The news of a child dying after being accidentally left in a hot car is devastating, and sadly not uncommon: an average of 38 children die each year as a result, mostly during the summer months. Five engineering graduates from Rice University have developed Infant SOS, a device designed to eliminate this horrible scenario by using both a passive cooling system to keep a child’s core temperature below the point of heat stroke and also to alert others when it senses that the infant is in danger.

Infant SOS, kids health, engineering, safe design

Infant SOS contains motion sensors, and the alert system is based on whether the child is still in the car seat after the device detects that the car has been parked. After 30 seconds, Infant SOS issues an audio alarm — and a flashing row of LED lights lining the car seat activates to alert both parents as well as passersby that there is a child in the car seat. After five minutes, if the infant has not been removed from the seat, text messages are sent to up to 10 people, including emergency responders. A heat-triggered material acts as the passive cooling system, absorbing heat from the environment to keep the baby cooler until help can arrive.

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The engineering students who designed this innovative child safety solution recently graduated, with another team taking over to fine tune aspects of the system over the next academic year. When the device does meet the mass market, it will likely cost around $150.

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