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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Project 10 to the 100th

Ten years ago a little search engine was launched. Until that point there were around fifteen search engines already handling the inquires of would be web surfers. Web directories like Yahoo were on top of the pile, but when Google hit the scene, all that changed. It was a simple concept that provided useful results. Now, Google is a monster with total assets in upwards of $25 billion.

For its tenth anniversary, it’s using its charitable arm at to reach out to the community that made it great. One such project is 10 to the 100th. The concept is a contest of sorts. Come up with an idea that would help the most people. Submissions were taken until October 2009. The five winning finalists based on votes from a panel of judges and the public wins up to $10 million to make their idea a reality. A selection of Google employees will review all the ideas submitted and select 100 for public consideration. The 100 top ideas will be announced on January 27, 2009, at which point we will invite the public to select twenty semi-finalists. An advisory board will then choose up to five final ideas for funding and implementation. We plan to announce these winners in early February.

So, I’ve grabbed the torch and submitted my own idea. I did some searching….on Google, of course, to find out if this idea has already been realized. I’m constantly thinking of ideas and my train of thought is that “If I can think of it, someone probably already has.” But in my surfing of the web I could not find the exact idea and application of such anywhere. There are similar products but nothing specifically geared towards this concept. Now, I’m not one to really pimp or solicit my projects or products for financial gain, but I do ask that if you could just take the time to read my drivel and decide for yourself. You can even put in your email address to be reminded when to vote.

With that in mind, I give you my idea for Google’s Project 10 to the 100th. If you would like to vote for me, Click Here. (THIS LINK WILL BE PROVIDED ON JANUARY 27TH.)

The Idea: Forget Me Not
I know, it sounds corny, but I didn’t have a lot of free time to test out ideas for names. Ultimately, it could probably be changed.

The Concept: Car Seat Safety Alarm
My wife always says that I’d forget my head if it wasn’t up my ass. I have a tendency to forget things. Now that I am a parent, any extra assurance in well being of my child is worth any price. I know I always talk about how I am going to be different than most parents by not putting a lot of safeguards up like outlet covers and actually watch my child when she’s roaming around the house free but the car seat is something I take extra care in being aware of at all times. It’s a lot easier now, because she’s a toddler and doesn’t sleep a lot in the car but any extra long trips may result in her taking a nap in the back seat. I would never forgive myself or expect to be forgiven if anything ever happened to her as a result of my absent mindedness. Even if it was just an accident.

Sometimes careful, intelligent, and good natured people become forgetful. We’ve become a society of on-the-go, multitasking individuals and once in awhile we can forget the precious cargo we carry. Too many stories detail the death of a child left in a car while the parent goes into a store or place of business. Often, the act is purely by accident. I try to always be aware of my child’s location. While my wife is usually a backup set of eyes and ears, there are times when I have to go it alone. With the Forget Me Not device, everyone would have a second set of eyes and ears alerting them if they become forgetful.

The Device: Key Chain Transmitter and Receiver
The device can hang on a key chain and separate into two parts. The Receiver continues to hang on the key chain while The Transmitter can clip to the baby’s clothes, toys, or car seat. If the driver exits the car and travels more than a pre determined safe distance from the transmitter it flashes, vibrates, and alarms, alerting the driver that they’ve forgotten something important. The design can be simple and cute. The transmitter and receiver can look like anything, perhaps even a representation of a parent holding a child when the transmitter (child) is connected to the receiver (parent) on the key chain.

The Impact: Redundancy Perpetuates Responsibility
Initially, the device is intended to alert drivers of a child left behind. While we cannot guard against individuals who misuse or do not utilize the device, the same can be said for seat belts. This is a backup measure for anyone who becomes absent minded. Ideally, Forget Me Not could be packaged with car seats and offered in hospitals as a part of a new mother discharge care package. Most hospitals offer assistance installing car seats and this can added to that service. If the device can save one child, I feel it is worth any investment in its design and implementation. Packaged mailers can develop a user base. Websites and blogs can track progress and allow for comments and future enhancements. Beyond the initial offering, applications can include pets, keys, wallets, and other items you may misplace.

The Development: Statistics and Measurables
Research into statistics of car seat deaths to establish a frequency would be needed. Why did it happen? What could have prevented it? Design and testing of the electronic components in regards to actual distance, battery life, reliability, and awareness of alert would need to be conducted. Sourcing of materials and vendors needs to be researched. Marketing research of designs and consumer acceptance of function, aesthetics, and ease of use needs conducted.

The Outcome: Awareness, Acceptance, Automation
Acceptance of the device on a global scale would be optimal. I also hope that there would be an increased awareness in driver and car seat safety. Besides just being a device that reminds you that your child is still in a car, there can be a change in behavior. Habits can be formed and made automatic. Surveys and mailers packaged with the device can develop a customer base. Websites and blogs can track progress, allow for comments and sharing of experiences, hopes, fears. This could spark future enhancements and other markets that could be targeted. Beyond the initial offering, future applications can include pets, keys, wallets, and other items you may leave anywhere.

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