Filip’s Wearable Phone for Kids Gets New Design, New VP of Engineering

Xconomy New York — 

Filip Technologies unveiled an updated design this week for the second generation of its wearable communicator and locator for kids—a revamp intended to make the device harder to slip off.

The company, founded in Norway in 2009 and headquartered in New York, developed the FiLIP wristwatch-style device that lets kids keep in touch with their families. Available on AT&T’s wireless service, the wearable communicator can make calls to a selection of emergency and personal numbers. It also has GPS technology so parents can see, with an app, where their kids are.

Along with the more secure wristband, CEO Jonathan Peachey says the forthcoming FiLIP 2 will be more durable and can be adjusted to fit bigger kids.

He says the company listened to feedback from customers after the first version of FiLIP was released late last year. “Parents told us they wanted a more secure-looking wristband,” Peachey says. The initial model had an open, fixed-size wristband that appealed to kids, making it easier for them to take on and off. However parents, Peachey says, were concerned that the device might come loose to readily.

With the redesign, the company maintained the look of the original but made the wristband closeable—to prevent the device from sliding off or being taken off by someone who should not remove it. Peachey says FiLIP is the only wearable phone for kids certified by the Federal Communications Commission for safety.

Other improvements with the FiLIP 2, he says, include embedding the device’s screen more deeply into its housing to prevent accidental damage. The FiLIP 2 is largely a revamp to the form factor and mechanics rather than inner workings of the device, he says. Pricing and availability of the new model has not been announced, though Peachey expects it to be released later this year.

Along with a revamp of the hardware comes an updated, easier-to-use smartphone app that lets see parents and family members see where their kids are. As with the original, families can set a geographic trigger that goes off if a child wearing the device leaves a particular boundary. “We’ve rebuilt the app so it’s more of an engaging experience for parents, it’s a more modern interface, and an easier on-boarding process,” Peachey says.

In addition to the redesign, the company this month announced it hired Patrick McDevitt, who previously worked for AOL, TomTom, and MapQuest, as its senior vice president of engineering.

After completing the transition of the Filip headquarters from London to New York, the company wanted to bring in an experienced software engineering executive, Peachey says. In particular, Filip sought a professional with experience in the location-based technology industry and who knew about geospatial engineering and mapping. Now that McDevitt has joined the ranks, more tech hires are on the way for the company. “His first order of business is going to be building out the rest of our software engineering team,” Peachey says.

Filip had previously outsourced that work, he says, and now wants to bring it all in-house. McDevitt’s arrival means the company can also get cracking on updates to the software for the device, Peachey says.

“We have some things in development that will increase the engagement of the parent and the child with the product,” he says, but offered no further details.