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Kid begging for a smartphone? Try this instead

A Taiwanese startup run by a former Foxconn developer of wearables has released a second smartwatch for children after receiving capital through Kickstarter and a local accelerator.

Taipei-based JoyRay this month released an updated watch following its first model in 2015. The device with a 1.6-inch touchscreen and a colorful watchband is called Jumpy Plus. It's designed for children ages 5 to 8.

Jumpy Plus can make calls, leave voice messages and do text messaging through a built-in SIM design.

Children can also use the tool for entertainment such as hearing stories, playing motion-activated games and taking care of a pet-like character in the device.

Parents with use smartphones can access the watch to track their children using a real-time locator, an emergency button, a find-me function and location history.

Mom and Dad can also use the watch to understand their children's play habits by analyzing that data that it collects.

Parents would access that data with an app developed by the company.

Jumpy Plus includes a calendar that parents and children can edit together to help the younger one learn time management.

The developer began taking pre-orders in mid-August, and now the watch sells in Taiwan and North America. A watch costs US$179.

The smartwatch had received US$84,847 in funding through Kickstarter (84% of its goal) and additional help from local venture capital firm AppWorks.

Smartwatches are among the world's more heavily used wearable devices because ever popular brand Apple has taken a lead with its Apple Watch.

Apple Watch controls half the market, per data from research firm Juniper. Its market value is expected to hit US$17.8 billion in 2020. However, smartwatch shipments across brands declined 32 percent in the second quarter this year, according to fellow research firm IDC.

That drop translates to 3.2 million units sold in the second quarter this year compared to 5.1 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Apple Watch's lead makes market entry tough for rival smartwatch brands, but newcomers still see niches. That's where JoyRay comes in.

Like many mid-career entrepreneurs of Taiwan, JoyRay founder Jerry Chang began his early career in hardware at major companies -- Alcatel and Foxconn in his case.

At Alcatel, he helped develop Taiwan's first ringback tone service, and at Foxconn, where he was head of market research and product planning, he was encouraged to lead development of a smartwatch. The company eventually killed that project, however, prompting Chang to want to create his own watch.

Backed by his professional knowledge at Foxconn, Chang founded JoyRay in 2012. He tapped his old connections and experience to find talent for completing Jumpy Plus, which requires both hardware and software talent.

Chang, also a father of two, believes this smartwatch will mark a new way to communicate with kids.