Portland, Meet Pigeon: The First Family Fitness Tracker with Built-In Kid Safety

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We're delighted to share with you our review of our partners at Pigeon, who are bringing life-changing tech to families, starting right here in PDX! Read on to learn more about the company and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card!

A few years ago, I was sitting at a local play place (rhymes with ShplayPlate PleeDeeEx) and watched from a distance as a little boy made a mad dash out the front door. A woman, who I assume was his mom, bolted after him. Moments later, another kid was hauled out, kicking and hollering hoisted on a man’s shoulder, likely upset with his dad about the fact they had to leave.

In the kerfuffle, I lost sight of my own two kids, who were undoubtedly frolicking in the play structure, happily losing their minds. I went back to my work-from-cafe mode and figured my boys would visibly pop up soon enough.

But then a thought hit me: “What if that kid running out the door had been mine?” I would have totally missed it while my face was buried in my computer. Then a second thought crept in, “What if that man had scooped up one of my kids, and flopped my son over his shoulder? Would anyone have stopped him?” I had just assumed the kid was upset, not that he was being kidnapped.

At that point, crazy mom-brain took over and I hurriedly jumped up to locate my littles, 5 and 7 at the time. I spotted one, and – a very long minute later – found the other. Honestly, I sat back down a little rattled, and could only half-focus on my work afterward.

Lost in Play

Surely I am not the only parent who has panicked at a play place? As my occasional work-away-from-home solution, I need my kids to be safe, but also need to focus on my tasks. I started concocting ways one could leverage technology to put my mind at ease; my rendition involved laser sensors and trip wires and plenty of archaic ways to fence my children in.

Turns out, someone way smarter than me had already had a similar experience, around the same time, and he has been taking  this question head-on ever since. Jon Marson, a physicist, father-of-four, and inventor, lost his son Andrew for an unbearable 20 minutes inside a now-defunct play place (rhymes with Mafari Flam’s). The experience was traumatizing enough to get the wheels turning in Jon’s mind. Fortunately, Andrew was found safe and sound inside the play structure (he had just gotten stuck, poor fella), but Jon learned his harrowing experience was actually pretty common.

Pigeon App LocationThat’s when he developed Pigeon. The idea is simple: a business, club, or camp sets up tiny receivers in their space. Kids get to wear cool Pigeon Bands – which are essentially fitness trackers with awesome bonus features – most notably an app that shows parents their kiddo’s whereabouts. If the kid leaves the network perimeter, Mom or Dad gets a ping on their phone. Can’t find the kiddo inside the network? Pull out the app for instant location.

When Jon first told me about his experience that led to Pigeon, I was instantly reminded of that heart-stopping moment a few years ago. Like a newsreel, similar situations flashed before my eyes – at the zoo, in the mall, at a Timbers game – where I lost track of one of my littles for a brief moment of panic. What if we could make our fitness trackers also track our kids for safety? GENIUS.

Where Fitness Tracker Meets Kid Tracking

When we met, Jon gave me a handful of Pigeon bands to try out with my family. They’re lightweight, stylish, and breathable. The silver nylon band is even dare I say classy; it looks more like a piece of jewelry than a fitness tracker.

Pigeon Bands come in different styles with a face you can swap out depending on your mood.

But the cool thing is that it DOES serve as a fitness tracker, and even more, too. Pigeon is the only fitness tracker designed with family motivation in mind; the app has built-in features that allow a family unit to set group goals. For example, my boys decided to work toward a laser tag outing, and we each had to make a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. My kids aced that, no problem, but I stayed true to my end of the bargain, as well. Together, we got to celebrate meeting our milestone, after holding one another accountable for our step count every day. We even once went out on a bonus crisp evening stroll, just to up our count! Less screen time, more movement; less isolation, more togetherness.

Jon sees these family fitness features as really meaningful, and a huge part of the appeal of Pigeon, but also part of what makes kids love them so much. And if kids like them, they’ll wear them. And if kids wear them? Pigeon keeps them safe. As a Portland-area dad, Jon is working with summer camps, kid-friendly spaces, and even parks to add ways the Pigeon Network can expand throughout our city.

The Portland Pigeon Connection

We’re so lucky to have this innovation launching right here in Stumptown, putting us on the front lines of Pigeon taking flight. Pigeon is launching a Kickstarter campaign to expand the Pigeon PDX network and to further develop the family app. If you’re one of the first 100 supporters to back Pigeon, you can get your Pigeon bands for half off! Get on their newsletter list to be the first to know when Pigeon launches.

Let’s help Pigeon make Portland safe for our kids!

Enter to Win!

Before launching, Pigeon is seeking feedback from Portland families about which Pigeon Bands are most popular! Head to the Pigeon page to learn more about the company and select the style you like best. Complete the form to be entered to win a $100 Amazon gift card! One winner will be randomly selected on New Year’s Day to start the year off right!

Pigeon Logo

Pigeon is putting tech to work for parents and guardians, creating tools to protect kids, enrich lives, and make awesome.  Learn more about Pigeon and the amazing things it’s doing for Portland on their website, and follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

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Lee Ann moved to Portland in 2008 following an eight-year stint in Paris, France, where her eldest was born. Though she thought nowhere could compete with the City of Lights, the City of Roses immediately stole her heart. As a great place to raise kids, she loves getting out and exploring the city and the PNW with her husband and four young children. While in France, Lee Ann earned a B.A. in Journalism and a Master's in Linguistics at the American University of Paris and L'Universite de Paris - La Sorbonne, respectively, before returning stateside to become a Speech-Language Pathologist through the Portland State University graduate program. Throughout her studies, she kept one foot in the digital world, writing content for publications and creating websites for clients. After many years as a medical Speech Pathologist, she left to the field to continue freelance writing, become the owner of Portland Mom Collective (!), and to create a crafting/workshop space for PDX makers. She likes to spend whatever "me" time she can muster making soap, geocaching, jogging, sewing, and staring at the wall with no small humans talking to her. Get in touch by sending a note to leeann {at} portlandmomcollective {dot} com, or follow her on Instagram.

21 COMMENTS

  1. I’m sure we’re not alone here – I’m looking forward to rolling out the Pigeon Network so that parents can always know where their kids are. That will make the whole experience more awesome for everyone and drop the stress level.

  2. I can’t wait to try this with my family. I live across the street from a park and families are constantly letting their kids go there for hours unsupervised. Having Pigeon would really bring piece of mind to families–especially during park season where we spend most our days outdoors!

  3. Nice product! I’m a dad of a large family. My wife and I are constantly head counting to make sure we didn’t leave anyone behind. This would reduce our stress and allow us to enjoy our outings more.

  4. What an incredible idea! We have had panic moments in different public places as well- the instant location tracker is very valuable. I love the family fitness aspect also, what a great way to team build and motivate the whole family towards a common goal. Love this, need this!

  5. What a great idea! I love that it not only tracks your kids but offers fitness tracking for the family! Can’t wait to see these offered at play places and camps, brilliant!

  6. This sounds absolutely amazing!!! With our schedules getting busier and busier, parents can have peace of mind while the kids get to expend some pent up energy at (fill in the blank) play center. If two businesses were similar in price and amenities but only one had Pigeon, I’d choose the safer location hands down! Fantastic product Jon!!

  7. What a cool idea to encourage families to be active together! And as a father of four, I know that feeling of panic when one (or two) slips away while your distracted! Looking forward to this product being available and hope to see partnerships with every store that I shop at 🙂

  8. Sounds like a great product and much needed! Perfect for those busy kid activities, especially when you have more than one child to look after. Fitness tracker is a great added bonus!!

  9. Pigeon has most certainly come up with an idea to meet multiple needs… I love this! The tunnels that block my view of my kids in play places have kept me from choosing those locations. I think this product would bring me the peace of mind to branch out! Also, I could definitely imagine my four year old getting excited about a fitness tracker because she could “be like Mommy and Daddy” and it would feel like a game to meet her step goal. Very innovative, and it’s exciting to know this creative product is launching in our neck of the woods!

  10. We met Jon and his wife before they were ever a family. They are caring, sweet people, and we’re so impressed with their story, and the process they’ve been through to get Pigeon up and rolling! Big doses of innovation, thoughtfulness, deep caring for kids, and a lot of faith… Keep rocking the adventure, Marsons!

  11. Having watched the passion and dedication Jon has put into the development of Pigeon I know for certain this product will change lives!

  12. What a wodnerful way to harness the family bond to improve fitness and encourage togetherness! Pigeon is creating a new category tech for a new way of supporting healthier lives.

  13. I’m very excited to see this launched and know that it will help so many families keep track of kids, stay healthy, and have fun! I also have seen Jon’s dedication to this project as a great entrepreneur and a loving dad. He has hit a home run and Pigeon is awesome!

  14. Jon is very innovative and brilliant for filling a gap in the marketplace. A solid idea that gives both kids some fun being focused on some fitness while at the same time parents can take comfort knowing where the children are!

  15. This sounds like a wonderful and needed tool for urban parents! And so much better than getting a phone for my middle schooler just to know he got home from practice!

Comments are closed.