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Innovative Rear-View Mirror Eliminates Blind Spots

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On: Fri, Jun 15, 2012 at 3:11PM | By: Chris Weiss

Innovative Rear-View Mirror Eliminates Blind Spots

Mathematics professor Dr. R. Andrew Hicks of Philadelphia's Drexel University has designed a solution to a nagging problem. His specially designed rear-view mirror eliminates blind spots, a hazard that has plagued drivers for as long as cars have had mirrors and roads have had lanes. His solution doesn't use any fancy sensor technology, but mathematical-based design.

Hicks recently received a US patent for his mirror design, which greatly increases the field of view displayed in the mirror while keeping distortion to a minimum. The result is that you can clearly see what's behind you, without a blind spot.

The mirror is based on a mathematical algorithm that controls the light that reflects off of it. Drivers get 45 degrees worth of view (versus the 15 to 17 percent that Drexel says current mirrors offer) without any discernible distortion. To accomplish that, Hicks breaks the mirror into a multitude of tiny mirrors set at specific angles, a construction he likens to the surface of a disco ball. The tiny mirrors are not visible to the eye, and give the appearance of a single surface.

"Imagine that the mirror’s surface is made of many smaller mirrors turned to different angles, like a disco ball," Hicks described in a Drexel news release. "The algorithm is a set of calculations to manipulate the direction of each face of the metaphorical disco ball so that each ray of light bouncing off the mirror shows the driver a wide, but not-too-distorted, picture of the scene behind him."

Unfortunatley for Hicks (and drivers), a US law stipulates that new cars sold must have a flat driver's side mirror. The passenger's side mirror can use a curved mirror, but it must include the old "objects in mirror are closer than they appear" disclaimer. Hicks' curved mirror would fall on the wrong side of those regulations, despite its potentially superior design. Hicks has received some interest from manufacturers and may look to sell the mirror as an aftermarket product or in markets outside the country. It's a simple solution that could save money over the blind-spot warning systems offered by car manufacturers.


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