What’s the next step in child restraints? It’s been a while since we’ve seen true innovations. Even then, some advancements like LATCH were mandated by the government. Unfortunately, in the USA, we got a watered down version of the original rigid ISOFIX. Maybe the next big thing will be mandated by the parents and caregivers who want the safest for their kids!
I’ve always wanted an interchangeable child seat system that had a separate base with rigid LATCH and a high back (for anti-rebound and top tether) and maybe even a foot (for infant mode). Then, you could have plug in seat modules to fit the base. The infant seat module would have the benefit of anti-rebound and a foot to prevent rotation in a frontal crash. Otherwise, it would be pretty typical and fit strollers and such. The convertible would not only plug into the base, but it could rotate to switch from rear-facing to front-facing without having to fiddle with the base or installation. Then the booster would pop in and be fixed in place, too. Of course, this would probably be outrageously expensive, but we can always dream! Ford/Volvo had a concept along these lines many years ago, but it never came to market. Too bad!
The Graco Air booster has a mesh seat cushion. Perhaps you could have an entire seating surface like a Herman Miller office chair. This would not only be ideal for comfort and breathability, but it could also be energy absorbing!
Perhaps the next generation seat will move away from hard plastic shells with sharp edges. Combine that mesh seating system with a high tech and light weight aluminum or carbon graphite frame. Then, surround the frame elements in energy absorbing rubber or high density foam with no sharp edges that gouge seats or scrape the occupant in the next seat. Auto interiors are often made this way!
How about an inflatable seat? They make one of sorts for ambulances. Maybe a light weight and compact travel restraint could have a built in battery pump, like those in air mattresses. It could be made of reinforced kevlar or some very strong fabric that could be anchored to the LATCH or seatbelt system. This makes it inherently energy absorbing, both for the occupant of the child seat and for the passenger sitting next to it!
Maybe you want to encourage older kids to use boosters? Well, slap a set of small speakers in the side impact wings around the head. Then have an accessory iPod adapter with a plug in for the outlet that could also charge the iPod!
Speaking of encouraging Booster use, my daughter would love some celebrity fabrics. Hannah Montana, Cheetah Girls, you name it. For boys, how bout some pro sports covers?
So, what would you like to see come down the carseat pipeline?