The use of cameras to project an image onto a screen to view the sides and rear of the car has long been a subject for vehicle technology concepts since the 1980s. I fondly recall reading abut this being used on a prototype vehicle from Mercedes-Benz as far as back as 33 years ago.
Fast-forward to the year 2020 and the technology is now a feature available on high-end production vehicles. One of the latest manufacturers to employ it is Lexus, via its Digital Side View Monitor system.
Taking its cue from conventional side-view mirrors, the Digital Side View Monitors use cameras placed in aerodynamic casings located where the usual side-view mirror housings would normally be. These project an image on two 5-inch monitors placed at the base of the A-pillars, one on each side.
There are distinct advantages to having such a system. These include:
– Reducing or totally eliminating Blind Spots: The cameras are positioned in such a way that they give a view not only of what’s at the rear of the vehicle but immediately alongside the car as well. This means bikers, cyclists, and other obstacles that would normally be unseen on regular side mirrors are now visible.
– They can be customized to show reference lines: This can help the driver see how close he is to the wall, car beside him, or even other vehicles on the road.
– It gives an extended view: Lexus’ system can automatically switch to Extended View when the turn indicator is switched on or when putting the transmission in reverse. This makes for a better view of what’s behind and alongside the vehicle, making life easier even when parking in tight spots.
– It reduces glare and is less prone to snow and rainwater: The system will automatically switch to a view that doesn’t reflect the glare from following vehicles. Moreover, the design allows the cameras to be free from raindrops or snow and keeps the view clear at all times.
– They are aerodynamic: Initially available in Lexus’ Japanese home market since 2018, the technology can now be specified on the Lexus ES sedan beginning this March. The small yet powerful cameras allow the luxury Japanese carmaker to incorporate them in sleek housings that complement the ES’s equally svelte lines.
Yes, the future has definitely arrived. As drivers, we can get a clearer picture of what’s beside and behind us while eliminating the limitations of traditional side-view mirrors.
The Lexus Digital Side View Monitors will make their debut on the ES sedan this March at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show.