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Wide Angle Mirror

June 19, 2012

A mathematician has designed a wide-angle driver’s side mirror that doesn’t distort shapes.



Seeing wide and clear.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We’ve eradicated smallpox and landed robots on Mars, but designing a wide-angle driver’s side rear-view mirror has remained a challenge. Now, Drexel University mathematician R. Andrew Hicks has created what may be the best version so far.

R. ANDREW HICKS (Drexel University):

The thing that I’m trying to do with this mirror is give you the wide view, but not have as much distortion as, the spherical mirror on a bus or a truck – they let you see lots of stuff, but it’s very distorted.

Hicks developed an algorithm to precisely control the angle of each ray of light bouncing off the mirror.  He used it to create a smooth surface, which can be thought of as thousands of tiny mirror faces, each set at slightly different angles.  The result is a 45 degree field of view – enough to eliminate the blind spot – that’s almost perfectly proportional to reality, except smaller.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

An experimental driver's side mirror (above) gives a wide-angle view without distorting the image. (R. Andrew Hicks)