Using a phone while driving can be risky business, even if it's connected to an infotainment system, because it can still require a driver to glance away from the road to look at phone's screen. But a new windshield display technology that uses touchless gesture recognition and echo- and noise-canceling voice recognition hopes to address that problem.
The prototype heads-up display (HUD), called Navdy, has been launched as a crowdsourcing project, allowing anyone to pre-order it for $299 -- 40% off the $499 retail price. The company hopes to raise $60,000 for production.
Crowdsourcing backers who pre-order get a discount for spreading the word; everytime someone buys Navdy from a referral, the person who referred it gets a $30 discount. In other words, after 10 referrals the Navdy would be free. Early project backers also get to vote on which smartphone apps and features they'd like Navdy to support when it ships in early 2015.
Navdy is not the first portable HUD. GPS manufacturer Garmin released a portable HUD called the HUD+ earlier this year. The HUD+ retails for $180, but does not include hand gesture controls and apps can add to the cost of the device.
For example, the ability to speak street names can for navigation can cost up to $35. And, Garmin's Viago app can require up to $95 of add-ons to activate all of its features, according to a review in the New York Times.
Car manufacturers, such as Audi, BMW and Cadillac also offer HUD as an option, but those systems can run $3,000 or more.
Navdy works with navigation apps such as Google Maps for turn-by-turn directions, and music apps such as Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Music and Google Play Music. Using voice commands via Apple's Siri or Google Voice, the HUD can also write, read aloud or display notifications from text messages or social media apps, such as Twitter. Navdy is compatible with iPhone (iOS 7 and beyond) and Android (4.3 and beyond) smartphones.
Phone calls, texting or other applications can also be controlled with hand gestures enabled by an infrared camera.
The Navdy HUD includes an internal accelerometer, e-compass and an ambient light sensor that automatically brightens or dims the display to adjust to the light around it. "Navdy is built from the ground up to be the safest and most intuitive way to make calls, use navigation, listen to music or access notifications without ever looking away from the road," Navdy co-founder and CEO Doug Simpson said in a statement.