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Tool receives patent for safer seat belt retractor

At Tool, we usually help our clients get patents for their products. But we’re proud to announce we got one for ourselves!

The Department of Transportation learned of serious instances of children becoming entangled in seat belts. If you were to pull a seat belt all the way out as far as you could, you would actually be activating a special mode that allows the seat belt only to be reeled all the way back in. It’s used for installing car seats securely, but most people don’t know it exists. So a child might be playing with the seat belt, and wrap it around themselves, and accidentally put it into this mode. The belt would then tighten and tighten. There were hundreds of recorded instances of children sustaining serious injuries due to this entanglement.

The DOT selected Tool to design a safer retractor to reduce child entanglement in seat belts. Our multidisciplinary team of industrial designers, mechanical engineers, child safety experts, and university research laboratories collaborated to hone in on and evaluate candidate designs. Laboratory evaluations demonstrated that our designs offered a major improvement over the standard seat belt.

This was a great example of design thinking to solve a real-world problem. We encourage you to check out our full patent!

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