Backup cameras are increasingly popular options on new cars, and there's a good chance they'll be standard equipment for safety reasons in a few years. So why are we still using a piece of glass to see behind us most of the time?
Nissan has invented a new technology that integrates a camera with the traditional rearview mirror, and it may change the way we monitor our surrounds when we're driving forever.
It's called the Smart rearview mirror, and Nissan plans to offer it as an option on their Japanese market cars in the spring followed by a global debut next year.
The Smart rearview mirror works thusly: within the structure of the traditional mirror is an LCD screen that can be activated at the driver's request. When it's turned on, a 1,300,000 pixel narrow-angle camera in the back of the vehicle projects a clear, unobstructed view of the rear flanks.
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The great thing about this is it eliminates both blind spots and views obscured by C-pillars, tall people in the backseat, or stuff in the hatchback. Got a car whose rear visibility isn't so great, like a Nissan 370Z? Not a problem anymore.
Nissan also says the camera provides a clear image in any kind of weather, including snow and rain, and it automatically dims depending on light conditions. And if the camera isn't needed, it can simply be turned off, reverting the mirror to a normal one.
Like any good car technology, Nissan is testing the Smart rearview mirror in the world of motorsports first. They'll be testing it on the ZEOD RC electric race car set to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year and on other NISMO race cars.
I like this technology because it doesn't replace the time-tested glass rearview mirror, but supplements what it can do. It seems to be the best of both worlds here. I look forward to testing it on actual cars someday.