Just Google 'kid backseat divider' and you'll be amazed to see how many desperate parents are asking for help.  Or you might not be that amazed if you have been a victim of two squabbling toddlers in the car on a road trip. These desperate parents have resorted to DIY partitions using TV boxes, towels, and pet dividers. One commenter even suggested asking taxi drivers where they get their plastic partitions fitted.

A quick patent search found a number of patents to backseat dividers, including this gem of a patent drawing from US 6,260,903.

Click here to view the image.

However, it's strange that no actual products have taken off. Perhaps Macleod et al., the applicants of recently granted patent, US 8,720,991 have the solution. They explain that seat dividers need to be adaptable depending on the children's moods, since 'a partition that creates an absolute barrier between children may prevent otherwise much needed healthy and playful interactions between the children'.

The seat divider of their patent looks like this:

Click here to view the image.

The window (1a) has panes which may be opened and closed from each side, and the top portion of the partition can also be folded down into slot (2a) if the children 'desire to communicate in a civil manner'.

Click here to view the image.

The divider is secured to the seat via seatbelt hook (13) and shoulder strap hook (14).

Additionally, the seat divider claimed has a few other clever ideas to keep kids entertained for that little bit longer, such as fold-out desks (15a, 15b) and various compartments for books, toys, etc.

But there's one problem with this design - where to put the third kid?

An edited version of this article first appeared in the September/October 2014 issue of Idealog magazine.