POSTED: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 8:00am
UPDATED: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 8:03am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Accidentally leaving a child or animal in a locked car on a hot and sunny day can be deadly.
When the windows are closed that vehicle becomes like a greenhouse and a pet or person can die of heatstroke.
It is a death that is entirely preventable. And this year seniors at Johns Hopkins University came up with a solution using of all things, a modified video game.
Anshul Mehra, Yejin Kim and a third mechanical engineering graduate developed the device by adapting an X-Box Kinect video game console.
They built a new brain for it, and designed an algorithm to tell it what *is* and *isn't* motion.
For testing the team used a small dog as a stand-in. The result? A "passive" device that can quickly "see" even a sleeping baby by detecting movement.
Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy backed the project.
"This one kind of spoke to me. It gave you the chance to stop family tragedies and things of that nature" said Mehra.
Statistics show that since 1998, 527 children in the U.S. have died of heatstroke after being left in a car. That's an average of 38 deaths a year, half of those were children inadvertently forgotten.
"In the majority of cases they just completely forget until that fatal moment when they remember and then it's too late." said Eileen McDonald of Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy.
Its not yet clear if the device will actually go into production and become available to consumers.