Nissan bringing “smart rearview mirror” to Geneva

Sections: Car Safety

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Nissan smart rearview mirror press photo

The Nissan smart rearview mirror gives the driver a choice between viewing an LCD screen display of a rear camera, shown here, or a traditional rearview mirror glass. (Photo courtesy Nissan)

Billing the technology as “the world’s first LCD monitor that not only provides clear rearward visibility under a variety of conditions, but also allows the driver the ability to switch between the LCD monitor and the traditional rearview mirror,” Nissan is bringing its smart rearview mirror to the Geneva Auto Show.

A Nissan press release said it works like this: The LCD monitor resides within the housing of the rearview mirror and can be activated at the driver’s preference. When you want it, you turn it on, and it displays a feed from the high-resolution camera mounted out back. When the driver doesn’t want the LCD monitor, he can switch back to mirror mode, where it’s just like the rearview mirror you know and love. Quoth Nissan:

The Smart rearview mirror provides a wider and clearer view when compared to a standard mirror. The LCD monitor provides unobstructed images of the rear flanks, making traditional obstructions associated with traditional rearview mirrors, such as C-pillars, a non-issue. This helps the driver grasp the traffic conditions within the area in a much more efficient manner.

Rearward visibility from conventional rearview mirrors can be obstructed when there are tall passengers in the rear seats, or when luggage is stacked high in the rear compartment. However, with the Smart rearview mirror, rearward visibility is free from in-vehicle obstructions, thanks to the camera mounted on the rear window that displays its images on the LCD monitor built into the rear mirror.

In addition, the Smart rearview mirror can provide a crisp clear image in a variety of environmental conditions including rain, snow, dawn and dusk. The high-quality camera and image processing system implemented in the LCD monitor consistently results in a clear image with minimal glare, even during sunrise or sunset conditions or when being followed by a vehicle with strong headlights.

Interestingly, Nissan had to overcome some technological challenges to make the smart rearview mirror a reality. Since no standard 4:3 or 16:9 screen ratio could fit well within a rearview mirror’s traditional form factor, Nissan came up with an approximate 4:1 format. The camera, meanwhile, is a 1.3 megapixel narrow-angle affair specifically designed to work well with the smart rearview mirror’s display format.

Chief Planning Officer and Executive Vice President Andy Palmer said, “Smart rearview mirror will give our customers the best possible view no matter how tall the passengers in the back seat, or the road conditions. It also offers the possibility of new and exciting designs for our upcoming models because Smart rearview mirror is an alternative to a very wide rear window for good visibility. We’ll have the flexibility to create new shapes, and to further improve aerodynamics for better fuel efficiency.”

The first application of the smart rearview mirror is likely to be the ZEOD-RC racer set to take to the track at Le Mans this summer, the press release said. NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani said, “Under the harsh driving conditions in the world of motorsports, retaining a clear view for the race driver is of utmost importance. In that sense, the Smart rearview mirror will be a powerful tool for our Nissan NISMO drivers. Also, we have high expectations towards improving the cars’ aerodynamic design, thanks to the Smart rearview mirror, thereby expanding the possibilities of race cars to a new level.”

After that, Nissan plans to introduce the smart rearview mirror to global markets starting in 2015, the release said.

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