We all know that driving when sleepy is dangerous, and the statistics prove it. Drowsy driving accounts for more than 100,000 crashes a year and 1,500 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Now three recent University of Pennsylvania mechanical engineering graduates are doing something about it.
For their senior design project, Drew Karabinos, 23, Jason Gui, 23, and Jonathan Kern, 22, created Vigo, a wearable headset that uses an infrared sensor that tracks your alertness. Vigo works like any other Bluetooth headset and connects to your phone. When you’re about to nod off, Vigo jolts you awake, either with music, a flashing LED light or a gentle vibration.
“When we were doing Senior Design and brainstorming [about] the problems we experience ourselves that we want to solve,” said Gui, “and we realized that getting drowsy when we didn’t want to be was a problem we all had.”
Vigo is their answer. In addition to driving, it can be used to keep you awake during other tasks that demand your attention, like long class lectures.
The team has since gone to Kickstarter to raise $50,000 in funding money and are nearly halfway there, as of press time. If Vigo finds a consumer base, Gui thinks it has potential to access the transportation industry by integrating Vigo’s technology into glassware, safety goggles and helmets: “Our next step is exploring with businesses how we can customize Vigo to fit with their needs.”