Lileks: An app that reminds you a baby's on board? Forget about it

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 14, 2012 - 9:18 PM

When you read that a Bemidji mother of four left her kids to broil in a car while she tried on swimsuits, you might think she thought, "Well, I have spares."

To most parents, this is inexplicable. I never left my kid in the car, even to run into the store to get a quart of milk, because I tend to buy half-gallons. Meteors could strike the vehicle and I would stand there, thinking how I passed on the meteor-proof package at the dealership, and never forgive myself.

A criminal could carjack your vehicle, and since he'd be stressed and panicky, he'd probably react poorly to a request to change the radio station because it's just people talking.

And so on. Maybe it's different when you have four kids milling around and screeching, but I was so wired to know where Toddler(TM) was every second of the day that leaving her alone in the car while I went into a building would have been the emotional equivalent of taking a plane trip and checking her as baggage.

But we all make mistakes, right? In this hectic, hurly-burly world, it's easy to forget that the offspring in whom you have invested your hopes and dreams is sitting in the back with that little grin that says, "Now that we're miles from home without a change of clothes I think I'll try for one of those off-trajectory Pampers payloads." You just forget! If only there was some way to remind you.

There is. Baby Reminder, a new app for the iPhone, reminds you that you have a baby. I am not kidding. I wish I was, because the underlying presumption is this: You might forget to leave your kid in your car, but you'll never forget your phone.

How does it work? Simple. You set the time you're usually in your car. It monitors if you're traveling, and if it appears you have stopped, it sends you an alert informing you that you reproduced recently, and are now in charge of another sentient being. Great! some think. Set it and forget it!

Well, the App Store page does say, "Baby Reminder application is not meant to reduce or replace your responsibility to your children," because the legal team probably said they'll get sued if they run out of battery power between car and store.

At least it's free. The Web page where I found out about the device says, "Please note that this is just one of many methods that you can use, and share with others, to not leave your child alone in your car." I think the best method you can use, and share with others, is NOT LEAVING YOUR CHILD ALONE IN THE CAR.

As long as we're crafting apps for life's little whoopsie moments, though, here are some other suggestions:

• GasOff?: When you're grilling steaks, sometimes you forget to turn off the propane, and you close the lid, let the gas build up, then light a smoke and open it up a day later. GasOff? constantly monitors your house using advanced satellite technology, and based on the presence of flames and widespread debris, lets you know whether or not you killed your fool self.

• GlugGlug: For the absent-minded fisherman, GlugGlug lets you know if you brought a life-preserver. When activated, it emits a constant high-pitched tone; upon sustained contact with the water -- because you fell overboard -- the tone ceases, alerting you to the fact that you are in the water.

• Wha' Happened? A fully-functional texting application, integrated with GPS and 3rd party text apps, Wha' Happened monitors MnDOT traffic cams, so if you end up in the ditch upside down because you were texting while doing 67 MPH, you'll be able to see how you got there. Free; a paid upgrade removes the ads, although they're mostly for rehab centers, so you might want to consider keeping them around.

• Is It Lit? Perfect for the 4th of July, Is It Lit? enables you to stand over the 60-shell brick of death you just ignited; by looking down through the camera, it will detect flaming objects headed up toward your head, and vibrate to indicate that the fireworks are indeed underway.

• Forget Me Knot. Very simple; it contains a database of easily-tied knots, so you can tie one of the strings to your baby's toe, and the other to your wrist. Never leave the car without your baby again!

Some people, of course, will use string long enough to go all the way in the store. Hope the app comes with a warning about that.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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