There are dozens of products available to help us babyproof our homes - cabinet locks, plug protectors, knob covers, corner guards, safety gates - you name it. But up until now, there's really been nothing available to babysafe a hot car.
The "Backseat Baby Alarm" however does make it possible to do so and I have tried to make it affordable as well as effective. It’s just a back up safety net for that one time when we might be sleep deprived, distracted, or just letting our minds wander too much when driving with a child who's fallen fast asleep in the back and not making a sound.The price at this time is $19.
It works just like when you forget your keys in the ignition – a medium volume, 7 note music box melody plays when you get out of your car as a back up reminder. No loud sirens, no beeping horns, just a little audio "tap on the shoulder to remind you to "Take a look before you lock". Not that you will ever really need it but, just in case. It only goes off if you put a child in the backseat and automatically turns itself off when you open the back door to take the child out, going into sleep mode till the next time. Installation is basically "peel & stick". It works with any kind of car or mini-van.
I am now trying to conduct a large scale field test of my invention by parents of children 3 years and under who would be interested in purchasing and willing to act as field testers and provide feedback on their user experience. If this is something you would be interested in, please read the details that follow below.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Watch the video for full details but, in a nutshell,
Using magnetic reed sensors – the same thing used on doors and windows for home security systems – the alarm senses the opening of either of the back doors and the driver’s door. Whenever you open up the back door to put your child in, it senses that and it becomes armed and active, sounding a double “ping” confirmation tone to assure you the system is on. Subsequently when you open up your own door to get in, it senses that too and plays a medium volume, 4 second music box chime to confirm once again the system is on and working. At this point you have created a kind of security envelope. You can not exit the vehicle without this chime being triggered again and being reminded of your child in the back seat. It is only when you go back and open up the back door to take your child out does the alarm turn itself off, automatically going into sleep mode till the next time. When it does so, a voice message states, "The alarm in now off".
WON'T I BECOME USED TO THE SOUND?
Possibly, but on the other hand, our brains are trained by repetition. Every time you hear the Backseat Baby Alarm's unique music box melody, it will only be when you are with your baby in the car and that constant reinforcement of "music box sound" = "baby is in the backseat with me" will probably work powerfully to train your brain to automatically think "baby!" anytime you hear it. .
HOW ABOUT INSTALLATION, BATTERIES, ETC?
The device is stand alone. Installation is basically “peel & stick”. It works with any type of vehicle and uses 3 replaceable AA batteries. Everything is hard wired so there is no apps to download or radio transmitters and receivers to sync up. For the passenger side rear door, you simply lay the lead wire for the sensor under the carpet mats and at the hump, tuck it in under the rear edge of the center console so as to keep it out of the way. (I have a Toyota Camry and it was very easy to do, just used a kind of "flossing" motion).
WE USE BOTH DOORS TO GET OUR CHILD IN & OUT. CAN IT MONITOR BOTH ?
Yes, the new version of the device has 3 sensors now - one for the driver door and one for each of the back doors. However, note that when used with another passenger other than the infant riding in the backseat, it does require the driver to wait a few seconds and allow the other passenger to open their back door first before opening up their own door to get out themselves so that it turns itself off properly.
PRICING and PURCHASING?
$19 (during the field testing period) Shipping is a flat $3.00 for up to 2 units anywhere in the continental US to keep things simple. But, my primary aim here is not to rack up some arbitrary sales number but rather to conduct a large scale, real life field test so there are some requirements to be agreed to.
Right now I am gathering pre-sale orders so I know how many to order from my manufacturer as I can't order them one by one. At this point I think I need to get responses from at least 250 persons to spread out the costs. So at this point, I just need you to send me a note through the "Request Information" form to the right indicating you are interested in purchasing and how many units. Also, when you do write, please let me know if you have a 4 door car, a mini-van, or 2 door. (The 2 door cars include an extra piece)
Once I hit my goal, I will contact everyone who has expressed interest to reconfirm so you are really under no obligation until then.
UPDATE: As of mid-November, have pre-sale orders for about 165 units.
UPDATE: Regular price after the field test orders are concluded will be $29.99 for 1 unit and $54.99 for 2 units.
Please be aware of two requirements before ordering.
First, you will be required to agree to respond to 3 follow up questionnaires at 2 weeks, 1 month, and 2 months after you receive the unit. The questionnaire will be done through "surveymonkey.com" and consists of about 7 ~ 8 questions asking for feedback on your user experiences with the alarm. These results will be used to ascertain the alarm is working as designed and make any changes or improvements that come to light.
Second, my attorney of course insists I get you to sign a waiver basically saying you realize this is a beta version and you are purchasing knowing there might be unforeseen flaws with it and won't hold me responsible if it should fail in its performance. Regarding this, I have had 3 generations of final production prototypes built and tested with the last set including 6 modules.. All performed as designed with no problems and I do not have any reason to believe the units will fail or not perform as I demonstrated in the video or described above. However, that is the purpose of this real life field test - to make sure they perform as well in the lab as under real life conditions and use. No guarantees are given. However, I will manually test each unit before it's shipped out to you using a standard test pattern I used to test all the prototype units.
I live in Fort Mitchell, Ky just a few minutes outside of downtown Cincinnati with my two younger children of three. I am 51 years old. I grew up here then after college ended up living overseas for about 15 years mainly working in Japan. I came back to the US in 1996 and since them I have made a living as a real estate agent for Remax. I just mention these things in case you don't know me personally and want to verify I am real.
Needless to say I'm not some engineer or electronics expert. I guess I am what you call a "dining room table" inventor. But maybe that was a blessing in disguise. It forced me to come up with something that solved the problem using cheap, off the shelf stuff I could buy at Home Depot and my local hobby shop and making up for it with innovative design rather than over-engineering it and ending up with something that was just too expensive for the average parent as consumer to consider. Case in point is First Year's IAlert Car Seat. Their system calls your smart phone if you forget your child. The seat without the system is $170. With it is a mere $350. Hopefully you don't miss the call.
I was inspired to start working on my invention by my falling apart old car. The spring that retracted the driver's seat belt was broken so nearly every time I got out it dangled out the door and I ended up clanging my door on it and the door would not close. One night after coming home and it happened again for the umpteenth time, I thought to myself, "geez, I wouldn't mind it so much if it had some useful purpose" and for whatever reason the idea of something that would stop parents from closing their door until they got their child out of the back of the car popped into my head. Why? I don't know, it just did. It wasn't even hot - it was October.
That was about 3 years ago. Since then I have spent hours and hours sitting at my dining room table gluing, cutting, and building all kinds of different prototypes, studying patents, reading about these cases and the circumstances surrounding them to understand them, and sitting in my car checking and testing. I am sure my neighbors are suspicious of what the heck I am doing out there all the time. Oh well. I made my first prototypes using the sound modules I got out of talking greeting cards from Krogers. But finally it all came together this year with the help of my long retired but still sharp 90 year old father who is an electrical engineer and his cronies and I have what I believe is a very viable, affordable, and effective means to stop these accidents.
I truly believe it's a product that is going to make a difference. Please help me prove it.