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Garmin Going Futuristic

By raccars Published

Garmin is taking satellite navigation into the space age by creating a new display that beams navigation information onto the windscreen so that drivers don't have to look away from the road onto a separate screen.

The portable head up display is placed on the car's dashboard, like many other portable satnav systems and from there projects directions onto a clear film stuck to the windscreen via any Bluetooth enabled device. The information stream is supplied by a smartphone using Garmin NAVIGON or StreetPilot applications.

Drivers start by connecting the HUD to a smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth device, then select their destination and route on the device through Streetpilot or NAVIGON. The route is wirelessly sent to the HUD, which beams the route to the car's windscreen.

The wireless system, similarly to traditional satellite navigation, can display turn arrows, count down the distance to turns, display driving speed and relevant speed limits and estimate the time of arrival. However, the HUD can also advise drivers which lane they should occupy, alert them to traffic congestion and warn of speed camera locations.

Audio directions are available through the smartphone speaker system or through the vehicle's stereo transmitted by Bluetooth. Music being played through the same medium will automatically fade down when HUD announces directions. The smartphone can simultaneously be used for calls, hands free obviously, without interrupting the HUD process.

HUD can also adjust the brightness level of its display automatically to compensate for bright sunlight or night time driving conditions. If drivers prefer not to fix a plastic film to their windscreens, the HUD can be fitted with a plastic reflector screen to view directions.

Garmin developed the HUD as a result of concerns, that using traditional satellite navigation systems with a separate screen distracts drivers, by requiring them to look away from the road or that their position on the dashboard is obstructive to the driver's view. Military aircraft are commonly fitted with head up displays to allow pilots to access information without diverting their attention from the screen, while certain premium brands have also integrated the technology into the newer vehicles. However, the HUD is the first affordable aftermarket device of its kind.

Motoring safety organisations are welcoming the innovation cautiously, suggesting that while any device allowing drivers to pay more attention to the road is a good thing, recent research has shown that even hands free equipment poses a risk of distraction to drivers.

The HUD will reach shops in September, costs from £139 and is compatible with handsets running iOS, Windows Phone 8 and Android.

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