Disco ball-like side mirror for cars eliminates blind spots, without the fish-eye effect
By Ben Coxworth
June 8, 2012
While there are already various anti-blind-spot automobile mirrors on the market, these all tend to incorporate a very curved surface that drastically distorts the appearance of objects seen in them – given that drivers use their mirrors to avoid getting in accidents, it’s kind of important that those mirrors show the surrounding traffic as it really is. That’s why Dr. Andrew Hicks, a mathematics professor at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, has created a side mirror that eliminates the blind spot, while causing almost no distortion.
Although Hicks’ mirror is made up of one continuous piece of glass, it has a subtle non-uniform curve that is the result of tens of thousands of calculations. “Imagine that the mirror’s surface is made of many smaller mirrors turned to different angles, like a disco ball,” he said. “The algorithm is a set of calculations to manipulate the direction of each face of the metaphorical disco ball so that each ray of light bouncing off the mirror shows the driver a wide, but not-too-distorted, picture of the scene behind him.”
As a result, the mirror offers drivers a field of view of approximately 45 degrees, while any distortion of shapes or flat lines is “barely detectable.” A regular flat driver’s side mirror, by contrast, can only manage about 15 to 17 degrees.
Unfortunately, cars made in the U.S. are required to come from the factory with flat driver’s side mirrors only – curved mirrors are only permissible on the passenger side, and then only if they’re marked with the phrase “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” Nonetheless, Andrew hopes that his mirror may become commercially available as an aftermarket safety accessory. He has reportedly already gotten some interest from investors and manufacturers.
Although Hicks first developed the mirror several years ago, it received a U.S. patent just last month.
Source: Drexel University
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