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Garmin Puts Directions On Car Windshield

Portable heads-up display, compatible with navigation apps, projects directions directly onto a car's windshield.

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Garmin might have failed miserably with its Nuvifone smartphone business back in 2010, but that hasn't stopped it from moving forward with other smartphone-related devices. For example, the company today announced the HUD, a portable heads-up display that's compatible with navigation apps and projects directions directly onto a car's windshield.

Heads-up displays -- ones that don't require users to look away from the road -- have been available to high-end luxury cars for years, but have yet to filter down to mass-market vehicles. Even in luxury cars, HUDs are often a pricey option. The HUD from Garmin brings the high-end navigation experience to any car for a fraction of the cost.

The HUD is a small box that sits atop the dashboard. It offers two ways to view directions. It can project them onto a thin film that is applied to the inside of the windshield, or it can project them onto a reflector lens that attaches directly to the HUD. Either way, Garmin claims that the HUD provides "crisp and bright directions" that are in the driver's line of sight and viewable at a glance.

[ On-the-fly data exchange between moving vehicles is just around the corner. Read Big Data: When Cars Can Talk. ]

In order to get those navigation details, however, users need to pair the HUD with a nearby smartphone. The HUD works with devices running Android, iOS, or Windows Phone, but not BlackBerry OS. It uses an accompanying application on the smartphone that sends the details to the HUD over a Bluetooth connection.

According to Garmin, the HUD offers a wide array of features, including turn arrows, distance to next turn, current speed, local speed limit and estimated time of arrival. It also lets drivers know what lane to be in ahead of turns, warns of upcoming traffic problems, and even shows where safety cameras are located along a given route. These details are presented in a simplified way that Garmin claims improves driver safety because it keeps their eyes on the road, not their smartphone. The HUD is viewable both at night and in direct sunlight.

In addition to the visual navigation cues, the HUD also can be used with spoken turn-by-turn directions when used with a compatible Garmin-made application. The directions are spoken by the smartphone or the car's hands-free system, not the HUD itself. The visual navigation details will stay on the windshield even if the accompanying phone receives a call.

The HUD goes on sale later this summer and has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $129.99. In order to function properly, though, it must be used with Garmin's StreetPilot or Navigon apps. Both apps start at $29.99 for regional maps; the full U.S. map costs more. The maps plus the hardware come to at least $159.98 before taxes, but that's still far below the cost to add a heads-up display to most cars from the factory.

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User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2013 | 11:53:17 AM
re: Garmin Puts Directions On Car Windshield
I originally suggested this concept and implementation to Delphi, Visteon, Magellan, and TOM TOM, back from 2004-2006, As a manufacturer rep.
Issues are curvature of glass and placement of the HUD projector (was in negotiation discussion with microvision at the time) and brightness. My suggestion was film for brightness and distortion from glass not a big issue to consumer. Careful placement of box due to safety concerns is important. Airbags deploying under an object create a missile with far greater velocity than just impact. I know three ways to do it safely if someone wants to contact me about it. Engineering is not free ;). BTW suggestion of 30 dollar price tag is unreasonable with BOM cost. projection technology is not that cheap. 100 dollars is about right, when i was researching it it would have been 299 retail.
A. Nony Mous
A. Nony Mous,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/9/2013 | 4:21:16 AM
re: Garmin Puts Directions On Car Windshield
Why does the linked Garmin press release say "head-up display" but the article above says "headS-up display"? (Do you keep your head up or your heads up with this display?)
User Rank: Apprentice
7/8/2013 | 9:50:30 PM
re: Garmin Puts Directions On Car Windshield
Unless it's a rear-end collision, the box will just fly out the windshield, and not towards the driver's head like a missile
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2013 | 7:09:01 PM
re: Garmin Puts Directions On Car Windshield
Good point, like any other GPS or cell phone device or the suction cup attached arm devices that hold them in place. However, if they can get the device down to the $30 price tag or $120 option, why couldn't there be a modification kit which hides it like the sunglasses' holder and springs open with a push? The important point is they are getting the price down to a reasonable level to make it mainstream.
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2013 | 5:42:09 PM
re: Garmin Puts Directions On Car Windshield
"The HUD is a small box that sits atop the dashboard"
It's an unsafe practice that many people do.
In a collision, whatever aftermarket device or gadget that the driver got on the dashboard would fly off like projectiles. The HUD, from its "strategic" position, may fly straight into the driver's head right after impact like a missile.
User Rank: Strategist
7/8/2013 | 5:08:52 PM
re: Garmin Puts Directions On Car Windshield
Ok, the part I find interesting is that 1) the u.s. military has used HUD's for years. 2) a company larger than Garmin is rolling out a HUD and laws are being passed to ban its use in the car before the product is even out. 3) with those laws being passed Garmin decides to release a HUD?

What product? Google Glass. I have no idea whether or not I will buy a Google Glass. I definitely won't be an early adopter. (yeah, yeah, you're saying you won't buy it...."your" kind said the same thing about cell phones 20 years ago.)

My point is...I don't understand the attack on Google Glass. If a HUD is good enough for a fighter pilot I'm fairly certain a driver could benefit from it...and by benefit I mean make driving even safer,,,think proximity warnings, not having to move eyes off of road, arrows showing you the way to go, etc. I'm not talking watching porn on Google Glass while driving, I'm talking about having all of that information you need floating in front of you and seeing the road at the same time. You the guys traveling faster than the speed of sound while people are shooting at them.

I think Google is on the right track with their HUD's and semi-automated cars. If you can increase infrastructure capacity AND make driving safer while passing on the cost to the private market I am all for it!
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