Back when the iOS App Store was in its infancy, developers were experimenting with all sorts of wacky apps. One of those was meant to turn your phone into a heads-up display (HUD) by placing it on the dash and reflecting speed and direction on the windshield.
Years later, with a nascent hardware economy happening on crowdsource platforms, Navdy is trying to bring back the heads-up-display concept. The Navdy is a dedicated piece of hardware that sits over the steering console and displays information about your drive or route onto a translucent piece of plastic–your very own version of the fighter plane cockpits that inspired the concept.
Navdy just went up for pre-order at $300 and will retail for $500. That’s a lot of money for what’s being called Google Glass for the car, but it wasn’t so long ago that freestanding GPS units occupied the same real estate (and the same price point). The difference between old GPS units, Google Glass, or even a smart watch and Navdy, you could argue, is that the more readable interface might actually save your life. Still, even at the discounted price of $300, we’re not sure how many people are going to shell out this kind of cash in the name of “safety.”
The device will work with iOS 7 and Android 4.3 and above and connects to your smartphone over Bluetooth and an ad hoc Wi-Fi network. The connection to the phone allows Navdy to get turn-by-by navigation from Google Maps, and other data.
“All notifications can be sent from iOS and Android, but the user decides which ones and when they are displayed–so it’s not all or nothing,” says Navdy founder Doug Simpson.
Navdy also supports messaging and direct calling. Interaction with the device is done with either voice commands or gestures detected by a front-facing camera.
BMW and a few other car manufacturers have been testing native HUDs built into the vehicles for a while, but car manufacturers’ UI and UX are usually horrific compared to third-party devices. It certainly makes for a cleaner look not to have a brick sitting on the dash with cables streaming down, though.
Navdy is compatible with a lot of the apps people are using in the car already like iTunes and Pandora, and more software functionality will come added with future software updates. Even if the HUD only gets bug fixes, it’ll likely be a better experience than anything offered from car manufacturers.
Simpson also says that there will be a developer platform coming next year for the HUD. Though with so many other app stores and devices developers can program for, it’ll be interesting to see if dedicated car hardware garners enough interest to be a viable ecosystem.