Head-up display systems have become popular in the automotive sector as one of the safest ways to display all the information the driver needs, without having to take his eyes off the road.
Parameters such as speed, GPS route directions or road speed limits are some of the data you need to know while driving and consulting them may mean having to take your eyes off the road to see that information in the instrument panel .
Although its introduction in the automotive industry is relatively recent, this technology has more than 70 years that have been created. We tell you all about the Head-up Display and how it works.
What is head-up display in cars
Literally, head up display or its acronym HUD, could be translated as a screen with which you don’t need to take your eyes off the road to find out all the relevant information for driving.
This system projects information about vehicle speed, speed limitation or GPS indications among other information, directly onto the driver’s field of vision, so the driver does not need to take his eyes off the road while driving, preventing potential crash incidents .
Like many other inventions that are now common in cars, the head-up display was developed in 1950 for combat aircraft. In this way, the pilot could keep his head up, and his eyes fixed on his objective while controlling the relevant information of his device reflected on the dome of the cockpit of his plane or on a visor located in the helmet.
HUD systems for cars are based on a series of mirrors that are combined to project information at the level of the driver’s eyes, so that the information can be seen without obstructing the vision while driving.
The first cars to mount a HUD left the General Motors factories in 1988. It was a very rudimentary system that has little to do with current ones, capable of projecting any type of full-color image on the front windshield. However, manufacturers tend to simplify the icons and colors of the projected images to make the information easier to read and not distract the driver.
If your car doesn’t have an integrated head-up display system or doesn’t have this optional equipment, you can always buy one device to improve safety on the road.
Manufacturers have greatly improved their data projection technology and full color images can now be projected. However, brands prioritize simplicity when displaying the icons and information about the route so that they are quick and more intuitive to read.
These systems are integrated in two different ways: by projecting the images directly onto the front window, which is a much better integrated but substantially more expensive system for example EyeLights HUD or by projecting the data on a transparent screen located on the dashboard dome or on a sheet adhered to the glass.
The head up display system that projects the data directly onto the windshell is more expensive because all the glass has received a specific polarizing treatment to “capture” the projected light and display it clearly, giving the impression that the information is found floating a few feet in front of the driver’s eyes.
This system is much more natural for the driver since the information appears fully integrated in his point of view, and not drawn on a panel or screen.
Some integrated systems, and the vast majority of portable head-up display systems, project driving data onto a specially prepared transparent plastic surface to improve the clarity of the displayed data. This system, considerably more affordable than the integrated one, is also called the head-medium-display (HMD).
Many portable and removable HUDs include polarized foils that are installed on the front window. Then the projector will be in charge of displaying the information on that surface and its polarized treatment will be in charge of displaying the information clearly.
Without this polarized treatment, the laminar composition of the windshield would make the information look out of focus as it is reflected in each of the layers that make it up.
Virtual reality comes to take over
Virtual reality has evolved a lot in recent years and has found its way into the roadmaps of many car manufacturers as a simple way to display information.
With a simple adaptation of the source of information, images and symbols could be projected in virtual reality (or mixed reality) to make the GPS indications more graphic and understandable or to show more striking warnings or important notices for the driver.
The appearance of a pedestrian or animal on the road, warning about a dangerous crossing, warning of the presence of a vehicle in a blind spot or any other unforeseen event that the car’s sensors have been able to detect even before the driver himself, can be some of the assumptions that a virtual reality system can show projected before the eyes of the driver.