a car wing mirror

From manual adjustments to smart solutions: the modernisation of wing mirrors

This article will talk about car rear view mirrors, the history of their appearance and modernisation, as well as the future that awaits them. 

When did rear view mirrors appear and how did they change?

One day back in 1911, two men named Ray Harrone and Cyrus Hutschke were racing in the Indy 500 and decided they needed to remove an unnecessary action.

That action was turning around while driving.

They installed a mirror on the body of the car for this very purpose. However, that time it was more of a hindrance than a help.

The race was won that day, but there was no talk of installing mirrors on cars, as it was not a necessity at that time. 

In 1912, Elmer Berger patented rear view mirrors and started their production.

The first mirror was a saloon mirror and was mounted on the windshield.

However, this soon became insufficient.

Because of this it was necessary to install an external mirror on the left side.

The third mirror began to be used after the Second World War, although it was considered as something not necessary at all. 

Modifications and development of rear view mirrors

The first thing that interested the designers of rear view mirrors was the possibility to make the view better and get rid of blind spots.

For this purpose they changed the shape, materials from which mirrors were made, experimented with the optical element and bent and even tinted.

In 1958, they even proposed a variant of how to introduce mode switching from night to day and vice versa.

After they introduced an optical element with a prismatic shape in the cross-section. Thanks to this, the reflection coefficient of such a mirror changes while changing the angle of inclination. 

Time went by, the speed of traveling increased every time, and mirrors did not meet new challenges.

That is why the principles of aerodynamics were involved in the process.

The simple round and burst-shaped ones were replaced by new shapes: more streamlined and relevant from a design point of view.

Of course, this was also followed by experiments in the placement of these elements. 

This is how the version that is still used today came into being: one in the passenger compartment on the windshield and two on the sides on the fenders of the car.

However, it was terribly inconvenient to adjust them. 

The thing is that the driver had to adjust the position of the mirrors manually.

Everything would be all right, but it was difficult and unrealistic to reach the lever from the passenger side while driving.

In this case, a hinge system is used: inside the side mirror housing there is a ball to which a platform is attached, and three cables are attached to its back side.

They go along the leg of the body into the cabin to the lever, with the help of which the mirrors can be controlled.

It is because of the inconvenience that electrically adjustable mirrors were invented.

How does it work? Inside the design there is a motor and it is energized from the battery, which drives the mechanism that moves the mirror (for example, horizontally).

If the same motor is energized with reverse polarity, the horizontal movement will be reversed.

All these processes are controlled by a small joystick, which is easy to operate and always at hand.

In addition, to prevent the mirrors from fogging and freezing in winter, they began to be equipped with their own heating and built in turn signal repeaters. 

Today, side mirrors have a lot of frost, and some of them are even supplemented with video cameras that display the image on the screen.

And electronics and digital technology have gotten to the interior mirror. One of the first electrochromic car mirrors were offered in 1987. 

Smart rear view mirror modifications

Today, mirror modifications have advanced significantly.

While in the past it was possible to replace the interior mirror with a panoramic mirror and that was enough, now the technological process has taken over.

Radar detectors, video recorders and other multi-disciplinary gadgets have become a normal addition for mirrors. 

However, progress has gone even further and since 2014, work has been in full swing to eliminate mirrors as such.

It was in this year that Japan introduced a combination interior mirror that utilized an LCD display.

This idea was picked up by Pioneer and in addition to the basic functions, it also added internet access, a navigation recorder, voice command recognition, and a built-in cellular module.

Source of information:

Information about wing mirror was taken from

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Featured image credit: Santeri Viinamäki via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence

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