The story behind babyark Revolutions don’t happen very often, and when they do, it’s because something just wasn’t working anymore. When it came to the convertible car seat, most saw no reason for a revolution. As a result, it remained largely unchanged for over 3 decades. Some might say if it’s not broken why fix it, but that’s just because no one had taken a closer look. Until Shy Mindel, an accomplished engineer who had pioneered a highly innovative steel coil impact absorbing system for the military, became a fresh father. Naturally, he started looking at car seats for his newborn. Quickly, the engineer in him started looking a bit deeper. He realized that most seats weren’t really built for real protection; they were made out of plastic and had only basic foam and padding to soften the blow of impact. And most importantly, they didn’t have anything even close to the steel coil system he had already built for armoured vehicles that had already proven their ability to limit the exposure to impact. This system would become the basis of the SafeCoil ™ impact-absorbing mechanism, that would eventually make the babyark the new benchmark in safety Shy knew he could figure out the engineering to recalibrate the system for a baby’s changing weight. He now needed a designer. Meet Frank Most people wouldn’t intuitively make Frank Stephenson their first pick for designing what they hoped would become the safest car seat ever built. As lead designer at BMW, MINI, Ferrari, Maserati and McLaren, Frank had created some of the world’s fastest and most elegant vehicles, and built his reputation for designing for performance and speed. The challenge of designing for ultimate performance safety would prove too hard to resist. Shy knew he had found his man even before meeting him. 5 years of close collaboration between them proved they both made the right choice. Nature knows best Both Shy and Frank believe that nature can provide the answers to life’s greatest questions, and in their quest to build the world’s safest seat, this was their first stop. Babyark’s unique egg-shape not only visually sets it apart from any other car seat, it lies at the heart of both the design and engineering philosophy. The egg shape is nature’s most robust structure. It protects the life that is growing inside it. Some of the world’s sturdiest structures such as bridges and domes are also egg-shaped, as this carries weight and diffuses impact optimally. From a design and consumer standpoint, the sleek egg shape makes the babyark a product that has a love-at-first sight effect on parents. It looks like nothing else in the car seat category. Some have even said that it looks so good it makes you want to have a baby. There were no shortcuts on this journey Both Frank and Shy didn’t just want to make slight improvements to the existing alternatives, they wanted to push the boundaries on what’s possible. They wanted to reinvent the wheel. “When it comes to safety, good is just not good enough.” Unlike traditional seats that are made of plastic, the babyark egg was built out of carbon fibre, the world’s sturdiest, lightweight material. Instead of traditional foam, the design and engineering teams looked at the protective gear of extreme athletes and used D3O™, the world’s most technologically-advanced impact absorbing polymer for the headrest. A new standard of testing Everyone knows the expression, measure many times to cut once…when it comes to safety, babyark performed over 200 crash tests, not only surpassing industry regulations, but almost imagination itself. We designed our own tests—at higher speeds, different temperatures, different angles, varying baby weights… even with the seat installed incorrectly—anything to ensure we would never be surprised by anything. After 5 years of research, development, labour, endless design and engineering iterations and yes, all those crash testings, Shy, Frank and the entire babyark team feel they haven’t only built a great car seat; they’ve set a new standard for safety.
According to Joe Collela, the Director of Child Passenger Safety at JPMA (The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association), more than half of all car seats are improperly installed. As a result, even their basic protective features won’t function properly when called upon. This puts babies and young children at unnecessary risk. However, for anyone who has ever tried installing a car seat on their own for the first time, this should come with little surprise. Car seat installation can be a challenge even for engineers. When we designed the babyark, we understood the need to make installation simple and intuitive, and most importantly, completely foolproof. We set out to provide parents with an innovative visually-guided step-by-step process -- giving them the peace of mind that they got it right. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), just by ensuring proper installation, we can reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers. When a Smart Base meets a Mobile App The cornerstone of the babyark seat is the ACTV8 ™ Smart Base, fully equipped with 14 sensors and a LED-light system which turns green when each step of the process has been achieved. The Smart Base is paired to the babyark mobile app we developed, providing parents with simple, step-by-step instructions and on-screen visual confirmation when the seat has been properly installed. More data. More control The ACTV8™ Smart Base system serves an additional function: it constantly analyses and processes a large number of critical safety parameters such as acceleration, speed, and proximity to foreign objects to ensure all safety features are fully activated, as well as tracking the baby’s position in the seat - even when someone else might be driving. It prevents parents from forgetting their child behind, as well as ensures they are safely buckled up each and every ride -- for today’s modern parent, this provides a practical and powerful tool as well as unprecedented peace of mind.
Meet the minds behind babyark As someone who has spent his entire adult life designing some of the world’s most iconic vehicles, it must have been somewhat surreal to sit down and talk about babies. But according to Frank Stephenson, babyark’s director of design, and the man behind such design icons as the Mini Cooper, Fiat 500, Ferrari GranSport and Maserati Gran Turismo (to name just a few), whether you’re designing for speed or for safety, design is about desirability -- It’s about love at first sight… But it also needs to serve a purpose. When meeting Shy Mindel, babyark’s founder and CEO, in London for the first time, Frank was more than impressed; his mind was already racing on how to design what they believed could eventually become the world’s safest car seat. He was presented by Shy with the highly innovative SafeCoil™ steel coil shock-absorbing system that would be the engineering basis of the car seat; a system that had previously been pioneered in armoured vehicles and that greatly limited the exposure to impact. The need for change Unlike the ever-changing world of cars, baby car seats had remained largely unchanged for 50 years. Frank recalls entering a baby store and being struck by just how clunky and unappealing all the car seats appeared. Everything looked just the same. None were actually designed to protect a tiny passenger in a moment of need. Form equals function “Most designers talk about form following function, but I’ve never believed in that — for me, form equals function,” says Frank. This couldn’t hold more true for a product specifically designed to protect life’s most precious and vulnerable being. Nature knows best In design, as in life, it’s easy to overcomplicate things and it’s difficult to simplify. When it comes to design, nature knows best. “I’ve always looked to nature for answers. From speed to protection, nature always has the right answer,” says Frank. “Nature is not a trendy thing. It's timeless. babyark’s unique egg-shape not only visually sets it apart from any other car seat, it lies at the heart of both the design and engineering philosophy. “On the one hand, the egg shape is nature’s most robust structure. The egg protects the life that is growing inside it. It is a perfect shape for designing safety. But it also is a symbol of fertility…of life itself.” It is also what first grabs the eye and creates that immediate bond between the new parent and the product. Design vs Engineering In the creation of any product, there is a constant tension between the design and engineering; between form and function; between fantasy and reality; between experience and economics. Ultimately, engineering has to bring the design to life. It has to both look and function great. Having worked for the automobile industry with some of the world’s most innovative engineers, Frank understands how valuable harmony is between designer and engineer. “Most products are first engineered, then the designer has to find a way to work around that. With Shy, the process was much more seamless. We had a constant back and forth of great ideas, feeding off each other’s creativity. I ended up thinking like an engineer and Shy like a designer.” “From the get-go Frank perfectly understood the mechanics and performance we were aiming for. He designed the product and then our engineers jumped through hoops to come up with the needed solution to any given design,” adds Shy. “It took us 3 years of hard labour and over 200 different safety tests, most of them not even required by regulation, but eventually it was worth it. It was really all about setting a new standard for safety.” New benchmark. New materials In addition to superior design and engineering, and a tireless approach to safety testing, one of the key components to the process was adopting materials that had never been used in a safety seat before. “With babyark we pioneered the use of carbon fibre, the world’s sturdiest, lightweight material for the frame,” says Shy. “Instead of traditional foam, we looked at the protective gear of extreme athletes where they use D3O™ , the world’s most technologically-advanced impact absorbing polymer. If it’s good for them, it’s worth using here…it’s definitely a significant upgrade from what was previously being used”, adds Frank. There were no shortcuts on this journey. Both Frank and Shy didn’t just want to make slight improvements to the existing alternatives, they wanted to push the boundaries on what’s possible. After winning the CES Innovation Award, and gearing up towards pre-sale of the seat in the U.S, both Frank and Shy are extremely excited about the future, and the impact their work will have on the safety of future generations.
Surprisingly enough, everything. The sturdiest structures in the world all draw inspiration from the egg, from domes to massive bridges to racing helmets. That’s because the egg shape ensures equal distribution of weight, and in the case of collision, equal diffusion of impact. When it came to designing the world’s safest car seat, it only made sense to start with the egg, But beyond the fact that the egg shape is central in providing ultimate protection, it is also highly symbolic of life itself; a symbol of fertility. What could create a more immediate bond with new parents than such a powerful reminder of nature’s awesomeness? But to ensure you have an egg, not an omelet, you need a material built for protection. In our case, that is carbon fiber — 7 times stronger than steel, yet as light as plastic. Not surprising, carbon fiber is the material of choice for Formula 1 racers, as well as for the aeronautics and military industries. Unlike plastic which is traditionally used for most car seats, carbon fiber is immune to wear and tear, allowing babyark to make a market claim like no other; a car seat without an expiry date. So…we took this design philosophy, combined it with the sturdiest lightweight material available -- and created babyark’s EggLog™ Carbon Frame. The egg-shaped structure functions to divert the impact away from the baby’s body, first towards the lower part of the seat, and from there towards the base, and then to the vehicle itself. This egg has not only set a new benchmark in protective design; it has also become a design icon in its own right; one that parents intuitively want upon first sight.