A Pennsylvania teenager won $25,000 for inventing a way for drivers to "see through" blind spots.
Alaina Gassler, 14, designed a system that uses a camera, projector and special fabric to make a vehicle's A-pillars appear invisible. The project was selected last month as the winner of a science and engineering contest run by the Broadcom Foundation and Society for Science & the Public.
"There are so many car accidents and injuries and deaths that could've been prevented from a pillar not being there," Gassler said in a video from the competition. "And since we can't take it off cars, I decided to get rid of it without getting rid of it."
She told CNN she was inspired by her mother's frustration with large blind spots created by the A-pillars of the family's Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Her invention uses a webcam on the outside of the A-pillar and a projector mounted inside the vehicle. She 3D-printed a piece that lets the projector focus at close range and covered the A-pillar with retroreflective fabric so the driver can see the image and passengers' vision is not disrupted by it.
Gassler, who was in eighth grade when she entered the contest and is now in ninth grade, said she hopes to get a patent and submit the idea to automakers. Other companies, including Continental, are working on the same concept.