Drowsiness Detector Could Keep You Safely Between the White Lines
Crowdsourcing sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo let inventors appeal directly to the public for funds. They’ve made a lot of entrepreneurial dreams come true.
If you’re inspired by the inventor’s pitch video, you send some money. It’s not an investment; you’re not rewarded if the invention becomes a hit. But you do get some memento — a T-shirt or a discounted version of the invention once it’s manufactured — and the rosy glow of knowing that you helped bring a cool idea to life.
Until now, there’s been only one problem: You had no way to know if the invention was actually any good. You had to trust the inventor’s video.
That’s the beauty of our Kickstarter reviews. We actually test the prototype, find out how much promise it has and help you decide if the thing is worth funding or buying.
Today’s invention: Vigo, a Bluetooth earpiece that detects when you’re getting drowsy and sounds an alarm to wake you.
The claim: The earpiece’s arm is just long enough that an infrared sensor on its tip can “see” your eyes. By measuring your blinking rate, the duration of your blinks, and the ratio of the time your eyes are open and closed, the Vigo can detect when you’re starting to drift off. An accelerometer (tilt sensor) enhances that data with information about the nodding of your head.
If the Vigo decides that you’re getting sleeeeeeepy, it alerts you — by playing an alarm, playing a song from your phone and blinking a light at its tip.
The goal is to wake people who fall asleep while driving, of course, but there are many other categories of people who might benefit: security guards, narcoleptics, employees in boring meetings, students in class and so on.
Goal: This Kickstarter project seeks $50,000 in backing. With just under two weeks to go before its deadline, it’s raised $41,000, so it’s looking good.
(Fun fact: The Vigo began as a senior project at Penn by the current team. Originally, it was a pair of glasses, not a Bluetooth earpiece.)
(Another fun fact: The original name was Invigo. Then one of the team members Googled that name — and discovered that it was taken. By a “natural male sexual stimulant.” Oh, well.)
Status: The creators — three recent Penn graduates — spent four months at a “hardware accelerator” program in Shenzhen, China, the electronics-manufacturing capital of the world. The Vigo hardware itself — now in prototypes whose bodies were created with a 3-D printer — is in its final shape and size.