Convex observation mirrors are an incredibly helpful tool, letting the user see areas that they would otherwise struggle to get a good view of. Here is our handy guide to what they are, where they are used and what to look out for when buying them.
What are convex observation mirrors?
A standard mirror is flat, and reflects images back at the same angle as the surface is viewed at – if you stand directly in front of it, you will see yourself, if you stand at a forty-five-degree angle, you’ll see the corresponding reflection. Convex workplace mirrors are not flat – they bulge outwards from the frame and thus give a broader field of view without having to change the viewing angle.
Where are convex observation mirrors used?
Convex mirrors are used in a range of applications, including large-scale telescopes and other scientific instrumentation. For the layman though, there are essentially two main use cases:
For small shops with only one or two staff on-site at any one time, these mirrors are a great way of giving oversight of blind spots. You can position the mirror in the corner or at the end of the aisles so that the cashier can see what is going on around the corners, improving security and decreasing the likelihood of shoplifting. Even in larger stores, where there are more staff dotted about, these mirrors can give dedicated security personnel a better way to monitor the store, especially if deployed in high-risk areas like the alcohol aisle or where other items that are attractive to shoplifters are kept.
If you have ever driven down a narrow, winding country lane, you have probably spotted convex mirrors attached to trees or fences. Typically, these will be opposite a driveway or off-road track, making it safer for traffic to pull out and join the main roadway without causing an accident. They let the drivers see what is coming from around the blind corner, and they can then assess if they have enough time to pull out.
This same logic applies to other traffic uses – construction sites use them to give drivers a better view of the traffic they might be joining if they leave the site, as well as on-site for moving around the environment safely. You can even see convex observation mirrors in distribution centers and warehouses, making the site safer for forklift truck drivers to navigate without crashing.
What should you look out for when you buy a convex observation mirror?
As with any piece of equipment, if you plan to use your mirror outdoors you need to make sure it is built for a purpose. An indoor-only mirror will not have the necessary weather protection for long-term external use, and you will end up having to replace it.
Make sure that your mirror is fit for purpose – if your viewpoint is fairly close to where you plan to install the mirror, you can probably make use of a smaller option, assuming the viewing area is also small. If you need to view from afar and see a broader panorama, then you will need to spend more and get a much larger mirror.
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