So how does a key fob stop you from killing your kids? Does it inject you with valium? Emit sound waves that make your brain not mind having your expensive phone flung across a room? Not exactly, but this little device, developed by a warehouse employee, could actually save many kids' lives.
It's called Gabriel, and while the angel-inspired name and imagery are sort of cloying, the system is quite clever. It's designed to prevent death by heatstroke, which kills around 40 kids a year in the US, and around 20/year in Europe. It was developed as part of a contest Opel held, picking Kenny Devlieger's entry from 70 finalists.
The system has a few components: an under-car-seat pressure-sensitive mat that determines if the child seat is occupied, a thermometer integrated into the mat, and a key fob that communicates with the mat in the car. The key fob also has a clever design that makes it look like swaddled baby, in a very minimal but effective way.
When the mat detects the seat is occupied and the driver leaves the car, an initial warning sounds because, hey, you've left your freaking kid in the car. If the parent is somehow okay with that (there's some circumstances that fit, I suppose) then the fob and mat stay in constant communication about the temperature in the car. Once that temperature gets to 82°F/28°C, an alarm goes off, hopefully causing the parent to return to the car well before the kid gets heatstroke.
While a much better idea is to not leave your kid trapped alone in the damn car, the reality is this situation happens over and over again, and can end tragically. A simple temperature-monitoring system like this can go a long way to keeping kids from being cooked in cars.
Right now, the system is only available as an option on Opels, but if successful, it's easy to see this spreading to the rest of the GM lineup and beyond.