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Car and Driver: There’s an App for That: At CES, the Self-Installing Car Seat

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4moms Self-Installing Car Seat

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Amidst a sea of app-assisted everything at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, one connected device stood out as truly useful for drivers—at least those with kids. The 4moms Self-Installing Car Seat aims to take some of the guesswork out of the often-frustrating installation. That’s a big deal because as many as four out of five car seats are installed incorrectly, according to an April 2012 study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. 4moms’ smart car seat, designed for infants up to 30 pounds, uses electronic sensors and motors to automatically level the seat and tension the LATCH straps.

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While the car seat works without an app, using a phone makes the installation even easier. By reading the VIN barcode found on a vehicle’s doorjamb, the app can recommend the best location for the seat and where to find the LATCH anchors. The seat can also recognize if the vehicle is parked on a grade by temporarily placing a paired phone on the floor. With the seat base clipped to the LATCH anchors, electric motors then level the platform and tension the straps. 4moms targets a tension between 15 and 20 pounds, just above the minimum recommendation of 12 to 15 pounds. Finally, after the driver clips the child carrier into the base, the system verifies that the installation is correct. The base continuously monitors its positioning, the tension in the straps, and that the carrier is securely clipped in and alerts the driver if something is amiss. The driver takes responsibility for installing the child in the seat, as there are no sensors to verify that the infant is properly buckled.

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infant_car_seat_side

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For now, the smart child seat works best with an iPhone. 4moms’ Android app is currently only compatible with select Samsung phones running older versions of the operating system. The seat base is powered by eight D cell batteries, which are meant to last until the infant outgrows the seat. If the batteries expire early or if the seat is reused for a second child, the batteries can be replaced. The 4moms Self-Installing Car Seat goes on sale in June for $499.

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2016 Consumer Electronics Show

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lazy much?

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