KidSense Car Seat Safety System for Unattended Child Detection and Temperature Monitoring

Summary

A Vanderbilt engineering senior design team has developed a car seat safety attachment that detects if a child has been left unattended in a car seat and if the environment has become uncomfortably hot or cold. The system is designed with a graduated alarm system based on "alert states" that provides a combination of visual, tactile and audio alerts.

Addressed Need

Since 1998, over 550 children have died from heat stroke when they became trapped in unattended cars (Vehicular Hyperthermia). Approximately 50 percent of those cases were the result of the child being forgotten by a caretaker. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that inside car temperature can rise almost 20 degrees within the first 10 minutes and even temperatures in the 60s can cause the temperature to rise well above 110 degrees Fahrenheit inside the car. A 2012 DOT study of all products that reminded caretakers if they had forgotten their child in the car found none that were deemed acceptable. Some products were unreliable, others failed to differentiate between a child and another object in the car seat, such as a grocery bag, and very few monitored the temperature of the car.

Technology Description

The KidSense Car Seat System is a smart car seat attachment that senses a child’s presence as well as environmental information and communicates this with an external key fob, designed to go on the driver’s key ring. The key fob begins a series of escalating alarms when the car is turned off and the child is not immediately removed from the car seat. If the child remains in the car, the alarms become more frequent, and more insistent. When the internal temperature of the car becomes too hot or too cold, the key fob buzzes and vibrates continuously and the car seat’s visual and audio alarms are set off to ensure
that the caretaker or people nearby become aware of the danger to the child. The KidSense car seat is differentiated from existing devices by enhanced reliability, minimal required set-up, temperature detection feature and a graduated alarm system.

Technology Features

Works with any car seat with a 12V DC outlet
Enhanced reliability over current market products
Temperature detection with critical hot and cold temperatures
Escalating alarm system as car temperature approaches dangerous levels
Temporary alarm silencing option functional when a caretaker has stayed at the turned-off car with the child

Technology Development Status

Working prototypes have been built. Seeking licensing partnerships for commercial development
News Channel 5 News story Video: "Vandy Students Design ‘Smart’ Car Seat, May 08, 2013"
Nashville Scene "Designed by Vanderbilt students, KidSense aims to keep children out of the hot seat"
NBC12 news Video: "TN graduate students design ‘smart’ car seat" Jul 10, 2013

Intellectual Property Status

A Patent Application has been filed

Inventors: 
Chelsea StowellMichelle GoodmanJessica KimAlayna BolandMonica KruseHaley Nesmith
Licensing manager: 
Masood Machingal

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