Sunday, July 22, 2018

Fear the pinch: The market for technology to keep us safe from the hazards of automotive power windows is growing 10 percent per year, report says.

Selected statistics on the global automotive power window anti-pinch technology market.
Infographic: Technavio.
If you’re like me, you sometimes feel a little ambivalent about all the technology that, while convenient and helpful in many ways, can make our automobiles so bleepin’ complex these days. Not to mention that truism that has been long-uttered by those resistant to change that every additional accessory or tech feature in a car is just another thing that can break.

Take power windows, for example. During a drive alone on a nice day, I like it just as much as the next guy that I can touch a couple of buttons and let both my driver- and passenger-side windows down at the same time to let the fresh air in.

But, in the larger scheme of things, is it really that hard to turn a crank and roll your window up and down?

And every convenience has its costs. One cost of power windows is that they can pinch, in several different ways. The most innocuous—though still very unpleasant—type of power-window pinch is the “back of the arm” pinch that can occur if, say, you’re sitting on the passenger side with the window down, and resting your arm on the bottom of the window frame. If the driver hits the power window button, in either direction, sometimes a flap of skin can get sucked into the window slot. It doesn’t feel very good, but it’s not life threatening.

Yet power-window pinch should not be taken lightly. It’s no joke: power windows can kill.

According to, for example, thousands of children have been killed or injured by automotive power windows, which can exert 30-80 pounds of upward pressure compared to the 22 pounds it takes to suffocate or injure a child. The danger is even greater in the many vehicles equipped with the feature that rapidly raises a window with one touch of a button. 

Anti-pinch technology, which automatically stops the ascent of windows when an obstruction is detected, has been developed to prevent incidents from the annoying to the tragic. According to a report from Technavio, anti-pinch technology has evolved into an industry in its own right, currently growing at a rate of 10 percent annually, with 38 million units installed as of 2017—a number that is projected to double by 2022.

However, especially for older vehicles, you can’t take it for granted that a car is equipped with this technology. Compared to the long history of power windows, the technology is relatively new. For example, a patent for one solution was filed in 2005. In addition, although regulations in the U.S. now do require vehicles with power windows to be equipped with buttons that are more difficult to trigger accidentally, anti-pinch technology has not yet been mandated.

So as trivial as the idea of an anti-pinch feature for your power windows might initially sound, it’s important to be aware of the easy-to-overlook hazards of power windows, whether or not they’re equipped with this safety feature—especially if you ever have children riding in  your vehicles.

No comments:

Post a Comment