It's a feature
that hasn't seen a whole lot of change in nearly 100 years, but Bosch is putting a new spin on the humble sun visor. One that could increase driver safety as well as comfort.
Bosch says that U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data shows the sun is the leading cause of weather-related accidents, causing twice as many accidents as other weather-related conditions. The temporary blindness caused by staring into the sun, which you'll most likely experience today on your winter commute, causes thousands of accidents per year. Bosch says that another study pegs the bright sunlight crash risk at 16 percent higher than normal weather.
Automakers have made some small changes to the sun visor over the decades, but it's largely still the same flat flap it's always been. Sure it'll pivot, and it might have a mirror and a light, or even an extension, but it still never quite conforms to the curves of the car interior, doesn't quite fit around the mirror, and blocks your vision as much as it blocks the sun.
Enter the Virtual Visor. It's a replacement for the traditional fabric and cardboard visor that adds a transparent LED screen and a camera to the car.
The cameras "see" where the sunlight is striking your eyes, using artificial intelligence to track your face and the sun. It then darkens sections of the LED screen, but only the sections where the sun is striking your eyes. So instead of a large panel to look around, your vision is only blocked in a small area. Exactly where the sun is.
It mimics what you were likely doing, or attempting to do, with the old-fashioned visor. "We discovered early in the development that users adjust their traditional sun visors to always cast a shadow on their own eyes." said Jason Zink, technical expert for Bosch in North America and one of the co-creators of the Virtual Visor. "This realization was profound in helping simplify the product concept and fuel the design of the technology."
Bosch says that the Virtual Visor can reduce the risk of accident as well as increasing driver comfort. The idea premiered today at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, where it received a Best of Innovation award. No word from Bosch on when or where you could see this one enter production.