A cool little addition to the future of motoring presented itself this week: the world’s first aftermarket portable heads-up display for drivers. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But it is.
APR 21st 2017
Erin Baker: Improving your day to day driving, one gadget at a time
I first tried out the Navdy aftermarket heads-up display at the year’s Geneva motor show, and have been trialling one this week. You might not have heard of Navdy but you will have heard for Harman, who they partner with for it.
Basically, you get a little screen, which you mount on your dashboard with magnets, and adjust the height to suit. Then you stick a little rotary button on your steering wheel to control the functions (the screen also responds to gesture control, but, while this remains a minority sport, drivers who attempt it look frankly like they’ve lost the plot behind the wheel).
You download the Navdy app on your phone to link the two devices, and off you go. The satnav route will appear as a transparent image on the road ahead, in the manner of forthcoming built-in satnav systems (the only other system I’ve seen that matches the quality of graphics or the augmented-reality nature of the arrows pointing down the road are on the VW ID concept, which shows you how advanced this tech is).
With your phone linked to the system, your text messages and calls, along with pictures of those who have tried to contact you, appear projected directly over the road ahead. So does your music, notifications and more. It’s like Apple CarPlay but, dare I say it, better.
The software is also linked to the car’s data, so shows information such as speed and fuel level on the screen too. And if your phone loses network coverage, there are built-in offline maps and it has its own GPS.
The smart little unit is compatible with 93 per cent of cars on sale today, Harman assures me. They’ve thought the product through well – the visibility of the image doesn’t deteriorate at all with sunglasses on, for instance, which quite a few in-car devices do.
It’s not cheap: a cool £599.99 on Amazon (cheaper in the States), but such is life with new whizz-bang technology: my bet is that if you wait a year or so, we’ll all be buying these, to fill in the interim before every car has a heads-up display and augmented-reality satnav built in. It’s like when we all had TomToms or Garmin portable satnavs, which now seem a world away.
Although, in an ironic little twist, I went from using a Hyundai Santa Fe with the expensive Navdy unit set-up in it, to a Caterham Sprint with an AA Route Atlas in the footwell this week. Much preferred it, of course, and too loud to hear my phone or respond via hands-free, so had a blissful couple of analogue days. Hard to say if all this connected technology spells the new frontier in liberty or the end of it.
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