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back to article Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech

Car-display manufacturer Navdy has refuted claims that its new device is dangerous, saying there are plenty of precedents for the technology. Navdy connects a mobile phone to a small projector and provides a “pilot's eye” heads-up display, using a transparent screen. This avoids the issues of multiple images which you get if you …

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Irrelevant observation number 1:

"Navdy believes that its system is very much safer than using a phone, because when you use a touch screen your eyes follow your fingers."

It's probably safer than applying make-up or reading the newspaper while driving too.

Isn't the problem with projections that they're always near to your line of sight, and so more easily distracts you, especially if there are updates or movement. If you're using non-projected satnav, then sure you have to look away from the road from time to time to look at the map, but that's true of using the mirrors too, but most of the time, the only thing of interest in front of you is the outside world.

It's the reason I don't like digital speed readouts. Unlike an 'analogue' display (like a needle - whether on a screen or a real dial), small changes in speed cause distracting changes in the number displayed.

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Slightly different when used in a fighter jet

However, if a prolific texter uses the device, every other minute a message will pop up distracting the driver, firstly to read the message and then to reply because it will be impossible the ignore.

Add in the use of the sat-nav a passenger and a phone call?

How long before the device is banned or a driver runs into someone.

Safety is not the devices main selling point.

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Re: Irrelevant observation number 1:

@ smartypants

You are absolutely wrong. Your post is anything but irrelevant.

Three equally "irrelevant" additions to this excellent post.

1. As to the presumption that because it works for fighter pilots it will be great for drivers, I have a simple suggestion to the designers. . . LOOK UP. How many aardvarks, bears, bison, . . children chasing balls, deer, elderly people, . . .pot holes. . ., or zebras do you see wandering into the paths of those jets.

2. Distracted driving is already a major problem. A prime example: the EZPass (express) lanes on the Washington Beltway, where drivers of all ages were getting confused and distracted by all the signs for the plethora of diverging and converging lanes and wrecking.

3, We have an aging population for whom this is going to be a train wreck. Like it or not, we all lose a step or two starting around 50. It's subtle enough that most of us can get by on denial for a couple more decades. But even if you're blessed with great genes, it is going to happen.

I believe that used properly this technology can improve safety. But the systems need to be designed by experts in human perception and cognition, with specific consideration for the users, operating conditions, and environments--not twenty-something idiots with a cut rate degree in "marketing" or business--or worse, God forbid, IT.

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Re: Irrelevant observation number 1:

I already have HUD on my car and I can tell you it is a hell of a lot safer than looking down taking your eyes OFF the road to look at any dials!

The problem with dials is you take longer to read what speed you are doing where as a number is instant.

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Re: Irrelevant observation number 1:

I use a speedview (http://www.speedview.co/) after market HUD, which just shows your speed - which I think is all you need, apart from voice navigation perhaps, else there will be too many distractions.

The idea of handling calls when driving is just wrong.

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Re: Irrelevant observation number 1:

Surely every car already has built in call handling (i.e. bluetooth)? or at least I've not looked at a new car in the past 10 years that hasn't had it.

I think taking calls while driving is about the same distraction level as talking with a passenger... except with a call you can end it with a push of a button and get rid of the distraction...

the hud looks a good idea, BUT I can't see many Bentley drivers buying it... or any luxury car brand.. I actually would love a HUD in my car, but no way will I be ruining the look of my car with an after market mess like that...

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Re: Irrelevant observation number 1:

The problem is that so many in-car gadgets cannot be used without turning your phone on.

This device would be wonderful if it was on a GPS with link to your choice of dashboard displays. Throw in a phone and get thee behind me.

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Re: Irrelevant observation number 1:

Have an upvote Smartypants. Don't agree about the speedo though. My last car had a digital speedo. The new one has analogue. It takes much longer to read and absorb the analogue displayed speed, especially if you are trying to stay at 30 mph.

Analogue speedos have degenerated. They used to be a big circular dial going from 0 to 120 mph. Nowadays, they go up to 180 mph, regardless of the car, and the figures are squashed into half a circle or little more. In my car, 90 mph is at the 11 o'clock position, and only every 20 mph is actually numbered.

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Re: Irrelevant observation number 1:

>Surely every car already has built in call handling (i.e. bluetooth)?

I'd love to know how to do that in my wifes 1966 Morris Minor 1000..

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Have a B-minus for now

I would love for this to succeed. But thinking beyond that, what I would actually like is for this to be more fully realised. Because I'm a tad concerned that focusing at 2m from windscreen doesn't quite cut it. And having my drive interrupted by Tweets or SMS will prove distracting. So two cheers for Navdy, for now...

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So many things to consider.

" ... Navdy has refuted claims that its new device is dangerous, ..."

Have they refuted these claims or have they just denied them? Refutation needs proof.

"You hear that? Pilots use it; it's safe"

Pilots have lots and lots of training. They don't have other aircraft jumping out in front of them or traffic lights turning red suddenly as they fly along.

"Projected like it's two metres in front of you, so you never have to adjust your focus away from your driving."

If you drive around focussed on what's two metres in front of you, you'll miss everything you need to be paying attention to.

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Re: So many things to consider.

Good point about refuting.

Pilots have lots and lots of training. They don't have other aircraft jumping out in front of them or traffic lights turning red suddenly as they fly along.

Neither do they have the potential for a facebook app to interface with their HUDs.

Whether it's an improvement or not really depends on what software gets used. If we look past the novelty of it being a HUD, what we're really looking at is buying another smartphone to pair to your smartphone that has the sole job of doing all the things your smartphone could do, but doing them in a way better thought out for driving.

My google voice recognition works well in quiet environments with short requests, but becomes unreliable either with too much background noise (like a motorway) or if I say too much, so if I try and write a text with it. It's for this reason I really don't see Navdy working like you'd hope it would for text messages.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So many things to consider.

If you drive around focussed on what's two metres in front of you, you'll miss everything you need to be paying attention to

Actually, the dashboard you're normally checking is far closer, but all your other points are valid.

A device that puts selected bits of my dashboard in HUD? Cool - speedo, navigation, maybe a low fuel warning - that's all I need when driving. Anything else is a distraction. I much prefer a HUD (which is permanently in my line of sight) not to be loaded with distractions which are entirely irrelevant to driving.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So many things to consider.

The Two metres thing is a total failire for me.

I wear three zone varifocals. This is clearly in the bottom zone so it will be out of focus. DoH!

The bottom zone is for reading.

Have they really thought this through? I think not.

When I was younger I did fly in the second seat of a Hunter. We were testing the avionics for the Harrier including the HUD. We could adjust the focus of the hud display. This was back in the 1970's.

Surely in this day and age they makers could allow for different vision prescriptions from the drivers?

Probably not because everuonse in the US has perfect vision just like they have perfect pearly whites.

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Re: So many things to consider.

>Neither do they have the potential for a facebook app to interface with their HUDs.

Not yet, but for $WTF million each on a F35 you expect some options package

And they need to recruit a new generation of younger recruits

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Re: So many things to consider.

> I wear three zone varifocals. This is clearly in the bottom zone so it will be out of focus.

I can't wear bifocals because the constant angle required kills your neck on a motorcycle, so sadly my speedometer and tach are becoming out of focus as I age, and I can not read the tiny digits on my FJR speedo at all, especially at night. I'd give a testicle for heads-up kit that could set focus to accommodate me, even if it just projected onto the windshield and not my helmet visor.

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"You hear that? Pilots use it

But they use it to fly the plane, not send stupid tweets.

I expect this would be safer then the idiots who text and tweet now with their phones despite any laws.

But not as safe as people who keep their phones in their pocket when they drive.

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Re: So many things to consider.

"If you drive around focussed on what's two metres in front of you, you'll miss everything you need to be paying attention to."

To the human eye, I believe that "focus 2 meters from here" and "focus on the infinite" is the same thing. It is like fixed focus cameras: "From 1,2 meters to infinite".

I don't know about the rest. We could argue one way or another, for all the points.

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Re: So many things to consider.

Pilots are on autopilot most of the time anyway, except when they take off and land, and no one really starts to text while they are parking or pulling out from a junction, they normally crash because they drift lanes or run red lights.

HUD information is no different from road signs really, as long as you dont have to take your eyes complelty off the road, peripheral vision is pretty good if its close to the focusing point of your eye, its when people have to look down into their lap that they lose all sight of the road.

But this app shouldnt be able to reply to texts, unless its voice reply only.

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Re: So many things to consider.

"Pilots have lots and lots of training. They don't have other aircraft jumping out in front of them or traffic lights turning red suddenly as they fly along."

They might. Wingmates might break away to track a bogie they spotted and so on. Plus there's always the danger of incoming fire. One of the things drilled into pilots through history is to maintain situational awareness. Target fixation is a killer.

As for the HUD itself, it needs to be as concise as possible: able to convey the most information with the littlest amount of clutter. Pilot HUDs cram quite a bit along the edges of the display, keeping the center cleared for all-important targeting. In the case of the car, a driver's HUD should be as unobtrusive as possible UNTIL it needs to draw your attention to something immediate, and these signals should be discernible from peripheral vision. This means the indicators have to be distinct enough to be detected from the corner of the eye. Color can be used in this case. For example, a speedometer's number can be ignored through familiarization, but perhaps if it changed to yellow to indicate you're now crossing over the speed limit, it can be caught in the peripheral vision and be a useful caution message. Similarly, if the turnoff is coming up, perhaps part of the map can blink briefly as a hint to start looking around.

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Vic
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Re: So many things to consider.

To the human eye, I believe that "focus 2 meters from here" and "focus on the infinite" is the same thing. It is like fixed focus cameras: "From 1,2 meters to infinite".

Not according to the CAA.

It used to be taught that the "relaxed" position of tyhe eye was to focus at infinity. It is now taught that the natural focus position is 2-3m ahead, and focussing at distance is more tiring.

I can't supply independent verification of this - iut's just what was taught during my PPL course.

Vic.

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Re: So many things to consider.

Checkout the various android HUD speedometer apps. Just set the phone face up on the dash.... ok on a bike it will need some velcro or something and clever positioning.

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Re: So many things to consider.

I had an 07 FJR. Miss it daily.

fortunately there;s a helmet on the way that will have relevant HUD info sent to the visor.

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Joke

Revealing answer no 1 ...

So, when your office calls and the picture of your boss appears, apparently 1.8 metres in front of you, will you:

a) slam on the brakes; or

b) attempt to run him down.

Answers on a postcard please ...

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Joke

Re: Revealing answer no 1 ...

One mod many might want to make is adapting which gesture to use to get rid of a call. Swipe of the hand might be OK for most contacts, but I guess a few special gestures might be liked for "special categories" of contacts (bosses, inlaws, etc).

What gesture would you like to make to get rid of a text from your boss (especially in the weekend)?

Answers on a postcard as well, please ...

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Re: Revealing answer no 1 ...

Considering someone mis-interpreted a sarcastic wave from me as some kind of rude gesture I reckon there could be consequences.

The guy was obviously in such a hurry that he performed a 3 point turn on a high street to follow me. I was watching him do it in the rear view mirror, and as I saw him approach, flashing his lights I thought that there must be something wrong with my car so I pulled over and stopped.

Only for the twat to drive right into the back of me! He must have been doing about 70 in a 30 to catch up with me and not be able to stop in time - the bastard wrote off my favourite car.

And to top it off, he gave me whiplash, blamed me for the incident etc. He was not in his twenties either, he was about 60 years old and head of the local free-masons or whatever the old boys club was in that area - seemed to think he was my commanding officer in the army or something. He lied on his affidavit and set in motion a chain of events that ended up with me losing my job and suffering from stress.

So no, hand gestures are a BAD idea, especially these days when everyone seems to have gone stark raving bonkers.

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So how is this different from BMW incorporating a HUD in their latest models?

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Anonymous Coward

> So how is this different from BMW incorporating a HUD in their latest models?

I'm not familiar with BMW's version but I am with Audi's. In the latter case, the difference is in the extremely limited amount of information displayed and in that it really *is* unobtrusive. You don't see Adam asking you for a coffee on an Audi's HUD.

I'm not against HUDs per se, but they need to be properly designed with the goal of assisting the person at the wheel, not distracting them.

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"So how is this different from BMW incorporating a HUD in their latest models?"

Maybe because a £300 add-on to ones existing car is a bit less than buying a new BMW.

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> So how is this different from BMW incorporating a HUD in their latest models?

The BMW has undergone all the relevant safety certification. There's no indication that this product will even be submitted to the safety authorities.

If you were involved in a collision (even as the innocent party) with this gizmo fitted, the other party's insurance company could and would claim that you had wilfully obscured your view of the road ahead. Not only that, but your own insurance company would probably jump at the chance to refuse payment on the same grounds too.

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BMW's system projects onto the windsceen iirc.

It's lowly Peugeot who use a similar projection screen. And that's also been available for 3 or more years.

Old hat technology, but safer than all the daft touchscreens manufacturers are putting into the centre consoles of many models: Head Down Displays. Genius.

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>So how is this different from BMW incorporating a HUD i

This doesn't automatically award points for each red light you run and each Audi you overtake.

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I wish BMW's was like this!

I've had the high-end BMW one for two years now (2013 M5 - yes, you can make very good money in tech) and I don't see any problem with this at all - I'm constantly wishing I had access to more data on the HUD (especially radar detector and Escort Live - that's cop spotting, not hooker hunting - data). Not having to look down at your dash for speed, tach, gear selection, navigation, etc. is a major safety plus (it even throws up a warning if a pedestrian is detected in your path at night).

I wouldn't want full-blown Facebook or Twitter on it - that would be a bit much - but there is definitely room, both physically and mentally, for more information. As people have mentioned car companies will be very conservative with this at first, but I think they'll inch out, especially as Apple and Google take over more of the functionality on the dash.

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I imagine it will be easier to use for what YOU want than anything shipped with the car.

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...or the 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix

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Anonymous Coward

Not safe

How many numpties on receiving the text are going to try and reply? This looks like conspiracy to break a law.

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Facepalm

HUD better, gestures bad, starting calls or using social media bad.

HUD is a good idea for keep eyes focused ahead, to show carefully designed information relevant to /driving/, like navigation directions, speed, fuel etc., but only minimal notifications for mobile calls or data, because just too much distracting input can escalate into dangerous mental scarcity for the demanding task of driving a potentially deadly, powerful, load of metal and not having an accident. This is no different from Google Glass, both could easily cause accidents.

Bad 1: Gesture control; device control should be by speech or near physical controls, not gesture; gestures are too costly in a car, because you need both your hands to drive.

Bad 2: Allowing use of mobile phones or interactive media; never allow use of mobile phones or interactive media by the driver of a moving car; at most status!

Bad 3: A transparent screen; this may become useless in bright sunlight.

The designers need to read the book "Scarcity" by Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Sharif; many people don't realise the stupid side effects of scarcity.

All conversations on mobile phone calls (yes, even hands free) or use of interactive media while driving should be regarded as dangerous driving, no excuses, so be banned for apps for this device, because these can easily cause unexpected mental scarcity; /always park to do these/, I'm fed up seeing negligent asses driving motor vehicles while using mobiles, with obviously compromised driving!

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Re: HUD better, gestures bad, starting calls or using social media bad.

Might I suggest:

HUD better, gestures bad, starting calls or using social media mad.

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Re: HUD better, gestures bad, starting calls or using social media bad.

"All conversations on mobile phone calls (yes, even hands free)"

Except it isn't really acceptable to pull over to the hard shoulder when you are on a motorway to answer a call. What if it was an emergency? I was once on a 5 hour trip (about 1/2 an hour in) to be away for a week when my wife rang me to say she had been taken ill.

I would much rather have got that call 1/2 hour from home than 5 hours away. How much more distracted do you think I would have been on a 5 hour journey worrying about my wife (as opposed to 1/2 hour)?

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Re: HUD better, gestures bad, starting calls or using social media bad.

#1. No you don't need two hands on the steering wheel all the time to drive. It depends on the situation. A lot of the time you can use one hand unless the road is windy or there is a lot of traffic - in which case don't gesture. The driver can make intelligent decisions.

#2 Better ban passengers too then as they can cause a distraction to drive with their incessant back seat driving instructions. Better ban radios and music systems as they can distract the driver. Why not just ban everything that could be a distraction - how you're going to police it I don't know because an ban that is unenforceable is a joke.

#3 Not a problem if it doesn't work in bright sunlight, it's an aid not something that is required to drive like a speedometer. That issue is only a problem with Navdy if people don't buy it because it doesn't work in the sun.

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Why?

Why does this need to connect with the car systems? Also why does it need to connect with a phone?

In the first instance it means that it can't be used in older cars that don't have the required connection and the second instance makes it worse than holding a phone to your ear.

The basic idea of a HUD is good, just cut out all the other crap.

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Stop

Re: Why?

The basic idea of a HUD is good, just cut out all the other crap.

Absolutely. I don't care how much it improves their networking interactions and access to social media but I do care how much it impacts on my safety.

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FAIL

Re: Why?

Oh well, that's me out of luck then.

My Mini Cooper S has neither the 12volt adaptor mentioned in the article nor any visible connection to the car's electronics.

Which is probably a good thing as I do not relish the thought of unwanted ads and things appearing in my line of sight nor do I think that a vector whereby any hacker could get into my car's electronics is a very good idea. The thought of being blinded by the airbag suddenly inflating is not a happy one.

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Re: Why?

I'm sort of surprised you don't have a 12v socket (is it a USB socket instead? It would be possible to hook it up by connecting it to the radios 12v feed, however, which would be accessible by popping the head unit out and splicing the cables - perfectly legit if done properly) but you will have an ODBII socket - all cars have been required to have them by law for nearly fifteen years in the UK, a bit longer in the US.

It'll be somewhere in the footwell/under the dash (more recent regs state it must be within something like 60cm of the steering wheel IIRC, and must not be hidden away behind anything with screws on it). Even my ratty old 2000 Ford Puma has one, and it can rattle of RPM data, water temperature, MAF airflow, estimated road speed (calculated from gearbox ratios and wheel size, same data the speedo uses), etc. although the update/refresh speeds on my car aren't that hot as it was an early implementation before consumer devices that use ODB info were commonplace - I think most modern ECUs are much faster to provide the data, and can provide more info at once (IE my car will update water temp, speed and RPM info in a serial stream of 1,2,3,1,2,3,1,2,3, with each updating in turn.

I've seen Torque used in more modern cars where it seems to have more bandwidth and the data all looks 'live' for all feeds, rather than clearly updating one feed at a time).

ODBII is very much a *read only* protocol without the right hardware attached to it, too - that's why a tuneup flash of your ECU over ODB (DreamScience, REVO, etc) costs £300+, and it's something you can just pirate; it needs special hardware that is signed against the ECU, I believe. So no-one will be setting off your airbags or disabling your ABS remotely any time soon.

That said, on the subject of the device itself, I don't see the need for it; if you're that tied to your social connectivity channels, then I'm firmly of the opinion that you need to reprioritise your life.

I like having an excuse for going for long drives as it means I can legitimately just turn the fucking phone off. That said, if it can push oil/water temp, oil pressure, and other measurements that aren't on the dash any more (but are still useful - pulling over and killing the engine can be done quicker and more safely when you see the pressure drop like a stone, rather than teh minute it might take for the engine to start clattering and potentially seize - taking out the gearbox/clutch with it) then I might be interested. As long as on my phone I can set my status to

'Driving. Fuck off'.

Steven R

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Re: Why?

My Mini Cooper S has neither the 12volt adaptor mentioned in the article nor any visible connection to the car's electronics.

It's under the dash in the driver's footwell. Any new car sold in Europe for the last ten years is required to have one.

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Re: Why?

'It's under the dash in the driver's footwell. Any new car sold in Europe for the last ten years is required to have one.'

It's possible the poster is referring to the original Mini Cooper S which is of course far superior to the current version that is far from mini. In which case it's barely got an electrical system never mind ODBII or a 12 volt adaptor/cigar lighter.

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Re: Why?

"It's possible the poster is referring to the original Mini Cooper S

You are of course quite right. It IS an original Cooper S and it doesn't have a cigar lighter or an ODBII. The last real Minis were made in 2000, mine is a '98 vintage multi point model. It does have an ECU for the engine and an ECU for the airbag, hence me saying that a spontaneous inflation of the airbag would not be appreciated.

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Vic
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Re: Why?

if it can push oil/water temp, oil pressure, and other measurements that aren't on the dash any more

You can find stuff like that on eBay for £30 delivered...

Vic.

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Re: Why?

This might be a double post as my previous one appears to have disappeared into the ether.

Skippy - good catch.

Vic - yup, I know, I have one ;-) but it'd be nice to have it displayed in a manner that doesn't require my phone to be in one of those bloody windscreen suckers. I'd rather have them in the actual dash display module, but this seems like a sort of reasonable half-way house.

Steven R

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