Optical Express Magazine understands that motoring technology is increasing at an alarming rate. In the last 25 years we have moved from driving leaded petrol-filled cars sporting a pull-out cassette tape deck, to electric hybrids with aggressive and futuristic looks, containing built-in luxury multimedia centers that would make KITT from Knight Rider envious.
In just the last few years this technology has started to bring what seems like the future into the now. GPS devices that proclaim which direction to take next based on your location and destination. Multimedia centres that are compatible with both Apple and Android mobile smartphones, allowing drivers to integrate their smartphone apps into a car to be displayed on screens that can reach up to three-quarters the width of the dashboard. Other recent inventions include parking assist, steering assist, emergency braking assist and autonomous driving, that’s where a car literally drives itself.
When it comes to improving a human drivers focus though, we now have what used to only be seen in piloted cockpits, and that’s a technology known as HUD’s.
What are HUD’s?
HUD is an abbreviation of “heads-up display” which is a transparent display projected onto a motorist’s windscreen via a device attached to the dashboard. Heads-up displays were created to benefit drivers by allowing them to remain focused on their field of vision whilst driving, rather than shifting their eyes frequently to check the dashboard for the increasing amount of distractions being built into cars everyday via complex multimedia centres.
Originally used in the military, arguably the first example of a HUD was the crosshair of a laser-sight, developed by Irish optics designer Sir Howard Grubb back in 1900. Since then heads up displays have crossed into our everyday life activities including gaming, motoring and even eyewear.
The First HUD’s in Motoring
Believe it or not, the very first example of heads-up displays being used in cars was all the way back in 1988, when General Motors installed the units into the pace cars for the Indy 500. In 1989 Nissan introduced them to production vehicles with the 240SX, and 10 years later the first colour display HUD was released on the Chevrolet Corvette C5.
What Information Do HUD’s Display?
We live in an informationally-hungry world and heads-up displays have become increasingly popular to motorists because of the variety of information they are capable of displaying to drivers including the speed limit of the road on which you are driving compared to your current speed, the rev count and any GPS route directions. Some models. such as the 2013 Ford Fusion even warn you when to start to braking.
What Does the Future Hold for HUD’s?
The reason heads-up displays have taken the best part of a century to make it to our production cars is that most people do not like to have their windscreen view blocked. However, with vast improvements to technology, HUD’s are now becoming an almost integral part of the future for motoring. With options to change the display brightness and control the position of the display on your windscreen, these fears have been much allayed and the technology is creeping into many production cars of today.
According to the World Health Organisation, over 350 people die on our roads each year due to low visibility conditions. HUD’s are actively combatting this by increasing driver safety. If you want to find out what its like to have a heads-up display in your car but can’t afford the cost of a new motor, or to have an expensive system installed in your existing motor – don’t panic. There’s an app for that.
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