Simple, Super Tech: Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirrors 101

If you love all things auto, take a minute to appreciate auto-dimming rearview mirrors. These nifty accessories first became popular in the 80s but today are all but standard on most vehicles. Auto-dimming rearview mirrors use electricity and gel to protect you from harmful headlight glare on the road. Here's how.

The Basics of Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirrors

Auto-dimming mirrors contain two layers of glass and a special gel between them. The gel is electrochromic, meaning it changes color in response to an electrical charge. The mirror detects light via sensors. The sensors are typically a camera or a photodiode, a semiconductor that transforms light into energy.

Why Glare Reduction Matters

When the ambient light sensors in the mirror detect glare, they release an electrical charge into the mirror's gel. By oxidation-reduction, the gel darkens, minimizing the reflected glare in your rearview. This saves you from glare-related blindness and the resulting blind spot you experience when the car behind you turns off.

The Troxler Effect

That blind spot-related disorientation is called the Troxler Effect, an optical illusion known to reduce driver reaction time by up to 1.4 seconds. In short, your auto-dimming rearview mirror uses basic science and electricity to help you drive safely despite exposure to bright headlights on the road.



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