Friday, October 12, 2012

Why Your Next Car Could Come With Transparent Back Seats

We have backup sensors, rear-mounted cameras, and even cars that park themselves. But despite all these aids, drivers still ram into lamp posts or fall inside drainage when trying to drive backwards . So researchers at Keio University in Japan have developed a  vehicle that turns the back seats transparent when reversing.

The “see-through Toyota Prius” on display at the 2012 Digital Content Expo in Tokyo. So since this post is about backward view transparency, i have decided to give you a backdoor view of this amazing innovation.Enjoy.

Yes, its not in the market yet, but this prototype vehicle utilizes a camouflage technology that displays what’s behind the hybrid hatchback in the vehicle’s rear passenger area. It’s a technology that’s been around for a decade, and it’s finally beginning to be more feasible for production.

The invisibility system takes video footage of the space behind the vehicle, then projects the streaming feed onto the back seats, giving the illusion of transparency. The projection surface is woven with thousands of retroreflective beads that pick up the light from the projection, and the demo vehicle will also include a display embedded in the driver’s headrest.

“The driver will feel like he’s driving a glass car,” says Masahiko Inami, one of the developers of the original invisibility technology. ”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.”

But how far in the future? Inami and his team aren’t saying when the technology could come to market, but with the cost of the materials and small video cameras dropping, the feature could arrive just as autonomous vehicles take to the roads, negating the need for the transparent tech.

Happy driving. 

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