Vigo Devices launched a Kickstarter campaign Monday to help take its energy gauge into production.

Using an infrared sensor, Vigo claims it can identify patterns in a person's blinking to quantify alertness.

Vigo uses a built-in accelerometer to analyze head motion and idleness.

The algorithm also takes into account blink data, include blink rate, blink duration, ratio of time an eye is open versus closed, and more.

Uses cases for Vigo include helping keep drivers alert.

The device can also be used to stay awake during class lectures.

An app used in conjunction with Vigo aims to give wearers recommendations for coffee breaks and naps.

The app could synthesize alertness during different types of activities.

The app could also suggest better routines so people can focus on work during their most productive hours.

A Device That Knows When You're Dozing Off And Nudges You Awake

Blink analytics? Yes, one device analyzes blinking patterns to quantify drowsiness.

Admit it: Whether you have a screaming newborn or had a late night at the bar, there are moments when you're prone to yawning and stretching at work. One device claims it can identify patterns in a person's blinking to quantify alertness, and it has taken to Kickstarter to help bring its energy gauge into production.

Worn on the ear and across one's face, Vigo uses infrared sensors to detect signs of drowsiness and then "nudge" the wearer to wake them up. In addition to a built-in accelerometer that analyzes head motion and idleness, the algorithm takes into account blink data, include blink rate, blink duration, ratio of time an eye is open versus closed, and more. When it notices the wearer is getting drowsy, it has a few methods to wake a user up: It can flash LEDs at the end that sit in front of the eye, send a soft pulsing vibration at the ear, or play music.

"We are creating a device that is there to make sure you are at your best and alerts you when you are dozing off, like a friend sitting next to you in class or in the passenger seat," Jason Gui, Vigo cofounder and chief technical officer, told Fast Company.

Staying awake for long hours when your body wants to sleep isn't particularly healthy, and Gui knows this. "We don't want to give them a reason to continue driving while drowsy for example," he says. "The idea isn't to create a device that acts as a coffee substitute and prevents people from sleeping."

Perhaps the most useful part of Vigo is the app that accompanies it, which aims to give wearers suggestions for better routines (like when to take coffee breaks or naps) so they can focus on work during their most productive hours.

Vigo originated as a school project for three University of Pennsylvania students. As one of the startups incubated by the HAXLR8R hardware accelerator, the team spent four months in Shenzhen, China prototyping the device and refining the electronics, algorithm, and data collection. Currently, the components are roughly the size of a flash drive, but the hope is to shrink the components so Vigo's technology can be integrated into sunglasses, safety goggles, or helmets. "The device contains Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity, and we are creating an API, which opens up the opportunity of connecting it to other systems, such as phones or cars for further capability," said Gui, hinting at the ability to slow down a car or call a friend when the device detects drowsiness.

Add New Comment

3 Comments

  • Theresa Moser Dolan

    Wow! My son is on a Lego Robotics team of 5th graders that presented a very similar idea at the University of Pennsylvania in February of 2013. Our glasses detected when you were falling asleep and then turned off the TV. Here's a link to our video that we presented: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytv0mgGVnMM

  • Anthony Moore

    Really cool idea! Though I wonder about what this gadget implies about our priorities - maybe we need rest/sleep/a break from our tasks?

    I like FastCompany, and this video was awesome. But I'm not sure I like this attitude - that I can keep myself "alert" and "awake" for almost every second of the day. I think our focus on productivity can take us to unhealthy plateaus that leave us exhausted and unfulfilled.