Former NFL cheerleader turned engineer designs gadget aimed to prevent kids from dying in hot cars

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A former cheerleader turned mom has led an Intel design team to create an innovative device to warn parents if they have left their child in a hot car.

Dozens of children die every year in the U.S. from a heat stroke after being left in vehicles. In 2015 alone, there were 18 reported incidents of a child dying from being left in a hot vehicle, KidsAndCars.org reports.

More than half of these deaths are a result of caregivers forgetting the child was left in the backseat.

Thirty-four-year-old Marcie Miller of Chandler, AZ., has designed the Intel Smart Clip in an effort to prevent these deaths.

Miller told Today Parenting that her own family life has been inspiration for her work. “Having a daughter over this past year, having heard these things happen, it just kind of hit home a little bit closer.”

Growing up in Arizona, Miller excelled in math, science and athletics and pursued her electrical engineering degree at Arizona State University, where she also joined the school’s cheerleading squad.  When she was 23-years-old, she began working for Intel, but still missed her life as a cheerleader.

In 2007, she joined the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL as a professional cheerleader, while still working as an engineer for Intel.

“It didn’t feel like two different lives at all. It was just my life; it was things I was passionate about,” Miller said. “It gave me a nice balance between my work friends in a more male-dominated industry and then just a group of really passionate, hard-working women.”

In 2010, Miller put her pompoms away and focused on being a new mother to her daughter Brooklyn.

But last fall, Miller faced with her next challenge when Intel asked her to come up with possible solutions that would prevent accidental child deaths in vehicles.

With a team of engineers, the prototype for Smart Clip was designed. Miller asked friends who recently had babies to to act as a focus group for the Smart Clip, which received positive feedback.

The Bluetooth-enabled device operates like a safety buckle. It is made up of sensors that can be attached to their child’s carseat. The clip also connects to a smartphone app and sounds an alarm if it senses the Smart Clip has fallen out of range with the smartphone, preventing a forgotten child from being left behind.

The Smart Clip is reported to be available this holiday season, for under $50.

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