Tech firms marketing apps, devices to remind drivers of their ‘precious cargo’

Before spate of tragedies involving infants being left in broiling cars, a smattering of companies were working on preventative solutions.

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July 17, 2013 00:33
2 minute read.
Apple's iPhone 5

iPhone 5 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Well before the current spate of tragedies involving infants being left in broiling cars, a smattering of Israeli companies were busy working on solutions to prevent such occurrences.

According to Kidetect, which uses sensors to detect when a child has been left in a car, 160 such incidents were reported from 2008 to 2012.

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The Kidetect system, NIS 800, opens all the windows and sets off the car alarm.

There are “all sorts of situations” in which parents might forget their kids in the car, says Arieh Israeli, who developed a similar system called Kiddy Guard. When Kiddy Guard’s motion detectors and weight sensors determine a child has been left in a parked vehicle, it alerts the driver through SMS and a car key beep, while automatically opening the window.

“Despite the fact that everyone says ‘It will never happen to me,’ because we’re connected to the child, we don’t take our eyes off him, we check on him several times a night,’ and despite it all, it happens,” Israeli says.

Intervox, a system designed for school buses and other special vehicles, uses voice sensors to detect distress before setting off the alarm, sending a message, and even sending images to a central computer for monitoring.

The First Years offers a $350 car seat that connects to a smartphone, which not only lets the parent know if he has left his kid in the car, but also reminds him to buckle in his kid, monitors temperature, lets him know if his child has gotten out of the seat, and even sends an alert to an emergency contact’s email address.

For $70, parents can purchase a ChildMinder clip, which sets off a little reminder every time the parent steps more than 15 feet (about 4.5 meters) from the baby’s car seat.

For those parents who want a little reminder but don’t want to dole out the dough to deck out their cars with new technology, a handful of mobile applications are available.

For Android users, the Don’t Forget Your Baby app will subtly tell you out loud, in English, not to forget your baby the moment your phone disconnects from any pre-selected Bluetooth device in the car.

Baby Reminder, a free iPhone application, lets the users enter their regular child pick-up and drop-off times, and will send a reminder when they reach their destinations during those hours.

But critics of the app note that parents are more likely to be thrown off during their unscheduled, non-routine trips.

IPhone users who don’t want an app can simply schedule a location-based reminder, which will alert them with a message when they’ve reached their destination.

Low-tech solutions exist as well. Life Belt is an NIS 20 keychain that clips into a strip tied around the steering wheel. When you park and unclip your keys, the bright orange strip catches your eye with the phrase “I’m waiting for you in the back.”


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