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Auto Windshields as a Third Screen: HUD Displays

As vehicle dashboards and center console screens fill with more digital buttons, switches, and indicators, carmakers feel like they’re running out of space. The Detroit Auto Show earlier this year showcased new technology that essentially turns an auto’s windshield into an extra screen that displays information about the driver’s surroundings.

Reuters reports that drivers want tech in vehicles, and carmakers are willing to provide it. Car companies say that smart dashboards will make driving safer, allowing for the outsourcing of many typical actions to voice-activated commands. Not everyone is so convinced, however. As screens become more complex, they may distract drivers from the road.

Heads-up displays (HUDs) are hardly new technology. What’s making them fresh now is the price point. The technology is at a point that car-mounted HUDs are a major consideration for new vehicles. The idea is that projecting information onto the inside of the windshield may be less distracting for drivers than requiring them to look down at a screen for the same information. Even better, HUDs can replace turn-by-turn driving directions so drivers don’t need to look at mobile phones or external GPS devices and can warn drivers when there are pedestrians or objects on the road that are difficult to see.

Primary challenges of creating high-quality, low-cost HUDs are developing display technology that can be seen in different types of weather and sunlight conditions and won’t fry when the car is parked in the sun all day,

Right now, Hyundai offers HUD technology in two of its luxury models and plans to expand the technology into more economic models in the future. Other carmakers plan to have HUD technology released as early as 2016.