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Tech Highlight: Rear Camera Mirror

By , 6/14/2021

One of our favorite high-tech gadgets out today, the Digital Rear-View Mirror.

We love the latest tech in cars. From 360-degree cameras to adaptive cruise control, we can’t get enough of the innovative technology that manufacturers are rolling out in modern cars. Maybe it’s my obsession with ‘70’s sci-fi movies (Logan’s Run was amazing), or maybe we’re just all nerds here, but we love technology, and want to share our love with those of you that might appreciate it as much as we do.

Nowadays, the technology you see on your standard run-of-the-mill small sedan would blow away car designers from even ten years ago. We have doubled, even tripled, our tech in our cars, proving once again that Moore's law is still relevant. 

One new tech feature we’d like to highlight is the Rear Camera Mirror. This innovative new feature is seen in many brands, such as Toyota, Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, and many others.

What Exactly Is It?

The Rear Camera Mirror is an innovative new way of seeing your surroundings. Instead of using a traditional mirror as the rear-view mirror, a wide-angle camera has been installed on the rear of the vehicle and transmits the image onto a screen behind the rear-view mirror. The rear-view mirror is, in fact, a two-way mirror. So you can use the mirror as a traditional mirror, or, with the flick of a switch, a camera. 

When the Rear-View Camera is in use, it simply looks like an unobstructed view of what’s behind the car. When you first see it, it’s actually difficult to even tell that something is different. It essentially looks like an extremely clear view of the car's surroundings. After a double-take, however, you can clearly see that something is different.

 Toyota RAV4 Digital Rear-View Mirror

What’s So Good About It? 

The genius in the design of the Rear Camera Mirror is all obstructions are completely removed from view. You no longer have blind spots from giant D pillars, rear seat headrest, or even from your giant-headed cousin you have riding in the back seat. 

Now you may think that it may be discombobulating to use a camera when you are so used to a mirror, and at first, it is! There is no denying that. Seeing the rear of the car without the usual reference points, such as the rear seats or window pillars, can be off-putting. The angles are slightly different as well, which again, can be unnerving at first.

However, after a short drive, you quickly get used to the Digital Rear-View Mirror and it starts to feel very natural! The unobstructed view is amazing and the wider angle means you have virtually zero blind spots. Mix this with a Blind-Spot Monitoring System, and you nearly have a full 360-degree view of your car while your driving. 

Another nice part about the camera is that you can see it from any angle. The days of adjusting the mirror to the perfect spot are long gone. You can have the mirror itself angled completely away from you and still be able to see what’s out behind you since the camera itself doesn’t move. It’s like watching TV and getting up from one couch to another, it doesn't change what’s shown on the screen. You can adjust the camera if needed, to see slightly more left or right, up or down, or even adjust the brightness or zoom in slightly! 

Other cool improvements are you can see when your rear window is fogged up or snowy, as long as the camera is mounted outside the car. You can also completely fill up your cargo area from floor to ceiling and see perfectly what’s behind you. For those of you that have tried driving around without the use of your rear-view mirror, you know how frustrating and dangerous that can be. 

Cadillac Rear Camera Mirror

What Are The Down Sides?

Honestly, not many. The discombobulating nature of it does take a few minutes to get used to, and you cant see the back seat if you are using the camera, but that is easily negated but quickly flipping the switch to return it to camera mode and seeing what you need to. 

The camera can get dirty as well. However, Chevrolet has thought of this and installed a washer, much like the spray nozzle for the back-up camera or your windshield washers. Other brands have combated this issue by installing the camera itself inside of the rear window. Sure, the window can get dirty, but that is what the rear windshield washer is for! 

Some systems are also better than others. Cadillac's Rear Camera Mirror, for example, is far superior to that of Toyota’s, and I would be much more inclined to use the former system over the latter. However, even though Toyota’s camera system may be of lower quality, it still is far better than a traditional mirror. 

Other than that, there really are little downsides to the system. Overall, you get a wider range of unobstructed visibility, with little to no drawbacks. 

Toyota RAV4 Digital Rear-View Mirror

What’s Next?

So what will be the next major tech feature that is similar to this? Side Camera Mirrors. The technology has already started to creep up in some cars such as Audi (although, only in Europe) and Honda and Kia, as an additional camera that pops up in the gauge cluster when the blinker is activated. Eventually, all of your traditional style mirrors will more than likely be operated by cameras. The future is here folks!

Jakob Hansen
Jakob is our writer with a love for all things automotive. He comes from a dealer background with experience on both sides of the fence. Knowing the system inside and out, he knows the best cars and the best deals. No matter what.
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