When it comes to expanding the uses of the humble mobile phone the Japanese are way ahead of their European and US counterparts. Just look at how the Japanese arm of giant Vodafone struggles to keep pace with rivals such as NTT DoCoMo.
Now NTT DoCoMo has launched a kid-tracking mobile service that will appeal to concerned parents everywhere; although whether their kids will be so pleased is another matter.
The service called imadoco, which is Japanese for "Where are you now?", has been launched alongside a specifically designed 3G child-friendly sized handset. For a small monthly fee, using the i-mode enabled phone parents can receive an email on their child’s location at 15 minute to hourly intervals.
Should the naughty kid stray into ‘forbidden’ areas then the parent’s will automatically receive an email and if the phone’s inbuilt alarm is activated a warning email with the child’s location is automatically sent to his or her parents.
For kids looking to escape the roving eye of Big Mother of Father life is not so easy. The service will continue to work when the handset is switched off and removing the battery requires a special tool, according to NTT DoCoMo.
The handset could have another hidden benefit. Not only is such a parent-friendly phone going to be decidedly uncool, but when combined with the location service this must surely place it into any thief’s top ten mobiles to avoid.