Many of the cars on sale today carry as many cameras as a cluster of paparazzi, pointing five or more lenses at lane lines and blind spots to assist drivers.
Even inexpensive cars such as the Nissan Versa Note are becoming shutterbugs. For less than $20,000, the hatchback can be bought with an "Around View" parking aid that patches several camera views into a simulated bird's-eye image.
The next step, experts say, could be cameras that observe the driver instead of the road. Automakers and suppliers are exploring using cameras to fight distracted driving and to unlock smartphone-style features for car owners.
It could be a windfall for suppliers such as Aisin Seiki Co., Continental AG and Delphi Automotive, all of which have demonstrated "driver monitoring" systems that use cameras to detect whether a driver is paying attention.