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Product to prevent car hyperthermia

  1. Jun 30, 2014 #1
    So, plenty of us have probably heard about the recent hot car death that will probably become a hugely controversial media circus that everyone will forget about in a few months. I don't know whether the death was intentional or not, but I hope the court makes the correct decision either way.

    I don't want to kick this off with a discussion of whether or not the parents should be punished. Instead, I want to consider realistic ways to avoid this sort of thing. Sure, some middle-school student came up with a knee-jerk "solution" that would work in theory, but the fact is that no one at all would have the patience to deal with that device every day.

    Cars are getting smarter, and I see no reason why a "smart" approach to this isn't feasible. My idea can be described by the following algorithm:

    Precondition: Key is removed from ignition.

    1) Check temperature.

    Temperature > THRESHOLD ?

    YES: Go to step 2.
    NO: Go to step 3.

    2) Check for (noninsect) life in car.

    The detector is a black box, and might not be cheap. But, this sort of problem has been solved for more difficult situations than this.

    Was anything living found?

    YES: Activate some sort of alarm, perhaps PANIC mode and a radio signal. Remain in this step until manually disabled.
    NO: Proceed to step 3.

    3) Wait X seconds and return to step 1.

    I believe that this is a perfectly feasible system, and it (or some equivalent solution) should find its way into all modern vehicles. What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2014 #2


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    Thread moved to Engineering, since you are asking about an Engineering problem/solution.
  4. Jun 30, 2014 #3


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    It seems like a good step would be to install small cameras watching the seats where infants could be positioned. Like the little GoPro or home monitoring web cameras. You could add on the layer of software that does what you want, but you need to start with the cameras, IMO.
  5. Jun 30, 2014 #4
    Possibly, but that seems like it would require a data plan and would be limited to luxury cars. I'm trying to think of something that could be used in lower-end vehicles.
  6. Jul 1, 2014 #5

    jim hardy

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    I'd prefer the gizmo roll down the windows .
  7. Jul 1, 2014 #6
    That's a possibility, but it poses its own problems. A child would still be alone in the vehicle, possibly for several hours. Unscrupulous people could take advantage of the unattended vehicle and its contents/passengers if the windows were rolled down. Furthermore, a clever crook could probably find a way to trigger the sensors from outside.
  8. Jul 1, 2014 #7


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    Well, you have competition for a workable solution to test if a child is in a car seat. This is similar to the seat belt "buckle up" reminder, but more aggressive.

    Scott McDonald's Aviso Child-In-Car alert system.

    http://avisoreminder.com/how-it-works/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Jul 1, 2014 #8
    Competition isn't an issue since I don't have enough experience to implement this idea in a timely manner. I just think someone should, and I think it is important enough not to wait until I can patent it myself. The idea I'm peddling isn't the specific algorithm so much as the idea that we need a nonintrusive, always-present solution to this problem.

    Aviso is a step in the right direction, but it requires additional setup every time it is used, and could be forgotten just as easily as the child when the parent's mind is on other things (precisely when it is needed most).
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  10. Jul 1, 2014 #9
    One driver has a simple solution. She removes her shoes and places them on the back seat before starting the vehicle. To leave the vehicle she has to retrieve her shoes - from beside the child seat.
  11. Jul 1, 2014 #10


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    I think you should be solving a more general and simpler problem (since it doesn't involve temperature): how to stop people leaving kids, or pets, locked in a car in any circumstances.

    You can't eliminate idiots. There was a recent news story in the UK of some fool driving at 150 mph in a 70 speed limit, with four kids in the back of the car who were not even wearing seat belts. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-28088323
  12. Jul 3, 2014 #11
    Maybe simply putting an RFID chip in the baby seat and a sensor in the car that can trigger an alert every time you leave the car? May something like a voice message, not like a loud tone. It shouldn't be something too annoying so people don't turn it off, more like a reminder.
    This leaves no cables through the car, no manual setting up, no cameras or lots of software...
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