July 5, 2012 at 12:37 PM ET
Smart headlights are under development that reduce glare from falling rain and snow, making driving in nasty weather a bit less stressful.
The system uses a digital projector to illuminate raindrops at the top of the field of view for a few milliseconds as a processor predicts their path and switch off light rays that would normally hit the drops.
The result is a slightly dimmer headlight, but one that blocks out so much glare from falling rain and snow that visibility improves.
The entire process from capture to reaction takes 13 milliseconds, explains Carnegie Mellon University’s Illumination and Imaging lab where proof-of-concept headlights have been tested.
While the lab prototype demonstrates the feasibility of the system, it will be a while before our cars come equipped with the technology.
For example, the team needs to get the system working in a moving vehicle in the real world as well make their prediction algorithm robust to the effect of wind on rain and snow.
Then, the team technology must be scaled up for cost-effective integration with cars — something the researchers believe is possible with cutting-edge LED technology.
For more details on the project, check out the team’s lab page and this paper presented at the IEEE Conference on Computational Photography.
— via Technology Review
John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. To learn more about him, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. For more of our Future of Technology series, watch the featured video below.