The Future of Child Car Safety Seats
How will driverless cars change the design of safe child seating and whilst we’re waiting how do we make sure that parents are understanding and using the products right.
So, this delightful photo is about as old as I am and according to others could be me but I know it’s not as I never coordinated that well with the inside of a car! But for all you car seat design aficionados you can now use your knowledge to guess my age from figuring out the date of this blued eyed smile.
The design of car safety seats for children has progressed exponentially in the last 50 years with today’s offerings being barely recognisable compared to the vintage design shown here. Insurance industry driven statistics have brought tighter and tighter regulation and the manufacturers have invested huge sums in getting the seats to meet the standards including working with the motor industry to standardise fixings.
But where to from here? The easy approach is to look at the details that interface directly with the parent and child and the patent databases are littered with alarms, child proof buckles and modular systems that grow with your child. But one problem worth solving is the complex and confusing world of regulations that has been created with good intent but, per Which Magazine, leaves large numbers of parents misinformed and with incorrectly fitted and dangerous seats. No matter how hard the designer works it is all for nothing if the seat is put in backwards or the belts are threaded through the wrong holes. There are plenty of simple mechanical systems that will prevent the seat being used at all unless it is correctly installed. The clever bit here is how to do it without complex electronics but I’m sure here at Apex we’ve got a solution for that. After all there is only one way to install a light bulb – it’s just a question of how many designers you need.
And then there is the whole future of driverless cars and the question of how that will affect seating arrangements inside the car not to mention the ethics of how the robot driver is going to decide who or what matters least i.e. do you swerve to avoid the child running after the ball into the street but hit a tree which then injures 3 people inside the car? That is going to be an interesting debate in the next decades.
Volvo’s recent patent application doesn’t show any sign of the car manufacturers moving towards integration of child seating safety in motor vehicles. They are looking at inflatable pillars inside the car to help support the seat in the event of impact instead of belts alone. The idea is admirable but I’m left wondering what other sophisticated products are in common use today that require the owner to go out and buy a complex product so it can be used safely with children. Not many.
The Apex view is that in the longer term with more freedom brought about by autonomous vehicles then a safe and inclusive fully integrate design from cradle to grave is the way to go. But whilst we wait for the intelligence of cars to rise there is plenty of progress to be made on ensuring correct use and installation of the products through good design.
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