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Car cameras are great, but they will never replace mirrors

Among the best innovations to emerge in modern cars are the numerous cameras placed around them. Even on cars with great visibility, cameras offer a lot of benefits. They help us see things while we’re backing up, find the curb when parking, check blind spots and connect and maneuver the tow truck. We even gave Kia a Tech of the Year Award This is partly due to the company’s incredibly useful blind-spot camera, which also appears on Our long-term Hyundai Palisade. They also get better over time, with higher resolutions and handy overlays.

They were very good car designerThe decades-long dream of using cameras and monitors for rearview mirrors seems doable. In fact, in Europe and Japan, you can get cars that only have a mirror camera, such as Honda E and Audi E-Tron. They offer potential improvements in aerodynamics and even greater viewing angles. However, despite all this, I think it would be foolish to get rid of the old school mirror.

The reason is actually quite simple. First of all, there is clarity. As good as the cameras are, they’re still not as sharp as the actual images reflected in your eyes. That’s the highest definition you can see, literally. And it doesn’t suffer from grainy issues or poor exposure to poor light. And when you’re trying to merge into another lane with high traffic, you want the clearest picture possible.

Along those lines, the mirror is less susceptible to the aforementioned inclement weather and bad light. I’ve driven many cars in heavy rain and snow, and they frequently make the blind spot camera a hazy and completely unusable mess. In the dark, bright headlights can also be a problem. Even in salty conditions, salt deposits and other contaminants can still accumulate. Yes, mirrors can have ice, but heated mirrors fix that and rainwater can slip away regardless. Plus, the interior rearview mirror is unaffected, and the rear window almost always has a de-fog and sometimes rear wiper, making it virtually weatherproof.

Furthermore, the mirror offers something that the camera cannot, or at least does not, with the display currently in use: depth sensing. This is something I’ve come to realize when using some rearview mirror camera monitors. Because the mirror accurately reflects what’s outside, it’s effectively like looking out a window with your own eyes, giving you a three-dimensional view and you can judge the distance. That’s obviously very helpful when deciding if there’s room for you to enter or even when parking, and it doesn’t ask for directions. What’s more, thanks to depth perception, your eyes focus as if they were looking at a distant object. This way, your eyes will easily move from looking ahead through the windshield to the mirror. With the camera, you are viewing a two-dimensional image. You have no sense of distance and your eyes are focused on the screen, a greater change than when looking at a distant object.

Finally, mirrors are very reliable. It’s a piece of glass on a reflective surface. It doesn’t require anything else to work. It doesn’t need any power source, harness, camera, lens, screen. It has almost no point of failure. According to anecdotes, my parents Mazda 3 developed an issue where the backup camera stopped working, apparently because wires were sometimes disconnected on a hard hatch.

I’m not saying the camera is bad. As I noted in the opening paragraphs, they’re pretty awesome and I love having them, a lot of them. But they are most useful as a complement to a mirror and in specific cases where mirrors are limited. And really, having both is the absolute ideal. New technology is good, but it is even better when combined with the best old technology.

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