HEY! Wake Up! – No More Desk Dozing?

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How often do you find yourself sitting at your desk getting drowsy and start to doze off? Would getting caught doing so put an end to your job? How about those times when you have a deadline and pull a late night to get it done, only to doze off before completed and then waking up the next morning in a panic? Well, this new technology may just be a tool you can use.

Similar to the Eyetracker system that monitors driver’s eyes to alert them when they appear to be too drowsy to drive, the Vigo resembles a Bluetooth headset and will alert you in various settable ways if it determines you are getting drowsy. Using a built-in infrared sensor, it monitors your blinking, calculating the eyelid open and closing times, and uses the data to determine if you appear to be getting drowsier. Once it determines you are, it “nudges” you.

The data is transferred to an app, and that app can be set to nudge you in whichever customizable way you choose. “Choose between a soft pulsing vibration, a discreet notification LED or your favorite “pump up” song to help you re-focus and get back in the zone,” the Vigo sites states. These settings can also be adjusted as far as their sensitivity levels depending on your need. It can also be used to monitor your energy levels throughout the day, which can be reviewed to assist you in noticing those parts of the day where routines may need changed in order to keep energy up. The app can then suggest recommended activities like stretching, napping or getting some caffeine when energy levels are low.  

Unfortunately, this device may not be aesthetically pleasing to everyone, and may limit the places people feel comfortable wearing it. Josh Ong at TNW said “While the Vigo team, which graduated from China-based hardware accelerator Haxlr8r, has done its best to make the device attractive, it’s even more “in your face” than most Bluetooth headsets, which already feel egregious.”

Sitting in your office wearing this device would probably alert those around you to the fact that you are already considering yourself drowsy enough to use it, meaning you are probably less productive than you would be if alert. However, if you have a private office, or use this device during driving, then the design and looks are not an issue. One of the design consultants, Yang Zhao says “Vigo's users are people who need to stay wide awake, such as truck drivers, pilots, and individuals who drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles along I5,” so the main focus is not for office use, though it can be effective there too.

Of course, the main solution to this problem is to eat well, get proper rest/sleep, and stay away from the ups and downs brought on by sugary and caffeinated energy drinks. But for those times when you must push on, or if you have ever lost a job due to being caught dozing, this type of tool may be just what the doctor ordered.

As Jason Gui, the cofounder of Vigo, rightly states, “We don't want to give them a reason to continue driving while drowsy for example," and that “The idea isn't to create a device that acts as a coffee substitute and prevents people from sleeping.” He continues, “We are creating a device that is there to make sure you are at your best and alerts you when you are dozing off, like a friend sitting next to you in class or in the passenger seat.”

Image courtesy of Geeky Gadgets


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