Heads-up displays (HUDs) have been around a while in military aircraft, but now they’re moving into commercial vehicles as well. HUDs provide information presented digitally on screens such as an airplane’s front windshield.
Like many technologies, HUDs for cars has trickled down from the military. It’s been in military aircraft for a couple of decades, and it’s also fairly common now in the bigger commercial airliners like the Boeing 787. But it’s showing up in other places too.
How would you like to have a digital display on the windshield of your car telling you how fast you’re going, how much fuel you have, what your RPMs are, what the next turn in your directions is?
That’s where HUDs are going. Basically, any surface can serve as the screen for a display. How’d you like a pair of swimming goggles that track your time and distance (laps)?
A few years ago, Welch design student Katie Williams created digital swim goggles as part of her design program at Brunel University in West London, according to CNN.
“When you’re swimming, remembering how many lengths you’ve swum can be hard,” Williams told CNN.
To make it easier, Williams’ prototype goggles provide data, “including the total time spent swimming, the number of laps completed and the speed traveled” in a tiny digital display on the lens of the goggles.
In aviation, HUDs provide a whole host of information, sometimes covering the entire front window. For cars, it’s a good bit of information but not so much as to distract the driver.
Of course, driver distraction is a major concern for HUDs in cars, where driver distraction can already be an issue (smartphones). It’s one of the reasons why IVR systems can be so useful—drivers don’t have to take their eyes off the road.
Now, whether a digital display in the windshield counts as eyes off the road, we’ll see. But we won’t have to wait long, because the displays are already showing up in select models.