'Smart car seat' a solution to hot car deaths? - FOX 13 News

'Smart car seat' a solution to hot car deaths?

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

A new high-tech fix hopes to prevent children from dying in hot cars – a story making headlines again this summer.

Despite warning after warning, 17 children have already died this year in the U.S. The yearly average is 38. Compared to the rest of the country, Texas and Florida have far outpaced the rest of the country over the past several years.

It's a story that Kristie Cavaliero knows all too well. In 2011, her 1-year-old daughter Ray Ray slowly suffered, strapped in her car seat blistering in 90-degree heat for three hours.

"Even if it's 70 degrees outside, it can be 110 degrees inside the car," she said.

Late to work, Ray Ray's doting dad went on autopilot and forgot to drop her off at daycare. She never made it out alive.

"He lives in his own personal Hell nearly every minute of every day. And that's worse punishment than jail time, a fine, or community service,"' Cavaliero said.

On the engineering floor at Rice University, students believe their "smart" seat shouldn't be dismissed. They've come up with a monitoring device that connects to the child's car seat.

"It's an accessory you can put on any car seat, and it's able to alert the parent that they've left their baby in the car," said Margaret Dieudonne, a Rice University student is working on the project.

The device is made up of a system of sensors built to fit underneath the cloth lining of a child's car seat. Those sensors connect to as many phone numbers as a parent chooses.

"When our device detects the car has stopped for more than three minutes, the user will get a text saying they've forgotten their kid in the car," said Meng Wei Ni.

Lights also flash to get the attention of anyone passing by. A built in cooling system is designed to keep the child's temperature down until help arrives.

"A lot of the previous devices were difficult for users to use, and we think because our device is portable and able to place on different car seats and is easy for users to install and use, we think it will be a very easily accessed product," Wei Ni said.

They hope it will eventually become a standard feature in all car seats.

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