Car seats are not the most graceful of objects, but they are necessary. Wouldn't it be nice if car seats could smoosh down to fit into a backpack? If Volvo ever produces its inflatable child car seat concept, that could very well be the case.
Volvo filed for a patent for a rearward-facing inflatable child seat in 2012. The patent shares Volvo's reasoning behind the idea: "A child seat should be easy to install and remove and have a weight as low as possible, since the adjustment and movement of heavy objects in general in a passenger car is extremely awkward."
A video presentation on the concept just recently emerged to give us a better idea of how it might work. It shows a button at the base of the seat that, when pressed, causes the whole thing to collapse down into a packable form in just 40 seconds. Inflating it back up into full form would take the same amount of time.
According to Car Seat Blog, Lawrence Abele, design manager at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center, said, "Our idea was to create a child seat concept that would be convenient for anyone to use anytime and for it to be compact to be able store it in small spaces. Children will find it more comfortable as the main structure is filled with air, which serves as a better and softer cushion than the traditional plastic molded child seats."
Naturally, parents could be expected to have some concerns about this. The material of the seat would need to be puncture-proof and there would need to be safeguards to prevent accidental de-inflation of the seat. The seat probably won't be a real product anytime soon, but it does give a hint that perhaps there's a better way to deal with child seats than the current crop of chunky designs.