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Pearl RearVision adds a backup camera to any old car

ICE Graveyard 18/07/2016 Kristen Hall-Geisler

As of 2018, all new passenger vehicles will be required by NHTSA to have rear visibility technology. This only applies to shiny new cars rolling off the assembly line, but that doesn’t mean vehicles made before the mandate are doomed to run over forgotten bikes and recycle bins. There are plenty of aftermarket rearview cameras available, including one from the guys who brought you the iPhone and iPod.

Three of the team members who worked on those projects at Apple have formed their own company, Pearl, to introduce the latest technologies into cars that weren’t born with them. Pearl’s first gizmo is RearVision, a backup camera that uses a license plate surround and your phone to add that next level of safety to your old car. (NHTSA estimates that there are 210 deaths and 15,000 injuries due to backover incidents each year.)

The RearVision license plate holder looks like most others, but it has two HD cameras mounted at the top, one of which is infrared-sensitive to improve night vision. There’s also a line of solar panels at the bottom, so you don’t have to wire the cameras for power; the camera frame powers itself. You install the frame using the Pearl Locking Tool, which seems to be the Pearl equivalent of an Ikea tool. You can install the system yourself in the driveway, no mechanic required.

RearVision sends the cameras’ signals to a dongle plugged into the OBDII port in your car, which then sends the images to your phone. (So your car does have to be made in 1996 or later to make sure it has that OBDII port.) Pearl includes a magnetic phone holder that clamps to a vent, in case you don’t have one of those yet. You can decide if you prefer portrait or landscape mode, and the app will alert you to obstacles in your path as you back up. You can also use the super-wide view mode to pan around corners.

RearVision is available to preorder for $500. That’s more than twice the price of pretty much every other aftermarket rearview camera out there. It does have a wider field of vision than most, at 175 degrees. It does not require drilling to attach the cameras to a transmitter in the trunk, as most other wireless units require. Other backup cameras provide a separate monitor too instead of using your phone, but if your car doesn’t have a backup camera, you’ve probably got your phone mounted using the vent anyway so you can use it in drive mode.

Remember: if your car was built before 2018, you are not required to have a backup camera. But adding the latest ADAS technology when you can for a couple hundred bucks is way better than buying a whole new car every time the tech moves forward.

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