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How to baby-proof a disaster zone

One submission to the 2009 Samsonite Baby Travel Design Competition may have been too radical to win, but deserves honorable mention with its air purification and waste sequestration systems.

When Samsonite released design guidelines for its second annual Baby Travel Design Competition earlier this year, it suggested the following categories: transport, sleeping, safety, feeding, playing, bathing, and changing.

The Smart Baby Case includes air purification and waste sequestration systems. Pouyan Mokhtarani

Last year's winners ranged from carriers and strollers to a sleeping bag and floating humidifier. Samsonite recently announced its eight winners out of the almost 1,700 entries submitted from 78 countries in 2009, including a bassinette, all-in-one bag, and baby air seat. Notably absent was one entrant: a disaster-ready pod out of Iran that manages to be both brilliant and bizarre.

First, the specs. As noted via the designer's comments on Yanko Design under the headline, "Keep that Baby Swaddled," the Smart Baby Case comes equipped with a removable door to protect the infant's lungs in the event of disaster conditions such as air pollution or chemical warfare. The safety doors even shut automatically when air pressure is too low.

Then there is the communication unit and LED screen, enabling parents and babies to affectionately exchange gazes and noises without ever having to exchange germs. The LED screen continuously monitors air quality inside the pod via an orange light.

Within the pod is an auto-rocking unit, so you can rock your baby to sleep without ever having to actually rock your baby to sleep. There is even an auto diaper around the bottom of the baby seat that is sensitive to moisture, flushing away waste through tubes to a waste storage unit at the front of the case. (Unfortunately no button magically cleans and changes said unit for you.)

But that's not all. Padding made of soft, flexible material supports the baby's body, with liquid-filled padding around that delicate skull, so that your uniquely shaped infant will be both comfortable and protected at all times.

And finally, the Smart Baby Case can be powered by outlets or rechargeable batteries. Frankly I'm a bit disappointed by the lack of photovoltaics, but perhaps that is for version 2.0.

Imagining such a device in a war-torn or hazard area is as bizarre as it is exciting. And seeing such a device in an environment that is not a danger zone might be a great indicator of parental neurosis. In any event, Iranian designer Pouyan Mokhtarani, whose product list includes a gun muzzle and tables inspired by such things as tree fungus, pronounces his excitement for his Smart Baby Case with lots of punctuation marks:

So you've got a new baby, right? What are you going to do?! I don't know! You might be in trouble! But you've got to buckle down. You're a parent now. You'd better put that child in a buggy. You'd better put that baby in the "Smart Baby Case." It's kind of like a Matrix robot nanny pod sort of thing. It's got several doors!

Mokhtarani goes on to clear up the misunderstanding that such a pod was designed to be a device throughout a child's entire development: "It is just a device which can provide a safe and healthy condition during 2 or 3 hours while you can't change your baby or staying in some poor facilities or places during a trip or airport."

Unfortunately, the Smart Baby Case is just a prototype.