Omate has teamed up with Nanoblock to launch a new smartwatch for kids called the Omate x Nanoblock. It’s an adorable watch with colorful blocks arranged on the wristband. I’d wear it if I were a kid, especially because it has a built-in selfie cam. Even though I find it cute, you should probably still avoid strapping any smartwatch to your kids.
Germany’s telecommunications agency, the Bundesnetzagentur, banned smartwatches for kids in late 2017 and asked parents to destroy them. The agency particularly took issue with microphones on the watches. Meanwhile, the European Consumer Organization’s (BEUC) previously announced that smartwatches pose a security threat to kids’ privacy. The BEUC warned that GPS-tracking smartwatches could be hacked and attackers could track or spoof the GPS location of kids’ smartwatches.
Omate says its smartwatch “triangulates location using GPS, cellular networks, and Wi-Fi hotspots for accurate positioning.” So it’s probably good at tracking your kid. The company also says all this location, messaging, and video calling data is encrypted end-to-end over a virtual private network (VPN). That sounds promising. Omate’s founder and CEO Laurent Le Pen addressed the German ban in a Medium post. He says the company doesn’t allow parents to remotely turn on their kids’ microphones, which was what German regulators targeted.
Ultimately, parents have to decide whether they’re willing to take the risk of companies and possibly hackers figuring out where their kids are at all times. One smartwatch produces a lot of data, which could be a good thing, if you want to keep tabs on your kids.
The watch will ship in June and will start at $179, which includes a year of service and data.
Update 2/18, 12:18 PM ET: Updated to include price and CEO Laurent Le Pen’s Medium post and comments.