync with the watch via BlueTooth just once to have daily task notifications sent to the watch. When a child completes the task that they received an alert for, they press the single button on the top right of the screen to let their parent's know that they're finished.

Joy has already received 800,000 pre-orders on Kickstarter, which helped fund the prototyping and manufacturing of the device, and funds raised by the company's current Indiegogo campaign will be devoted to additional manufacturing of the devices, which will be available starting in February for crowdfunding campaign backers.

Credit: Althea Chang

(Image credit: Althea Chang)

The devices are also expected to be available at big box retail stores in July, Joy CEO and Co-Founder Sam Hickmann told Tom's Guide, without disclosing exactly which retailers will carry them. And Joy has managed to sign deals with major brands like Disney, Marvel and Nickelodeon, whose characters will appear on the watches' bands, Hickmann said.
For an additional $49, parents can buy a charging dock that doubles as a night light that you can set to turn off at a specific time. Without the night light charging dock, the watch is charged using a proprietary USB charging cable that's connected to the back of the watch.

While the Octopus watch is meant for kids aged 3 years old and up, Hickman says his company is testing the device as a tool for all ages, autistic children and those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Since it lacks GPS, it may not be tech-packed enough for parents who want to monitor their child's every move, but it could be a simple way to teach kids how to be reliable and responsible when it comes to everyday obligations without having to hear constant verbal reminders from their parents. Plus they weigh less than devices equipped with GPS and will likely be adorned with cool animated movie and TV show characters.

Althea Chang is Associate Director of Content Development for Consumer Reports and was previously a Senior Writer for Tom's Guide, covering mobile devices, health and fitness gadgets and car tech.