Jan. 29, 2013 at 2:22 PM ET
Labels on side-view mirrors warning drivers that objects are closer than they appear may soon disappear thanks to a new optical prescription for them, according to a new study.
The prescription draws from a technique used to correct for nearsightedness and reduced focusing ability called progressive additive optics. It appears to eliminate blinds spots and make the distance of cars approaching from behind look about as far away as they really are.
The mirror is broken up into three resolution zones: one for distance vision, one for close-up viewing and a middle zone making the transition between the two, according to team member Hocheol Lee from the Hanbat National University in Korea.
“The image a vehicle approaching from behind would only be reduced in the progressive zone in the center while the image sizes in the inner and outer zones are not changed,” Lee said in a news release from the Optical Society.
This video of the progressive mirror demonstrates the accurate depiction of the distance to the approaching car from behind. Notice that the car disappears from the mirror just as it comes into view out the side window — no blind spot.
According to Lee, the mirror isn’t crystal clear, but the slight blurriness and other imperfections are minor tradeoffs for the expanded field of view, more reliable depth perception, and lack of blind spot.
Before the mirrors are available on U.S. cars, the researchers noted the design must first gain approval from auto safety regulators.
For more information, check out the paper on the mirror published Monday in the journal Optics Letters.