Monday, March 30, 2009

A useful application for a useless feature

Three years ago, the Answer to a Question Nobody Asked award undoubtedly went to Volvo, for the heartbeat sensor feature on its Personal Car Communicator key fob. Supposedly it tells you if there's someone lurking inside the car waiting to attack you. Really, Volvo? If I had a dime for every person that's happened to, well, I'd probably have around 10 cents (unless the Volvo engineer who thought of the feature was not actually working from a perspective of experience). 

Well, the perfect application for this technology has revealed itself. I'm sure I'm not the first to think of this, but I just read an article in the Washington Post Magazine about child deaths due to being accidentally left inside a sweltering car. Apparently it happens 15 to 25 times per year. The main thrust of the article is how it can happen to anyone, and has befallen parents from all walks of life. 

But there is also a brief discussion of safety features that have been developed to combat this sort of thing. The article mentions seat weight sensors, which I'm sure work fine, but if Volvo already has this heartbeat technology in its cars, it should be marketed for this purpose, and proliferated throughout its lineup. 

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