Ever wished you had eyes in the back of your head? That may soon become a reality, as automakers introduce new technology to improve visibility in upcoming vehicles. Nissan recently won an award for its Smart rearview mirror, which is the industry's first rearview mirror that can toggle back and forth between mirror and rearview camera settings.
Rearview camera displays that are built in to the rearview mirror aren't new. The 2014 Honda CR-Z comes standard with a rearview mirror with an integrated backup camera display. What's unique about Nissan's mirror is that you don't need to be backing up to use it and you can keep it on the whole time you’re driving, Ken Kcomt, Nissan North America’s product planning director for trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, told Automotive News.
This month, the Smart rearview mirror was honored by the World Traffic Safety Symposium with a Traffic Safety Achievement Award at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. Nissan installed a high-resolution camera on the rear of a vehicle that displays a video feed through the entire rearview mirror. The driver can alternate between mirror and camera views with the flick of a switch.
For example, if cargo or rear passengers are obstructing the rear window, the driver can turn on the video camera and clearly see what's behind the car. The mirror, which Nissan says will be available in Japan this spring and introduced to global markets in 2015, was also designed to minimize glare, even in bright light. Nissan exhibited the Smart rearview mirror on a 2014 Nissan Rogue at the New York auto show, though it has yet to announce which models will have it and whether it will be standard or optional equipment.
Nissan’s introduction of the Smart rearview mirror comes after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recent decree that backup cameras must be standard in all vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds by 2018. There is likely to be a lot more innovation in automotive camera technology as a result of the new rule, reports Design News, a trade publication for design engineers in the electronics, automotive, medical and military industries. According to the article, improvements are likely to include crisper display graphics, the increased use of 360-degree “surround” views and in-car Ethernet that links multiple cameras on a single network.
Andy Palmer, Nissan's executive vice president and chief planning officer, said in a statement, "Smart Rearview Mirror will give our customers the best possible view no matter how tall the passengers in the back seat or how bad the road conditions. It also offers the possibility of new and exciting designs for our upcoming models, ensuring that appearance no longer has to be compromised for visibility and functionality."
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