Bosch has unveiled its innovation for the humble yet crucial sun visor, the Virtual Visor at this year’s edition of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The conventional item is a solid object which blocks some sun glare, although it also blocks some of the driver’s view along with it; Bosch has aimed to get around the problem with a transparent LCD panel and a camera.

The LCD panel is linked to the camera which tracks the sun-casted shadow on the driver’s face, and the system employs artificial intelligence to locate landmarks on the driver’s face such as the nose, mouth and most crucially, the eyes. The programme calculates the driver’s view, darkening the section of the panel through which sunlight is cast on the driver’s eyes. The rest of the panel stays transparent to allow clear vision.

“We discovered early in the development that users adjust their traditional sun visors to always cast a shadow on their own eyes. This realisation was profound in helping simplify the product concept and fuel the design of the technology,” said Virtual Visor co-creator and technical expert for Bosch in North America, Jason Zink.

“For most drivers around the world, the visor component as we know it is not enough to avoid hazardous sun glare – especially at dawn and dusk when the sun can greatly decrease drivers’ vision. Some of the simplest innovations make the greatest impact, and Virtual Visor changes the way drivers see the road,” said president of Bosch Car Multimedia Steffen Burns.

The Virtual Visor is a bottom-up solution enabled by the innovation culture at Bosch, from the original ideation and concept phase through to testing and prototyping, a process which sees lean startup methodologies applied to confirm customer benefits, market potential and feasibility for new ideas, which are then validated by peers and approved for development, the company says.

In the case of developing the Virtual Visor, this goes towards preventing and mitigating accidents due to temporary blindness caused by glare, which accounts for more than twice as many accidents as any other weather-related condition, says Bosch, and the risk of car crashes is 16% greater than during normal weather, according to the US National Library of Medicine.