When you’ve been in the biz for a while your email address becomes the destination for daily press releases. It’s a slow day if I only get six releases about sales numbers, five about a new paint color on a car nobody cares about and something from BMW bragging about German superiority. But today a press release caught my eye. No, it wasn’t about a new car, a new hybrid technology or a new photo of a Weiner running for mayor, it was a about a car seat. Have I been corrupted? Am I now going to copy/paste the press release on TTAC?
The reason the Tomy IAlert caught my eye is that this has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard of. Seriously folks. A “smartphone connected child seat?” What’s next? A smartphone connected wet fart?
Aside from the concept being asinine, the YouTube video is worse. I’m not going to bother posting a link because that would somehow be supporting the sheer madness. If you care, google. In the video, the dad pops the seat into a minivan (of course) and then has to refer to the smartphone app for installation instructions. Seriously, I don’t have kids and I know how to install a car seat properly. I read the instructions once with my friends and had no problems popping that bad boy into my car when I needed to take my godson somewhere. Yes I know LATCH anchors are a bit more involved than car seats of the 1980s, but I want to meet the parent who needs to refer to an app every time. So I can send them to be sterilized. We don’t need those genes in the pool folks.
Yes, the seat has a fancy digital level so you can tell if the thing is at the right angle. Guess what? Most rear facing seats have a level indicator as well. It’s a metal ball in a little plastic raceway and it doesn’t involve Bluetooth pairing or batteries to charge/replace. The “old” seat is also faster; this dad has to pause, take out his phone, unlock it, start the app, wait for it to sync with the seat and then adjust. Meanwhile the guy with the “dumb” seat is already at the park.
But wait! It gets worse! The app will also tell you if your kiddo is strapped in. The video shows mom driving the van, glancing down to check the app. Where do I even begin? Instead of looking at the app, how about paying attention so you don’t get in an at-fault accident? Should your progeny unbuckle themselves, the app will test message and/or email your family. Why? I have no idea. So they can track you down? Shame you the next time you show your head?
If none of these features seemed strange to you, here’s something fun. They claim that 33 kids died of heatstroke in hot cars last year. To combat this problem, they didn’t put a huge sticker on the seat saying “don’t leave your kid in a black car in the Phoenix sun,” they integrated temperature monitoring so you know when your kid is fully cooked. Yet again the video shows the driver glancing DOWN at the smartphone on the passenger seat to check the temperature of the car seat. While in motion. Hello, you’re in the same car, just do what every other mom does: reach back and use your hand to see if its hot back there. Making this feature all the more insane is the fact that the app appears to communicate over Bluetooth. If you leave your kid in the car and expect a short-range data protocol to relay temperature information to isle 23 at the WalMart, you get what you have coming.
If you have cash to burn Amazon will happily sell you one for 350 smackers.