Gentex to supply vision-based SmartBeam DFL for 2012 BMW 3-Series

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 14, 2012

Gentex Corporation will be supplying its SmartBeam DFL (Dynamic Forward Lighting) -- its new vision-based, glare-free, high-beam system -- for the 2012 BMW 3 Series, which is available throughout Europe. Gentex is the leading worldwide supplier in camera-based lighting-assist and automatic-dimming rearview mirrors systems for the international automotive industry.

The system has a custom CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) image sensor integrated with algorithmic decision-making to provide constant "on" glare-free high beams. The system senses the presence of other tail lamps and headlamps, then generates dynamic "block-out" zones around automobiles that it is moving toward or following.  Special shutter-equipped headlamps block parts of the high beams to avert blinding surrounding traffic as it continuously optimizes the forward lighting.

In 2001, Gentex created the lighting-assist product category when it launched its original SmartBeam product, marking the first usage of a camera system to maximize forward lighting by automatically shifting between low and high beams based on surrounding lighting conditions and traffic. The SmartBeam is one of the most popular offerings of Gentex, thanks to consumer demand. Since 2004, the company has delivered almost 3 million units. In 2011 alone, it hit the 1 million mark in terms of deliveries.

Gentex presently anticipates deliveries of the SmartBeam units to increase by around 40% to 45% in calendar year 2012. The SmartBeam is incorporated into a Gentex automatic-dimming rearview mirror while the CMOS camera and other associated electronics are integrated into the mirror mount, which is attached to the windscreen.

The camera "floats" off the glass, removing the angle of the windscreen as a variable as well as the mirror assembly functions across automobile platforms. In addition, this layout delivers a massive array of high-end styling opportunities not available with other systems that need a separate box attached directly to the windscreen.

The 3-Series Sedan from BMW did not only begin what would later become the compact sports sedan class. It has also represented what the brand is about when it comes to sporting qualities, dynamics, and visual appeal. It is no wonder then why the 3-Series Sedan continues to be the best-selling premium vehicle worldwide. This is the sixth generation of the model range and by having elegant and dynamic lines, focus is placed on this mid-sized model’s sporting characteristic.

Despite the fact that the new version is larger compared to the previous model, there is still that elegance and athleticism. However much like the previous models, the reason why it continues to have those dynamic proportions is the combination of the long wheelbase, short overhang in the front, sweeping bonnet, and of course, the set-back bonnet that is standard for the brand.

Indeed, the newest 3-Series model has that sporting look and this is due to the wedge form and the track made wider. Speaking of the track, the front has an extra 37 mm with the rear track increased by 47 mm. By putting more focus on the vehicle’s width, this allows the front end, with its multi-faceted surfaces, to have a more athletic appearance. With the kidney grille being more upright and positioned a bit more slanted forward, there’s more of a squat. Its wideness also helps underscore the model’s stance.

The LED accent lights placed on top of the twin headlights highlighted by corona rings result to what looks like eyebrows, giving this classic BMW model that added intensity. This feature though is only possible if the customer opts for the xenon headlights. Furthermore, the headlights now go to the kidney grille’s frame and with the way it combines with the grille and headlights, it becomes a single stylistic unit.

This gives it that added emphasis to its already broad-set stance. Another big change for the new generation of the 3-Series is that rather than a central air intake, there are now not only two air intakes, but larger ones as well. By being placed just below the headlights and by being positioned on the front end’s outer edges, there’s more depth to its style.

Meanwhile on both the far right and the far left of the main ducts, there are now small vertical intakes to achieve that Air Curtain. With this new feature, the air flow that is just around the 3-Series’ front wheels is enhanced. In turn, this helps with the aerodynamic efficiency and in reducing fuel consumption, especially when running at very high speeds.

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