Londonderry Youths’ SMARTwheel Hopes to Launch Soon

Londonderry’s SMARTwheel entrepreneurs are fundraising to launch their product after putting on hold a deal with an investor from the television show “Shark Tank.”

“It’s really important to us that the product work for any new driver or anyone who wants to use it,” said SMARTwheel co-founder TJ Evarts, explaining the “Shark Tank” investor wanted them to license their technology, which has even captured the attention of President Obama, to auto manufacturers. “A lot of teens don’t have new cars. We want this to be something they can use in any car.”

Evarts, who was involved in the Londonderry High School robotics program, and co-founders Jaiden Evarts, 17, and Bryeton Evarts, 14, his sisters, were homeschooled in Londonderry.

Displaying an early passion for technology and engineering, Evarts served as the 2012 captain of the Londonderry High School robotics team, leading it to win the Granite State Regional Chairman’s award, the most prestigious award in the robotics program.

Now, a high school graduate, Evarts’ primary focus is on bringing the technology he developed with his sisters to market.

The purpose of the intelligent steering wheel cover, which slips over any steering wheel, is to save lives by preventing distracted driving, particularly among teens.

Synced to a smartphone application, the SMARTwheel sends information about a driver’s performance to a third party.

“It allows cell network access and real-time alerts. Parents want to be able to see what’s happening. This gives them eyes in the car,” Evarts said.

Additionally, if a driver using the SMART-wheel deviates from safe hand positions, indicating they are distracted, the device beeps to alert the driver.

If a driver takes the SMARTwheel off their steering wheel, the event is recorded to the app.

When asked his thoughts on feedback from an investor on “Shark Tank” that teens won’t like the device, Evarts said he has been working with insurance companies to provide discounts for those who use SMARTwheel and adding cool features, such as a Siri-type app that allows drivers to do what they want, but safely.

Londonderry entrepreneurs TJ Evarts, Jaiden Evarts, and Bryeton Evarts are fundraisiing to launch their SMARTwheel product. Courtesy photo
Londonderry entrepreneurs TJ Evarts, Jaiden Evarts, and Bryeton Evarts are fundraisiing to launch their SMARTwheel product. Courtesy photo

Evarts, who founded the company with his sisters Jaiden and Bryeton, was excited to announce last week that the company was launching a new line of features that transforms the SMARTwheel into one device that rules everything.

The SMARTwheel Genius, for example, is a full-blown SMARTwheel with gesture recognition technology that allows the driver to control their vehicle and mobile device with simple taps and swipes without having to look down at the wheel.

“It’s a big jump, but we’re really excited to offer those features,” he said, describing three different versions of the original model they hope to see on the market. “We’re really close to a final prototype and most of the manufacturing is lined up.”

In addition to the updated SMARTwheel models, the company is working on developing an anti-drowsy function that would alert drivers if their performance indicates they are beginning to nod off behind the wheel.

So far, SMARTwheel has raised a little over $2,000 of its $50,000 goal through crowd-funding website INDIEGOGO.

Evarts said he had an exciting opportunity to attend the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., where he had the unique opportunity to promote his product and make important connections in the industry.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

Moving forward, with the funds they generated through INDIEGOGO, Evarts said they need to start purchasing units and soliciting interest.

“We need to refine how we describe the product and launch the product,” he said. “Initially, they are being sold online through our website. We won’t probably get into retail until next year. We expect to see a lot of sales through partnerships with driver’s education schools and insurance companies.”
The target retail price for the first version of the SMARTwheel is $199; but, the technology is available for $109 on the company’s website for those who want “to jump onboard early” with an investment.

For more information about SMARTwheel or to purchase a device, visit their website at www.smartwheel.usa.com.

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