Navdy, a San Francisco-based company, has a new product for in-vehicle use that it claims will bring added safety, convenience, connectivity and a big dollop of cool to the driving experience.
It is the Navdy HUD (Head-Up Display) and it consists of a black box mounted projection system on top of the dashboard on the driver's side, attached to a clear glass magnifier that projects all kinds of user-controlled data through the windshield. The projected data seems to float in space about six feet in front of the windshield, a feature that forces the eyes to maintain focus on the road ahead.
The Navdy HUD, which enables a driver to access information, apps and features on either an Apple or Android smartphone, can also be activated by voice and gesture controls. It ports voice recognition through Apple's Siri or Android's Google Voice.
HUD displays are not new, not even in cars. The technology comes from both military aviation and NASA. Over the past two decades, some vehicles have included basic HUD functions limited to vehicle speed, turn signals and other automotive parameters.
The Navdy HUD connects with smartphones via Bluetooth. For navigation, it works through Google Maps, and displays route, directions and instructions through the windshield. It can multi-task - an incoming phone call, for example, will share a split screen with the navigation map. Think of it like Google Glass for the car.
Phone calls are answered by swiping left above the steering wheel. To end a call, just swipe right. Navdy will also read messages to you while you are driving.
Navdy also connects to a vehicle's onboard computer to provide speed, miles-to-empty, warning indicators and battery voltage. It's a very welcoming device - it will function on vehicles made from 1996 and up.
There are even parental controls built in to Navdy.
Technically speaking, the unit features a 5.1-inch wide transparent HUD, a high quality projector, an IR camera for touchless gesture control, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, an internal speaker and microphone with noise cancelling DSP, direct to car power and data connection, and a portable, bendable, non-marking, powered friction mount that connects magnetically to the device.
The Navdy HUD is expected to hit retailers in early 2015. Through its website, the company is taking pre-orders at a 30-day introductory price of $299, which is 40 percent less than its retail price of $499.
On the company's blog, Co-Founder and CEO Doug Simpson explains Navdy's mission by writing "Smartphones were never designed to be used while driving. Navdy is built from the ground up to be the safest and most intuitive way to make calls, use navigation, listen to music or access notifications without ever looking away from the road."