LaVonda Brown developed an interest in eye tracking while at Georgia Tech. The fascination with all the information that can be derived by scanning the so-called Windows on the Soul formed the basis of EyeGage, one of 20 companies participating in this year’s Disrupt Startup Battlefield.
The startup’s entry into the TechCrunch competition comes as EyeGage launches its first product: an app designed to let users know if they’re sober enough to drive. Otherwise, they’ll receive a big red “Do not drive” warning and a link to call an Uber or Lyft. The application is free and has a dual purpose. In addition to the obvious consumer goals, it also serves as an option for EyeGage’s growing eye data set.
âConsumers can download the app, take photos of their eyes, and then we can suggest whether or not they should use carpooling. Basically not behind the wheel, in their eyes, âsays Brown. ” It’s free. I like to call it a barter subscription service. They give us photos and videos of their eyes and we give them access to technology so they can make responsible decisions.
The app is the most advanced aspect of EyeGage’s business right now – and like most business activities, it will help build its eye data set. The company will begin by measuring the impact of alcohol on various aspects of the eyes, including studies it is currently conducting with participants at a federally approved testing center. Those who sign entry forms will drink alcohol, while the company collects pictures and videos of their eyes, as well as a blood sample.
Marijuana is next on the list, given its current legal status in some states. Other drugs like opioids, amphetamines and benzodiazepines will be more difficult to collect, although hospitals and clinics that distribute legal versions of these substances could be a good source to collect this data – with the appropriate consent. .
Brown says work environments are a logical next step as well. Law enforcement is also on the list, although there are various obstacles to achieving these types of partnerships. âWe are targeting high risk workplaces like construction, manufacturing and transportation. In these industries in particular, the rate of drug and alcohol use is high, âshe told TechCrunch.
There may also be potential use of the company’s data set beyond its immediate use to detect substances in the body.
âThere are many areas where eye behavior monitoring can be used,â adds Brown. âAnd, of course, you can identify someone by their eyes. It can be used to diagnose certain illnesses, concussions or diabetes, and it can be used in different market segments. Your eyes are so informative about what is going on in your body. They can tell if you’ve been drinking caffeine, depending on how it reacts to light. If it’s too fast, it’s kind of a boost. If it’s too slow, it’s kind of a depressant.
EyeGage has raised $ 142,455 to date. This includes $ 42,455 in pre-seed from friends and family, as well as a recent award of $ 100,000 from the Google Black Founders Fund.