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 …

  1. smartypants

    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.

    1. LarsG

      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.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        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...

    2. Hargrove

      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.

    3. Shane 4

      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.

      1. Paul_Murphy

        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.

        1. MrXavia

          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...

          1. Mycho Silver badge

            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.

          2. launcap Silver badge
            FAIL

            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..

    4. Jim 59

      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.

  2. frank ly Silver badge

    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.

    1. HMB

      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.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        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

      2. nuclearstar

        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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Gene Cash Silver badge

          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.

          1. xerocred

            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.

          2. Rick Brasche

            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.

    3. Tom 35 Silver badge

      "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.

    4. Marcelo Rodrigues

      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.

      1. Vic

        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.

    5. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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.

  3. Gray Ham
    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 ...

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      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 ...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        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.

  4. Graham Dawson

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "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.

    3. Fink-Nottle

      > 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.

    4. Dr_N Silver badge

      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.

      1. Darryl

        ...or the 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix

    5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >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.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      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.

    7. Robert E A Harvey

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

  5. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  6. Infernoz Bronze badge
    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!

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      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.

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      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)?

    3. The Axe

      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.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    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.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      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.

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      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.

      1. Steven Raith

        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

        1. Vic

          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.

          1. Steven Raith

            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

            1. Vic

              Re: Why?

              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.

              That's exactly what I was talking about...

              Vic.

            2. Down not across Silver badge

              Re: Why?

              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.

              Well you could always toggle HUD mode on Torque and lay it on on anti-slip mat on your dashboard (assuming your dashboard is not unsuitably curved for that).

              1. Steven Raith

                Re: Why?

                I've got a heated front screen in my girls car, chaps - you get double reflections meaning everything is a pig to read.

                I appreciate the input though, I had used a different HUD thingy, didn't realise Torque had one! Might be useful for checking MAF airflow and badger throughput when testing, etc....

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. the spectacularly refined chap

        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.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          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.

          1. nematoad Silver badge

            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.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Why?

      "Why does this need to connect with the car systems?...The basic idea of a HUD is good, just cut out all the other crap."

      This my HUD...

      Oo- cool! What does it display?

      Er, nothing...

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      >Why does this need to connect with the car systems?

      Tricky to show the information from the dash without asking the car for it.

      >just cut out all the other crap.

      Like speed, engine warning lights, fuel ?

  8. psychonaut

    want one...

    just so i can attempt to run over adam's face as in the picture.

    it'll be like "chase the dragon" from south park

  9. Chad H.

    Given a Sidewinder is Air to Air... wouldn't a Air to Ground missile, like a Maverick be a better choice?

    1. psychonaut

      uh, no

      unless you have a flying car.

      i would imagine a ground to ground missile would be better. unless you are shooting at someone else's flying car from the ground, in which case ground to air. or if you and the target are flying, then an air to air. think that about covers it.

      1. Ian Emery Silver badge

        Re: uh, no

        Give me Hellfires, according to an old flight sim at least, you can target slow moving aircraft like choppers as well as ground targets.

        Ré GPS on mountains, the speed readings would be a bit out, but as long as you werent hard up against the north rock face, you should still be able to see the odd GPS sat.

        The GPS on my Asus tablet is a bit poor, but the only time I lost the signal today, while driving around the centre of Brum, was in Debenhams carpark; I dont even remember losing it the last time the Queensway tunnel was open.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: uh, no

          Hellfires would be good, though a bit overkill perhaps and definitely a drain on the wallet. I'd prefer twin .50's that pop out of the parking lights ala James Bond. A simple set of cross hairs on the HUD with maybe gimbaling on the crosshairs and guns so I wouldn't have to turn the wheel to hit that idiot who just changed lanes into mine and then ducked back into the next lane thinking he's getting there faster than everyone else.

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            Re: uh, no

            I'd go with 30mm rotary cannon like on the A10 and the first person I'd target would be whoever came up with the stupid idea of connecting a smartphone to a HUD. On second thoughts, make that the marketing director of Navdy. (The CEO would be second, then the person who thought up the idea.)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: uh, no

              What's wrong with RPG's? There's a lot less to go wrong, just point and shoot :D

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    Usable but needs limits

    The basic idea is good but as mentioned above scarcity is and will be a limitation to how much it should be used; the prefrontal cortex acts as a bottleneck so no matter how smart you think you are and how good a driver you may be, there is only so much information that can be processed at a given time.

    In view of that; social media should only be functional if the vehicle is stationary and out of gear, personally I don't like phone calls in the car either, though most calls are low key an argument or something else as intense will affect your ability to drive and with so many people driving large heavy projectiles like my old 2 1/4 ton Disco, you can do a lot of damage with a little inattention.

    Certainly though, the usual items on a dash display such as speed, revs as well as oil and battery and other warning lights could and should have been on HUDs in vehicles a long time ago.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Usable but needs limits

      Certainly though, the usual items on a dash display such as speed, revs as well as oil and battery and other warning lights could and should have been on HUDs in vehicles a long time ago.

      I think that's a bit TMI. When you're driving, speed and possible minimalistic GPS directions is all the data you need - when it comes to fuel, oil and other measurements they should only come in play when there is a problem or you're getting low on something. The rest of your brain should be on maintaining situational awareness and driving safely and responsibly, keeping in mind that some don't..

  11. petur
    WTF?

    ODBII

    I'm a bit puzzled about the inclusion of ODBII - unless your car has an accurate speedmeter, I don't think the ODBII data is interesting, you get far more accurate speed data from the GPS. GPS speed is only inaccurate during manoeuvres, which when you actually don't care about it...

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: ODBII

      GPS doesn't work in the mountains or hilly terrain, in urban areas with large buildings, on roads with trees along them...

      Not to mention the battery drain having it enabled all the time - try using a running or biking app that leaves it active while the device is asleep and be amazed at how much more quickly the battery runs down.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: ODBII

        That, and it'd be nice to see *actual* oil pressure, oil temperature and water temperature readings, rather than just a goofily calibrated dial which is about as accurate as just taking a fecking guess - and that's if it has a readout on the OEM dash at all.

        Mk1 Ford Ka, I'm looking at you, with your speedo, fuel guage, and nothing else.

        Steven R

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Man drives a 'Ka'?

          What? are you mad?

          The Ka is for girly girls only. They don't need anything more than a speedo and fuel gauge.

          Paris becasie she couldn't give a Ka.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Man drives a 'Ka'?

            "The Ka is for girly girls only. They don't need anything more than a speedo and fuel gauge."

            Doesn't need a fuel gauge either. Daddy fills it every week.

            1. Chris G Silver badge

              Re: Man drives a 'Ka'?

              Some years ago I was told the Ka was based on a styling exercise done by the students of a class sponsored by Ford at a South London College; I have always hated the damn things as a styling fail (apart from the bonnet).

              The new Ka Cabriolet actually does have some style, not bad looking at all, unfortunately it still seems to have the raw power of a twist and go scooter! So still a girly car.

              1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
                Unhappy

                Re: Man drives a 'Ka'?

                Doesn't need a speedo either. Most Ka drivers seem to drive at 45MPH on all roads under all weather conditions.

                1. Steven Raith

                  Re: Man drives a 'Ka'?

                  People who say the Ka is a girls car seriously underestimate it's cross country ability and pace. The Fords from around that era had some serious handling chops; Ka, Fiesta, Puma, all a bit girly, all the absolute best in their class for driving dynamics (engines aside in some cases, natch).

                  The Ford Ka drove better than anything in it's class, including competitors 'hot' models, same is true of the Fiesta and the Puma.

                  You get the car up to NSL/road speeds, and then you just don't have to slow down because the chassis is so, so controllable and adjustable.

                  If you ever need a cheap car but want something that will ride properly, has real bodycontrol and has a chassis that does far, far more than just 'understeer', then the Ka is the car for you, believe me.

                  The vans are even better - the lack of a rear interior makes the rear lighter, which makes it easier to adjust on the throttle.

                  I cannot stress enough just how good anything based on the MkIV Fiesta platform (Ka, Fiesta, Puma) is to drive.

                  I'd rather drive a girls car with actual steering feel, than drive something 'manly' that just understeers like a pig at the slightest provocation, and thumps through potholes in a spine-jarring manner thanks to it's 'sporty' ride. And don't even start me on the puff-pastry and chewing gum that is the Cinquecento/Siecento...

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. petur

        Re: ODBII

        Fair enough, although GPS receivers have improved over time but as a backup it could serve.

        As for battery, since you're going to use it for navigating GPS will be on, and since the HUD is wireless you can leave the phone near the charger ;)

  12. corcoran

    Had HUD in a 5 series once; bloody brilliant. I'd really like this in my current motor - a trusty old Ford Focus but this seems a bit over engineered.

  13. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Mk1 Ford Ka, I'm looking at you, with your speedo, fuel guage, and nothing else.

    Well, OK, but I would love to have that brilliant bonnet feature on my car, or maybe as an extra function of the wing mirrors.

    Come to think of it, forget about the HUD altogether. Just give me that bonnet.

    :)

  14. Naughtyhorse

    Health and safety gone maddddd!

    Does the average commentard here really drive in such a manner that looking away (or adjusting ones focus) for 1/2 a second will result in an accident?

    p'raps that explains the vast numbers of drives who regard mirrors as vanity accessories!

    Take an LGV course, you spend way way WAY more time looking in your mirrors*, and compensate by considering driving conditions further up the road (a lot further up the road if you have a liquid or swinging load)

    It's just the same information we are all processing now, with a fractionally different delivery system. If you cant deal with it, turn it off or preferably take the bus.

    * a truck driver should be at least as aware whats going on behind him as is in front.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

      I don't about the UK but here in the wonderful land of Oz the police have got us paranoid about going through school zones at 41 km (the limit is 40) that you spend more time looking at your speedo than for potential Darwin Award winners so you don't accidentally climb over the threshold and cop a nasty fine. I challenge you - with your eyes closed tell me the difference between 39, 40 and 41 - I would rather have a HUD that had just the speedo so that I could continually scan left to right keeping most of my vision forward (and the speedo at least in my peripheral vision) rather than having to dip eyes inside the car to see the speedo.

      1. elbisivni

        Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

        Personally, I just pop the transmission into 2nd when I go through school zones - If I go over 40 the engine makes enough of a howl to notify me if I hadn't already noticed, and, of course, engine compression will limit me to the same speed on a downhill without ever having to touch the brakes.

        If you own an autotragic some of the above may be useless. In that case perhaps a GPS/GPS app with a speed alert might be useful if you can't judge speed through observation alone so you don't have to check the speedo?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

      Does the average commentard here really drive in such a manner that looking away (or adjusting ones focus) for 1/2 a second will result in an accident?

      I am licensed to drive anything from shopping trolleys to 50T LGVs, and I am also experienced in forklift driving (many years ago I got bored). Later on I have had a number of advanced driving courses. However, as in security, as soon as you get cocky, bad things happen so I consider myself a moderate driver and maintain safety margins accordingly.

      ANYthing that gets in the way of you driving safely is worth culling, and in-your-face distractions of messages you have to read is bad news. As a matter of fact, an analogue speedo is in this context also better - you read that a LOT quicker than a digital one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

        "ANYthing that gets in the way of you driving safely is worth culling, and in-your-face distractions of messages you have to read is bad news."

        Indeed. I am also licensed to drive anything with 2 or more wheels, and any distraction is bad news. With 300k miles driving all sorts of vehicles in different countries and weather conditions, and zero accidents caused or directly involved in during that time, I still believe that I need to see what's happening in front of, behind and around me, and a facebook status update right-in-my-face certainly doesn't contribute anything useful to my journey.

        Also, keep in mind the most likely target group for gadgets like that: younger, less experienced drivers. They shouldn't even be allowed to listen to music or have passengers in many cases, quite frankly.

      2. MrXavia

        Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

        "ANYthing that gets in the way of you driving safely is worth culling, and in-your-face distractions of messages you have to read is bad news. As a matter of fact, an analogue speedo is in this context also better - you read that a LOT quicker than a digital one."

        Not sure I agree about the analogue speedo, but I agree that anything that distracts needs to be hidden away, no Facebook, no text messages, none of that crud should be on any car display.

        My phone can read out text messages if I want to hear them as they arrive, not that I use the feature.. my phone links to my car and allows me to receive calls if It is safe to do so, and usually thats only a few seconds to tell the person I am driving and to call back later...

        I would like a simple, HUD in my car, a digital speedo (I can read them faster, since its just two symbols my brain instantly understands, rather than looking where a line is pointing..) a Nav display that shows me my next turn and distance to turn plus the next turnings name, all focused at infinity for me so I don't have to refocus.

        And while many would disagree, I think having very simple feedback of car controls like selecting a new waypoint (i.e. a petrol station/supermarket), changing car temp, etc. would be very helpful, as right now to do any of this you do take your eyes off the road, even if you can make the changes without looking you confirm them with your eyes.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

          Does anyone know of an app for Android where you can set your phone into 'I'm driving' mode so that it alerts callers without you having to interact with it?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

            "Does anyone know of an app for Android where you can set your phone into 'I'm driving' mode so that it alerts callers without you having to interact with it?"

            Power button? All calls go to voicemail, all texts come in shortly after you switch it back on. What else do you expect from a "driving mode"?

        2. Alister Silver badge

          Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

          Not sure I agree about the analogue speedo...

          a digital speedo (I can read them faster, since its just two symbols my brain instantly understands, rather than looking where a line is pointing..)

          I may be displaying old-fart-ness, but I find I can interpret an anologue speedo dial much faster than a digital readout, as it forms a picture which I recognise, rather than having to interpret numbers. I find the same with time - I can interpret an analogue clock face much faster than a digital clock.

          I'm pretty sure there is some scientific basis for this - human brains process pattern recognition faster than reading.

          1. MrXavia

            Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

            It would be an interesting experiment, see which dial people read quicker digital or analogue

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Health and safety gone maddddd!

            "I'm pretty sure there is some scientific basis for this - human brains process pattern recognition faster than reading."

            I suspect it goes to handedness. Are you by chance left-handed? If so, then you're likely right-brained, and the right-brained tend to interpret, for lack of a better term, aesthetics or analogue information better. You can easily see an analogue watch showing ten to six, for example.

            I'm right-handed and left-brained. Left-brains tend to work better with logic and discrete information. Me? I look at a speedometer and sometimes get the pips mixed up, wondering whether it's 42 or 47, where if I read a digital readout, it locks in place for me PDQ. Same for the watch. The numbers make more sense for me than the dial.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I NEEEEEEEEED ONE!! DO WANT

  16. Christian Berger Silver badge

    This feels very retro-futuristic

    Like sci-fi series where people live in stations on the moon, but only have one computer on that station and communicate via videophones with monochrome CRTs.

    Come on, we shouldn't need this by now.

    Even ad companies can now build self-driving cars. Trains and buses have reached a point where they are far more reliable and safe than cars. We shouldn't have large parts of our population driving around regularly in cars. It's 2014 not 1964.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: This feels very retro-futuristic

      And who is going to pay for it? Our political masters have landed us with more than £2tn of debt, we are in for some hard times.

  17. Mike Goodwin

    some cars have had the option of a HUD for a number of years.

    I've got one, and always have it enabled. Not having to glance down to check your speed, or to the left/right to check your satnav is much safer.

    Its a transparent image that you can see through, so its not like having a normal sat-nav screen in your direct line of sight.

    Having a HUD now, I doubt I would go back to a car without one.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can any trace of the text be seen from outside the car? I can imagine the plod charging people if they see it in the windscreen of the car behind them or from behind the car. The driver will be charged though it is of course different when they use their own computer terminals whilst driving a police car.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      If it's a specialized HUD, showing just car-related information, then I don't think they could consider it any more of a distraction than the speedo itself, which is standard equipment. If the plods nail you for that, I'd probably argue they're basically saying required equipment is a distraction, meaning cars are inherently unsafe.

      As for the police doing their work, they can pull the same thing pilots and lorry drivers can: they're trained in what they do.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the good old days

    you used to just get in your car and fucking drive.

    If you cannot go a car journey without answering your phone, texting, or in some way interacting with the world around you, then you are either:

    A: An incredibly busy professional

    B: Addicted to connectivity

    Lets be honest, for the majority of people it's B. They can't live without being in touch with someone or interacting with something. I can drive from London to Glasgow four times a month for five and a half hours and never have to check my phone once. Why can't people manage it for a fifteen minute journey?

    There will of course be exceptions, people who need to check their phone, but then you have to deal with it responsibly.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      Re: Back in the good old days

      Unless you are a professional driver, why do you take 5.5 hours driving London to Glasgow when you could take a train in about the same time?

      1. Yugguy

        Re: Back in the good old days

        Other people? Public transport SUCKS BALLS.

  20. thx1138v2

    The basic problem isn't physical like what are your eyes or hands doing? It's where is your mind focused? Is it focused on the outside environment and what is going on or is it focused internally on some discussion picturing who's speaking or what they are speaking about or what the image of that coffee shop looks like and the neighborhood around it? It doesn't matter if it's a heads up display or a phone conversation or a text message.

    The difference between that and auto radio is that all of those are two way communications where a response is expected. So your attention must go into composing a response while auto radio is only one way and no response is needed or expected. You can sing along or shake, rattle, and roll but a response is not expected of you so there's no need to compose a response.

  21. Yugguy

    Yaris-tastic

    My wife's 5 year old Yaris has the centre instrument console where the digital speedo, rev counter etc. are back-projected, you look down slightly to it as per a normal instrument bank but crucially your eyes do not have to refocus and it is not in your line of sight. It works really well and I wish I had it in my own car.

    I'm not sure I'd want a HUD display tbh as I don't like things in my line of sight.. Refocusing delay IS important, to me anyway, be a keyboard warrior and call me a commentard if you wish.

  22. WibbleMe

    I'm sure Jaguars already have this built in, and night vision?

  23. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Devil

    GM had this years ago

    General Motors had a HUD feature on some of their cars a decade or more ago. True, it was a bit primitive. I think it was limited to your speedometer and other gauges. Though some 'premium' cars like Cadillac had an IR camera and night vision display overlaid on the windshield. So in theory you could drive without headlights. Don't get started on why this isn't safe.

    I think the HUD for navigation and possibly phone calls would be useful if it can be made as non-distracting as possible, as it will keep the driver from taking their eyes (completely) off the road. But having someone's face pop up on your windshield at the wrong moment could be catastrophic. And with so many apps driven by ads (no pun intended), I really don't think we need to be bombarded with advertisements in the middle of our windshields while trying to drive. Especially blinky, intrusive adds like. "You Have Won!!"

    (I used the Satan icon because it actually looks like a happy little car)

  24. Herby Silver badge

    Easy to do

    I saw an IPad application that does lots of navigation stuff. Place it on the dash and presto-chango you get a heads-up display. When your trip ends, take it with you. Of course it won't answer the call from mom, but do you really need that?

  25. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    The future is coming

    I'm convinced that this type of display will be built into all new cars within 5-10 years allowing a complete redesign of the current driving environment.

    No more instrument panels, switches or buttons needed with the ability to only display information when it's needed - for example, who needs to know what the engine temperature is if it's normal? A smart heads up display would only show the status of things that were relevant to the driver at the time that they need to be shown - that's much better than the current situation where we have dials, switches, and buttons because they are needed occasionally.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The future is coming

      "I'm convinced that this type of display will be built into all new cars within 5-10 years allowing a

      complete redesign of the current driving environment."

      I think you're right. But the HUD will be streaming TV while keeping you up to date with your social meeja accounts etc while the car does the driving for you. The only car related status on the HUD will be your ETA. Hopefully the seating will be more like a sofa we can slouch on while putting our feet up.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HUD

    Compass ribbon. Speed ribbon with Mach indicator. G-pulling indicator. Altimeter ribbon. And the letters SHOOT when the reticle locks on your target, be that your exit, or a Mig-21.

    Yep. Aren't there some F-14 Ds in a boneyeard somewhere in Arizona? I want to retrofit my car...

  27. DarkEnergy

    HUD user for the last 2 years

    My car HUD displays actual speed, maximum local road speed, navigation indications and a flashing red car if I drive too close to the car in front.

    My conclusion: HUD it is the best safety accessory a car can have.

    I agree with previous postings in that projecting information not related to the actual driving can be distractive. I would be very worried about incorporating in a HUD email, phone or twitter information.

  28. Dan Paul

    How about just learning to read a map?

    Stuff like this, is technology looking for a problem. How about just learning to read a map, learn to drive from point A to point B and remember how to get there and back without this crap?

    Ignorant people never seem to learn the required basic skills that set you apart from being a twat.

    How many times have you been behind some idiot who's too busy looking at the GPS to be able to drive? (late left turn without signals because they are going faster than GPS can react) Or the dumbass using a cell phone for a GPS on the dash and loses all orientation because they get a phone call.

    Learn to drive and then get off my lawn too!

    1. Yugguy

      Re: How about just learning to read a map?

      I know very well how to get my work and back. In fact I know many different routes. However, I use my live traffic satnav on a daily basis to decide which of those routes I will take. It's very useful and saves me time and fuel.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How about just learning to read a map?

        Not to mention maps have an unfortunate tendency to go out of date, which can be problematic when you're going someplace you've never been before and find the route you're supposed to take has been converted to a one-way against you and so on. And when you're someplace you've never been, it's sometimes hard to find that street you're supposed to turn because all the street signs are missing or in the wrong place I knew a store where many drivers find they missed the left turn they needed to take two miles back because the street sign there's on the wrong side.

  29. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Switch off your targeting computer and use the force, Luke.

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