MyKid Pod Bluetooth Kid Tracker Hands-on ReviewBy - 06/30/2016
I’ve been following a device called Kiband for quite some time now. In fact, I’d estimate I’ve been waiting for about a year and a half for the device to launch. And that’s the problem…waiting. And there’s another problem; Kiband is $120. So, when Kiband emailed me about their “Secret Project”, I fell for the marketing hype and ordered the $29.93 (plus shipping) MyKid Pod.
What is My KidPod?
Before we jump into the fun stuff, let’s rewind a bit. MyKid Pod is a tracking bracelet for kids. Using Bluetooth and a mobile app, parents can make sure their kids stay within a set range. If a child wanders too far, the wristband and your phone emit an audible sound to help you locate your child quickly or to remind your child that he’s gone too far.
As the device uses Bluetooth, a cellular signal is not required, thus eliminating the monthly fee found with similar devices. So long as your smartphone has Bluetooth and it’s connected to the Pod, you are good to go. The downside to not using a cellular signal is that this is not a GPS tracking device. It might help you estimate how far your child has walked, but it won’t tell you if they are to the right or left, or exactly how far they’ve traveled. Hopefully, if an incident occurs, you will be able to hear the audible alarm.
Admittedly, I have no need for a MyKid Pod, but the concept is intriguing, and I’m all about products that keep little bits safe. Plus, MyKid Pod promised a product that was built and ready to ship, no waiting. Unfortunately, that wasn’t exactly true. Instead of two weeks, it took two months for the device to arrive. They blamed this on excessive demand, but I can’t help but wonder: was it really because the device wasn’t ready for primetime?
Setting Up MyKid Pod
The good news is that setup is a breeze. Simply pop the pod into the silicone pocket on the wrist strap, download an app, and press the device’s power button. It takes seconds.
What MyKid Pod Promises To Do and What It Actually Does
|Performance As Promised:||Performance As Tested:|
|Alarm:||70DB will sound when child is outside the set range.||Range performance is unstable, Decible measures at 70, though this is too soft to be heard at a reasonable distance in crowded environments.|
|Battery:||2032 Replaceable Button Cell Battery. Standard Use Provides 6-Month Battery Life.||TBD|
|Band:||Slap Style is One-Size Fits All||YES|
|Customizable Range:||Adjustable Range from 10-150 Feet||Even in open air testing environments, performance was inconsistent. Near Feature would alarm when next to the band and the high end range would alarm as close as 50 feet.|
|Free App:||iOS and Android Compatible||Tested on iOS Only. Works.|
|Panic Button:||Panic Button can be triggered by parent (within app) or by child (on the device).||YES|
|Smartphone Alert:||Sends alert to phone when child wanders too far.||Works. Push Notification, Phone Alarm, and Phone Vibration|
|Bluetooth Lost Notification:||Unknown||Alarm Sounds on Watch|
|Words Inside or Outside:||YES||YES|
MyKid Pod Challenges
Ages 3-10? That’s a Stretch
Perhaps, the biggest challenge might be getting a child to wear the device. My initial concern was the frog design on the bracelet so I administered a very unscientific survey. I was surprised to learn that all six children I surveyed (aged 4-10) liked the design. In fact, the oldest, biggest, boy in the bunch said, “He loved frogs”. But, they lost enthusiasm when they learned what the device does. And then I won back a few fans when I showed them that MyKid Pod is also a slap bracelet.
My second concern was necessity. I think most parents would agree that older children don’t need to stay as close as younger children. But, when you actually use the bracelet in real life, you start to think about situations that make it more necessary. For example, the bathroom dilemma. Have you ever taken a child of the opposite sex to a public restroom? There will come a point in time when an 8, 9, or 10-year-old boy would rather pee his pants than be caught in the women’s restroom. But letting him go to the bathroom on his own is frightening! Seconds seem like minutes and all of a sudden every man entering the bathroom looks like a potential criminal. Wouldn’t it feel better to send your child into the restroom with a panic button?
False Alarms Are Time Consuming
Another problem I faced while testing the device? Clearing false alarms. There were times when the alarm would sound well before it should have and resetting the alarm wasn’t always a simple task. Most of the time, I had to close out the app completely and reconnect the device to my phone’s Bluetooth. This process is rather unreasonable considering the alarm sometimes goes off when a child is literally standing next to you.
Finally, inconsistency was a challenge. For example, during testing, I had the distance set to the max allowable distance. I recreated the same scenario multiples times. One time the alarm went off when my test buddy was about 50 feet away and another time he was 30 feet away. I get that Bluetooth is primarily responsible for range, but this is a huge swing and 30 feet in an open air environment is laughable. Couldn’t you just ask the child to come back? If you talk loud enough, he would certainly hear you. To put it into perspective, thirty feet is about one-half the length of a bowling lane or the length of two VW Beetles.
My KidPod isn’t clueless about this issue. In fact, they have a warning for us all…
Although we feature adjustable distance, this technology is still in its infancy. Most people find it best to leave the band at the farthest setting unless in a very crowded location. The band will still alarm if disconnected regardless of setting.
How is MyKid Pod different from Kiband?
|App:||iOS or Android||iOS or Android|
|Style:||Parental Removal||Slap Bracelet Style|
|Proximity:||Custom Distances up to 200 feet||Custom Distances from 10 – 150 feet.|
|Audible Alert:||Silent Vibration Warning & Audible 85dB Alarm||70dB Alarm|
|Other Features:||Water Alert||Panic Button|
|Design:||Sizable, Blue or Pink||Slap Bracelet can fit various wrist sizes. White with Frog Design|
|Battery:||Replaceable CR1632 140mAh Battery, 6 Month Life||2032 Replaceable Button Cell Battery, 6 Month Life|
MyKid Pod is a less expensive version of Kiband. Of course, the reduced price comes at the cost of accepting a device with fewer features.
By design they are different. Kiband has a special design that locks the bracelet onto your child’s wrist. It can only be removed by a parent or a caregiver using the included mobile app.
Kiband allows you to set custom distances for different locations. For example, you might be okay with your child wandering farther in your neighborhood than at the county fair. MyKid Pod allows for custom distances but doesn’t support different locations.
Kiband has three protective features. If your child is approaching the parameter you’ve set, it will gently vibrate to remind your child to make sure he stays near to you. If he crosses the parameter, the wristband will emit an audible alarm. The band also has a sensor inside that will alert you if the band is submerged in water. On the other hand, MyKid Pod does not have a “reminder” feature and cannot be submerged in water.
Finally, they look different. In my opinion, Kiband looks much more grown up, which might make kids feel better about wearing it. For kids who aren’t too keen on being seen with a “froggy” bracelet, Kiband’s block color design might do the trick.
All-in-all I kind of feel like Kiband tricked me into paying to be a beta tester. It has some of Kiband’s promised features, but they aren’t ready for the masses.
I ended up taking my MyKid Pod over to a friend who is the lucky mother of one fearless and defiant 4-year-old. My friend loves a good music festival, and I’m hoping the MyKid Pod will help her feel slightly more relaxed, but not too relaxed. After all, parents need to be vigilant all the time. I would in no way suggest using this device as an excuse to let your guard down. Instead, think of it as another set of eyes, a backup plan for those moments when you might be temporarily distracted by something or someone else.
You can order your own MyKid Pod here. The device is currently selling for $34.95, which includes free shipping. And yes, they ship internationally as well.