If you’re anything like me and worry about parking your car to ensure that it is perfectly parallel to the sidewalk or between the lines, you’d feel lucky to drive modern cars. In that case, you might think that the back and front cameras found on most cars are lifesavers.
However, if you have driven or owned recent cars, you might have noticed a 360-camera view that allows you to navigate in even the trickiest of situations precisely. If you’re as fascinated by this new technology as we are and want to know more about it, we are here to answer your questions!
So exactly how do 360 car cameras work? Let’s find out!
Understanding Car Cameras
Car cameras are a blessing that drivers take for granted. We know that nothing can ruin your day like a fender-bender in the parking lot that could have easily been avoided if you had better visibility.
While all camera technology across most auto manufacturers is the same, some have more features and use specific hardware. Before we dive into understanding 360-cameras, let’s take a look at some other types of cameras commonly found on cars:
Back Up Cameras
If you’ve been driving for a while, you’d know that reverse cameras are actually quite common. Mandated by the US government in 2018, reverse cameras added a new dimension to vehicle safety by allowing better visibility to drivers while reversing.
Most back up cameras show your car’s projected path on-screen depending on your steering position.
Some cars also come with a camera installed in the front bumper that helps with parking or navigating through narrow alleys; however, these are considered far less helpful than rear cameras.
Dash Cams and Interior Cameras
While not required by Federal law, dash cams and interior cameras are extremely handy in recording footage for insurance claims or capturing scenic time-lapse footages when you’re on a road trip.
Dash cams are always on, and save recorded videos preceding and following a collision. This feature comes in handy when someone crashes into your parked car, during hit-and-runs, and if someone tries committing insurance fraud by purposefully crashing into your car.
360 or Surround Cameras
If you want an exceptional field-of-view around your car, 360 cameras give you all round view of everything around your car while you drive to make driving and parking easier and safer.
How Do 360 Car Cameras Work?
Some people like to research things that they use in their daily lives. Whether you want to know if it’s worth spending extra for the optional 360 camera system or installing an aftermarket one, we will walk you through it all!
Combining Software with Hardware
Cars these days are equipped with technology that we take for granted, and some of the features in new cars are mind-boggling.
360 cameras record footage from 4 wide-angle camera modules usually mounted on the front, back, and sides of the vehicle. Wide-angle cameras allow for a greater field-of-view; however, they come at the expense of distorted and blurred footage. Most of this distortion is fixed using software, but some fringing remains visible around the edges.
This video feed is then routed to a special processing unit linked to the car’s infotainment system that stitches the feed from all cameras together around a virtual 3D model of your car.
Engaging the Cameras
Similar to back up cameras, 360 cameras turn on when the car’s reverse gear is engaged to improve accuracy when you’re parking or exiting a parking spot.
While most surround cameras give you a top-down view of your car, premium vehicles have technology that allows you to manipulate the image on the screen and move it to get a better view of your surroundings.
Audi has one of the best surround view technology, and their Top View Camera system provides excellent image quality, precision, and versatility.
You Can Install One Too!
Unless you’re driving a latest car from a leading manufacturer, you probably don’t have a surround camera installed. Well, don’t worry, because you can buy an aftermarket system that serves the purpose just as well!
While you might not get all the features or the quality found in preinstalled surround view systems, you will save a buck. Most premium cars offer 360 cameras in expensive trim options or pricey add-ons.
While safety features like cameras are great, they exist to augment your driving habits. Cameras are great, but there are still limitations in the technology used in vehicles that can cause potential safety risks.
Most auto manufacturers inform users to be wary of their surroundings by using their car’s mirrors, clearing blind spots, and using onboard cameras as an additional aid.
Camera Monitoring Systems (CMS) in cars use camera sensors to replace side and cabin mirrors for a more seamless look and reduce drag while driving. However, while it is under review, the technology has yet to be approved by the government for mass use.
Is a 360 Car Camera Worth it?
Whether you are a novice or professional at driving, a 360 camera offers added visibility while parking. Stock 360-view cameras are exceptional because they are designed for your car to improve precision and have better quality cameras that make it easier for you to navigate.
Some manufacturers justify the additional price of the surround camera system; however, others pack low-quality hardware backed with poor software, leading to a lackluster and sometimes dangerous experience.
Backing it Up
You asked, “How do 360 car cameras work?” And we answered! Here are some key takeaways:
- This technology is relatively expensive but worth the investment in the long run.
- If you’re investing in a 360 car camera, then you should thoroughly research which one suits your needs the best.
- Investing in one can save you money from insurance costs that might arise from fender benders.
- Over time, this technology, like every other, will trickle down to more affordable cars.
We hope that this guide helped you understand 360 car cameras. This camera technology is worth the investment because it encourages safer driving practices.