Using cameras in place of a car's rearview mirrors has long been a feature of pie-in-the-sky concept cars, although so far, it's failed to translate into the world of production vehicles. Nissan is looking to change that, though, with its new Smart Rearview Mirror.
The Smart Rearview Mirror blends everything we know about traditional reflective glass mirrors with a video feed from the rear of the car into a form factor that's immediately recognizable to the average motorist. With a flick of a switch, drivers can jump back and forth between what they'd normally see through the rearview mirror and the camera's feed from the back of the car. The mirror itself features an integrated LCD display with a four-to-one aspect ratio.
With a flick of a switch, drivers can jump back and forth between what they'd normally see through the rearview mirror and the camera's feed from the back of the car.
Nissan is no stranger to this sort of visibility technology. Its AroundView system remains one of our very favorite features in the company's cars and SUVs, particularly its larger vehicles. We'll admit we're intrigued by the technology, especially if, as engineer Yuichi Tazaki explains, Nissan can develop a way for the camera to eliminate rear headlight glare when driving at night. The question is, will this sort of technology ever reach our shores?
Nissan claims this new tech will see a rollout to "global markets" in 2015, although whether that includes the US remains uncertain. "As a global car company, we have the ability to tap into a lot of technologies," Nissan spokesman Dan Bedore tells Autoblog. "[Smart Rearview Mirror] is something we'd be interested in, but we don't have a US-specific announcement." We're also left wondering if a technology that soaks up the entire standard rearview mirror image in favor of a video feed is legal under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. We've seen other production mirrors that integrate rearview camera displays, but they have always left the lion's share of the mirror's reflective element in place at all times.
The Smart Rearview Mirror will get tested out at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Nissan's ZEOD RC racer. Its debut, though, will be next week at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. Take a look below for a video of the mirror in action, as well as a press release on the new tech from Nissan.
Related GalleryNissan Smart Rearview Mirror
YOKOHAMA, Japan (February, 28, 2014) - Nissan Motor Company, Ltd., has announced the development of the Smart rearview mirror, the world's first LCD monitor that not only provides clear rearward visibility under various conditions, but also allows the driver the ability to switch between the LCD monitor and the traditional rearview mirror, depending on the driver's preference. Nissan will introduce the Smart rearview mirror at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show.
The Smart rearview mirror is housed within the structure of the rearview mirror, with a built-in LCD monitor that can be activated in place of the conventional mirror. A high-resolution camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle provides the driver with a clear unobstructed view of the rear flanks, allowing the ability to check blind spots and other traffic conditions. The camera projects a clear image onto the monitor to provide the driver with a better view for a more comfortable driving experience.
An additional feature of the Smart rearview mirror is the versatile switch function. Operated by a control located at the bottom of the mirror, the driver can utilise the traditional rearview mirror system, or with a simple flip of a switch, gain an unobstructed rearward view behind the vehicle embedded on the LCD display.
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.
Nissan has historically used its unique high-performance cameras and image processing technologies to help expand the driver's view. For example, the world's first Around View Monitor provides ease of parking via a bird's eye view of the vehicle's surroundings, creating composite images caught on four cameras to display a virtual 360-degree image of the vehicle, including the sides and rear of the car.
The Around View Monitor system has evolved from its initial introduction. When the driver must execute a blind corner turn, or when exiting a car park, the Front Wide View Function and Rear
Wide View Function can provide the driver with a 180-degree view of the front and back of the vehicle on the monitor inside the car. MOD (Moving Object Detection) informs the driver of moving objects detected near the car when manoeuvring out of a parking space. The cameras placed on the front windscreen also contribute to other revolutionary safety technologies, including the Lane Departure Prevention system, which alerts the driver when the car unintentionally leaves the driving lane and helps the driver move the vehicle back into the lane. The Emergency Brake System, detects a car in front of the vehicle also by cameras and alerts the driver with an in-vehicle audible and visual warning and if necessary, emergency brake is applied to help avoid an imminent collision.
The Smart rearview mirror is equipped with a newly developed high-performance, narrow-angle camera and a specially-shaped LCD monitor. Matching a standard wide angle camera lens to this unique monitor could not be done since the images from the camera, when adjusted to the special monitor size, produced a low-resolution image resulting in an insufficient picture quality. To rectify this challenge, a 1,300,000 pixel narrow-angle camera was developed so that picture quality would not be sacrificed when formatted for the specially designed monitor.
Also, conventional monitors possess an aspect ratio of 4:3 or 16:9, but these traditional-sized aspect ratios could not adequately be displayed in a rearview mirror. Therefore, an LCD monitor with a unique aspect ratio of approximately 4:1 was developed.
When the LCD monitor and mirror are used in unison, the transparency of the monitor and the reflection in the mirror can create an image overlap ─ a dual layered effect-making it difficult to get a clean view, but with the Smart rearview mirror, Nissan applied a unique technology to the structural design of the LCD monitor and the mirror, enabling it to function without any image overlaps.
"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," said Andy Palmer, Chief Planning Officer and executive Vice President of Nissan. "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."
Nissan plans to implement the Smart rearview mirror in the ZEOD RC that is scheduled to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other NISMO race cars. Shoichi Miyatani, NISMO's president says, "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."
Nissan is planning to introduce the Smart rearview mirror to global markets in 2015. The plan is to offer the product as a dealer option this spring in the Japanese market.