A young Vietnamese university student has come up with a tracking device to help parents stay away from their worst nightmare – having their children kidnapped, abused, or get lost.
Le Van Day, an aspiring engineer-to-be from Bach Khoa University in the central city of Da Nang, has combined his ingenuity with cutting edge navigation technology to make his anti-kidnapping device.
Day told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that recent media reports about kidnapping or child abuse have truly sent chill down his spine.
But it was the horrendous case of Nhat Linh, a ten-year-old Vietnamese girl who was kidnapped and murdered in Japan, that snapped the righteous inventor into action, he said.
The original idea involved placing a tracking device on the wristwatch or backpack of children, but Day finally chose to stick it on their shoes, which “supposedly go with the kids all the time”.
But it is not an easy task. The device must be small, compact, yet firm at the same time to fit for installation under the shoe’s soles.
The device consists of a processor, a GPS tracking chip, and a mobile SIM card.
The device will send its location and warnings, if necessary, to the designated mobile phone number every 45 minutes.
Parents can simply send a text message to the device to receive its current location at any given time. In case there is no connection, it will record the last GPS position.
“Besides the camouflage effect, shoes are pretty convenient for add-ons”, Day said.
An ‘emergency button’ is secretly installed on the inner side of one shoe, and the children only need to use the other foot to kick into this three times in a row to trigger the alarm mode, which sends an SOS message to their parents.
Parents can also have better control of their children by calling to the SIM card installed in the device. The shoes will automatically ‘pick up’ the call in recording mode, allowing the caller to know about the surroundings and activities of the kids.
Day said the newest version of his device can run for 15 hours straight from a two-hour charge.
From lab to life
Pham Thi Phuong, a parent struggling with two energetic primary school students, said she will buy the device the moment it is put on sale.
“With the device on, of course I shall be more relieved and relaxed, knowing where my children are and which environment they are in”, Phuong explained.
Because of its high applicability, the device got Day a prize in the school-level scientific research award.
But the creator admitted that to actually start commercial production for the device remains far-fetched.
While the device is ‘smart’ enough, the bigger challenge is to reduce its size while retaining all the crucial features, including wireless charge, he said.
Dr. Nguyen Danh Ngoc, from the machinery department of the Bach Khoa Da Nang University, holds Day’s invention in high regard, expressing his belief that the product will soon be able to enter the market.
He commended Day for his inventiveness, self-study efforts, and unwavering passion for science.
“Day is highly adept at machinery, and is very attentive to knowledge and details alike,” Ngoc said.
“Many other students have taken after him and sought his guidance, considering him a bright example to follow.”
With many inventions and awards lining up his shelf, Day earns the nickname “award-hunter” of his machinery department, having won several contests and competitions at both university- and city-levels.
In 2017, his “Simple watch”, a navigation and health checking gadget designed for the elderly, won the top prize of FameLab, a world’s leading science communication competition held by the British Council.
Ever since his freshman year, Day has created numerous agricultural machines, such as the seed drill, pepper processing line and cereal drier.
Some of these devices have even been purchased by local businesses, endorsing the young inventor to brace on with his passion.
Day has also turned his humble 20-square-meter rental room into a science-techno hub open to all who share his ideals.