Henry Thorne had already made life easier for parents when he co-founded the Pittsburgh-based 4moms, a business that uses robotics and advanced engineering to create parenting products such as strollers and play yards. Now, he’s poised to revolutionize safety for infants and toddlers riding in cars with his latest company, Safest Seats LLC.
Thorne’s new creations give parents the ability to attach car seats more securely to their cars, providing impact protection more in line with the adult protection that often relies heavily on crumple zones.
According to Thorne, his technique will give the child two to three times the protection they’d receive from any type of car seat available now, based on HIC (head injury criteria) — the same criteria that is used to measure concussions and compare sports helmets.
HIC, which is relied on by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to evaluate head injury risk, uses an injury scale of six levels of severity ranging from minor to currently untreatable. Thorne predicts his techniques and product will help children in car accidents by moving them down the HIC scale when car impact happens, thus revolutionizing car seat safety.
By separating the missions of 4moms and Safest Seats, Thorne can concentrate on the sole task of making child travel safer. Meanwhile, 4moms has exited the out-of-home market, and is concentrating on in-home devices.
4moms had previously invested an undisclosed large sum of money into car seat development. Thorne believes the company wasn’t successful at penetrating that market because the product was too expensive. With Safest Seats, he expects to enter the market with his new device at one-third the price of similar products, in part because the robotic base of the 4moms offering was three times more expensive than his new design.
Still in the design phase, Thorne is currently staffing his Safest Seat team with only two people. They are based in the 4moms building on Fort Duquesne Boulevard in Downtown Pittsburgh.