AT&T Foundry: Car temperature alert system aims to save lives
From smart trash cans and fridges to under-seat Wi-Fi technologies in large stadiums, the AT&T Foundry in Plano, Texas, is focused on expanding the reach of the “Internet of Things.” But some of the projects have greater implications than making sure you’re connected to your appliances and devices.
One of the projects could save lives.
Foundry engineers are working on an alert system that tells you when your vehicle’s temperature becomes dangerous for people and pets.
The project was initially started by an intern from The University of Texas at Dallas when she saw a rash of injuries and deaths of children and pets in overheated vehicles frequently in the news.
The technology works by first using motion and ultrasonic distance sensors to tell when a child, pet or elderly person is in the vehicle. Once it determines there is an inhabitant, a temperature sensor is used to detect if the ambient temperature is too hot or cold for an extended period of time. If it does detect danger, it sends a text message to a caretaker, or if conditions are bad enough, it will alert 911 with the vehicle’s location and description.
It also has an accelerometer that tells the device whether the car is moving to make sure that it doesn’t alert authorities if the vehicle is traveling through an intense temperature environment.
But while the device is functional, engineers admit the project is still in the early stages.
Developing a sustainable power source is the next issue that needs to be addressed. For demo purposes, the device was powered off a landline. Developers know this must change in order for the technology to be useful to consumers.
AT&T Foundry innovation coach, Mike Albrecht, says the goal for future iterations is to build a battery and solar charger and figure out the best way to mount the device.