Hackaday Prize Entry: Fochica Alerts You

It seems like no one should need to be reminded about the importance of not leaving children in cars, but it still happens. The Fochica project is a Hackaday Prize entry that equips the family minivan with car seat monitors—the name comes from FOrgotten CHild in Car Alert.

It’s an Open Source project consisting of a Bluetooth LE-equipped Arduino that monitors whether the seat is empty or occupied. Paired with a phone app, Fochica monitors pressure sensors and the seat belt’s reed switch to determine whether there’s a kid there. The user’s app checks whether he or she is within Bluetooth range of the car, while also checking whether the kid’s seat is occupied. When the first comes up false and the second true, an alert is sounded.

We could see this technology also being useful for home automation tasks–for instance, reminding you to close the garage door before you go to bed. It’s a great project, and also one of the finalists in the Best Product challenge of the Hackaday Prize this year.

8 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Fochica Alerts You

  1. I just heard the other day that the Feds have decided that occupancy monitors etc. are not reliable, and the only thing to do is add another nag-tone (5 of them) to the entire fleet. It will not know weather you are packing groceries or not, access to the rear in an allotted time and beeb beeb beeb beeb beeb! CW for drivers, CYA for the car makers.

  2. I hate the very idea that this is ever going to be needed. But I hope if it IS needed, that it’s in the car.
    You know what I’m saying?

    I guess it comes down to people stupid enough (or drunk enough, I’ve seen that happen) to leave children in a car are too stupid to have kids, but they do anyway.

      1. People are ridiculously bad at paying attention all the time, every time. Pilot training pays a lot of attention to this, and we have developed various methods of dealing with. It just takes a single error. Who hasn’t driven on a road, only to snap out of whatever you were in, realizing that the past few miles haven’t been consciously experienced.

    1. Research shows that the parents that leave children in the car are usually not drunk, nor terribly irresponsible. They generally are very average, normal and responsible parents. It turns out it often requires just a minor change in the everyday routine that prompts these tragedies. Often the problem is exacerbated by lack of sleep and exhaustion. We love to point fingers at parents that are obviously careless and reckless, but I don’t think there is a single parent that can claim not to be stuck in a rut, is never tired nor ever has bad nights. The somewhat horrific truth is that it could happen to any parent. But we like to tell ourselves that it could never happen to us. Of course not! We are better than that. Just like many of these parents thought, until they found their dead child in the car.

      Everyone thinks he’s right, until they’re proven wrong. In the case of parents that might be even more true, and sometimes even proof is not enough.

  3. Not the first project like this here on HaD and i probably said it before: If you need such a thing to not forget YOUR KIDS in your car (or elsewhere) you shouldn’t get kids. Forgetting stuff can happen, but forgetting kids…
    And i really hope such devices will not become mandatory some day, yet another electronic device inside a car. There already is waaaayyy to much electronic in modern cars, with a lot of problems (reliability, massive costs to replace a simple thing, usability (how can this thing or the device telling somebody to fasten his belt distinguish between a human and some other stuff? and so on), weight and also – and that is generally speaking a massive problem – privacy and security. Stop this. Some electronics are REALLY useful inside car (like anti-lock braking system), but a lot of stuff is stupid and/or unneeded and/or problematic. Some electronics is really useful to ease the live of people, but even with tons of devices you can’t fix stupidity or the non-willingness to think (or the non-willingness to pause for a moment before leaving your car and think about if you have kids inside…).

  4. I know that if something like this happens It will be very very hard on the parents. BUT This is really something that can not be forgiven. There needs to be more of a penalty for them. What it should be is not for me to decide but as messed up as the courts are they should make the penalty a lot more. I am a parent And I know there is going to be a backlash but I have never ever forgotten any of my lovely little children in my van or car. Never Never have I even come close.
    Driving requires a great amount of concentration and part of that is to make sure you know what your passengers are doing and location.
    I’m sorry to some, but for the life of me I just cant fathom this happening so often.
    It is so so sad.
    Now If this is required well it is sad. That said I guess things like this are needed for the lower human life forms in the world
    But would it not be easier just to tie a string on to the child’s rist or to the backdoor handle to your rist.

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