Thursday, April 06, 2006

GPS Helps Predators Find your Kids

The title sounds scary, huh? It makes for great headlines which is what I initially thought was the intent of Robin Raskin's syndicated column topic called "Worst Hi Tech Gifts" last November. I initially discovered the topic from John Matarese's column called "Don't waste your money" and kicked off an email letting him know of the correction regarding the now-defunct Gizmondo device:
The Gizmondo does not have a feature for predators to find your child. GPS receivers are receivers and not transmitters. I'm sure any gaming element within the unit will protect the child from broadcasting his or her location to others. The only game I'm aware of that even uses GPS is Colors and it hasn't been released yet. There is a GPS element but it is not in real time and most likely does not broadcast your child's position to others. That would be a stupid thing for a company to do.

In fact, the Gizmondo device can be set up by parents to allow them to monitor their children. So in essence it provides a feature for parents to protect their children - not the other way around.

Hope this correction helps. It's kind of damaging material for a new concept like GPS in handheld games, especially with misinformation flowing about.
Mr. Materese was kind enough to respond the same day:
I am going to refer you to robinraskin. com. She is the Computer Columnist who was the source for that story.

She and DS Simon Productions (the video feed service) offered that story to HUNDREDS of TV stations in every city in the USA. My guess is that dozens of TV stations are airing the clip saying the Gizmondo could lure sexual predators.

Since it came from a feed, and not from us, I'm not in a position to contradict what came from the feed service. You may be 100% correct....but I wish you would contact Robin Raskin.
I kicked off a similar email to Robin and never received a response. Mr. Materese also adjusted his text on his own site noted on the "Worst Hi Tech Gifts" link, much to his credit.

It's not unusual to be ignored via email so I shrugged it off and assumed it was just ignorance, or laziniess, or both that caused such a poorly penned article. Today, however, the Google news alert kicked out a newer article about the very same program. Coming from a biased newssource you have to take this with a grain of salt, but it does sound inticingly juicy:
By itself, this VNR is little more than a tri-company infomercial that plugs numerous products while trashing its competitors. And yet when laundered through credibility of TV journalism, viewers are deceived into thinking they're watching an independent news report with an impartial consumer expert.
Based on the comments regarding GPS technology in the Gizmondo device being used by sexual predators it's outright fraud, in my opinion. The damage done by articles like these sets back the widespread adoption of GPS technology. Sadly I doubt this kind of material would be picked up by the larger media organizations.