Smartwatches change strategy to focus on kids

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Smartwatches change strategy to focus on kids

With smartwatches drawing lukewarm interest from most consumers, some technology companies are trying a fresh approach: market them to kids.

LG Electronics, VTech Holdings and Filip Technologies have all developed high-tech watches for children, undaunted by the slow progress the industry has made in pitching the devices to adults. They’re betting that kids may be the ideal market for the gadgets, which can either keep tykes entertained or track their whereabouts. The watches can even teach a more old-fashioned skill: how to tell time.

While only about one in five grown-ups has an interest in buying a smartwatch, kids’ models might be an easier sell, said Benjamin Arnold, an analyst at NPD Group. They’re typically cheaper, for one. And versions that can track children have obvious appeal to parents, who live in fear of losing small kids at a park or shopping mall.

VTech’s Kidizoom smartwatch, which goes on sale in the United States this month, is designed to entertain kids without being overwhelming. The $60 device doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi or cellular networks, and there’s only a limited number of apps.

The idea was to make something that’s easy for a child to use, especially for taking photos or videos, said William To, president of North America for Hong Kong-based VTech.

“This is purely designed for the child’s fun,” he said. “It’s educational, wholesome play.”

Other companies are focused more on the communication and location-tracking features than entertainment. LG is debuting a watch called the KizOn in its home country of South Korea this month. The device, aimed at preschool and grade-school kids, uses GPS and Wi-Fi to pinpoint the wearer’s whereabouts.

“Children as well as the elderly are ideal customers for wearable technologies,” Jong-seok Park, head of LG’s Mobile Communications, said in a statement.


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