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26 April 2004

Gizmondo plays games, offers MMS and keeps track of your kids

A defunct US company, previously operating in floor coverings and once called Floor D’cor, has come out with a lifeline through a weird new device, called a Gizmondo, that is designed as a child’s games console but which doubles as a GPS location system for children.

The SEC filings for Tiger Telematics and its Gametrac child tracking system, which uses GPS to find itself and SMS to convey the information to a remote PDA or phone, show the company short on funds and with a weak balance sheet and on the surface this whole thing looking like a pipe dream.

But announcements in the last month of new deals in the UK and China, the appointment of a global PR agency and an investor relations executive suggest that funding is on the way and the original idea might at least get off the launch pad.

The US company has made its primary market in the UK, tying up a local distribution deal through Toys-R-Us, and now it has landed a similar, and potentially far more lucrative deal in China through the state run Catic conglomerate.

The company’s strategy is to focus on England and Western Europe under a business model where it has wireless carrier agreements in place including UK mobile operator O2.

The company operates as Gametrac Europe here and also targets the GPS aspect of the devices at fleet providers in car rental market for driving GPS as well as location services.

The child tracking devices incorporate games written in Java and an SMS texting facility. The child’s location can be displayed by street name and postcode using a conventional mobile telephone and using the BskyB Digital TV interactive channel a parent can track the child on maps.

Geofences can be set for instance around a school, building, play area or even a district, town or city and alarms will be fired off if the child leaves that area.

The Gizmondo (known as Gametrac during its development) is built on the Microsoft Windows CE.NET platform and features gaming, an MP3 music player, a video player, 400 MHz Samsung processor, multimedia messaging, GPS function and built-in camera.