A teenager from Pennsylvania has created a way to see through a car’s A-pillars at the corner of the windscreen, winning a cool $25,000 prize along the way.
As manufacturers strive to make each successive car stronger and thus safer, there’s little chance that A-pillars will be shrinking any time soon. But 14-year-old Alaina Gassler has designed a prototype that effectively makes A-pillars ‘see-through’, thanks to a simple camera and projector set up.
Gassler used a webcam placed on the outside of the A-pillar to capture vision of the outside world, and fed the live footage through to a small projector aimed at the inside of the pillar. She then covered the pillar with a special reflective fabric that reflects the picture only to the driver.
Read next: How to find your blind spot
Gassler explained to Popular Mechanics that that the reason she decided to create the fix was because, in part, her grandmother scraped the side of her car due to the blind spot.
“I wanted to find a way to get rid of them,” Gassler said. “My older brother, Carter, just started to drive, so it was a big safety concern.”
The prototype was tested out on the family’s Jeep Grand Cherokee, which has large A-pillars causing a sizeable blind spot.
From the footage above you can see the prototype definitely works well, but improvements for next time include using curved LCD displays mounted around the pillar instead of a shaky projector.
This idea isn’t strictly new to car companies, but it seems as though no manufacturer has actually implemented a proper solution as yet. As such, Gassler and her dad hope to acquire a number of patents that will help protect the idea, to further develop their solution.
The invention was developed throughout Gassler’s eighth grade school year, and took out the grand prize of $25,000 at the Society for Science Broadcom MASTERS (Maths, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) middle school competition.
She plans to reinvest her winnings back into the development of the invention by making it more unique, then patent the design before submitting it to interested car makers, with Gassler suggesting Tesla.