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Sunday, April 7, 2019

IIWK: Polarized Rear Window

One of the primary reasons why vehicles with television screens have them mounted behind the driver is to minimize driver distraction. Flashing lights and colors have a tendency to draw the eye, even when one knows what's playing and is well and truly tired (I see you, parents) of watching and listening to it.

But these screens still pose a distraction to the drivers following these screen-laden vehicles.

Fortunately, these screens, like most others in our lives, are polarized. There are plenty of places who can describe the effect better than I can, but the short of it is that there's a filter over the screen that, when viewed through a similar filter that's set at a different angle, causes the screen to look darker or blacked out entirely.

If you've ever tried to look at your computer or smartdevice or television while wearing sunglasses and only seen blackness, it's the same effect. Smartphones especially are sometimes immune to this effect because their manufacturers expect you to be using it when you're out and about, in bright sunlight.

There's even a sunglasses manufacturer who intentionally rotates their polarization to obscure and black out televisions to reduce eye distractions when you're shopping, converting those headache-inducing wall displays of poorly-synchronized screens in Target and Walmart into bays of darkness, though still belting out those obnoxious short-loop earworms. (I should know, I've worked in such a place before. After a few days or weeks, you can recite the loop from memory.) They're called IRL Glasses.

But not everybody can wear them (for example, prescription eyeglass wearers like me) and they may not be entirely save to wear while driving, given the number of screens in our daily lives. My car status display (not the spedometer, just most everything else) is polarized, though fortunately in the same direction as sunglasses, but IRL Glasses would obscure important information that I need easy access to while driving.

Thus, my recommendation:

Vehicles with screens installed for the purpose of entertainment of passengers (Tesla and other vehicles with smart-dashboards, you're clear) should have polarized rear windows, with the polarization oriented to specifically black out the displays within.

There are a lot of vehicles on the road with tinted windows, a lot more (it seems to me) than there used to be. Adding polarization to that, even just to the rear window, should not be such a big step.

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