Nasa forums

Help Support forums:

Jan 10, 2007
Reaction score
Has made something for parents, grandparent, child care workers, family members and friends that "forget" that innocent babies are in the car while it is hot outside and the poor child ends up dying or very sick:

You'd hardly think that a massive Boeing 757 jet has much in common with a child's safety car seat, but one small aspect of a 757's safety system has been developed into a special safeguard for the family car.

Three engineers at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia have invented the Child Presence Sensor to alert parents who leave their babies or children in vehicles. A sensor in the car seat sends a signal to a receiver attached to the driver's key ring. If the driver walks too far away from the car without removing the baby, the signal is lost, and that sets off an alarm. The sensor is activated when weight is put in the car seat (when the baby is strapped in) and is deactivated when the weight is removed (when the baby is removed from the seat).

What does any of this have to do with a 757 jet? A wireless data link had been developed for the research plane to monitor environmental effects acting on the aircraft. The sensor is mounted in the main landing gear to sense these changes, and it then beams the signal to the cockpit's receiver system. Langley inventors adapted the self-contained radio frequency technology from the 757 project and combined it with a highly sensitive switch technology to create an inexpensive device that could help parents.

A reminder to take the baby along is helpful to parents who may have too much on their minds, be preoccupied, or just plain forgetful. They may forget they've left their child in the car seat, or they may leave a sleeping child in the car seat while they run an errand or two. This leaves children vulnerable to a number of risks. Hot temperatures in the car can cause suffocation in a matter of minutes; children playing could inadvertently put the car into gear and cause it to roll away; or, an intruder could abduct the child. Hearing the alert signal will remind parents who may have thought they'd be gone for "only a minute" that their children are counting on them to be their constant caregivers. The sensor has the potential to save lives and prevent accidents as well as heartache.

The sensor switch triggers immediately when a child is placed in the seat, and deactivates when the child is removed. The switch has a large activation area with a sensitivity of about 226 grams (8 ounces). It can also "learn" to accommodate more than one sensor; if a car has several car seats, they can all beam their signals to one key-chain receiver. Additionally, there is encoding technology built in that will prevent "cross talk" between other cars that may also be equipped with sensors. The Child Presence Sensor driver alarm is designed to hang on the driver's key ring. It sounds 10 warning beeps if the driver moves a predetermined distance away from the vehicle. If the driver doesn't return to the vehicle within 1 minute, the alarm will beep continuously and cannot be turned off until the child safety seat is reset.

The Child Presence Sensor is not yet available in stores, but when marketed by a commercial company, it should cost about $25. Because it's an add-on feature that can be used in any vehicle, all drivers, regardless of the type of car they drive, can use the sensor.

This is not the first time that Aerospace technology has benefited the younger members of society. Ultra-absorbent disposable diapers are an adaptation of gear worn by astronauts while in space; thermometers that take a child's temperature by ear and transmitters that monitor an unborn baby's recovery from intrauterine surgery are other examples of NASA technology in use on Earth by our youngest citizens.

NASAexplores - Express Lessons and Online Resources

Jan 14, 2007
Reaction score
This is a great product, I'm sure it will save lives when it's available. I don't judge parents who have left their kids unknowingly in their cars, because sometimes we think some things are just plain absurd but we never know when it can happen to us. There have been some cases where I live, in most of them the parent driving with the kid in the car was out of routine and, mechanical creatures we sometimes are, forget they have the kid in the car. It is very sad.


Latest posts