Forgot your baby? There’s an app for that

A smattering of companies are determined to prevent a recurrence of the tragic spate of neglectful parents leaving babies to their fates in the backseat of cars.

July 16, 2013 20:03
3 minute read.
Baby car seat

Shattered glass, baby car seat. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

A smattering of companies are determined to prevent a recurrence of the tragic spate of neglectful parents leaving babies to their fates in the backseat of cars. Although only a handful of such incidents result in harm to the baby and make headlines, the problem, it seems, is widespread enough that several companies have taken it upon themselves to engineer possible solutions.

According to Kidetect, which uses sensors to detect when a child has been left in a car, 160 such incidents were reported since 2008-2012. 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 car, 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 the message, and even sending images to a central computer for monitoring.

The First Years offers a $350 car seat that connects to your smart phone, which will not only let you know if you left your kid in the car, but also reminds you to buckle your kid in, monitors temperature, lets you know if your child has gotten out of the seat, and even send an alert to an emergency contact's e-mail address. For $70, parents can purchase a ChildMinder clip, which sets off a little reminder every time the parent steps more than 15 feet 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 as well.

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 well 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 the unscheduled, non-routine trips.

IPhone users who don’t want an app can also 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 a 20 shekel keychain that clips into a strip tied around your steering wheel. When you park and unclip your keys, the eye-catching orange strip catches your eye with the phrase “I’m waiting for you in the back.” United Hatzalah, a volunteer EMT group, plans on distributing stickers in Hebrew, English, Russian and Arabic that parents can afix to their windshields, reminding them not to leave babies in the car, "not even for a second."

Not everyone found the solutions impressive. As one commenter on the Baby Reminder App incredulously phrased it, “Please help me from killing my baby....Thnks. I don't think I could've avoided killing my children wout this app.”

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