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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Driving Technology: Heads Up Display

Anyone who has ever played a video game has almost certainly encountered a wonderful technology that has displayed critical information to you that without it would make your gaming experience much more difficult. This wonder technology that I am referring to is known as Heads Up Display or HUD for short. The basics of a HUD system is a transparent display that shows information to a viewer without having to be distracted from the normal field of vision. In a video game the player is able to usually view information on health, tasks, and a mini map without ever leaving the main playing area. A real life example would be the cockpit of a fighter jet where the pilot has their altitude, speed, heading, and more all displayed right in front of him while still being able to clearly view what is in front of the plane at any given time.

For many years now people have been considering the use of such a technology in every day life and the biggest possible use being looked into right now is incorporating HUD systems into the vehicles we drive. Information such as speed, directions, traffic, and hazards would be displayed directly on the windshield of your car which many believe is a blank canvas just waiting for such a use. The method of displaying such information has changed over time however as some try to use special glass with lcd technology built in and others take more adventurous routs of using a laser to project the images directly to your eye. No matter how it happens the one thing most people agree on is that having a greater amount of helpful information available to a driver without having to look away from the road would certainly cut down on potential accidents. As it stands Heads Up Display systems can be found already in planes and other military based devices as well as in some helmets and cars. The widespread use has not however caught on as such technology is still in its infancy and is also expensive and not always a practical solution.

The future of the HUD is practically limitless as companies venture into the realm of screens that fit on our eyes as contacts and other implementations. My favorite one that I have heard about though is the contact version where the system is located on a contact and powered by your body either by heat or piezoelectric properties. The system would be wireless and use a smartphone to retrieve information for your viewing delight. Most likely input from the user would be either from voice communication or by tracking eye movements. It is easy to see a future of information being displayed at any given time and augmented reality becoming very popular thanks to it being layered right over the optical system of our bodies. To me this future seems absolutely wonderful, like something straight out a SciFi movie. Concerns are of course always present and one of the biggest ones with this type of system is that since the screen is directly over your eye, even when you close the lid you will still see whatever is displayed. If for example a very scary image were to appear you would not be able to escape it without taking out the contact. While there are obviously concerns over certain types of implementations it is my personal belief that we will see HUD's popping up in devices all over the place within the next few years and I honestly can not wait for it to happen.

What do you think about Heads Up Display. Will it be the new wheel or the next Chernobyl? Leave your comments in the box below. I can't wait to see your thoughts and have a great Hump day my friends.

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