X-Message-Number: 13471
From: Eugene Leitl <>
Date: Tue, 4 Apr 2000 19:04:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: GPS Tracks Grannies in Tokyo 


GPS Tracks Grannies in Tokyo 

7:00 a.m. Mar. 31, 2000 PST 
Japanese companies have solved the problem of straying senior citizens
-- track them by satellite.

A device for finding old people unable to take care of themselves uses
a satellite-based global positioning system and a cellular phone

Local governments in Tokyo and Kikuchi City plan to test the device,
developed by a group led by trading house Mitsui and Company. "We are
definitely expecting a market to develop for the system," a Mitsui
spokesman said.

A transmitter attached to the body or on clothing beams coordinates of
the person to a local server. Concerned relatives just need to send a
request by portable terminal and up pops the runaway's location on a
computerized map.

Systems already exist in Japan for finding lost people but they rely
on technology for personal "handyphones" -- a type of mobile phone --
and do not work well if the escapee jumps on a train or takes to the

And the idea is not simply pie in the sky, given the graying of
Japan's population. Already there are an estimated 1.88 million
elderly people in Japan suffering various degrees of senility.

The device will be tested later this year with a planned launch in
early 2001.

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