As a parent, I’ve found most baby-centric technology to be pretty clunky. From bulky baby monitors to unwieldy strollers, there just isn’t as much innovation as I hoped for back when I was pregnant. Car seats fall into this category, too, with layers of cushions that are just begging for juice stains and Cheerios to be lost in them, and ugly block colors that were invented specifically to irritate me.
Car seats aren’t really just for looking great, obviously. They’re for safely transporting your child in the car and keeping them safe in the case of an accident. But what I like about the Cybex Sirona S is that it’s not only a little easier on the eyes, but it has a few forward-thinking features, including a smart, Bluetooth-powered buckle on it that makes sure your child isn’t left alone in the car.
Leaving your kid in a car unattended can result in a hot car death. When I told one parent about testing this kind of technology, they scoffed and talked about how rare these instances are, and how parents should just be more careful. While it is rare—Kids and Car Safety reported 36 deaths in the US last year—it easily could happen to any parent, and could just as easily be prevented with a little help from technology.
Power of Two
The most impressive thing about this car seat isn’t the seat itself, but the powerful little buckle on it. The SensorSafe buckle is lightweight and discreet, and you’d only know it was a Bluetooth device by the little light-up symbol on it. It can track when the buckle is open or closed, how far away your phone is from the buckle itself, and the temperature in your car.
SensorSafe is a separate company, and it partners with both Cybex and Evenflo to make car seats that use its buckle. Each company then makes its own app to pair with the device. The Cybex app is very clean and minimalist. After plugging in which car seat I’m using and connecting it via Bluetooth to my phone, the app’s main page shows nothing but whether the car seat is online, the temperature in the car (which it can only read if online), and a list of my devices. You can add several Cybex devices into the same app and see them all there, or just the one car seat like I had. You’ll also be prompted to invite family members as emergency contacts if your child is left behind in the car.
The app also has a tab for manuals. It lists the car seats you’re using, per what you’ve told the app, at the top, then manuals to a few different generations of SensorSafe, plus manuals to other Cybex car seat models at the very bottom in case you’re feeling like browsing. I tested the SensorSafe 3, which differs from past models because it doesn’t need a receiver plugged into your car to connect to your phone. There is a version with a dongle, but I tested the clip-only version. If you have a dongle model, read Adrienne So’s review of the Evenflo Gold, where she talks about plugging the receiver into her car’s ODB-II port.
But even without a dongle to plug into your computer, this car seat is a bit of an installation project. You need to face it backwards to reveal the belt path, which was easy enough, but my husband and I didn’t find the locking system intuitive to open up on our own without watching a video (this one is great). It took a few tries to open the locking system, but afterwards it was easy to lock the seat belt in place.