SOURCE: Gentex Corporation

Gentex Corporation

November 03, 2011 08:28 ET

New Study Indicates Rearview Mirror Is Optimal Display Location for Avoiding Backover Accidents

ZEELAND, MI--(Marketwire - Nov 3, 2011) - Gentex Corporation (NASDAQ: GNTX) -- Each year in the U.S., backover accidents claim the lives of more than 225 individuals -- mostly small children -- and cause approximately 17,000 injuries. A new study reveals that in order to minimize these tragedies, vehicles should be equipped with a backup camera system with the related display located in the interior rearview mirror.

That's the primary conclusion of Exponent, a leading engineering and scientific consulting company, which recently concluded a two-month study evaluating driver interaction and performance with backup camera systems. These systems typically consist of a rearward-mounted camera and interior display that provides a view of the area directly behind the vehicle in order to expand rearward visibility to help to decrease the rearward blind zone. The displays currently are located in the interior rearview mirror or in one of several in-dash/center console locations.

"A number of previous studies have shown that rear camera systems reduce backover accidents and that mirror-integrated rear camera displays are more effective than those located in the center console," stated Douglas Young, Ph.D., who leads Exponent's Human Factors group in Los Angeles, CA, and oversaw the study along with vision experts Robert Rauschenberger, Ph.D., and Genevieve Heckman, Ph.D.

"Our conclusions supported these findings yet also revealed how mirror-integrated displays have additional, significant advantages," said Young. "In short, by placing the rear camera display in the mirror, you can increase display usage, improve driver scan patterns, enhance productive gaze durations and minimize reaction times."

The Exponent study ran more than 70 people through a series of backing maneuvers using three 2011 Ford Edge models equipped with backup cameras. The first vehicle was equipped with an 8-inch display in the center console, the second with a 4.3-inch display located slightly higher in the center console, and the third with a 3.3-inch display in the rearview mirror. A sophisticated eye-tracking system monitored each driver's eye movements during reversing tasks while a computer collected acceleration and brake-displacement data.

The study found that those driving a vehicle equipped with the mirror-integrated display had a scan pattern that closely resembled typical behaviors of drivers, spent more time utilizing the display, had a higher percentage of productive glances to the display and mirrors, and reacted twice as fast in potential accident situations compared with those driving vehicles equipped with displays in the other locations.

Preventing backover accidents has been a longstanding priority of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which currently plans to finalize by December 30, 2011, new regulations requiring automakers to equip all new light vehicles sold in the U.S. with backup camera systems and related displays. Currently, automakers around the globe are working diligently to ensure that all new vehicles will comply with the proposed regulations.

NHTSA's initiatives are even affecting the automotive supply base, including Gentex Corporation, a supplier of "smart" rearview mirrors that control glare and house other electronic features, including displays. Gentex commissioned the Exponent study, primarily based on automaker requests for an evaluation of the mirror's effectiveness as a location for displaying rear camera video.

"Most drivers agree that the mirror is the safest, most intuitive and ergonomic location for backup camera displays," said Gentex Senior Vice President Mark Newton. "But we needed an objective evaluation of display performance and a better understanding of how drivers interact with rear camera displays. Based on these findings, we're confident we can provide the auto industry with the fastest, brightest, most effective rear camera displays available.

"Additionally, Gentex chose Exponent to conduct this research because it is a research powerhouse that often is utilized by global automaker OEMs to help resolve vehicle safety issues," said Newton. "We felt it was important to select a company that our customers know and respect."

Gentex believes the Exponent research has implications on future display strategies and vehicle design. As the need to display driver information in the vehicle increases, and as center console displays become even more crowded with infotainment and other features not required for the driving task, Gentex believes its mirrors are a logical place to display additional alerts and notifications the driver needs to incorporate into the driving task.

"The mirror has always been used as a display," said Newton. "It's where the driver constantly looks for input needed to make driving decisions. It's only natural, then, to deliver additional driver warning alerts via the mirror display."

In the future, Gentex envisions mirror-borne displays that not only provide rear camera video, but also the alerts and notifications associated with advanced driver-assist systems like lane departure warning, forward collision warning and sign recognition.

Exponent is an engineering and scientific consulting firm providing solutions to complex problems. Exponent's multidisciplinary organization of scientists, physicians, engineers, and business consultants brings together more than 90 technical disciplines to address complicated issues facing industry and government today. The firm has been best known for analyzing accidents and failures to determine their causes, but in recent years it has become more active in assisting clients with human health, environmental and engineering issues associated with new products to help prevent problems in the future. For more information, visit

Founded in 1974, Gentex Corporation (NASDAQ: GNTX) is the leading supplier of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors and camera-based driver-assist systems to the global automotive industry. The Company also provides commercial smoke alarms and signaling devices to the North American fire protection market, as well as dimmable aircraft windows for the commercial, business and general aviation markets. Based in Zeeland, Michigan, the international Company develops, manufactures and markets interior and exterior automatic-dimming automotive rearview mirrors that utilize proprietary electrochromic technology to dim in proportion to the amount of headlight glare from trailing vehicle headlamps. More than half of the Company's interior mirrors are sold with advanced electronic features, and more than 98 percent of the Company's net sales are derived from the sale of auto-dimming mirrors to every major automaker in the world. For more information, visit the Company's web site at

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