/ Motoring, Parenting

Is a Kevlar airbag on a child car seat a step too far?

The recent unveiling of the prototype Carkoon child car seat, which is made of Kevlar and uses an airbag to protect your baby in a crash, got me thinking. Is it worth spending time on innovations like this?

In an accident the Carkoon child car seat (which is estimated to cost £499) deploys a ‘Kevlar AirShield’, which cocoons the baby in a protective air pocket, where the material will resist fire for some time, hopefully until the emergency services arrive.

I definitely have no objection with children and babies getting the best protection possible – in fact it’s something I’ve been promoting for many years. And I have no qualms about technology being used to innovative new ways to reduce the numbers of casualties on the road, even if others might think it’s health and safety gone mad.

However, I do think its creators need to prove that the technology actually works, and that focusing on making it technologically advanced doesn’t create a potential hazard that conventional technology would have avoided.

One small step for man…

The Carkoon also got me thinking about the sources of new and innovative products. I’m a fan of innovation. It’s what I like about seemingly indulgent activities, such as space exploration. And it gives me an interest in the otherwise crazy world of Formula 1 racing.

And even though I’m not terribly interested in watching Formula 1 or going into space, I think these activities worthwhile for the simply fact that they inspire our technological limits to be pushed. This in turn creates a way forward for other industries, where there’s no natural desire (or budget), to develop great ideas.

For example, when I worked at a major car company as a design analyst back in the day, I was using computer systems originally developed by NASA for modelling space rockets. The same technology has allowed great advances in car safety too.

And everyone who uses a GPS device or mobile phone owes it all to those seemingly pointless space explorers.

One giant leap for car safety?

In the case of Carkoon’s child car seat, the Kevlar used in its design was originally developed as a lightweight high strength material, finding its first commercial application in F1 racing tyres.

Weight-for-weight, Kevlar is around five times stronger than steel and also has several other positive properties, such as fire resistance.

So, when you ask yourself whether space exploration or F1 races are worth it, my view is that they are. As long as the innovations they generate cascade down into more sensible everyday applications, like child car seats, we can all benefit.

And the Carkoon might be a giant leap in child car seat design, but even if it only makes a small step in improving car safety, it may be a step worth taking.

Jullian Powers says:
5 May 2012

The Carkoon is designed to be the worlds safest child car seat. Featured on the 2012 series ten of Dragons’ Den, Carkoon uses its innovation safety step AirShield to change the playing field and offer so many new child safety features that the choice for parents is undeniable. Available in 2013, investment opportunities are still available on the website.

I would love to see a safe child seat for bicycles. Everytime I see parents with rear seat or handlebar seats tearing down hills at 30mph+ I want to scream at them, as for those trolley affairs, which tow / push kids in a bucket seat, just one error from the cyclist or other road user and that child will be mashed.
This is not a car vs bike thing, I firmly believe that parents who subject their children to sitting behind them in a flimsy plastic seat, with the poor kids nose jammed against there backsides, and then weaving in and out of traffic, knowing the damage one small error will do to their children are just not thinking of the consequences.
Just where are Health & safety when we need them?

I remember one Mum who had 2 seats, one above the front wheel, one behind the saddle, this bicycle she conveyed her children to school through a very busy part of North London, she arrived at the school and the other mums gathered around with plaudits, ‘so clever’, ‘I wish I had one’ etc….
Until old big mouth [me] commented ‘what happens if you fall of while the kids are strapped in their seats, what protection do they have’…Answer silence, they had never even considered the dangers.

JessieMum says:
7 May 2012

This amazing car seat looks like it may be on BBC Dragons’ Den soon. The only problem there is that the dragons are not serious investors and only put cash up when they can pillage an unfair stake in the company and preferential shares. I hope the inventors do not subject such a great invention to unsophisticated and abusive jokers. I remember when the inventor of the original airbag went out trying to raise investment with a steering wheel on a stand and every time he demonstrated it the investors told him it looked too dangerous. Now there are 8-12 in every car on the planet. Well done to British innovation for this new car seat!

Russell says:
31 May 2014

Absolutely – Dragon’s Den is a rape of investors given all the advantages by the BBC. What they don’t show you is all the deals that break down afterwards, often caused by the dragons wanting to leverage the deal even further in their favour.

Almost all the Dragons Den people would have got better deals through crowd funding.

Caroline Edgar says:
6 September 2012

I write a blog for disabled parents as well I am a physically disabled parent, as is my husband. Our baby is very healthy thankfully. The Carkoon may seem all singing and dancing but for disabled parents it is a total godsend because it swivels on a base! Praise be, finally a car seat for newborn upwards that actually does this, up until now the only way physically disabled parents can easily get their child out and in a car seat independently was when the child reached nine months and could sit in a maxi cosi axis!

The Carkoon is costly but isn’t it worth every penny for a child to be safe and accessible to anyone who can not adopt a yoga pose to access their child?

I look forward to seeing this in store to give it a through test for ease of use! It looks good so far though and quite exciting.