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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.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

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.

HIRSHON:
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)