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Head-Up Displays Get a Closeup Look

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author photo by Lindsay Martell September 2014

With scores of stuff to pull our eyes from the road, a head-up display is just the thing to keep our peepers where they should be -- focused on what's in front of us.

A Heads Up on Head-Up

The technology of head-up displays -- which projects images onto your car's windshield so that they appear to float in the not-so-distant distance -- is part of a vehicle's infotainment system and can display such info as navigation routes and speed alerts. Head-up displays have been around for decades, but they used to be confined to luxury autos -- the Audi A6, BMW 7 Series, Cadillac CTS and Lexus RX 350, for example. Now, you can find the tech in affordable rides such as the 2014 Mazda3 and the 2015 Hyundai Sonata.

Beam Me Out

A head-up display is becoming the must-have tech, with folks wanting more and more heft from their infotainment systems. Fortunately, suppliers such as Continental, Delphi and Panasonic are unveiling streamlined systems that aren't as clunky or wide as older models. Panasonic, for example, recently unveiled a display that's 40 percent smaller than other models. It projects such information as critical road conditions, toll details and weather alerts via a dashboard-mounted transparent screen, setting it apart from other head-up displays that clip to rearview mirrors or project onto the inside of a windshield.

A Look Ahead

Panasonic is also one of a handful of suppliers developing wider head-up displays for "augmented reality" displays down the line. This may include such helpful features as highlighted lane markings in inclement weather, visual warnings about road closures, and turn-by-turn arrows for those harried moments when you don't know where you're going.

For those who don't want to shell out a lot of cash for a pricey technology package that includes a head-up display, navigation guru Garmin recently released its HUD+ device -- a portable unit that projects information drivers can see while peering through the windshield. It costs about $180, comes with a free app and is available for iPhones and other smartphones using Android or Windows 8. Since the device is portable, you can swap it out with other drivers in your family or use it in your rental car on your next vacation.

We could all use a little extra help to navigate uncharted streets, and with head-up-display technology predicted to make a huge leap in popularity over the next few years, it's tech that we should have in our sights.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Head-Up Displays Get a Closeup Look - Autotrader