Safety device helps protect toddlers from danger

Carers who want to protect adventurous children from wandering out of sight can soon use a security device which has been partly developed by a group of engineers at Staffordshire University.

Parents or carers who want to protect adventurous children from wandering out of sight and into potential danger can soon use a security device which has been partly developed by a group of electronic engineers at Staffordshire University.

Crecheguard has been produced by UK-based Planescheme, a company based in Prees, North Shropshire, and has used the electronic design skills of experts at the Midlands Electronics Design (ED) Support Centre based at Staffordshire University.

The wireless, failsafe device can monitor up to 64 children at once and therefore can be used by creche or nursery staff, as well as by parents or guardians for their own families. The range of the system is 70 metres.

To operate Crecheguard, a child wears a fob fitted with a tiny transceiver – a transmitter and receiver combined. The system works by sending a radio signal to the fob on each child in turn, the fob then answers the base unit and as long as the child is within range and the base unit receives an answer it will not go into alarm mode.

Each radio fob is programmed into the base unit with a discrete code so that when, for any reason, the fob does not respond the base unit identifies the fob and displays the fob`s `ident` on the display – this could be in the form of a number or the child`s name.

The base unit also monitors the battery condition of each fob and indicates on the display any fobs with batteries that are low

‘The project was set up to meet demand for better child security in areas where a constant vigil by parents or carers is difficult. In these times, there is always a real risk of child abduction,’ explained Dr. Steve Grainger, who heads the Midlands Electronics Design Support Centre based at Staffordshire University.

‘But thanks to Crecheguard carers are alerted immediately to the fact that a child has wandered off – the device can even tell them which child is missing.’

John Golder of Planescheme said the company was initially set up to service aircraft under contract in third world countries such as the Sudan, Ethiopia, Angola, and Papua New Guinea. One problem technicians faced was the security of tools and equipment and they therefore developed an electronic security device to protect each individual item.

‘This proved very effective and as a development of this application it took little imagination to extend the technology to child security,’ added John.