- Alaina Gassle devised a technology that makes the A-frame (pillars that support the windshield) “see through.”
- She made the invention as a science fair project, which she completed in eighth grade and won her $25,000.
- She plans to create an iteration that will utilize liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors.
A 14-year-old girl may have solved the problem of blind spots, which is one of the leading causes of car crashes among drivers. Not a bad feat for someone who doesn’t actually drive.
Alaina Gassler of West Grove, Pennsylvania devised a technology that makes the A-frame (pillars that support the windshield) “see through.” She used projectors that shows images of what is really behind them into the surface.
Gassler’s projector-based technology was made for the Society for Science and the Public’s Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) science and engineering competition. She took home the grand prize of $25,000. She completed this invention while in the eighth grade.
She got her inspiration for the science fair project when her grandmother scraped the paint from the side of her car after the vehicle hit the pole that was in her blind spot.
“I wanted to find a way to get rid of them. And my older brother, Carter, just started to drive, so it was a big safety concern,” Gassler says.
The latest vehicles are already equipped with blind spot monitors that show a blip in the side mirrors when a car enters a compromising position, but drivers can still miss objects in those blind spots up front if the A-frame pillars in their vehicles are thick.
As those pillars are necessary for the structural integrity of the car and the protection of the vehicle in the event of a rollover accident, Gassler knew she could not just get rid of them. So her compromise is to make the pillars invisible, in a way, by making use of internal roof-mounted projector that can show images of what’s behind the pillars.
Another good thing about the invention is that it solves both front and rear blind spot problems. For example, if someone is crossing the street in front of your vehicle, her invention allows you to see live footage of the person crossing the street through the A-frame with cameras.
Gassler explains: “The camera is mounted on the outside of the A-pillar, records what’s behind it, sends that video feed to a projector that’s over the driver’s head, and projects it onto the pillar.”
This projector is just part of Gassler’s initial prototype to support her concept. She plans to create an iteration that will utilize liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors which will allow the brightness to change according to the time of day and the weather. She plans to use her winnings to create the improvements, which are costly.
Gassler and her father discovered that there are already patents for similar inventions, although those were nearly a decade old and they have never been sued. So she hopes to get those patents of come up with something unique that will get the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s approval.
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