Transparent Car in Development, Prototype Already Working

A Transparent Car Is in Development, Prototype Already Working 1 photo
Photo: Screenshots from IEEE Spectrum's Youtube Account
Imagine you’d look at the backseat and you actually saw the person standing in the back of the car. Wouldn’t it be helpful if you were able to see through the front door and avoid getting too close to the biker riding next to you on the highway? Of course it would be. And that is pretty much what a Japanese team of professors claim to have created using augmented reality.
The concept is simple and could change the entire auto industry. Heck, it could change any industry.

Imagine that inner surfaces of a car could turn into windows and offer the driver a bird’s-eye view. You’d have sights of the angles that are normally blocked, thus greately improving safety features.

How does it work? Using a combination of projectors, cameras and special mirrors in order to reflect what is right outside the car and show them onto surfaces inside.

It could also be used in the aircraft industry

The concept’s creators - Susumu Tachi and Msahiko Inami, both professors at the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University, in Yokohama, Japan - claim to have already implemented the technology in test cars. Using cameras, imaging software, projector displays and reflective surfaces, they proved it’s possible.

They installed the system on a Toyota Prius, but it might as well be part of any future car. In fact, they believe this technology could later be used in the aircraft industry as well.

A ground-braking projector

According to its creators, the ground-braking discovery is a new projector system that reflects light precisely back along the path it just took. By doing this, they can project the correct image, in its proper apparent position, directly at the observer - provided that the projector is close enough to the observer’s eyes.

So far, they’ve successfully used a system that caters to just one person, which in this case is the driver, but future developments could make all the people in the car have the same view. They do, however, still need to work on several improvements to make the system flawless.

Is it functional? They claim it is: “next we built a setup specifically for a Toyota Prius that made the backseat virtually transparent, so that the driver could see everything behind the car when driving in reverse. In this application, the system had one projector and six lenses, allowing the driver to act naturally without the system’s having to track the movements of the driver’s head.”

The team is already collaborating with auto companies

The obvious next step is to try to implement the new technology into a commercial system. The Japanese scientists claim they are currently collaborating with several automakers and automotive electronics companies to get the concept into the automotive industry. Who knows, maybe we'll see this technology turn into an optional feature soon enough. Meanwhile, take a closer look in the video below.

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