Three scientists working in South Korea and the US have developed a new lens for side view mirrors that provide a wider view and less distortion than current mirrors. Multi-focal eyeglasses inspired the design. The scientists believe that it eliminates blind spots while driving. Unlike current mirrors it eliminates the problem of objects in the mirror being farther away than they appear.
For decades, North American cars have used two types of side view mirrors. The mirror closer to the driver is flat and gives an undistorted view of the side of the car. The passenger mirror is convex, which widens the field of view but distorts images. Objects look smaller and farther away than they actually are.
European cars have tried to solve this by using mirrors with two separate areas. The inner area has less distortion than the outer area but provides a wider field of view.
Hocheol Lee and Dohyun Kim from Hanbat National University in South Korea and Sung Yi from Portland State University in Oregon took inspiration from multi-focal eyeglasses.
"Like multifocal glasses that give the wearer a range of focusing abilities from near to far and everything in between, our progressive mirror consists of three resolution zones: one for distance vision, one for close-up viewing and a middle zone making the transition between the two," said Lee.
With their design, the images on the inside and outside are undistorted, but the section in the middle would still distort the image somewhat. However, the design provides a viewing angle more than twice as wide as a conventional mirror.
The design would not be much more expensive than current mirrors. It can be made using conventional glass molding techniques.
Because of safety implications, automotive mirror designs are regulated in the United States. For the mirrors to be used in cars, it would need approved.
The other problem with this research is that it is rapidly becoming outdated. Higher trim levels of the Honda Accord already shows the view from the rearview camera on the center display when changing lanes, and the Volkswagen XL1 is slated to use a similar system. We are rapidly entering a world where cars may not have side view mirrors.
Source: The Optical Society