Child Seat Sensor Ensures In-Car Safety
By Brad Frischkorn
Wireless technology is proving to be a boon for child safety, especially for toddlers on the go.
Designers at Hong Kong-based Ocean Unicorn Technology Ltd. see huge potential for marrying cell phones with sensors in helping to put parents who drive at ease about their little backseat passengers.
The company’s Driver’s Little Helper product is a car seat monitor that syncs by Bluetooth with a smartphone to provide key alerts about the comfort and safety of the accompanying child, allowing the driver to brake, slow, or check on the child, forestalling a potential accident or mishap.
Installation of the necessary gear is simple; the baby seat’s fabric cover is removed, and a sensor is placed in the center of the seat’s plastic molding. A rechargeable power pack is then connected and fastened to the back of the seat or the seatbelt. A downloadable app from the company’s website allows for the wireless connection between the cell phone and the seat.
Once the child is seated and strapped in, the sensor begins to work, transmitting data such as the temperature, movement, and perhaps most critically, if the child is no longer buckled up or gets out of their seat. An alert is also automatically sent when the vehicle stops moving.
Ocean Unicorn director Steven Lo introduced the Driver’s Little Helper at a recent Hong Kong trade fair, drawing enthusiastic responses from passers-by.
“The sensor unit was designed by a parent who had a child that frequently squirmed out of his baby seat, causing a major headache while driving,” says Mr. Lo. “The product is a bonus for the parent/driver in two ways: added peace of mind about the child’s safety, and the ability to focus more on the task of driving by removing a major distraction.”
The company had U.S. consumers in mind as it developed the product, he adds, citing statistics showing that while motor vehicle deaths among children aged 12 and under decreased by 43% over the past decade, cars remain the single biggest threat to childrens’ lives. More than 9,000 died in crashes over the span, about one-third of whom were not buckled up, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Other data show that 75% of child seats are improperly installed, notes Mr. Lo. “If a parent can take the time to install the sensor, then most likely he or she will be more discerning about properly installing the child seat as well.”
Ocean Unicorn retails the Driver’s Little Helper at about $80. Buyers credit the device for showing the back seat temperature (in Celsius or Fahrenheit), as overheating can be a worry -- even when outside temperatures are cool.
Another handy feature is the ability to register up to three phone numbers that the product will text with alerts, notes child safety info site allaboutbabysworld.com. Driver’s Little Helper sends one alert and, if this is not acknowledged, second and third alerts are sent. The owner’s emergency contacts -- either email addresses and/or cell phone texts – are contacted if the third alert goes unanswered.
The sensor kit ranked among five Best in Show winners at the 2016 New York Baby Show held in May.
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