This Garmin Car HUD Sat-Nav will project instructions on to your windscreen

Garmin car HUD
The Garmin Car HUD – will this revolutionise car sat nav systems?

The first navigation app which projects the driving instructions on to your windscreen has launched. Replicating the navigational aids typically enjoyed by fighter pilots, the Garmin sat nav could revolutionise the navigational aids industry whilst providing a firm reason for consumers to buy physical sat nav devices as opposed to smart phone apps.

Such devices are known as head-up displays, and this version uses a transparent film which you place on your windscreen in order to project turn by turn driving instructions. Besides reinvigorating the physical sat nav business, this device could also give a much-needed safety boost to the use of such aids, which have been criticised in the past as a distraction for drivers.

Where this Garmin HUD aid is a physical product that you buy, the company have acknowledged the movement towards app based navigation by integrating it into a companion app. This is the big trend of 2013 – where manufacturers are combining physical add-ons to next-gen smart phone applications. We have seen this trend in other growth areas, like fitness technology, where it has represented a strong opportunity for developers to add significant margins as well as unique selling propositions to their products.

Navigating with the Garmin HUD

The Garmin gadget navigates you much like a standard sat nav. Therefore, you get inundated with the same types of navigational arrows, lane guidance and turn by turn instructions that we have been seeing for years. Like all top end sat nav’s these days, this device will also provide details on your current speed, speed limits and speed cameras.

The big difference of course is that you no longer need to glance at a small sat nav screen in order to see your instructions. This allows you to keep your eyes on the road at all times, as opposed to constantly glancing at the small screen.

In theory this will make driving with a navigational aid easier and safer, especially when navigating through inner cities where the instructions can come too slowly and the lane guidance can take a few seconds of looking at to fully understand. The Garmin HUD is able to automatically adjust its brightness to work effectively in all conditions, ranging from bright sunlight through to a full nighttime mode.

The voice prompts are delivered either via your smart phone or through your cars stereo system. The latter works via bluetooth, so will only be an option if your cars stereo has that capability. The smart phone app is available across all major platforms, including iOS, Windows 8 and Android.


The future of in-built car navigation?


The likelihood is that HUD based navigation will become standardised across in-built sat nav systems. The Garmin HUD looked “interesting” to Tim Edwards, a principal engineer at Mira, a firm which looks into the future of transport.

Car makers have struggled historically to keep up with smart phone cycles, and this has limited the development of app based integrations. Where smart phones are typically on a 12 month development cycle, cars are usually 3 years or longer between design overhauls. Therefore, planning for the future 3 years ahead of schedule has been an understandably daunting prospect for many car manufacturers.


That said, it seems that HUDs will soon become standardised across mid-high end car ranges within a fairly short space of time.

The compromise seems to lie in the opportunity to combine the physical addition of HUD screens into cars by the manufacturers, allowing consumers to use products made by partner consumer electronics brands like Garmin. Therefore, the consumer electronics brand can update the fast-moving tech, whilst the platform – which changes far less frequently – is able to remain in place for the driver.

Garmin HUD price

It may surprise you to hear that the Garmin HUD will cost just £86 when it launches later this summer. You will need to incrementally add in maps though, which will cost £20 per region.