Baby safety capsule, plastic/nylon/lambswool, Safe N Sound Pty Ltd, Australia, 1986
In the 1970s Australian state governments made the wearing of car seat belts compulsory, and a variety of restraints for children came on the market. But there was no really secure way to protect babies in a smash until this Baby Safety Capsule was designed in 1984.
Rainsfords (later called Britax Rainsfords, part of Britax International), the makers of the Safe-n-Sound child seat restraint, came up with the idea of the capsule. It consists of a bassinette inside a base that can be secured by a seat belt. A release mechanism allows the bassinette to rotate in a crash, keeping the baby more upright and distributing forces uniformly over its body; at the same time, the bassinette pushes against an impact-absorbing bubble in the base. The capsule was designed to fit in an adult seat space. The bassinette can be removed from the base to carry the baby around outside the car.
Once the capsule was on the market, NSW public hospitals brought in a rule that parents could not take a baby home by car without one. Hospitals and municipal councils run hire services to encourage the use of safety capsules.
Since 1984 over 2 million little Australians have been protected by the Baby Safety Capsule. Despite this, and numerous design awards, sales to other countries such as the USA have been slow because they do not have compulsory restraint laws. The Australian Standard for infant and child restraints is one of the most stringent in the world, demanding an extremely rigorous degree of protection.
Designed by Robert Pataki and Phillip Slattery at P A Design (later known as Invetech) with Rainsfords Safe-n-Sound designer Bill Botell and chief engineer Bob Heath.
Made by Safe-n-Sound Pty Ltd
Winner of an Australian Design Award and Design Council Selection in 1985 and the Prince Philip Prize for Australian Design in 1986.
This capsule was donated as new from the manufacturer.
In 1991 a stricter Australian Standard was introduced for the baby capsule. The new standard required a fully body harness instead of the velcro body band used on this baby capsule. The new harness was designed to give babies a better chance of survival in a rollover crash. The velcro body belts were phased out from 1993 to 1996.