Japanese researchers at Keio University in Japan have developed at protoype of a system that gives the impression the rear seat of a car can become transparent, reports Wired.
The NHTSA estimates that backover accidents account for as many as 292 deaths per year and as many as 18,000 injuries. Â Although it has been lobbying to have rear cameras fitted to all new cars by the end of 2014, reversing cameras still do not provide a complete rear view of the vehicle.Â The system being developed by the Keio University team will make the rear seat of the car look like it isn’t there at all, providing a super wide rearward view.
It relies on a technology called retro-reflective projection technology that is also used in optical camouflage contexts. However, in this application, wideview images from rear facing cameras are projected on to the rear seat. Even with two passengers in the rear of the car, the view is still substantially better than through a much smaller, dash mounted display. The fabric on the rear seat is specially treated with thousands of retroreflective beads that are woven into it.
“The driver will feel like he’s driving a glass car,” says Masahiko Inami, one of the developers of the original invisibility technology.Â ”Sir Arthur C. Clarke said, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ I want to develop technology like magic that general people can use easily in the future.”
Although the technology was first developed over a decade ago, it is now becoming much realistic to bring it into more mainstream use. However, when pushed on this point, Inami wasn’t yet prepared to commit to a commercial timeframe.