Having gone from the C5 Corvette to the bygone Lexus HS 250h to the BMW 7 Series, the heads-up display has entered the "Meh..." phase of technology. To return it to the avant-garde, makers of such displays are working on new and larger applications of the technology that can provide new types of safety information without distracting drivers.

The end-all-be-all objective is a windshield-wide display that can project sufficiently bright notifications such as warnings of pedestrians in the way or road shoulder lines in heavy fog. That is many years away, however; a unit that could do that, using modern technology, would take up half the space behind the instrument panel, create an unworkable amount of heat and need to utilize a sub-optimal arrangement of optics for viewing.

But that is what carmakers are said to be looking forward to down the line, and what suppliers like Japan's Nippon Seiki, the world's largest supplier of HUDs, are working on. The final product would provide an augmented reality environment for the driver with large, bright, high-contrast images. While one analyst has said he expects the number of automakers using HUDs to go up from the current nine to 14 by 2016, he believes we're "well over five years" away from beginning to see full-screen displays, and that even then they probably won't make it on cars that cost under $30,000.


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  • 15 Comments
      JR
      • 2 Years Ago
      Head-up display.
      Lemon
      • 2 Years Ago
      HUDs aremt distracting in the least bit. People who are annoyed by them just aren't used to them. I find that you pay much better attention to your speed rather than varying back and forth 10 mph like most drivers who just don't look at their speedometer at all. Every car should have a HUD
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      People are just getting dumber.
        XJ Yamaha
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        I suppose this is your response to any new technology. I guess cell phones are a signal of stupidity in today's society. I'm sure you can still find a used car with crank windows and no air conditioning, maybe not even any power steering if you'd like. Seems it'd suit you well.
        Essende
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        Actually there is more and more scientific research done on this matter and a lot of scientists are saying that we are getting dumber . Our intelligence is being replaced by technology. We do not have to think for ourselves in a lot of cases anymore. Our iPhone will do everything for us (just one example). We are becoming just button pushers. Here is a link that I have read few days ago: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/13/humans-getting-dumber-stanford-study_n_2121823.html
        Rocketboy_X
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        If by "dumber" you mean are processing more information than ever, yes.
          Essende
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rocketboy_X
          @Rocketboy_X, but thats the thing, humans are not processing the information, its their computers/iPhones/electronic gadgets. Humans are just pressing a bunch of pretty icons. A couple of very smart scientists/researchers developed cell phone technology for the masses but your average Joe (you) is just the end user who wants everything hassle free with as least thinking as possible.
        desinerd1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Andre Neves
        @ Andre Neves yes, and your comment proves your theory.
      Jim R
      • 2 Years Ago
      Once you've driven a car with a HUD, you don't really want to go back. I know I don't. They're just too damn useful.
      Toronto St. Pats
      • 2 Years Ago
      I guess I wouldn't mind trying this technology, but I can't see how it wouldn't be a distraction.
      ammca66564
      • 2 Years Ago
      Maybe its because I'm an old bastard with bifocals, but I find switching the focus from the road to a head-up display to be very annoying. It's a big switch of focus, and briefly slightly disorienting, for some reason far more disorienting than looking down at the speedometer. I've had them in rent-a-cars, and I always wind up turning them off.
      Snark
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'd love to have a HUD - in fact, I'd be perfectly okay with having all my primary vehicle information presented that way, instead of having to look down at physical gages on the dashboard. That's what we're all familiar with, but getting critical information directly into your line of sight would be safer and easier. It could even mimic gages, for those who prefer the analog-style readout. And since a HUD is not a physical indicator, it could dynamically display information as necessary - the system could throw up navigation details if you've requested turn-by-turn directions, music if you're switching playlists, or diagnostic information if there's a problem. The center-mounted screen could stay where it is, or be relocated to where the cumbersome gages are now, and display secondary information like entertainment, maps, and the like. But of course, we'll probably keep getting gages for another 20 years, because people can't handle change....
      axiomatik
      • 2 Years Ago
      One area where this augmented reality aspect could be really useful is when driving in the rain. It can often be very difficult to make out where the lanes markings are due to the sheet of water covering the road. If the car could read the position of the lane markings (possibly with a camera that utilized a different wavelength than human eyes) and display them on the windshield, driver visibility would be much greater.
      al4gg10
      • 2 Years Ago
      A Nissan 240sx owned by a buddy back in the 90s had a Heads Up Display & that car was not exactly expensive at that time. As a safety feature keeping the drivers eyes on the road is a good idea as there are too many distractions for drivers in cars.
        axiomatik
        • 2 Years Ago
        @al4gg10
        My '89 240SX has a HUD. It displays the speedometer on the windshield. I love it, and wish all cars had it. Makes it very easy to keep tabs on your speed.
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