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11/16/2003

Sun Glare

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  I have been sitting on this idea for a while now. I emailed the below letter to BMW's online innovation website, but unfortunately they responded many months later with: "We have evaluated your proposal and unfortunately have to inform you that we do not see any possibility of implementing your idea." Oh well. So here I give my idea to you. Any advancements or improvements let me know.
  It seems no matter what a driver does, sun glare continues to make driving difficult. At one time or another we've all gone through the routine of trying to avoid the sun's glare while driving, and we know that driving and sun glare can be a deadly mixture. Poor visibility due to sun glare is the suspected cause of many motor vehicle accidents. Of those surveyed, 97 percent said that they had experienced sun strike during driving. Several ways to reduce the affects of sun glare are listed below.
  . Make sure your windshield is free of pits and is clean, not only on the outside but also free of any inside film.
. Be sure to carry a good pair of sunglasses to provide some shade.
. Anticipate slowing traffic ahead of you. Adjust your speed so that you're not suddenly reacting to a slowdown.
. If you do suddenly become blinded by sun, don't slam on your breaks. Instead, let off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
. If at all possible, try to avoid the sunrise or sunset time frame. Leave early or later.
  These methods help reduce the sun strike, but are not always convenient for the driver. One new innovative way to reduce the effects of glare is the tint the windscreen using LCD (or similar) technology. The windscreen could be made up many pixels which will only darken in the areas necessary. In other words the darkened pixels will cast a shadow of the drivers and passengers faces, thus blocking the sun and allowing them to still see the road.
To achieve this two main pieces of information are needed. These are the position of the sun in the sky relative to the car as well as the position of the people heads inside the car. These are both quite simple to do.
  Some modern airbag designs get input from ultrasonic sensors around in the cars cabin as to location of the occupants. This gives the airbag the information needed on how much to deploy. This same technology could be used for finding the position of the occupant's heads.
  Finding the position of the sun could be achieved with a small, inexpensive black and white camera. The camera could be positioned out of the way, in one of the head lights. With the aid of software the position of the bright object (in this case the sun) could be located. The camera could also detect the intensity of the light and adjust the contrast of the pixels accordingly.
  Software would then put all the information together and tint the windscreen in the appropriate places.
  Having this technology in a car would give rise to several advantages.
  . You could do away with the sun visor, making the inside of the car smoother.
. The whole windscreen could tint slightly when driving in snow to help reduce the overall brightness.
. When the car is parked up, the windscreen could darken, which would protect the interior from the sun as well making the inside of the car cooler.
. Increased safety because of information the airbags receive.
  This is a basic overview of this concept. If you have any further questions please to not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your time.
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