As bona fide gear geeks, we love WIRED magazine and wired.com, so we were over the moon when Senior Writer Adrienne So interviewed us about how we're reinventing family travel gear, starting with the Pico travel car seat.
Here's a few excerpts talking about Pico's key innovations, and how we were able to get rid of almost all of the plastic and worst foams found in other car seats. You can read the full piece at WIRED (and, as the article mentions, you can still get a great deal on Pico through our Indiegogo campaign).
A few years ago, Tio Jung saw desperate parents hauling these enormous, complicated contraptions while traveling. ... That gave him an idea. In 2014, he called long-time family friend Michael Crooke—the former CEO of Patagonia, who currently teaches sustainable business MBA classes at the University of Oregon—with a proposition. Could expertise in the outdoor industry can make baby gear better? ...
Their first, and biggest, innovation was to use an aluminum frame. Most car seats are made from plastic and foam, which keeps costs low. But those enormous (and non-biodegradable) car seats are usually thrown into landfills once they expire. Depending on the manufacturer, that's usually between six to ten years. Temperature changes, humidity, and time can all degrade the plastic and render the seat unsafe, making it harder to pass carseats down. ...
Aluminum is abundant and recyclable, and the alloys that the Wayb team uses have a high enough strength-to-weight ratio that they are commonly used in aerospace engineering. “[Aluminum] is an underrated wonder material,” Sakai says. “It’s so ubiquitous that people take it for granted that it can hold 12 ounces of fluid under pressure, indefinitely.”
The second innovation: replace the polyurethane foam padding found in most car seats. Foam makes for an inexpensive padding, but it isn't biodegradable. Polyurethane foam also off-gasses volatile organic compounds, high levels of which have been linked to an increased risk of allergies, asthma, and lung infections in young kids.
“You see this a lot in footwear,” Sakai says. “The foam makes it look good on the shelf, but it quickly breaks down, yellows when exposed to UV, and ultimately ends up in the trash… It boils down to the least expensive construction that looks good, but from a comfort or durability standpoint, it falls short.”
“It’s second nature in outdoor gear to have something that’s lighter and more portable, but with sustained performance standards,” says Amanda Reid, Wayb's chief marketing officer. “That thinking just hadn’t been applied to car seats.”