See-Through System turns view-blocking vehicles transparent
By Ben Coxworth
October 17, 2013
Nobody likes being stuck behind a large, slow-moving vehicle on the highway. Not only does it hold you up, but it's also difficult to see around, in order to check whether or not it's safe to pass. Prof. Michel Ferreira and his team from Portugal's University of Porto, however, have come up with what could someday be a solution to that problem. It's an augmented reality system that lets drivers see right through the vehicle that they're following.
The technology is known as the See-Through System, and it works – or could work, in its finished form – as follows ...
Large vehicles such as transport trucks and buses are equipped with a forward-facing webcam on their windshield. Cars, meanwhile, have a transparent LCD screen built into their windshield. When a driver gets stuck behind one of those bigger vehicles, they have the option of wirelessly receiving a live video feed from its windshield camera. The transmitted footage is displayed on the car's windshield LCD in such a way that it lines up with the actual through-the-glass view of the back of the larger vehicle.
As a result, the driver is able to see what the road in front of the blocking vehicle looks like, in the position that the vehicle occupies on the road.
So far, the system has been tested in both a driving simulator, and on an actual vehicle traveling on the road. While it definitely shows promise, there's currently still a 200-millisecond delay in the video transmission. That might not seem like much, but as pointed out in a report in New Scientist, it's enough to make an oncoming car appear 10 meters (33 ft) farther way than it really is, if both vehicles are traveling at 90 km/h (56 mph).
The See-Through System has been in development since at least 2010, although it gained new attention when it was presented at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality this month. It's demonstrated in the video below.
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