Parents used to have to keep track of their child’s whereabouts through such old-fashioned techniques as “keeping an eye on them” and “knowing who their child’s friends are.” Or they had to practice the fading art of “trusting their kid to not get into too much trouble.” But the spread of smartphones is ramping up the ability of parents to electronically stalk their children. If the current set of new parents are of the helicopter variety, then the next will be drones—small, autonomous, and omnipresent.
According to a report from the Berg Insight think tank, roughly 20 million people in Europe and North America used smartphone applications last month to remotely track the whereabouts of their family members. And, according to GigaOm, Berg Insight expects this number to soar to 70 million people by 2016. The idea is not altogether new; purpose-built GPS units have existed for more than a decade. But now people have phones anyway and won’t need to get a new piece of equipment to keep track of their loved ones.
The think tank also sees similar applications being used to track of people with medical conditions such as Alzheimer or autism. Or to allow overly aggressive bosses to keep tabs on their employees. That two-hour lunch while on the road? Forget about it.
More from Smithsonian.com:
Pet Tech Gears Up