A Japanese trial of an RFID system that alerts drivers to the proximity of children has shown that motorists slowed down and adopted a more cautious attitude when the device triggered.
The trail of the “i-safety” system was carried out by NTT Data (Nissan Motor Company’s communications offshoot), Tokyu Security and TRENDY Corporation. Drivers were alerted to nearby children by a voice recording from an electronic device located in the vehicle. The service proved especially helpful in areas with low visibility due to hills, walls and other obstructions.
A voice recording calls out "Children nearby, please be careful," when children are in the vicinity. The recording is triggered by signals from a tag worn by a child, which are transmitted through "lookout spots," such as electricity poles and schoolyard gates, fitted with receivers to pick up such signals.
Participants acting as guardians of the children during the test also found the system's "child arrival or departure notification" service useful in informing them of the children's whereabouts. This service automatically notifies designated guardians by e-mail on their mobile phone or PC when a child passes a "lookout spot" on the street.
The recent i-safety service test involved 114 drivers, 162 children carrying tags, 268 guardians, and 24 lookout spots. A total of 22 alarms were triggered.
NTT DATA and the other co-developers plan to increase the reception areas for the IC tags and improve the service's ability to pinpoint the exact location of children carrying the tags, with the aim of commercialising the service. The service is expected not only to help reduce traffic accidents involving children, but also protect them from crime.