The best wearables are those that solve real problems–and Vigo is a startup that fits that bill. The Vigo targets drowsiness (*yawn!*) and helps prevent accidents and increase focus levels. We spoke with Tiantian Zhang, co-founder and creative director at Vigo, to tell us more.
Describe Vigo Technologies.
Vigo Technologies is focused on developing wearable computing devices that help bring to life new, trackable data.
Tell us about your wearable Vigo.
Vigo is a smart Bluetooth headset that tracks drowsiness and helps keep the wearer alert. With an infrared sensor that tracks the eyes and an accelerometer that tracks head movement, Vigo monitors changes in the user’s blinking patterns to detect when he or she is dozing off and provides a stimulation in the form of a vibration, sound, or LED alert. Vigo is also a fully functional Bluetooth headset that can be used to make calls or play music. We also provide an app to let our user see their real-time alertness level.
What was your inspiration behind creating Vigo?
Initially, the idea of Vigo was born out of our desire to stay more alert while studying in an academic environment. After we launched our Kickstarter, and started to get feedback from the market, we realized that Vigo could really help people whose livelihood was tied to their alertness levels—especially professional drivers. That’s when we decided to specifically target truck and taxi drivers, to increase their driving safety.
What sets Vigo apart from other wearables?
As Vigo’s Co-Founder and Creative Director, I am really excited about our design’s ability to extract new data from existing consumer behavior. So while Vigo is the first wearable capable of detecting drowsiness levels of the wearer, we worked hard to ensure that tracking the data was not a distraction to the wearer. The sensors are hidden inside a traditional bluetooth headset, so the user is able to go about their normal activities, namely driving and making phone calls, while Vigo is able to track them without interruption.
What has been one of the most challenging parts of getting started? How did you overcome this and what did you learn?
The most challenging part has definitely been the design of the device. We have so many variables that have to be taken into account. We performed exhaustive design studies to ensure that the device was comfortable yet functional. For example, there is an enormous amount of variability in terms of the dimensions found on a human head, so we had to measure countless people’s faces in order to ensure that the device would work with as many people as possible. But even if the ergonomics were right, the nature of driving involves a lot of movement, and so figuring out how to keep the device stable was an added challenge. Something that I learned was how important it is to understand how your users are going to use your device in their own environment. We decided to go to truck stops all over California to actually have drivers wear our prototypes. They provided us with feedback that we wouldn’t have come up with on our own, and in doing so they helped us solve a lot of our design challenges.
Where can we buy your product, when is it available, and what is the cost?
Vigo is available for pre-order for $79 from our official website. Pre-orders will begin shipping in October of 2015.
What can we expect next from Vigo Technologies?
Something I really believe is that the intersection of fashion and technology is becoming more important. While we have some pretty ambitious technologies in the pipeline, we are going to place an increasing amount of focus on the aesthetics of our devices. We want them to be fun and functional, so that our products can appeal to a broader market outside of just drivers. We’re also looking at biometric data outside of drowsiness that can help to improve people’s productivity in their daily activities. You can expect some exciting developments soon!
To learn more about Vigo check out their website here.
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