Look at the image above – click it for a larger image to help you get a clearer view. Did you notice the pedestrian standing in front of the car in the top half of the image? Now look at the bottom half of the image – the pedestrian is now clearly highlighted.

According to statistics, pedestrians are as much as four times more likely to be injured or killed in a traffic accident at night compared to in the daylight. Add to the fact that there are just so many roads here in Malaysia that are not really very well lit, and the probability goes up even higher.

At the recent BMW Innovation Days in Munich, BMW demonstrated to members of the media their new Dynamic Light Spot technology, which helps highlight pedestrians (or even animals – apparently all cats are grey at night?) in dark areas so that drivers are more aware of them, thus helping reduce the likelihood of an accident.

Before this, BMW had the Night Vision feature, which in Malaysia is present on some cars such as the more expensive 7-Series models. It helps the driver identify pedestrians in the dark by highlighting them on the iDrive screen using a thermal imaging camera.

Conventional low-beam light allows drivers a theoretical range of vision of about 50 to 85 metres at night, and tests have shown the recognisability of a darkly clad pedestrian in twilight was found to be just 29 metres. BMW Night Vision can increase this positive recognition of pedestrians up to 97 metres on average.

However, using the feature can be a little distracting as the thermal image appears on the iDrive screen and sometimes you not be paying enough attention, or perhaps you’ve just forgotten to turn the feature on.

The new Dynamic Light Spot feature takes this concept one level further – it uses a thermal imaging camera to sense a pedestrian, but instead of just highlighting them on the iDrive screen, a marker light using a sweveling LED array comes on to illuminate the target clearly for the driver to spot them.

It’s not just a bright light pointed at a person or animal – there is also a thin but defined strip of light projected onto the road in the path leading up to the object in danger, which helps draw the driver’s attention even more. According to BMW, during the development phase of this new feature, one object was detected and highlighted every hour on average.

Check out the video above to view a demo of BMW Dynamic Light Spot in action. For demo purposes, a BMW 5-Series GT was used and the swiveling LED array was retrofitted in a small housing where the fog lamps used to be.