Richmond couple invents visor cameras for self-driving cars

Published: Feb. 14, 2017 at 1:13 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2017 at 5:11 PM EST
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Self driving cars aren't on local streets yet, but they will be in the near future.  Since you'll coast to your destination like a passenger while your car does the driving, a Richmond couple invented a gadget they hope you'll be using along the trip.

"This is our Smart Sun Visor that's been invented,' said Hemanki Doshi of Be Topnotch.

In self-driving cars, a Smart Sun Visor would let you connect digitally with both the outside road and people inside your car.  It's the patented brain child of husband and wife team Ankit Kothari and Hemanki Doshi, under their company name Be Topnotch.

Said Doshi, "We wanted to be the first few in the market where we have something for the passengers in the car, where they're not driving and we can have an exciting ride."

Smart Sun Visors will have a device embedded in them, much like a cell phone, with photo and video cameras and touchscreens that offer different camera views.

The idea is that in a self driving car, passengers will have free time on their hands.  One feature of the Smart Sun Visor is that it will be positioned to take selfie photos that can be posted on social media sites directly from the unit.

Ankit Kothari demonstrated for us.  "You can look at your photos and you can share with people on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.  You can even video conference with other people that you want to talk with."

With the press of the button, the camera view can be turned outside the car, like a dashcam, but with a polarized view of the road, minimizing sun glare.

"If something wrong is going on, or you see something suspicious, you can record it.   You don't have to worry, 'Where is my phone?'  Everything is right there," explained Doshi.

And press another button, you'll see a view of your rear passengers.

"You don't have to turn all the way like this.  You can just turn on the mode here and you can see the kids here.  Or you can talk with them or have conference with your friends," Doshi showed us.

The Smart Sun Visors can be powered by the car battery or its own battery, and the units will be removable from the visors.  Visors can be added for back seat passengers to use as well.

Said Kothari, "They can play games on this.  Take photos from outside.  Since you're not driving, you can say, 'Oh that's a nice view.'  You can just click a picture from outside."

They hope to expand the concept to existing cars, though the driver's camera would be disabled for selfies, games, or social media while the car is in motion.

The inventors say they're meeting now with self-driving car manufacturers, hoping to get the Smart Sun Visors built into cars.  They say they have not determined the price yet.  They're also developing at virtual reality tool for self-driving cars.