If you’ve always fantasised about bringing some car heads-up display magic to your car, you’re in luck. As fellow car-gadget enthusiasts, we’re here to break down everything you need to know about car heads-up display in our guide to HUD below.
We all need a little bit of augmented reality sometimes. The reality is, your car can get in on the action too! However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when using a HUD system in Western Australia.
Keeping Your Eyes on the Road: What Exactly is HUD?
In very basic technical terms, it is a transparent digital image projected onto your car’s windshield. The name says it all really; it’s designed to quite literally ‘keep your head-up’ and focused on one ‘screen’ instead of the multiple screens we are currently monitoring in our daily lives. Sounds distracting? Not really, as it is designed not to be that visible, unless you look directly at it.
This innovative invention enables you to view all your usual digital gadgets and alerts at a glance while still keeping you laser-focused on the road ahead. Brilliant, right? No more glancing down to see how fast you are going, what the time is, or even what the aircon temperature or your music volume is set to.
When you have to glance down — even if it’s just for a split second, your eyes have to refocus, which is certainly way more distracting than simply glancing a couple of milimetres down or to the side.
The reasoning behind the car Heads-Up Display is pretty self-explanatory — to limit the time your eyes are skirting around the car to check the temperature, GPS, the speed you are driving, the radio volume. Now it can all be done in a blink of an eye and with one smooth glance.
As a side note, if you wear polarised sunglasses while driving, you should keep in mind that your visibility on the HUD will decrease quite a bit.
Where Did The Idea for HUD Come From?
This nifty solution to distraction while driving stems from the Second World War when the military used it to keep their pilots focused on flying, while at the same time operating their weapons. For years, it has been frowned upon, until its advantages became clear as day and it was slowly but surely implemented into the automotive industries.
What Can You Use the Head-Up Display For?
Whether you are lucky enough to have a built-in factory HUD, an after-market or third-party solution, it merely has to communicate with all of the other gadgets and meters in your car or your phone’s built-in GPS to work correctly.
The kind of information you can view on your HUD depends on the car brand. Brands like Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and BMW are generally more customisable, so you can set everything to your preference, down to the colours and what information is displayed.
To make it more accessible to lower budgets, brands like Kia and Hyundai have added a pop-up plastic panel built into the dashboard.
These are the main things that a HUD generally display:
The GPS is probably the biggest culprit for taking your eyes off the road. That’s why it makes perfect sense to have it integrated into the HUD. You can easily follow instructions without trying to match what the GPS is barking in your ear to what you see in front of you. This makes navigation a lot more intuitive.
Unless you have speed control built into your car, it can be easy to ‘accidentally’ slide over the speed limit. When it is right in your eyesight, it’s easier to check that you are staying within the limit — and a good reminder to pay attention to the speed you are driving!
Ever hit the open road just as your car beeps to alert you that fuel is running low? It happens to the best of us. Now, if you had your fuel level front and centre, it will serve as a constant reminder to fuel up before it’s too late.
Check That Blind Spot
A handy feature is the blind spot indicator that will warn you when a vehicle or motorcycle is approaching in your blind spot.
Heads-Up Alerts on the Road Ahead
Some HUD systems can alert you, similar to some GPS devices, if there are any reported speed traps, traffic congestion or roadworks ahead of you on the road.
Do You Get HUD Add-Ons And Are They Compatible with Any Car?
HUD as an Add-On to Your Car
Most car manufacturers prefer to make HUD optional as an add-on feature. This gives consumers the option of purchasing the vehicle without it, but those interested can add it at an additional cost. However, some high-end car manufacturers have decided that it is the future and added it to some of their vehicle models.
Aftermarket Heads-Up Display systems can also be bought for your car, although they are generally not as sophisticated as the built-in solutions. Aftermarket systems range from smartphone-based to small screens that plug into your car’s OBD2 port or infotainment system already built into your vehicle.
Most Popular Brands Offering Aftermarket Heads-Up Displays
- ACECAR Universal
- Hudway Glass
But Wait, There’s An App for That
If you can’t splurge on the real deal, nowadays there are several apps out there on Google Play and iTunes promising to do the same, often available for free. You will have to mount your phone onto your dashboard to be in your line of sight while driving. This is undoubtedly a more cost-effective solution and won’t require any installation wiring.
You might be scratching your head wondering how on earth this will work. Well, in a nutshell, your phone will use its internal GPS to track your car’s speed and other metrics and then project and display a reverse image of your speed on the windshield. Any additional information that this app can pull will also be displayed on the screen.
It does have a downside when it comes to accuracy, however, and you should always ensure that your phone’s GPS, as well as your car’s speedometer, are in tip-top shape and trustworthy. The projected information can also be fuzzy and not as legible as you’d like.
Third-Party HUD Solutions
These individual systems are also separate from your car and do not require any installation. Same as the app, it pulls information using your phone’s built-in GPS. Some make use of a satellite system to gauge your car’s speed.
The most promising third-party app on the market is probably the Navdy, which offers similar capabilities of a market HUD. However, as a stand-alone addition, you prop it onto your dashboard. This system also syncs with your phone and pulls the data from your phones’ built-in GPS, which is, once again, not the most reliable way to track your car’s speed.
What to Consider When Buying a HUD for Your Car
- Customisation Options
This allows you to select what you would prefer to see on your HUD. You might want everything projected, or you might only want selected information projected to keep unnecessary distractions to a minimum.
- Positioning of the HUD
Where it is situated in your vehicle is important. You should be able to glance at the information comfortably otherwise it defeats the entire purpose of the HUD.
- Space On Your Dashboard
If there is enough space for an add-on Heads-Up Display on your dashboard? Depending on the model you opt for and the amount of information it is designed to display, you should ensure you have enough space.
Which Car Manufacturers Offer HUD?
Of course, it all depends on the car model, but these are the top brands in alphabetical order that offer HUDs as standard or add-on offerings.
- Land Rover
As you can see from the list, many brands are catching on that there is a clear market interest in HUD.
Bringing HUD to Two Wheels
Motorcycle manufacturers have also caught on. Jarvish, a wearable technology company, worked with HERE to design a version specifically for motorcycle drivers. This is incredibly intuitive and reflexive, almost like an extension of one’s head, as you can imagine when implemented into your motorcycle helmet itself.
Is The Use of HUD Legal in Western Australia?
Now, when it comes to the law, things can get a little blurry. It is still unclear whether HUD is classified in the visual display category. Due to a continuous increase in digital devices and infotainment systems developed, the law cannot seem to stay ahead.
According to Western Australia law, there are various limits to using what they refer to as ‘visual display devices’. However, what is classified under this category is not as straightforward as you’d think.
However, it is clear that even if you use a hands-free system, “creating, looking at or sending a text message” is illegal and punishable with a hefty fine — unless you do so through a Bluetooth car audio system. WA law even includes smartwatches in this category, although it is slightly trickier to enforce. Glancing at it to see the time is acceptable, but navigating or reading messages on it is prohibited. This category also includes your GPS and car TV screen.
The best guideline to follow is that ‘no digital devices or screens should be touched while driving’.
So, taking this into account, hopefully, the law will be made more explicit around HUD. However, it can be assumed that glancing at it is acceptable. However, if it requires you to touch it to adjust anything or read messages, it could become a problem.
So, Is It Then Safe to Use a Heads-Up Display?
There are clear benefits to using a Heads-Up Display. Instead of looking down at all your other blinking digital gadgets demanding your attention, you now have it more in your eyesight which limits distractions while driving.
However, there are a couple of concerns. With it so directly in your eyesight, won’t it be more of a distraction? Current models are also not perfected yet, so HUD could appear fuzzy and sometimes even cause a ‘double image’ or cause sun reflections, hindering your view of the road ahead.
In the end, it all depends on the quality system you opt for, as well as how you use it. If you use it responsibly and for what it has been designed, the pros could very well outweigh the cons.
Is Head-Up Display Tech Just Too Far Out of Reach for the Average Joe or Jane?
Fact is, one day it might even become a requirement by law to have a HUD in your car, especially in first-world countries such as Australia. It will undoubtedly decrease the amount of accidents on our roads if people are not constantly glancing down while driving.
However, it is essential to keep in mind that it will never be acceptable to look away from the road for prolonged periods, so the Heads-Up Display will be more something to glance at momentarily, as you would at your speedometer in a standard vehicle.
The Future of AI and HUD
The next step that would make the most sense would be to transform the car’s entire windscreen into a digital screen. Although this sounds exciting, it could also mean opening yet another door to advertising.
Like with anything digital, it is a real possibility that this will become a prime spot for brands to advertise. And that will be a real distraction. For now, let’s use all technology for what they were intended and do so responsibly.
As windscreen replacement specialists, we are always keeping our finger on the pulse of new car glass technology innovations and trends. Contact us today if you need assistance with replacing, repairing or tinting your car windows.