Isaac Daniel calls the Global Positioning System chip he has embedded into a line of sneakers "peace of mind."
He wishes his eight-year-old son had been wearing them when he got a call from his school in 2002 saying the boy was missing. The worried father hopped a flight to Atlanta from New York, where he had been on business, to find the incident had been a miscommunication and his son was safe.
Days later, the engineer started working on a prototype of Quantum Satellite Technology, a line of US$325 to US$350 adult sneakers that will hit shelves next month. It promises to locate the wearer anywhere in the world with the press of a button. A children's line will be out this summer.
"We call it a second eye watching over you," Daniel said.
It's the latest implementation of satellite-based navigation into everyday life -- technology that can be found in everything from cell phones that help keep kids away from sexual predators to fitness watches that track heart rate and distance. Shoes aren't as easy to lose, unlike phones, watches and bracelets.
The sneakers work when the wearer presses a button on the shoe to activate the GPS. A wireless alert detailing the location is sent to a 24-hour monitoring service that costs an additional US$19.95 a month.
In some emergencies -- such as a lost child or Alzheimer's patient -- a parent, spouse or guardian can call the monitoring service, and operators can activate the GPS remotely and alert authorities if the caller can provide the correct password.
But the shoe is not meant for non-emergencies -- like to find out if a teen is really at the library or a spouse is really on a business trip. If authorities are called and it is not an emergency, the wearer will incur all law enforcement costs, Daniel said.
Once the button is pressed, the shoe will transmit information until the battery runs out.
While other GPS gadgets often yield spotty results, Daniel says his company has spent millions of dollars and nearly two years of research to guarantee the accuracy of the product's chip, which is tucked into the bottom of the shoe.
Experts say GPS accuracy often depends on how many satellites the system can tap into. Daniel's shoe and most GPS devices on the market rely on four.
"The technology is improving regularly. It's to the point where you can get fairly good reflection even in areas with a lot of tree coverage and skyscrapers," said Jessica Myers, a spokeswoman for Garmin International Inc, a leader in GPS technology based in Kansas.
"You still need a pretty clear view of the sky to work effectively," she said.
Daniel, who wears the shoes when he runs every morning, says he tested the shoes on a recent trip to New Jersey.
It tracked him down the Atlantic Coast to the Miami airport and through the city to a specific building.
The company has also put the technology into military boots and is in talks with Colombia and Ecuador, he said.
But retail experts say the shoe might be a tough sale to brand-conscious kids.
"If [parents] can get their kids to wear them, then certainly there is a marketplace. But I think the biggest challenge is overcoming ... the cool marketplace," said Lee Diercks, managing director of New Jersey-based Clear Thinking Group, an advisory firm for retailers.
The GPS sneakers, available in six designs, resemble most other running shoes. The two silver buttons -- one to activate and one to cancel -- are inconspicuous near the shoelaces.
The company is selling 1,000 limited-edition shoes online and already has orders for 750, Daniel said.
Parents who buy the pricey sneakers don't have to worry about their kids outgrowing them fast.
This fall, the company is unveiling a plug-and-wear version that allows wearers to remove the electronics module from their old shoes and plug it into another pair of Daniel's sneakers.
‘A DISASTER’: A successful Chinese attack on Taiwan would undermine the credibility of US security guarantees and could result in a global depression, three experts wrote A Chinese takeover of Taiwan would be a geopolitical catastrophe for the US and its allies, one that would overshadow almost all others over the next decade, US policy experts said. Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy in the US Naval War College’s China Maritime Studies Institute; Gabriel Collins, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy; and former US deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger issued the warning in an article published on Tuesday in Foreign Affairs. Bejing’s invasion or annexation of Taiwan “would be a disaster of utmost importance to the United States, and I am convinced that
Taiwanese businesspeople’s investments in China last year hit a record low of 11.4 percent of total foreign investment, the Mainland Affairs Council said yesterday. The number was a huge decline from 83.8 percent in 2010, mainly because Taiwanese businesspeople have been diversifying their investments globally over the past few years, with great success, the council said. From 1991 to last year, 45,523 Taiwanese investments in China totaling US$206.37 billion had been approved, accounting for 50.7 percent of overall foreign investment, data from the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Investment Commission showed. The amount and proportion of Taiwanese investments in China has been declining, with
Taiwanese tourists on board a Kinmen cruise ship had a scare yesterday when it was intercepted by Chinese coast guards who forcefully boarded the vessel to inspect it. The Sunrise, a tourism ferry that operates between Kinmen and Xiamen, China, was sailing around the waters around the islets of Dadan (大膽) and Erdan (二膽) — both of which are part of Kinmen County — yesterday afternoon when it encountered personnel from China’s Fujian Coast Guard Bureau. China Coast Guard personnel forced their way on board and conducted an inspection for about 30 minutes before leaving, local media cited the tourists as saying. The
KINMEN: Coast guards on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should prohibit the entry of illegal vessels into ‘restricted’ waters to uphold maritime safety, Chen Chien-jen said Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) yesterday called for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to approach the security of Kinmen and Xiamen waters with rationality and equitability, following a boat chase that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week. Chen was responding to media inquiries ahead of a legislative session amid rising cross-strait tensions following the capsizing of a Chinese speedboat off the east coast of Kinmen on Wednesday last week during a pursuit by the Taiwanese coast guard. The Ministry of National Defense established the boundaries of “prohibited” and “restricted” waters around Kinmen in 1992 to better protect