Great Thinkers and Doers: Teen eliminates blind spots for drivers

Alaina Gassler, 14, won a $25K prize for inventing a system to eliminate blind spots while driving.

As part of our ongoing series promoting Great Teen Thinkers and Doers, in alignment with the ATI Scholarship Contest, this week we celebrate Alaina Gassler of West Grove, PA. Alaina created a system that combines a camera on the outside of the car with a projector on the inside of the car that reflects real-time footage onto the inside pillars of the windshield. The effect is that the driver essentially "sees through" the pillar due to the video on the pillar perfectly matching what had been a blind spot. See video footage of her device here.

Her invention won the Broadcom MASTERS STEM competition for middle school students. She was one of 30 finalists out of 2,400 entrants from 47 states. Here is a description of the refinement process she went through:

Alaina notes she ran into issues at first with the projected video, because it wasn't showing up well for her when she sat in the driver's seat; plus, when she moved to other seats, the moving lights gave her a headache. That's when she came up with the idea of covering the pillar with a special reflective fabric that offers the driver a clear image, but shows up as just a black piece of material for passengers. Some newer cars do feature sensors that can alert drivers with lights, sound, or a vibration if there's something in the blind spot, but there's not a visual to go along with it, like Alaina has invented.

She is clearly a great teen thinker and doer!

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