Free BDS-enabled watch helps parents know real-time location of kids

By Deng Xiaoci and Wang Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/14 21:43:40

Visitors look at the Beidou navigation satellite constellation during a science show in March. Photo: VCG

China's homegrown BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) has expanded its usage for civilian application and is helping pupils to enjoy the summer vacation more safely.

Nearly 17,000 pupils in the Nansha district, Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, have received free watches equipped with BDS, which will help their parents obtain their real-time location as well as alerts for any potential safety risks, district government said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Saturday.  

The watch is equipped with a location chip, which works together with the BDS to help detect their location. The domestically developed chip is also compatible with the Global Positioning System (GPS). Even if the satellite signals are blocked it can still be detected within an accuracy of 10 meters, said Zhu Yanjun, the leader of the project.

As the district is home to several bodies of water, the watch also sends water risk alerts to parents, Zhu added.

Families participated in this program voluntarily, and as of Friday, 8,000 out of 17,000 users had completed the registration process and are currently online. Users' personal information is registered on the database of the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The distribution of BDS-enabled smart watches in Nansha is part of a BDS city application demonstration project approved by the China Satellite Navigation Office in October 2018.

The program is also part of efforts to promote the civilian application of BDS in the district. More programs, such as security wrist rings for senior citizens and smart locks for logistics pallets, are in the pipeline.

Such a development shows that civilian use of BDS is one of the priorities of the system's industrialization, a BDS industry observer, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

The devices being distributed for free to children are both GPS- and BDS-enabled, proving that China's system and its US counterpart are not exclusive of each other, and in fact work better together than alone as more satellite signals mean greater accuracy and a more stable reception, he noted.

According to an official white paper released by the Global Navigation Satellite System and Location-Based Service Association of China in May, the total number of terminal products including smart phones installed with BDS compatible chips was close to 700 million. 

BDS services have been adopted by e-commerce, mobile intelligent terminal manufacturing, location services and other vendors and have entered mass consumption, the shared economy and people's livelihoods, profoundly changing people's production and lifestyles, said the white paper.

Newspaper headline: BDS watches help parents track children


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