Nissan is a pioneer in auto visibility technology. It has made waves with its Around View Monitor, the feature that makes parking much easier. The technology offers a virtual top view of the vehicle, allowing the driver to see the position of the vehicle in relation to its surroundings. Now, the Japanese automaker is introducing another visibility feature, one which will let drivers back up their vehicles without needing to look back.
Nissan’s latest offering is the Smart Rearview Mirror, which the company has detailed ahead of the feature’s debut at the Geneva Motor Show. This functions as a conventional rearview mirror as well as an LCD screen. The driver can turn the display from the ordinary rearview mirror into an integrated LCD that presents a video feed from the high-resolution, 1.3-megapixel camera which is situated at the rear bumper of the vehicle to provide a better view.
The change can be done with just a touch of a button—the driver can go back and forth from the traditional view to the LCD display.
This rear camera is unlike the rear cameras currently found in some cars: it can be used anytime and for more than just reversing. It is a narrow-angle type specifically designed for this feature; according to Nissan, wide-angle cameras result in poor-quality images when used for LCD mirror-screens.
Images from other visibility cameras are typically displayed on center screens usually used for navigation and infotainment purposes. In the case of the Smart Rearview Mirror, the images will be viewed on the LCD display with the 4:1 aspect ratio, which is clearer and wider than the ordinary rearview mirror.
What makes this technology more impressive is that it comes with built-in image processing. The camera can upgrade the image quality in rain or snow, low-light situations and even in the glare of direct sunlight.
This latest technology will be launched on the Nissan ZEOD RC, the hybrid race car that will be a part of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June and other company races. Nissan believes the addition of the feature will boost driver visibility and make the automobile more aerodynamic. The camera will be made available to Japanese drivers as a dealer option this spring, but the Smart Rearview Mirror will be released to global markets in 2015. It is unclear if the feature will be available in the United States.
The only concern with the Smart Rearview Mirror should it be offered in the U.S. is whether the display it provides will be legal under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations. Federal laws currently prohibit video visible to the driver when the vehicle is in motion. Because the camera will be on anytime and the video feed can be accessed anytime, this feature is bound to pose a problem for drivers.
What is next for Nissan? Another similar technology can be expected from the Japanese automaker. According to engineer Yuichi Tazaki, the next step is to develop a camera that will get rid of rear headlight glare during night driving.