Connected Objects

U-Wake headband keeps drivers from snoozing

It’s a sad truth, but even the most responsible, experienced drivers have found themselves dozing off at the wheel every now and then. For the most part nothing happens, but if something does, it can be terrible. With driver fatigue responsible for over 100,000 accidents in the US alone, some fatal, it’s certainly a problem that needs to be addressed.

Besides copious amounts of unhealthy energy drink or sugar-laden coffee, there aren’t very many solutions to keeping a driver up and alert. U-Wake is aiming to change that with a Bluetooth-connected headband device that uses EEG to analyzes a driver’s brain wave patterns to detect unsafe levels of fatigue. If the driver is found to be too tired to safely handle the vehicle, an alert is sent to the U-Wake companion app to keep them awake and to family and friends to keep them informed, too. The device weighs in at a sparse 25 grams, so drivers won’t even notice it’s there most of the time. U-Wake goes for $185 and is expected to ship in May 2015, provided its campaign reaches the $200,000 funding goal.

It’s very important to make sure all aspects of a driver’s trip, from the car to the drivers themselves, are in tip-top shape. What used to need constant supervision now only needs a few different devices, so the U-Wake is in good company even if its construction is a bit ungainly. This product will be especially useful to long-haul truck drivers. A DRIVE and a Bluetooth tire pressure management system are solid options to round out a person’s next trip and keep their attention focused squarely on the road.

Automotive Connected Objects

Bluetooth tire pressure management system lets you know when your tires are low

The Premise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, under-inflated tires are at the root of some of the most common issues related to fuel efficiency and safety while driving. If a tire remains under-inflated at just 1 psi over its lifetime, its tread life decreases by about 800 miles, and for every 2.96 psi of under-inflation, fuel efficiency is reduced by 1%. With 26% of all passenger cars on the road under-inflated by at least 25%, that’s a lot of miles of tread life and liters of gasoline needlessly wasted. These factors also contribute to the almost 80,000 crashes that occur annually in the US due to flat tires or blowouts — some fatal.

The Product. The team behind the FOBO Tire wants to bring tire pressure management systems, or TPMS’s, into the modern age. Theirs is an iOS/Android compatible, Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy enabled system that always keeps a user informed about the tire pressure of their vehicle, with an in-car unit as well to use in the absence of a smartphone. Integration with smartphones allows for a tiered alert system, theft detection for the system, the ability to share the FOBO Tire’s information with friends and family, and even monitor up to 20 different cars. There’s also a separated edition for two and three-wheeled vehicles called the FOBO Bike up for grabs.

The Pitch. The video featured on the campaign is professional, chock full of information, and really demonstrates just how useful the FOBO Tire can be, going as far as to show how quick and painless installation is and introducing potential backers to the team itself. The product’s many features are clearly laid out in text form, with large, clear pictures to back them up.

The Perks. A single set of FOBO Tire will run you $90, which includes four sensors and one in-car unit, saving backers $59 off the $149 retail price. Similarly, the FOBO Bike can be had for $65, shaving $25 off the $90 retail price. The option for more sets of FOBO Tires or Bikes are also available, at price points ranging from $110 to $1050.

The Potential. Making pretty much any current dumb product idea smart immediately adds utility to it, so the combination of a TPMS with the smartphones that drive our lives is one of those no-brainers that takes some time to think up. As tire pressure is a very real and serious concern, its applicability to pretty much every driver will ensure this product becomes some sort of success. It improves on products like the TireMinder with its ease of installation, use, and the many benefits that come from smartphone integration, making this product many will be on the look out for.