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Defend Your Kickstarter: A Wearable NoDoz

Theodore Gioia | January 13, 2014 | Story Tech World

Defend Your Kickstarter is a weekly look at the wild, wacky, and just plain wonderful world of Kickstarter. Today's project: Vigo, an energy gauge worn around your ear like a Bluetooth resembling a prop from Star Trek convention costume.

Kickstarter defender: Jason Gui, co-founder and chief hardware and software designer for Vigo.

San Francisco: How does your product work?
Jason Gui: Vigo is a wearable device in the form of a Bluetooth headset that detects if you're getting drowsy and alerts you when you are dozing off. It alerts you in one of three ways—a flashing light, a vibration in the ear, or an audio alert like a sound or music.

Why is it named Vigo?
Vigo comes from the word invigorate, or vigor. The idea is a device that helps you stay in the zone more.

Who is buying this?
We envision the market to be primarily drivers, both casual drivers who do long road trips, as well as professionals such as truck and taxi drivers. We also see students as being a potential market, people with jobs that involve monotonous tasks such as night shift workers or security guards on patrol, as well as other markets we previously hadn't thought of—emergency medical crew who have to be on duty late throughout the nights, as well as people with narcolepsy who have trouble staying awake.

Narcolepsy? Aren't you worried about the FDA coming down on you for claiming to be a medical device without evidence?
Vigo wasn't designed to be a medical device initially. However, Vigo as a potential solution for people with narcolepsy is definitely a path worth exploring. There are strict FDA regulations that govern the area, if we were to go down that path. But we recognize the need and will explore customizing Vigo to meet different market needs.

I'm more of a coffee junkie. Do I need this?
The idea for Vigo isn't to be a caffeine substitute, because we don't want to give a reason for a driver to continue driving while drowsy. The idea is to get a "nudge" when you're not at your best, so you know when you should be taking a break, getting a nap, or taking a coffee break, for example. Vigo tracks your drowsiness information throughout the day so that you can manage your routines better and work more productively.

We know wearable tech is huge right now in CES. Are you riding the bandwagon?
We started working on Vigo before the idea of wearable devices grew really big, so it's nice to have caught on to a growing wave. We were just at CES and saw many wearable devices, but most are in the form of wristbands or smart watches. We see use cases in cars or industries where drowsiness is a huge problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are over 100,000 crashes a year due to drowsy driving and more than $12.5 billion in damages, so we definitely think we are tackling a huge real-world problem.

Check out Vigo on Kickstarter.

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