Electronic alarm for children invented

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A DEVICE designed to safeguard wandering toddlers will be on sale for about pounds 10 in high street shops in six weeks, writes Esther Oxford. The device, which triggers an alarm if the child moves more than 15 metres away from a parent, is to be released early.

John Dickson, chairman of Sir Galahad, the Sheffield-based electronics and security company responsible for the device, said: 'I am expecting the first batch of 10,000 to be snatched up within the first three to four weeks.'

Two little ivory-coloured boxes are designed to be clipped on to the child's and the parent's clothing. If the device is pulled off, or the child wanders out of the 15-, 20-, or 25-metre radius selected by the parent, the alarm is triggered.

The box clipped on to the child contains a small radio transmitter. The parent carries a radio receiver. As long as it receives a signal it keeps quiet, but if it loses the signal an 85 Db alarm goes off.

The idea was inspired by the 'briefcase alarm' developed by the company. This emits orange fumes and triggers a siren if taken out of range.

'We have started pushing forward the baby alarm idea since the toddler's abduction last week,' said Mr Dickson. 'However, parents who buy the device have to accept that there is a limit as to how far it can work. We can alert the mother but we can't stop a stranger running off with the child.'

Mothercare said it would not be interested in the alarm as it might lull parents into a false sense of security. 'If the device was faulty the child might be some distance away before the parents realised something was up,' the company said. 'We would recommend harnesses and reins.'