Researchers in Japan have built a system that gives drivers a 360-view of the world around them. The system isn't just for safety, it makes driving cooler, too.
The system, developed by researchers at the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University, is fairly simple. Susumu Tachi and Masahiko Inami describe the process here. They created a transparent Toyota Prius using a computer connected to a system of half mirrors, projectors, and extremely bright retro-reflective beads. Light from the projectors enters the beads and becomes bent. The beads then unbend the light and send the image back to the driver. The result is a clear, straight view of everything going on around the car.
Using this innovative technology, a driver can see through passengers in the back seat to the road behind them, or even see multiple angles around the car at once. Optical camouflage uses similar technology, but instead of hiding something, their complex system opens up the driver's view to the world outside the car. The pair describe multiple uses for the system beyond automobiles, including projecting MRI scans onto patients during surgery or giving interior rooms an outside view without windows. For drivers, they say these simple technologies are available today and can be implemented in any car.