Rear-view mirrors could soon go the way of hand-cranked windows, push-button radios and cigarette lighters. Audi plans to use a digital rear-view mirror in its R8 e-tron, which is due to go into small-scale production at the end of this year. This model has no rear window, and hence no conventional rear-view mirror.
A color monitor with a 7.7-inch screen displays the digital image from a small, ultra-lightweight camera located in an aerodynamically optimized housing. The camera uses a lens with a diameter of just a few millimeters and covers a much larger field of vision than an old-fashioned glass mirror. A control unit produces a consistent high-contrast, brilliant image. During the hours of darkness the intelligent control system prevents dazzle from the headlights of other vehicles. The driver can dim or deactivate the display at any time.
This AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) display, which comes from partner Samsung, is making its debut in a passenger car. The organic materials used in the display are self-illuminating at a low voltage – i.e. they do not require backlighting. The AMOLED technology has already proved successful in cell phones and similar devices in the consumer segment.