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Imagine you're driving through the tight streets of New York City during rush hour. As you brake for a stop light, a large cargo van pulls alongside of you in the left-hand lane, and suddenly you feel trapped. You creep forward to check if it's clear to turn right then slam the brakes as an aggressive SUV almost saws off the front end of your Honda Civic.
Flustered, you make the turn then merge into traffic. Hoping to bypass the growing throng of irritated commuters frustrated with the slow commute, you take a left turn down a narrow street. The traffic is much better, and you quickly find out why as you approach the next cross street -- you're in a blind alley. With cars lining the curbs on both sides of the street you're attempting to turn onto, visibility is terrible and pulling out without causing an accident may be a challenge. If you'd been driving an Infiniti EX35, it would be a walk in the park.
Infiniti's latest gadget, the 360-degree Around View Monitor camera system projects a bird's-eye view of the exterior of the vehicle on a liquid crystal display (LCD) monitor nestled in the center console below the dashboard. For an additional $1,950, you can add the AVM system to the EX35 sport utility vehicle. The system relies on four small cameras to create a complete picture that drivers can use during parking, backing up or driving in traffic. The camera system is also helpful when you need to see oncoming traffic, as in the case of the blind alley.
The technology behind rearview camera systems has been around for a while. The components have been used in applications such as borescope cameras used to probe inside the body during medical procedures and small LCD displays found on digital cameras. But automakers have found a new niche for the various components: rearview camera systems. This article will explain the camera components and how they take digital information and turn it into easy-to-read video images.
Before we learn how the 360-degree system on the Infiniti and similar rearview cameras work, let's look at where the rearview cameras first showed up in practical uses in the next section.