Monitoring the Family from Afar


Soon enough your entire family may be getting a whole lot closer than usual. Family-locator services are the category of connected-devices to garner attention in the market. And according to the numbers, the opportunity for such technology could be huge.

Analyst firm Berg Insight,, put out figures this week that says the number of active users of family locator services across Europe and North America should hit 70 million by 2016. That represents a 34% compound annual rate to the 16 million users recorded in 2011. According to Berg Insight, this represents the largest segment of people monitoring and safety solutions based on either GPS-enabled smartphones or dedicated cellular/GPS location devices.

While the numbers are always up for debate, you cannot argue with the trend. This is particularly true given the fact people are looking at new ways to monitor loved ones, both young and old. In fact the term “sandwich generation” is beginning to gain some traction in the market, which refers to adults who
find themselves shouldering responsibility for two generations of loved ones—their kids and their aging parents.

Technology that helps these individuals monitor their loved ones can take on many forms, ranging from dedicated units to smartphone apps. Berg Insights believes dedicated location-based devices can often provide a better alternative to smartphones for some people, but all-in-all the options vary based on the use case.

For example, in-home monitoring devices seem to be growing for purposes of monitoring the elderly and disabled. PERS (personal emergency response systems) is a growing category with many different players jumping into the market to provide an option. Such devices offer remote monitoring solutions that help give people peace of mind when away from older loved ones, or as an alternative to placing them in assisted living.

On the other side, smartphone apps or dedicated portable devices can be an attractive method for monitoring children. The fact that many children now carry with them a smartphone makes this one that can seem less invasive. We have even seen small monitoring devices equipped to children’s backpacks to provide peace of mind for parents that their child has made it off the school bus and safely back home.

Then there is the idea of tracking pets. That’s a discussion perhaps best left for another report. Who knows how big a market it could become. For the time being, though, family-locator services continue to mature, and in time could be one of the most recognizable uses of connected devices worldwide.

Connected World Issue
June/July 2014
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