July 5th, 2020

Local woman named award finalist for work on baby-monitoring car seat

By GILLIAN SLADE on August 16, 2019.


A local resident is a finalist for a Capstone Award for technology innovation with a practical application that could save lives.

Jennifer Pettem, biomedical engineering technologist, and colleagues Rachael Beaudette and Emer Burke, who were Northern Alberta Institute of Technology students at the time, designed a car seat for children that monitors their well being and sounds an alarm when the child is at risk.

Pettem says Burke had a baby during her time at NAIT and was particularly aware of tragic situations where a child had been left in a vehicle – sometimes inadvertently – with drastic consequences.

The Guardian Angel Car Seat System continuously monitors the child to prevent serious harm or injury. The seat’s technology connects with an Android app through Bluetooth to monitor the child’s body temperature, proximity to caregiver and air temperature around the car seat. When parameters are exceeded an audible alarm is triggered and a text message is generated.

Pettem says the technology addresses the air around the car seat. Even with a caregiver in the vehicle, if the car seat was exposed to sun and was getting hotter the alarm would be triggered.

If one parent was supposed to drop off the child at daycare but inadvertently forgot and went to work, there would be a signal because of the distance the caregiver is from the child.

“It has proximity built into it as well,” said Pettem. “There is an infrared sensor built into the headrest of the car seat that measures the baby’s temperature.”

Since 2017, ASET – an association of science and technology professionals – has been presenting Capstone Awards to recognize the best innovation from students in the field.

CEO Barry Cavanaugh says there are many submissions for the awards each year. The Guardian Angel Care Seat System stood out not only for technology innovation but the practical application.

“We were impressed with its timeliness and with its social utility … meant to provide value to people,” said Cavanaugh. Capstone Awards are about recognition and also about exposure.

“I don’t think these young people can afford to get this to market, to get it patented and so on. Somebody needs to get in there and help them do it because it’s almost an act of genius that they’ve done this,” said Cavanaugh.

Pettem says they looked into patenting but at the time they did not have the resources to follow through.

“We would like to see it get out there,” said Pettem.

This technology is not expected to add significantly to the cost of buying a child’s car seat, she said.

“With the technology that we use it would not cost too much more than what the actual car seat would be,” said Pettem, who currently works as a bio technologist at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital.

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