Navdy – HUD and more

Navdy – HUD and more

0 comments 📅04 December 2014, 23:28

Telephones, and especially smartphones have become integral part of our life. We already know how dangerous it is to use them while driving, however, most drivers remain oblivious to such facts. Does it make sense then to invest in costly social campaigns which only marginally affect the awareness of drivers? Perhaps it would be better to accept the fact that people will continue to use their phones while driving and there is nothing to stop this phenomenon. Instead, we could focus our efforts on creating solutions for the safe use of phones behind the wheel.


One such solution comes in the form of a Head-Up Display (HUD) with a variety of features. The solution is based on a transparent display projecting information to the user without obstructing their view. Until recently such solutions were designed mainly for military use in, for example, combat aircraft. Later on, the idea was picked up by the automotive industry. In its most basic form it could be a smartphone positioned horizontally under the front windshield at the level of the steering wheel displaying current speed or other data using a special application (the screen of the phone projects an imperfect image onto the windshield acting as a Head-Up Display). Of course it is only a primitive form of a HUD substitute. Advanced solutions require a dedicated piece of hardware with a highly transparent display much brighter than the ambient light. Moreover, the focal point of the optical unit has to be calibrated, so that the driver does not have to switch focus from the road to the display. Such solutions used to rely mainly on CRT lamps now being substituted by liquid-crystal technologies such as LCD, LCOS, DMM (Digital Micro Mirrors), OLED and lasers.

These technologies were designed to allow the driver to focus attention on a single point in the car where all necessary information such as speed, navigation, warnings and other messages could be found. That point is usually located on the inside of the front windshield close to the eye level of the driver. There are a few HUD devices on the Polish market with the price range of 599 – 999 PLN. It is also possible to install a dedicated solution from the car manufacturer, for example BMW for 4280 PLN.


 Video: BMW USA

Navdy – phone and HUD in one

What could a cellphone in a car and a HUD have in common? Engineers from San Francisco created a device which, apart from displaying basic information on a HUD about driving (speed, distance, etc.), can also show information supplied by the smartphone such as text messages, incoming calls, applications, communicators and messages. The device is called Navdy and it supplies the driver with all the necessary data at a glance, without forcing them to take the eyes off the road.

Photo: Navdy Press

The idea behind Navdy is to make the use of a smartphone behind the wheel safer, rather than attempt to eliminate it.

Basic functions

Navdy communicates with a smartphone using Bluetooth and WiFi. It is compatible with most Android and iOS equipped handsets (including all iPhones and iPads). It works with Google Maps, at the same time safely displaying all notifications from the phone such as text messages, calendar entries, WhatsApp messages, Tweets, Facebook posts, etc. It accepts and initiates calls without requiring the driver to look at the phone screen. It can also play, pause and switch streamed music from Spotify, Pandora, iTunes and Google Music. On top of that, the driver has instant access to such car data as speed, distance to next refueling, fuel consumption, tire pressure, etc.


Photo: Navdy Press

Apart from supplying content, Navdy also supports gestures allowing the driver to accept or reject calls, change music or display messages. Supported configurable hand signals include moving the finger to the left, to the right and extending the thumb up to, for example, pause, stop, skip and launch music tracks. Moreover, with Navdy the driver will be able to dictate any message such as Tweet, Facebook or text using Google Now or Siri. Voice commands can dial the number of a particular person from the contact list, input target destination for navigation or launch apps. The only downside is that the current version of the device supports only English language.


Dimensions: width 130 mm, length 140 mm, height 95 mm (including the HUD). The core of the unit is based on a 5.1 inch high resolution transparent HUD display. Other elements of the device include an IR camera for gestures, accelerometer, e-compass, light meter, WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.0/LE, Audio via Bluetooth or 3.5 mm mini jack, mini-USB port, built-in speaker and a microphone with DSP noise reduction, dual-core CPU, OBD-II link (for power and car data) with optional 12V power supply adaptor. The unit is covered by a flexible material adapting to the shape of the dashboard. Anti-slip silicone coating prevents scratches and does not leave marks on the car. The installation of the unit is very fast and does not require any tools. While the device is able to display the whole color range, the producers decided to use mainly white, blue, green and red colors due to the specific background of the screen. Navdy can be powered from the OBD II car diagnostic port or via traditional cigarette lighter socket adapter. When the phone is paired with Navdy, sounds such as calls or music can be played via Bluetooth, mini jack or USB on the car sound system. The system can also use the car speakers to read out loud selected content, for example text messages.


Fotografia: Navdy Press

Comprehensive solution

When a smartphone displays a notification, Navdy will also display it on its screen. If the driver decides to react to the phone notification, they can activate split screen mode which will continue displaying critical car data such as navigation while allowing the driver to react to the phone message. This is just an example of the device’s superb functionality.

What we know so far

Our review is based on materials supplied by the manufacturer, not so numerous video tests and first news buzz reports from the industry media such as Wired,, Time, Road Track, The verge and TechCrunch. We at also believe that this device is worth a closer look, even if it is just a beta version. A good argument for Navdy is that it can be used in any car which remains in line with our policy to strongly support any universal safety enhancing solutions.


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