Pranavh Joshua Vallabhaneni and his family were preparing for a new addition — Pranavh's baby brother — and it got his inventive juices flowing.
"My parents were shopping for car seats and other baby products," said Pranavh, 15, who is entering his sophomore year at Unionville High School in Kennett Square, Pa. "I realized that there was a lot of emphasis on child safety."
He said during that same time, he kept hearing tragic stories regarding babies being left in hot cars.
"I started to think about why, and how to help prevent the issue," Pranavh said.
His brother, Jayden, is now 4, and Pranavh has worked tirelessly since before Jayden's birth to help prevent car deaths among young kids.
According to kidsandcars.org, more than 940 children have died in hot cars nationwide since 1990, including 53 in 2019.
"The most tragic part is that over 50% of hot-car child deaths have happened because of parents forgetting their children in cars," Pranavh said. "Forgetting can happen to anyone. I couldn't imagine a tragedy like this happening in my family."
So he began inventing and came up with the Baby Saver — Hot Car Alert Device.
"There was a lot of experimentation that took place to get to the finished model," he said.
The device sends different automated alerts to parents and local authorities when the temperature inside the car crosses certain thresholds.
At the first threshold, an alert will be sent to the parents' mobile devices. At the second threshold, a buzzer will sound in the car, drawing attention to the vehicle. At the third threshold, an alert will be sent to local authorities, providing GPS coordinates of the vehicle and letting them know of the potentially fatal condition inside of it.
The temperature thresholds are easily configurable in the software and can be adjusted based on geographic location, according to Pranavh.
He started developing the concept as a CYO (create your own) experiment in his science class and kept expanding upon it. Last month, his creation was lauded at the Invention Convention Worldwide, a global K-12 education program that teaches students problem-identification, problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and creativity skills.
This year more than 120,000 student inventors competed at local affiliate events. Pranavh was among 453 inventors who advanced to compete in the Invention Convention Nationals. He was among 63 students to receive awards during the 2020 Virtual Awards Ceremony on July 2: He scored first place among ninth grade competitors, and first place for the safety award.
"To get recognized is an honor," he said. "I am really grateful to have an opportunity to showcase my invention on a national level."
Invention Convention Worldwide is a program of the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation in Dearborn, Mich.
"Again, we are beyond impressed by the inventiveness and creativity of young inventors from throughout the country," said Lucie Howell, chief learning officer at the museum. "Pranavh is a shining example of what determination and innovative problem-solving can achieve, not to mention the importance of invention education. We are proud to support students like him during their invention process."
As for getting Pranavh getting his invention to the public, there's work to do.
"I am in the process of applying for a provisional patent and a regular patent application," said Pranavh, who plans to contact car manufacturers and home-security companies to implement the device on a larger scale. "I'm hoping for a commercial version of my invention that would be cost-effective, something a majority of parents and guardians would want to buy."
Until then, just getting this far with his idea has been a thrill for the young scientist.
"It is an amazing feeling, especially seeing how it grew from an idea to a full-blown invention," he said. "I hope (it) will save lives and make the world a better place."