Wake up, Glasshole: This nerdtastic device is like digital smelling salts
If you're not afraid of falling into Glasshole syndrome, check out this Kickstarter for new wearable device Vigo. It's every mini-narcoleptic's dream. Vigo looks like a robot eye piece, or a Google Glass that someone sat on and broke, or a Bluetooth that just kept growing. In other words: It's nerdtastic. But data heads might buy it anyways.
Vigo has a sensor that measures the frequency and speed of someone's blinks, among almost twenty other variables. That way, it can detect when you're getting drowsy and give you a little buzz to wake you up or a notification on your phone -- or by playing your favorite pump up song.
That sounds wholly unpleasant for the average layperson. Why the hell would you want random buzzing in your ear whenever you're tired? Most founders would wind up with buzzing in your ears 24/7, lord knows y'all never sleep. The technology would be helpful for those who operate heavy machinery for long periods of time, say the truck or taxi drivers among us. That's a pretty small segment of the population though.
Here's Vigo's real value add for the layperson: it tracks your drowsiness data on a smartphone app. That way, you can see when you hit your lulls in the day and plan around that. No interviews or meetings at 10 am, that's when your brain stops functioning for a bit and you need a coffee break. Your golden zone is 5 pm, so cancel your regular happy hour plans with co-workers and buckle down. Information is power. In this case, productivity power.
The device was created by three first-time founders with backgrounds in app development, embedded systems engineering, and design. They went through the hardware accelerator HAXLR8R in Shenzhen the last three months to develop the prototype, and now they're using Kickstarter to raise money to finish the iOS and Android apps.
Vigo represents the best and worst in wearable innovation.
On the one hand, props to these fellows for not falling into the already overblown smart watch and fitness wearable trends. They've actually invented something new and unique, with a totally different use case.
At the same time, how many people are going to wear a big stick on their face just to track their sleepiness?
Google Glass has already gotten its share of criticism for its "Star Trek" appearance, inspiring the SNL parody treatment and the contempt of reporters who predict that no regular person would be seen dead in one. And Glass has attracted such ridicule despite the fact that its functionality extends far wider than Vigo, with the ability to document pictures and videos, check your email on the go, identify people as they approach you, and whatever else app developers will come up with.
Once Glass comes out Vigo will compete squarely with it. You can't rock more than one wearable on your face without looking like a robot. Also, they won't both fit.
All that said, at $59 for the early bird price Vigo is a steal. That's worth getting, if only to wear it for one week and figure out your tiredness patterns. Inevitably other data geeks will feel the same.