New tech aims to solve an old and tragic problem: leaving infants in cars
Car sensor detects even the smallest movements, like a baby's heartbeat, and alerts the driver.
Imagine a baby being left in a hot car. Now imagine if the car was smart enough to turn on the air conditioning in such a situation.
Now, with the automation revolution upon us, there's a new way to save lives. And it's coming in the form of a new sensor, developed by a startup from Israel called Guardian Optical Technologies and debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month.
The tragic phenomenon known as hot car death, wherein young children are accidentally left in cars and suffer heatstroke, to about 37 children every year in the U.S. It's usually the result of a change in one or both parents' schedules, causing the driver to forget that the child is in the backseat. Scientists have studied this phenomenon and what happens to the brain when several competing factors emerge and throw us off our schedules, so that even something as vital as your own child can be forgotten.
The new car sensor uses a technology called optical motion analysis to detect even the smallest movements and sounds. From there, it can alert the driver, who is presumably out of the car. It can also automatically turn on the air conditioner to keep passengers from overheating. In addition to life-saving prevention measures like this, the sensor can also enable the car to alert others for help, by activating the horn or calling police.
Saving infants left in cars is just one of the many uses for the new technology. For example, using real-time analytic sensors in the car's dashboard, drivers can also be notified when they take their eyes off the road. Last month, Toyota made a multi-million dollar investment in the company.
The Israeli entrepreneurs behind the company hail from Harvard and Israel's Technion Institute and Tel Aviv University, among other universities. Gil Dotan, who holds a mechanical engineering degree, is the company's CEO. "There are many great sensors companies providing the automakers with eyes for understanding what is happening outside the vehicle," he said. "We're giving the automakers the ability to understand in depth the situation within the vehicle."
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