Invention Narrative


We forget things all the times.  Where did I leave the keys?  Did I return the library books?  Did I pack the swim trunks?  Usually we just laugh at ourselves and blame it on old age, distractions, etc.  But sometimes it kills.  When we forget a child or a pet in our car on a warm day, death can occur very quickly.  And there’s no going back, no fixing that.  We’re left wondering how a simple thing like forgetfulness could have led to the death of a loved one…

And we’re also left wondering, how does a government like ours — one that steps into every aspect of our lives to set acceptable levels of lead, toxins, and even noise – how does such a government just let our children and our pets die like this?

Because they’re bureaucrats, not engineers.  They’ve been told that it’s just too hard or too costly to prevent these senseless deaths.  And they believed what they were told, but they were WRONG.  It’s easy, it’s painless, and it would even cost less than most of the other safety equipment on our cars today.

So how does such a system work?  Simple.  It detects a presence in the car (some manufacturers are already doing this for other purposes), and it determines if the car interior temperature is at a dangerous level (all new cars already measure internal temperature).  If there is a child or pet in the car and the temperature is, or is becoming, dangerous, the system alerts the car’s owner so they can immediately check the car and remove the child or pet before they are killed or injured (most new cars already include telematics, the ability to communicate via cellular or other wireless channels).

The system may also interact with the vehicle’s other basic systems to attempt to reduce the internal temperature.  For example, the system may turn on an AC fan (most new cars are already equipped with air-conditioning that operates selectively based on sensed temperature) or may open a window (almost all new cars have electric windows that are easily controlled electronically).

Ok, this sounds so simple, but is the devil in the details?  Not really.  As mentioned above, all the technology needed to prevent death by overheating is in existence, and indeed, many components of it have already been implemented by carmakers for other reasons.

Yes, we shouldn’t be so forgetful, but when we do forget – should it result in death?  Of course not, not when it’s so easy to prevent.  There are simply no financial or technical reasons to delay this solution any longer.  It’s low-cost, it’s easily doable, and it’s waiting to be done.

Phil Pippenger

Chief Technology Officer

Intellectual property law, with a focus on IP due diligence, patent procurement, patent evaluation, and IP litigation.

Mr. Pippenger has in-depth experience in many areas of technology including:

  • Green Technologies — fuel cell, wind and solar power generation and storage, hybrid power systems
  • Nanotechnology involving fullerenes and nanotube technology
  • Microfluidics
  • MEMS
  • Industrial process control devices
  • Cellular communications devices and systems
  • Solid state devices
  • Many other complex computing, electronic, and chemical technologies.



Cornell University Law School, J.D.,with honors, 1998

Caltech, B.S. in Electrical Engineering, 1992

Wesleyan University, B.A. in Physics, 1993

Rice University, M.S. in Electrical Engineering, 1995

Phillip M. Pippenger Law Professional


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