Bow High School InvenTeam
Bow High School's Per. 2 EDD Class
Students of Bow High School chose to explore methods to reduce glare for
their InvenTeam project. Glare is the sensation produced by luminance within the visual
field that is sufficiently greater than the luminance to which the eyes can adapt. It
causes annoyance, discomfort or loss in visual performance and visibility. The presence of
glare is common while driving, skiing, boating or snowmobiling, and can lead to accidents.
Through research, Bow determined that there were no existing forms of glare reduction for
these activities, and therefore concentrated their efforts on such a device in hopes of
making such accidents less frequent.
The Bow InvenTeam, known as the Glare Force, set out to create a device that
is clear, but dims to different levels depending on the intensity of light that needed to
be blocked. They visualized a device that would reduce glare quickly under a range of light
conditions and readjust quickly to a clear state when the glare is no longer present. In
addition, the device should still allow the transmission of light from lower intensity
sources, while in a darkened state. The material would be adaptable to use in windows,
windshields, visors, goggles and glasses.
The first choice for a workable design included a transmissive LCD panel,
such as those used in overhead projection panels. When stimulated by a glare source, the
directional photo sensors (connected to a computer through an interface) would activate a
computer program that would darken a part of the LCD panel in line between the glare source
and the eye. Many problems arose with this prototype; the LCD panels were too difficult and
complex to work with. As an alternative, the team decided to use panels of Suspended
Particle Device (SPD), commonly known as Smart Glass. Each piece of smart glass can be made
more or less transparent based on applied voltage. When activated by a glare source, the
directional photo sensors would darken a panel of Smart Glass in a line between the glare
source and the eye. When powered, the suspended particles of the device are arranged
randomly and tend to absorb light causing the panel to appear darker. When not powered, the
suspended particles become aligned in such a way that light tends to pass through the
device-leading the panel to appear more transparent.
The students chose two student leaders for the team to coordinate and
facilitate the project, and relied on guidance from an instructor and advisors. The
remainder of the team divided into subgroups to study pertinent information such as optics
and the eye, required circuitry and LCD technology. The Glare Force encouraged continuous
periodic cycles of open review, feedback and revisions throughout both semesters. The
students used class time, weekly after-school meetings and hours of independent research to
reach a solution. The team chose to hire three engineering consultants to assist and
educate them through the project. Professor Steve Ryan of New Hampshire Technical Institute
was hired as a general consultant. Angelo Arecchi of Sunrise Instruments provided training
about light and light measurement. Jerry Herman of Pulse Control Technologies recommended
detecting the location of glare with one sensor instead of the directional sensor array.
The team's smart glass prototype has several positive features: it reacts
automatically to light and is adaptable to a variety of applications. Some concerns
included the panel not being transparent enough to see when the panel is darkened at night
or under low light intensities. Also, the level of opaqueness is not sufficient in testing
to reduce bright light and the power requirements are too large for mobile applications.
However, overall, the students' determination throughout the project led them to resolve
some difficult technical issues.