Okay, I guess I should be clear right up front that, no, I can’t technically prove that Bosch engineers read my article from about a year ago, saw my dynamic, LCD-based sun visor idea, and decided that, hey, let’s take this high-quality idea as our own and develop a prototype and show it at CES! I mean, yes, it’s effectively the same idea, but I guess it’s possible their engineers came up with it independently. Or, more likely, they’re monitoring my brainwaves via the ignition coil in my car. Either way, this new visor tech is actually a very good idea.
As a refresher for those of you who, somehow, don’t recall each and every article I write immediately and in detail, in January of last year I proposed an idea to help eliminate the dangerous and unpleasant driving experience of not being able to see shit because the sun is trying to burn out your retinas.
Most conventional sun visors are not up to the task of helping with this for a variety of reasons, especially in morning/early evening situations where the sun is near the horizon.
So, to remedy this situation, I proposed having a grid of LCD “pixels” embedded in the windshield, that could darken either via a poke of a finger in a lower-tech way:
...or via sensors to detect areas of intense sunlight:
Bosch has opted for an arguably more sophisticated approach, where a camera watches your face and decides where your need shade, and then darkens however many hexagonal pixels on their little LCD visor thing are necessary, blocking the sun, and, as an added benefit, making you look a bit like Sister Night from The Watchmen:
Bosch is combining a camera with a lot of AI to accomplish this:
Virtual Visor links an LCD panel with a driver or occupant-monitoring camera to track the sun’s casted shadow on the driver’s face. The system uses artificial intelligence to locate the driver within the image from the driver-facing camera. It also utilizes AI to determine the landmarks on the face ‒ including where the eyes, nose and mouth are located ‒ so that it can identify shadows on the face. The algorithm analyzes the driver’s view, darkening only the section of the display through which light hits the driver’s eyes. The rest of the display remains transparent, no longer obscuring a large section of the driver’s field of vision.
While I think maybe the camera and AI setup is a bit of overkill and would needlessly jack up the costs more than is worth it, especially when the action of just poking where you want the sun blocked with a finger would be so straightforward and intuitive, I do like their use of a separate visor-like panel for this.
An add-on LCD visor could be more easily retrofitted to existing cars and would likely be cheaper than a whole windshield, though it would need to be able to be set low enough to handle the dangerous East-into-the-sunrise or West-into-the-sunset driving situations.
Stories from journalists trying out a prototype system at CES seem to like the concept, but the AI response time and tracking still needs work, it seems, which makes sense, since it’s just a prototype.
I still think it makes more sense to implement a simpler poke-to-darken system and to hell with the cameras and AI. Make something that can be installed in 20 minutes in any car and sell for $29.95 at Pep Boys and I think they could have something here.
See? I’m not bitter that we had the same basic idea but they’re a big company with resources to follow through shit and I’m just some yutz. That’s how the world works, I guess.