Texas Student Creates Device to Save Pets Trapped in Hot Vehicles
Photo: Charles Bassett

Sadly, many dogs are killed every year by being left in hot vehicles while their owners are shopping, getting their haircut, or running other errands. For some it is a simple mistake and other dog owners may not realize that it is too hot to leave their dog in the car. Either way, it’s a terrible tragedy that needs to be stopped. That’s why one Texas student is using technology to remind owners when they’ve left their dog in a hot vehicle.

Nancy Dominguez, a student at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), and some of her fellow students partnered with AT&T to create a device that may prevent these types of unfortunate events. The device they are working on will detect the presence of life in the vehicle when the temperature reaches a certain level.

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Although this issue is not terribly common, Dominguez’s hope is to create an app which communicates with the device so all pet owners could easily acquire this technology. She believes that too many dogs have been lost already and it is time that someone did something to prevent it from happening again.

Texas Student Creates Device to Save Pets Trapped in Hot Vehicles

Dominguez created the project during a summer program with AT&T. Her initial task was to develop a technology that someone could use in their daily life. She thought of many different options, including a dishwasher that helps homeowners put dishes and silverware away.

Then she decided that she wanted to do something that would solve a life-or-death issue. Once her team settled on the device that would alert pet owners when their dog was locked in a hot vehicle, it was up to Dominguez to develop the code and sensors that would make the technology functional.

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The concept is actually pretty simple. It works by placing a sensor in the vehicle that collects data about the air temperature in the car. It can determine whether it is too hot or too cold for a dog or even a child. Once the temperature reaches a certain point, an infrared sensor will engage to assess whether or not there is life in the car. The infrared sensor can tell if the dog or human in the vehicle is asleep as well.

If the device detects that the temperature in the car is too hot or cold and that there is life in the vehicle, it will call or send a text message to the vehicle-owners’ cell phone. If the owner doesn’t answer, it will make a call to local first responders. AT&T is working on making the technology available as an app for smartphones so consumers can have better access to it.