10 years of digital car mirrors from Kappa: State-of-the-art camera technology as a booster for safe and sustainable mobility

Kick-off for a world first in 2012: the world's first digital car mirror with road traffic approval!

The 10-year success story of the digital car mirror from Kappa began with a visionary idea: Volkswagen wanted to develop an extremely fuel-efficient vehicle, the one-liter VW XL1. To achieve this, aerodynamics had to be radically optimized, and bulky exterior mirrors were a no-go. But a digital mirror with road approval? There was no such thing on the market - that was avant-garde. There wasn't even a homologation process for the technology.    "Who, if not us?" said the Kappa team and, in cooperation with Volkswagen, set about developing a camera-monitor system as a digital mirror. The system was officially homologated for road use as the world's first digital car mirror, completely replacing the classic mirror. In 2012, the partners Volkswagen AG and Kappa optronics were honored for this with the Göttingen Innovation Award. In the end, both came a little too early for the market, the VW XL1 super fuel-saving vehicle - and also the digital mirror. 

KTM XBOW, Cockpit, Display, CMS, Kappa
KTM XBOW, Cockpit, Display, CMS, Kappa

Prestige technology... spectacular supercars and hypercars

At Kappa, however, we were convinced by the technology and found a partner that stands for the extraordinary: Aston Martin. The British company installed the digital mirror from Kappa in the impressive Valkyrie hypercar. Soon after, Kappa was the market leader for digital mirrors in the hypercar and supercar niche. Aston Martin, Gordon Murray, Lotus: Today, the big names upgrade their super noble designs with our smart technology from Southern Lower Saxony and offer their customers a leap in comfort when it comes to the vision system - exclusivity, pure aesthetics, and aerodynamics.

Speeding up the car race

For the next group of customers in the racing car sector, the hard-hitting benefits of the technology were key.

KTM, for example, relies on Kappa technology for its KTM X-BOW GTX racing car. The aerodynamic advantages can mean crucial seconds in the race. And: at very high speeds, optimum visibility in all lighting conditions is an elementary safety factor; this is where the digital mirror proves its superiority over classic mirrors. The mirror replacement system from Kappa is also used in various other racing cars (e.g. Porsche GT4 ePerformance and Picasso PS-01). 


The digital car mirror for the broad market as a cost-efficient technology for cutting emissions

In 2020, Johannes Overhues took over the leadership at Kappa and injected a new dynamic into the business, also for the digital mirror, a topic close to his heart. The Automotive division was reorganized and strengthened as a separate business unit under the leadership of Fabian Claus at Kappa. A very active team of automotive specialists in Spain strengthens the unit. The technology portfolio was recently strategically expanded with the acquisition of Schmid Engineering GmbH, so that the outstanding technology can now be offered cost-effectively to the broader market - a breakthrough.

Outstanding benefits for trucks and special vehicles

A significant contribution to meeting EU targets for CO2 reduction

Kappa is now targeting further markets. For large vehicles, fuel economy is currently one of the most pressing challenges - and the digital mirror is part of the solution. Sebastian Vreemann (CSO): "The EU sets the scope with the CO2 emission targets. So for manufacturers and operators, the calculation is quite clear: fewer bulky exterior components = streamlined aerodynamic design = lower consumption = lower CO2 emissions. Ultimately, the digital mirror not only saves fuel, i.e. CO2, but also costs. Depending on the vehicle, a reduction in consumption of around 2% can be assumed. Put simply, the larger the vehicle and the classic mirrors to be replaced, the more significant the savings from our smart camera solution."

The safety factor:

Superior driver visibility - all around the vehicle, if desired

Fabian Claus: "In large vehicles, the digital mirror offers a significant safety gain; even critical viewing areas are reliably covered." The virtually latency-free, light-sensitive cameras deliver superior vision - intuitively like normal vision, only better and more accurate, without reflections and glare. "This creates safety, reduces the burden on drivers and lowers stress," Claus said. In view of increasing crime rates in the transport sector, additional functions will also be offered to protect cargo and fuel against theft.


Unique selling points make Kappa the outstanding supplier of mirror replacement systems

CEO Overhues summarizes:

"In digital mirrors, we are technology drivers. Thanks to our close, highly productive partnerships with the manufacturers of our key components, we are often technologically one step ahead of the market and the competition, in this case by several years. No one masters the entire technology breadth and depth like we do. For these applications, you need experienced manufacturers with outstanding expertise. Especially in safety-critical applications, such as autonomous driving, we benefit from our cross-sectional know-how from certification processes in aviation and automotive, which makes us special in the market." Sebastian Vreemann reveals where Kappa wants to head with the digital mirror: "We are pushing into more and more sectors: our latest project is a mirror replacement system for motorcycles. The technology has so many advantages for a wide range of vehicles. We can use it to make mobility a good deal safer and more economical, but also more enjoyable, which is motivating."

Franz Reindl (Head of R&D Sportcar bei KTM AG): 7 Vorteile des Kamera-Monitor-Systems (CMS) von Kappa optronics.
Franz Reindl (Head of R&D Sportcar bei KTM AG): 7 Vorteile des Kamera-Monitor-Systems (CMS) von Kappa optronics.
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