TORONTO – Tech giant Intel has chosen the International CES show as its stage to show off its latest innovations, including a smart car seat buckle that is aimed at saving lives.
The device works by replacing the chest clip on a regular child car seat with a “smart clip” that communicates with the parent’s smartphone via Bluetooth.
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Through the app parents can see whether the clip is connected, the temperature in the car and the battery supply of the clip.
But the stand out feature of the device is designed to address a controversial issue known as “Forgotten Baby Syndrome” (FBS) – when parents accidentally leave their children behind in hot or cold vehicles.
Smart Clip would set off an alarm on the user’s smartphone warning them that a child is still in the car once they walked a certain distance away from the vehicle.
Every year stories of children left in hot vehicles make headlines. While most parents think it could never happen to them, experts say it can happen to anyone – especially when parents or caregivers are distracted, fatigued or experience a break in daily routine.
The Canada Safety Council said that while no Canadian data is available, an average of 38 of these types of deaths occur each year from heat-related incidents in the United States.
Intel isn’t the first to address this issue.
According to a report by the New York Times, car manufactures such as Audi and Volvo have been looking into solutions for child detection for years. A Volvo spokesperson told the Times the company developed a heartbeat sensing device in 2001; however, the idea didn’t work out due, in part, to liability issues.
In 2002, NASA developed a similar safety device that used sensors in child car and booster seats to detect when children were strapped in after the driver had left the vehicle.
Dubbed the “Child Presence Sensor,” the sensor switch would trigger immediately when a child was placed in the car seat and deactivated when they were removed.
The alarm, which was designed as a key ring, would sounds ten warning beeps if the driver walked too far away from the vehicle with a child inside. If the driver didn’t return in one minute, the alarm would continuously beep until the parent returned to the car seat to reset it.
“I wanted something that would serve as a second set of eyes and ears, something that could easily and inexpensively be retrofitted to existing child car seats,” said William Edwards, a researcher with NASA’s Langley’s Laser Systems branch who helped invent the device.
At the time, NASA said it was looking to work with car manufacturers to pre-install the device; however, the idea never took off.
Intel’s Smart Clip is still in the prototype phase. The company has not yet announced pricing or availability for the device.
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