SOME car makers charge thousands of dollars for high-tech (and error-prone) camera and sensor based blind-spot monitoring systems, but a US university has come up with a cheaper option - a mirror.
The Drexel University has patented a new blind spot mirror that it says can triple the driver's field of view - from 15-17 degrees to 45 degrees - at the rear side of the car because of the way the mirror's glass is curved.
The man behind the mirror, mathematics professor Dr R Andrew Hicks explains that the traditional driver's side mirror offers a "very narrow" field of view.
Some car makers improve the field of vision with convex mirrors, but as a result the image is manipulated so that drivers can't correctly tell the distance between their car and other vehicles - most read "Objects in mirror are closer than they appear".
Hicks's curved blind-spot mirror, however, uses a disco mirror ball as part of its inspiration.
"Imagine that the mirror's surface is made of many smaller mirrors turned to different angles, like a disco ball," Hicks says.
"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."
It doesn't look quite as chintzy as a mirror ball, but according to the university there are "tens of thousands of such calculations to produce a mirror that has a smooth, non-uniform curve".
Because of the widespread laws and design standards surrounding the use of mirrors on new cars, Hicks's mirror is expected to be sold as an aftermarket product rather than being widely adopted by the car makers.