The choice is simple, rear view mirrors are either flat or wide angle, but we’re all familiar with the distorted image in the wide angle versions, those curved mirrors bend everything onto the convex surface. Then along comes Drexel University mathematics professor Dr. R. Andrew Hicks, who came up with an algorithm to precisely control the angle of light bouncing off of his curved mirror. The result is a mirror with a 45 degree field of view, eliminating the blind spot, compared to the 15 to 17 degrees normal for a flat mirror and there’s almost no distortion.
“Imagine that the mirror’s surface is made of many smaller mirrors turned to different angles, like a disco ball,” Hicks said. “The algorithm is a set of calculations to manipulate the direction of each face of the metaphorical disco ball so that each ray of light bouncing off the mirror shows the driver a wide, but not-too-distorted, picture of the scene behind him.”
The mirror still looks like a normal mirror, you don’t see a lot of little mirrors, the math handles the light, the blind spot goes away and is particularly well suited as a driver’s side mirror, everybody is happy. Well, almost everybody:
In the United States, regulations dictate that cars coming off of the assembly line must have a flat mirror on the driver’s side. Curved mirrors are allowed for cars’ passenger-side mirrors only if they include the phrase “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”
So it seems like this will have to be an aftermarket option.
It looks like it works, judging from the image at the top of this article, though the distance of objects seen in the reflection still appear farther than they actually are, which would have to be the case if you’re going to fit a wider field into the same space. I guess there are some things math can’t solve. Pretty interesting, though.