Tired of taking orders from a robot or merging into oncoming traffic while glancing at your GPS? Sounds like you need a heads-up display (HUD). Oh, you don’t have $1,000 to $5,000 to spend on car features? Fear not, Garmin’s got you covered.
HUD technology has been around for a while. It was first introduced by GM in 1988 and is currently available in luxury vehicles for a hefty price, but that cost is about to drop. That’s because Garmin recently announced the company’s first heads-up display device, simply called HUD. It’s reasonably priced, works with the company’s navigation apps StreetPilot and Navigon, and is compatible with any car that has a dashboard for it to rest on.
“Head-up displays currently have their place in select high-end cars, but HUD makes this technology available as an aftermarket accessory for any vehicle, at an affordable price,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales.
The Garmin HUD works by projecting nav info onto a transparent film on the windshield or a reflector lens attached to the device. The display shows turn arrows, current speed and speed limit, distance to the next turn, and your estimated time of arrival. Like most GPS software, the HUD can also tell you what lane you should be in for the next turn or warn you if you go over the speed limit.
You can also receive alerts about potential traffic delays and upcoming safety camera locations. The display is easy to read too, automatically adjusting the brightness level for daytime or nighttime driving. And because the directions are in your line of sight, you’ll never have to take your eyes off the road.
Smartphones with the StreetPilot or Navigon apps can connect to the HUD via Bluetooth. The app works with the iPhone, Android phones and Windows Phone 8. The heads-up display is $129.99, and the apps (either the StreetPilot or Navigon with regional maps) start at $29.99. The Garmin HUD will be available later this summer.
Brands such as Audi, BMW and Lexus already feature heads-up displays in some vehicles, but it’s often built into a car’s onboard navigation system, which isn’t always easy to update. With Garmin’s HUD for smartphone users, this technology has the potential to reach a larger audience and get updated without nearly as much hassle as luxury vehicles.
Tim Edwards, Principal Engineer at the Mira motor industry research firm, told BBC News that the Garmin HUD looks interesting and, though HUD technology has been available to car makers for a while, the challenge to having them in more cars has been the industry’s development lifecycle.
“Your smartphone changes almost daily, but there’s a limit to how fast a car can be updated,” he said. Add-ons and devices created by companies like Garmin might be preferable to those made by car manufacturers because of the difficulty of updating built-in versions.
Between its affordability and accessibility, the Garmin HUD is a godsend for our society’s diminishing sense of direction. Technology-dependent drivers will no longer have to put themselves and others in dangers while trying to find a new restaurant or embarking on a road trip. Thanks to the HUD, our drivers will be smarter and our roads will be safer.