Texas Instruments is working on a new DLP heads-up display for tomorrow’s cars. While I was testing a Chevy Volt for a week recently, I found that the center touchscreen was as much a distraction as a help. I felt my eyes were often diverted from the road ahead in order to select a radio program, check my energy usage, or view the myriad other things the touchscreen is capable of, including navigating to a destination. A heads-up display would cure all those concerns.
Texas Instruments has a solution. It is busy working on a larger and brighter heads-up display that will place all that information directly in the driver’s line of sight. Its latest DLP chipset doubles the field of view and works with brighter light sources such as LEDs and lasers, according to a report in Extreme Tech.
The new system can project information about current speed, cruise control settings, audio choices, navigation cues, and caller ID information at the base of the windshield where the driver can access it all without looking away from the road. Information that has a higher priority, such as which lanes are through and which are for turning, can be moved higher in the display to grab the driver’s immediate attention.
Texas Instruments says the field of view has been doubled to 12 degrees, meaning more of the windshield can be covered if desired. It also means there can be less fiddling with the height adjustment when a 6 foot tall driver takes over from someone who is only 5′ 6″.
Right now, a heads-up display, or HUD, is too expensive to be fitted to the majority of cars. It typically cost about $1,200 as a stand alone option or is bundled into option packages costing from $2,00 to $3,000 dollars. The system will need to be further developed to allow drivers to customize the information presented. If you are on a cross country road trip, you may not need to know how much charge remains in your cell phone battery every mile of the way.
No doubt, mass production will drive down the cost of these system dramatically. Most observers expect the new Tesla Model 3 will feature an advanced HUD display in place of the traditional dashboard. Tesla has recently hired the engineer who designed an advanced HUD for motorcycle riders.
Combining an HUD with hand gesture control will put a powerful information suite right in front of the driver and go a long was toward eliminating distracted driving. If Tesla does that, other manufacturers will be scrambling to catch up — as usual.