While vehicles have become increasingly more advanced, the sun visor has stayed almost the same for more than nine decades. And yet, it remains a problematic feature that can obscure a driver’s field of view, especially at dusk and dawn.
Three Bosch engineers have come up with a novel way to solve that problem by using a liquid crystal display, or LCD, a camera and facial recognition and detection software. Bosch is calling it the Virtual Visor and it’s making its debut at CES 2020 in Las Vegas. Indeed, the Virtual Visor was honored as a Best of Innovation in the CES 2020 Innovation Awards.
The visor links an LCD panel with a camera that tracks the sun’s casted shadow on the driver’s face. The system uses facial recognition and detection to find the driver within the image captured by camera and to determine landmarks on the face to identify shadow. Algorithms then analyze the driver’s view and darkens only the section of display where light hits the driver’s eyes. The rest of the display remains transparent, allowing the driver to see the road.
The project started as a grassroots effort within Bosch as part of the company’s internal innovation activities, according to Jason Zink, a technical expert for Bosch in North America and one of the co-creators of the Virtual Visor.
One of the first breakthroughs came when one of the co-creators, Ryan Todd, was shopping for TVs, Zink explained. During this comparison shopping, Todd remembered that LCDs are selectively black.
“By using a liquid crystal display instead of a traditional visor it allowed us to make the visor either transparent or opaque at different parts across device,” Zink told TechCrunch.
“We discovered early in the development that users adjust their traditional sun visors to always cast a shadow on their own eyes,” Zink said. “This realization was profound in helping simplify the product concept and fuel the design of the technology.”
The visor isn’t headed for vehicles yet, but Zink said Bosch is in discussions with OEMs from the commercial and passenger vehicles markets.
“We have every intention of making this a real product,” Zink said.
“For most drivers around the world, the visor component as we know it is not enough to avoid hazardous sun glare, especially at dawn and dusk when the sun can greatly decrease drivers’ vision,” said Dr. Steffen Berns, president of Bosch Car Multimedia. “Some of the simplest innovations make the greatest impact, and Virtual Visor changes the way drivers see the road.”