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Hate Blind Spots While Driving? This Teen Has a Solution

14-year-old Alaina Gassler created innovative workaround
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2019 11:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Pennsylvania teen has won $25,000 and, perhaps soon, the gratitude of every driver in America with what Mashable calls a "simple but innovative" invention that gets rid of blind spots. A release from the Society for Science & the Public announced that the "girls shine" in this year's Broadcom MASTERS STEM competition for middle schoolers, with five young women taking home big honors, and the top award going to Alaina Gassler, a 14-year-old from West Grove, Pa., who picked up the Samueli Foundation Prize. Alaina's blind-spot annihilator involves a webcam that's mounted outside the passenger side of the car, recording the areas that drivers can't see in their mirrors, with a projector showing the live video on an inside pillar on the passenger side. (This video offers a visual of it in action.)

Alaina notes she ran into issues at first with the projected video, because it wasn't showing up well for her when she sat in the driver's seat; plus, when she moved to other seats, the moving lights gave her a headache. That's when she came up with the idea of covering the pillar with a special reflective fabric that offers the driver a clear image, but shows up as just a black piece of material for passengers. Some newer cars do feature sensors that can alert drivers with lights, sound, or a vibration if there's something in the blind spot, but there's not a visual to go along with it, like Alaina has invented. The teen was one of 30 finalists (18 girls, 12 boys) culled from nearly 2,400 entrants in 47 states. "Congratulations to Alaina, whose project has the potential to decrease the number of automobile accidents by reducing blind spots," says Maya Ajmera, the society's CEO. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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