In 2018, nearly 1.49 lakh people lost their lives in road accidents in India. Despite strict rules and regulations in place, the number of road fatalities is showing a spike. Of the many reasons that may be cited for such deaths, sun glare is one of them; case in point, the recent accident in Dubai where a passenger vehicle rammed into a steel barrier killing 17 passengers, which included Indians, Omanis and Europeans. The driver had been blinded by sunlight and could not see the divider.
Though people are advised to wear sunglasses while driving during day time, few adhere to the rules.
Wanting to mitigate this deadly oversight, Souritra Garai and Jay Shah, 2nd-year Chemical Engineering students at the IIT-Gandhinagar have developed a device that can potentially save hundreds of lives.
Extreme brightness and the harsh sun-rays can impair visibility and cause of accidents. While sunglasses offer protection, they are not the most effective solution. Souritra and Jay worked on developing a small electronic device that sits on the windshield of a car, shielding the drivers from sudden or bright sunlight that can cause the driver temporary blindness, turning them into a road hazard.
A product from designers of IIT-Mumbai, Tactopus builds engaging, multisensory learning experiences and strengthens the learning ecosystem for blind children. You can buy it here.
Smart Sun Visor is a device that can help drivers drive more comfortably and safely.
Let’s look at what that means. Souritra says, “Our invention actively tracks the sun and positions a small disc of light-filtering material on the brightest area of the windshield, intercepting sunlight before it strikes the driver’s eyes.” Further explaining about the device, he adds, “The filter is small, semi-transparent, and discreet, with a very small footprint on the windshield, effectively blocking sunlight without obscuring the rest of the windshield or the drivers field of view.”
So how did they come together for this project? Souritra says, “On the first day, we had two professors come in to the class and make us do group activities.”
At the end of it, both Jay and I were asked if we were comfortable being paired together. That was what began this journey.
Adding to this, Jay says, “We spent about one and a half weeks trying to find an idea that we could work on. It was finally Professor Alan who spoke about how sensitive his eyes are to the harsh sunlight. It was his request that we come up with something that would effectively keep the sunlight away.”
When asked if working together was fun, the reply comes almost in unison, “There were quarrels and ups and downs. What kept us going was the determination to see the project through.” Having worked on almost 30 prototypes, getting it right was a difficult phase, but both innovators persisted.
“I must clarify here that most of the quarrels were about how to present this prototype, while making it was one thing, there was a lot of emphasis on how to present it as well. We both had varied ideas of how to present, but managed to find a middle ground, ” adds Jay.
“While the prototype costs us about Rs 5,000 to make, it will cost much lesser once it goes into commercial-scale production,” informs Sourittra. They have also applied for a patent for Smart Sun Visor.
Some of the features of Smart Sun Visor include:
- A Smart Visor is attached to the dashboard using suctions cups and powered by USB charging port.
- It requires no effort to install and can be done manually.
- Takes up only four per cent of the windshield.
- It automatically tracks sun rays and then reorients to block the sun from the driver’s eyes.
- The driver does not have to bother manually adjusting the visor every time he takes a turn.
- When not in use, the device automatically shuts down.
There are currently 23 Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) where some of the brightest minds study. In addition to academics, a constant focus is on research and in building and developing products that could solve problems that people face. We have seen innovations from developing intelligent streetlights to devices that change from bags to desks. We hope Smart Sun Visor helps to curb road accidents due to blinding sunlight.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)