• Oct 12, 2006
From CNN Money's Business 2.0 Magazine, we've learned of a proposal that is anything but indecent. Business 2.0 asked several venture capitalists what projects they would like to fund. Knowing this can be a touchy subject, they were pleasantly surprised to get some of the VCs to divulge their pet projects. The result is an interesting list of 20 business ideas, including websites, applications, batteries and even a luxury housing development. The one that naturally caught our "i" was a call for a next generation iDrive type computer interface that would utilize a heads-up display system. If you think you can build a better mouselesstrap, there could be a cool $5 mil in it for you and your team.

Investors Jonathan Fram and Howard Schultz, of Maveron, are willing to part with five million dollars for an "in-dash computer with a keyboard built into the steering wheel and a full-screen heads-up display projected on the windshield." The technology behind the system, laser or cathode-ray tubes that convert pixels into projected light, has been around for 30 years. Jet fighter pilots use it to read cockpit data without taking their eyes off the road sky. Commercial pilots use it too, and automakers have tried it with mixed results.

Projected displays don't distract drivers as much as cell phones or dashboard controls, and research has shown that our eyes can handle projected displays and the road much easier than refocusing between the road and the dashboard. Fram and Schultz (who helped create Starbucks) think that with the increasing technological needs of today's drivers and the obvious safety advantage of not having to take your eyes off the road, there is enough of a market for a functional system that $5 million is just a drop in the bucket. If you think you have a "deeply qualified 20-person team" that can deliver a prototype, as well as a plan to promote a commercial version to automakers in the next three years, the $5 million could be yours. Follow the read link for details.

[Source: CNN Money via Foursprung]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 5 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      It sounds like they've made some big design decisions prematurely if they're specifying an "in-dash computer with a keyboard built into the steering wheel and a full-screen heads-up display projected on the windshield."

      But hey, I'm only a human factors engineer. I didn't create Starbucks or anything.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Completely agree with mr. And, the "research" quoted is only partially correct: though it's of course true that refocusing between the road and a display projected into the same visual area takes less time than looking down at the dashboard and back up again, it's not the whole story. The brain has finite attentional resources, and reading a display takes your attention away from the road.

      It doesn't solve the problem.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I may be wrong, but it would seem to me that $5m would be quite low in terms of the capital required for the development of such a system. It would be interesting to see the development costs of BMW's iDrive.
      • 8 Years Ago
      GM long ago has given up the hud display only to have the media mock it.

      After owning 2 cars with HUD my wife only wantrs a car equipt with it.

      I myself with the truck I drive daily also had it. As stated the important functions you need while driving are always in sight and your eyes are never diverted.

      I can say I really never look at the radio anymore and rely on the wheel buttons and HUD only.

      The new GP has the GPS direction in the HUD too. This is the best GPS i have ever seen for ease of use in heavy traffic.

      I vote HUD in all car just for the safety factor alone.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "... The brain has finite attentional resources, and reading a display takes your attention away from the road. It doesn't solve the problem."

      You're right. However, my daily driver has HUD and I've gotten so used to it that when I drive other cars (rentals, for example - that happens every week), I find myself speeding more often and frequently spend too much time looking for the speedo. When the speedo is constantaly in your face you think about your speed constantly.

      As far as how long it takes to look at the dash vs. HUD - the thing you're not considering is that HUD is always in your peripheral vision, so there's no need to divert your eyes from road to check speed, tach, etc.

      Playing with your iPod while driving... THAT will take your eyes off the road for a while.