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Young inventor creates app to save kids left in hot cars

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

The next “Queen of QVC” might just be a 19-year-old Albuquerque native.

Alissa Chavez already has one framed patent on the wall for her first product, an innovative alarm system that uses a sensor and a smartphone app to alert parents if a child was left in the car.

“Hot Seat” – an idea Chavez conceived as a middle school science fair project – is now for sale at for $79.99, thanks to a team of engineers and software developers hired with $20,000 from an online fundraiser.

“It’s something I’ve really wanted to happen,” Chavez said. “I hope that people will buy it and that we won’t have to hear any more of these stories of kids dying in hot cars.”

Alissa Chavez holds a smartphone with the Hot Seat app

Alissa Chavez holds a smartphone with the Hot Seat app.

Chavez demonstrated how “Hot Seat” works in her white Prius, slipping a small sensor under the padding of a car seat and walking away, leaving a plastic baby doll behind. Once Chavez got about 20 feet from the car, an alarm sounded on her smartphone through the “Hot Seat” app.

The system took five prototypes to perfect over the course of two years.

“It feels like a lot of hard work paid off,” Chavez said.

Proud mom Anna Chavez quoted one of her daughter’s heroes, “Shark Tank” investor and “Queen of QVC” Lori Greiner, who holds over 120 patents: “Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week.”

“Alissa is ambitious beyond her years – this is a teenager,” Anna Chavez said. “She also always thinks of others before herself. She has a good heart.”

A natural inventor, Chavez started dreaming up her first products when she was about 11 years old.

The Eldorado High School graduate often worked at her mom’s child care business and soon focused on helping young children.

At 14, she started brainstorming ways to prevent kids from being left in hot cars – an average of nearly 40 children die that way each summer, adding up to about 700 since 1998.

Entrepreneur and inventor Alissa Chavez at her school science fair at age 14

Entrepreneur and inventor Alissa Chavez at her school science fair at age 14. Chavez, now 19, has patented her old science fair project, Hot Seat, and it is for sale online at (Courtesy of Alissa Chavez )

Her solution, “Hot Seat,” took the top prize at the Albuquerque Christian School science fair and started Chavez on the path to entrepreneurship.

She kept working, earning Mayor Richard Berry’s “Good Samaritan” award at age 17, which was “a life-changer,” generating media attention from The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Fox News Latino, NBC, ABC and the Ryan Seacrest Radio Show.

A 2014 crowdfunding campaign Chavez launched on eventually generated $20,148, more than four times her goal.

“It’s been crazy – I never thought I would be talking to Ryan Seacrest,” said Chavez, who will be doing a second interview with the radio show next month.

The success has taught her to dream big.

Eventually, Chavez would like to offer a range of products for kids through her company, Assila – “Alissa” spelled backward, just like Oprah Winfrey created Harpo Productions, with “Oprah” spelled backward.

She’s keeping a list of ideas on her phone, adding to it regularly.

Asked what advice she would give other teens, the young entrepreneur said to push yourself.

“Don’t be afraid of what other people think,” she added. “Just go for it.”

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