Using a Sheet of Paper to Avoid Calibration and Other Myths
By Travis Rains
Jacques Navant, technical director at Don’s Mobile Glass and frogitout, calls it “auto glass origami,” the practice of slipping a white sheet of paper between the glass and camera while performing windshield installation. Some claim the method allows them to perform the work without recalibrating the camera. But Navant says that’s a myth and a dangerous one at that.
It comes as no surprise that the continued prevalence of ADAS technology in vehicles is now cemented within the industry to the point that auto glass shop owners are looking to truly understand how they work. With a little research and application, Navant says the general populace discovered that most of the cameras work off the light spectrum.
“The light spectrum, or at least a device that works off it, is nullified by white,” Navant says. “What they think is if before they do the replacement, if they run a piece of white paper between the glass and the camera, they think that the camera is inactive.”
Auto Glass Origami
And so the erring technician places a white piece of paper in the camera’s viewport, tapes it on the backside and disengages the camera. They then perform the installation before placing the camera back into its bracket, turning the key and checking the dashboard for warning lights. If they don’t see a light, they think they’re good to go having properly completed the replacement.
“The step they’re missing, or perhaps not even thinking about, is the purpose behind the calibration is to make sure the camera knows what it’s looking through,” Navant says. “The white paper method, as clever as that might be, doesn’t really do anything because each windshield, even if direct from the manufacturer, might have a slightly different bend or curvature.”
In reality, that practice only serves to blind the camera in a similar fashion to how direct sunlight ruins calibrations performed outdoors. That, in and of itself, is dangerous, which is why manufacturers call for calibrations to be performed in controlled environments. Calibration, on the other hand, teaches the camera how to see through its new surroundings.
Navant likens calibration to a trip to the eye doctor. If a person needs glasses, they won’t be able to borrow a pair from a friend and go about their day. Rather, they need to get the prescription that works for them. Navant says cameras are the same in that they, too, must be recalibrated so they can understand their new prescription. Since no two windshields are the same, calibration is unique and a must.
Without a new prescription for the camera, motorists could find themselves in danger weeks or even months after taking their car to the shop.
“You’ve created a false positive,” Navant says of installations without calibration. “Although you might have done a great installation, you didn’t calibrate the camera. That customer or owner operator isn’t going to know something is wrong until they drive it because it’s not automatically a light on the dashboard. If that camera is slightly distorted or the windshield is set too low or too high, then that camera is working overtime to relearn its surroundings. That owner-operator may not know something’s wrong until it’s too late.”
While Navant is no stranger to hearing questions on the “white paper method,” there’s actually another myth he hears even more frequently. Some believe that calibration isn’t necessary so long as the camera is never unplugged during installation. That, too, is false. The camera’s surroundings are still changing, therefore calling for a new prescription.
“There are all kinds of crazy things out there and the majority of them are false,” Navant says. “Our industry just needs to face the fact that calibration is a part of our life. Nobody likes new things or change, nobody likes added steps, but it’s just the reality. It’s here, and it’s not going away.”
An Inevitable Shift
Navant says the industry should view the ADAS and calibration developments as positives, as it allows glass shops to increase their revenues by incorporating calibration into their business. However, if a business owner isn’t comfortable with calibration, then they need to find someone on the outside who is since that’s the direction the industry is headed.
“Everyone wants their day to go quick and easy. For a very long period of time, our industry was plagued with the mindset of ‘you don’t have to do this, you don’t have to do that,’” Navant says. “But now with all these sensors and cameras being incorporated into the glass, I think for the first time in probably three decades our industry is kind of waking up and realizing ‘I can’t do that anymore.’ So much can go wrong, more so than ever before.”
At the same time, educational resources continue to emerge to help auto glass shops navigate the increasing complexity of windshield installation and the associated calibration. Navant, as chairperson of the National Auto Glass Safety Council’s ADAS Committee, encourages people to reach out to him or the organization for more information.
“If you’re not sure what the vehicle needs, reach out to somebody to figure out what’s right for your business and for the owner-operator,” he says. “We don’t want to put anybody in a dangerous, unsafe false positive.”
For more information on dangerous calibration myths, see the glassBYTEs.
com article titled “No Myth About it: Calibration is Important.”
Travis Rains is an assistant editor for AGRR magazine. Connect with him at email@example.com.
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