Heads up display technology is revolutionizing the way we drive. It gives us the right kind of information we need without having to take our eyes off the road. This technology is here to stay. One question remains, however. How does a head up display work?
Heads-up display technology is not new. HUDs owe their existence to the reflector sights that military fighter airplanes used before the Second World War. Of course, the technology of the 1930s pales in comparison to what we have today. Towards the middle of the 20th century, military research began improving such technologies.
Today, almost every military hardware features this technology, from aircraft systems to helmet-mounted HUDs for the infantry. Displaying critical information right in front of the eyes is the name of the game.
So, what is heads up display? If you have ever played aircraft simulation games before, then you already have an idea of what it is. This is a piece of technology that displays critical information on a surface. In modern cars, this surface is the windshield. It is for this reason that many people also call the technology a windshield display.
General Motors was the first automobile manufacturer that integrated a HUD system in a car. It did this in 1988. The system provided only the most basic information from the car’s dashboard.
How Does HUD for Cars Work?
Car manufacturers employ different technologies in their heads up display systems. There are those that build their windshields with transparent phosphors. This special layer reacts to laser light, allowing it to display the information. Only when the laser light is turned on will you be able to see the information on the windshield.
There are also aftermarket units that use mirrors instead of laser to project the image onto the windshield display. The information gets bounced off the surface of the mirror and reflected on the surface of the windshield.
There are also devices that serve as cradles for smartphones. They use a mirror to display the information on the screen of the smartphone and reflect it on the windshield. These are not true HUD devices. However, they do give you the look of a HUD system.
Since a head-up display projects information on the windshield, it has to get the information from somewhere. This can come from the car’s computer itself. The device can connect with the vehicle’s OBD-II port to display important vehicle information. These can include speed, oil temperature, tire pressure, and many others.
The technology also connects to the car’s infotainment system via Bluetooth technology. It can communicate with navigation systems to show you important landmarks, where to turn, lane markings, and other important information. There are also systems that can display the information of a particular establishment on your windshield.
Heads-up display systems also connect with smartphones and other mobile devices. You can see who is calling without glancing at your phone’s screen. It can connect with voice management platforms so you can decide to take the call or to ignore it. You can do all of these things without taking your hands from the steering wheel and without taking your eyes from the road. You can also manage your entertainment system right within the HUD itself.
These systems can integrate with infrared cameras, GPS systems, mobile apps, and the internet. It transforms the vehicle’s windshield into an information-rich screen.
One can think of HUD systems as a type of augmented reality. It superimposes digital images on the windshield. You get to see the real-world picture of the road in front of you. At the same time, you get to see all the information you need for your trip.
Importance of a Heads-Up Display
The main goal of installing a head-up display technology in modern cars is to minimize driver distraction. Many of the cars we have today have built-in infotainment systems that give us different pieces of information. There are those that provide directions as well as vehicle-related information like speed and tire pressure, among other things.
Drivers have to glance at the gauges in their instrument panel. This can lead to a brief loss of visual contact with the road. Navigation systems provide you with block-by-block directions, including landmarks. Unfortunately, there will always be instances when the driver has to take his eyes off the road to check his exact location.
These brief instances can last anywhere between a fraction of a second to about 3 to 5 seconds. Accidents can happen within that span of time.
Installing the best HUD for cars can help drivers fix their eyes on the road. All the information they need are already projected onto the windshield right in front of them. They do not lose sight of the road. The projected image does not obstruct the view of the road.
Aside from minimizing distracted driving, HUD systems can also be very helpful when traveling in an unfamiliar place. This is especially true when going on a road trip. The HUD system will highlight the correct traffic lane that you should take. It also includes the distance where you will next make a turn.
The technology will also show you the information of the different establishments down the road. You can then decide whether to make a brief stop or to continue with your journey. You can also obtain information about the prices of fuel of gasoline stations along the route. It is possible to make the right decision as to when you need to start refueling.
Driving in fog can make driving very difficult and dangerous. HUD systems can communicate with infrared cameras to help recreate a digital image of the traffic lanes. In essence, this technology allows you to see digital representations of objects on the road, even though you cannot see them in real life.
When paired with adaptive cruise controls, advanced HUD systems can also guide you on how you can maneuver around hazards on the road.
Heads-up display technology makes driving a lot safer by eliminating distracted driving. It gathers all the right information from different sources and projects them onto the windshield.
- How Does Heads-up-Display (HUD) Work? – Driving the Nation