Darren at DorelI sit here in the Dorel exhibit, waiting for the start of the press conference.  I’m in an air filled cozy chair with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and live blogging wirelessly.  It just doesn’t get any better than this!  Please refresh your page to get the latest updates from the Dorel Air Protect press conference.  There will be some new product notes and photos coming, too!

Lorrie Walker from Safe Kids USA is discussing the importance of side impact protection.  There is an emphasis on putting kids in the back seat and in a restraint that is appropriate for their age and weight.  She is also stressing clear instructions and labels for ease of use and improved LATCH system hardware for ease of installation.  Finally, she advocates color coding manual and label information to distinguish the various modes of installation.

Janet Brelin-Fronari from Kettering University is showing videos of crash footage, showing typical crushing of vehicles and the physics of a frontal crash, with the passenger compartment remaining well protected.  In comparison, a federal side impact test video shows the serious nature of a 33 mph side impact with the door structure intruding into the occupant space.  At the moment of impact, the occupant moves toward the impact with the door moving in toward the occupant.  Kettering and Dorel have a crash test method that emphasizes the necessary protection from door intrusion.  They simulate the same crash energy on a crash test sled with a simulated door striking the child seat.

David Amirault from Dorel is discussing how the two chamber Air Protect cushion will help dissipate the energy.  A strong punch to the cushion showed how well it helped his hand from being injured, as it would have been if he had hit the table instead.  He followed up with side-by-side video of Air Protect vs. no Air Protect.  It showed a reduction in peak forces in the neck by up to 30%.

In the Q&A session, someone asked how the Complete Air varies from other competitive products with side impact protection.  Dorel said their crash test methodology is the only one that simulates door intrusion on their test sled.

Dorel will soon release the Safety 1st Complete Air LX, coming in the 4th quarter of 2009.  It is very similar to the standard Complete Air, but has a recline feature that allows for a greater recline angle for newborns and infants.  The lack of recline was one of our complaints, so it’s great to see this improvement.

Safety 1st Complete Air LX

Also coming soon is the Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air, coming in the 1st quarter of 2010.  It’s a sharp infant seat that has the Air Protect feature that extends a good length of head area to cover small infants and larger babies.  It also has a wide range of adjustments for the harness straps (4 slots, 5″ to 11″) and crotch strap (3 slots with adjustable length).  The base has a nice lockoff system and a very nice recline foot.  Plus, the depth is greater than average allowing for more legroom for older babies.

Safety 1st OnBoard 35 Air

It was also implied that other Air Protect seats will be forthcoming soon, including a booster seat product.

Also, as many of you know already, Safety 1st will now be marketing the Go Hybrid Booster (formerly from SafeGuard).  It will debut next month in October.  It is essentially unchanged, with the exception of new fabrics and minor padding changes.

That’s it from the “Live” Blog!  We’ll fill in the gaps with more photos and videos later today or later this week!