Spectrum has posted an amazing video of a “transparent” car created by Japanese researchers. The car uses projectors, cameras, and special mirrors to reflect what’s outside the car onto the surfaces inside. The resulting images allow you to see what’s going on all around the vehicle, even behind you and in blind spots.
Created by Susumu Tachi and Masahiko Inami of the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University, the project is designed to help drivers stay aware of their surroundings. The technology isn’t new – this sort of video camouflage has been around for a while – but by shrinking it down and sticking it into a car you can do a sort of reverse camouflage. Instead of hiding objects with light, the projector renders the Toyota Prius in the video “transparent.”
The creators say:
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 result is a panoramic view that the driver can use intuitively—quite unlike the current, counterintuitive system, which sends output from a rearview camera to a display mounted on the dashboard. We are now collaborating with several automakers and automotive electronics companies in turning our concept into a commercial system.
The technology is still being perfected but with a brighter projector, better cameras, and a smaller enclosure this could one day work seamlessly.