At Picopros, we have been following the development of Head-up Displays (HUD) for a while now. Although there exist several technologies for creating a HUD system, virtually all suffer from the same pitfall - they are expensive. Michael Amaru is hoping to change this. The Hamilton, Massachusetts resident has created
, a low-cost system that leverages your smartphone to generate a full HUD system for any vehicle. In fact, when the product launches, Mr. Amaru is hoping to sell it for around $200 - a fraction of other HUD systems.
SmartHUD™ utilizes a smartphone, a pico projector, and a proprietary navigation pad called ThumbTracker™ to display pertinent information on a vehicle windshield. Simply dock your smartphone, fire up the app, and you are ready to go. The current prototype utilizes a laser pico projector from , though Amaru indicates that the system is projector agnostic. this technology used before for HUD applications. Similarly, when the product launches, SmartHUD™ will be compatible with any smart device - even tablets.
Mr. Amaru created SmartHUD™ to improve driver safety. As such, you won't be able to play video games or watch YouTube videos on your windshield while you drive. However, you will be able to select music tracks, use your navigation app, and even make phone calls - all without taking your eyes off the road. With the information displayed on your windshield, simply use the ThumbTracker™ pad to navigate through menus and make selections. It is this intuitive - and smart - design that Mr. Amaru is hoping consumers will want.
Michael generously took some time to answer some questions we had about the SmartHUD™ system. Here is what he had to say:
Q: Where did the inspiration for the SmartHUD™ system come from?
A: I can't pin point the inspiration for the whole system. it seems to made up of a bunch of things: my passion for driving, my love for automobile design, my background in graphic design, my deep interest in innovation and technology etc. I may, however, connect the idea of the ThumbTracker™ to an innocent commute home from work. I was less than thrilled to encounter traffic on my way home from a twelve-hour day, preparing an advertising campaign presentation. A pile of printouts and folders accompanied me in the passenger seat and somewhere in that pile was my super-thin smartphone. Naturally, the phone started ringing with one of those annoying ringtones I had accidentally selected. I didn't care to answer it, I just wanted it to stop ringing. I started frantically searching through the campaign materials being sure to keep looking back up at the road. When I found it, I shut off the ringer and, by the time I looked back up, I had to slam on the brakes to avoid the car in front of me. I had gripped the steering wheel so tightly and the stop was so harsh, I actually hurt my thumb in the process .
Q: What is your vision for the SmartHUD™ system?
A: I see SmartHUD™ continuing to create innovative solutions where technology collides. Right now, this is smartphone integration into the driving experience. We arre looking closely at micro-display technology with the motorcyclist in mind, but first I'd like to get some people off of texting while driving in their cars.
Q: Will the SmartHUD™ app be available for all smartphones?
A: Yes. We are building the architecture of the software with Android first and the others will soon follow.
Q: Have you faced any challenges with the legal aspects of using the SmartHUD™ app while driving?
A: There is absolutely no "texting" or the reading of "text messages" with SmartHUD™ period. I want to make that as clear as possible. Safety is why I created SmartHUD™. The software and user interaction is designed around safety. I am more than happy to explain in more detail to anyone with concerns, but for proprietary reasons I can't cover that publicly at this time.
Q: What devices will the SmartHUD™ system be compatible with? Will it be supported by iOS, Android, and Windows CE devices?
A: SmartHUD will eventually work with all devices, including tablets.
Q: The MicroVision ShowWX+ laser pico projector is shown on your website. Is this the primary pico projector that the SmartHUD™ system is designed for? Will the SmartHUD™ be compatible with other pico projectors?
A: MicroVision's ShowWX+ is working great. There is no doubt about that. But, SmartHUD™ is interested in every pico projector we can get our hands on. In fact, we'd love to hear from manufacturers or from anyone who wants to pitch us their favorite one.
Q: What is the expected pricing for the SmartHUD™ system? When will it be available for purchase?
A: This is all dependent on funding for further development and volume. Realistically speaking, I'd like to see SmartHUD™ retail for around $200. Unfortunately I can't try to guess when it will be available for purchase. However, I can tell you that the prototype, including patent research and filing, user interaction design and branding was built in seven months while working my day job.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to communicate about the SmartHUD system?
A: Yes. through the website! We would love to hear your comments and will be looking for some test pilots soon. To ensure that the software will be something people really love, we are conducting surveys with those who came to us through the website. I'm like a little kid when it comes to bringing this to market... I'm super excited!
Thanks to Michael for cooperating with us and allowing us to provide our readers with some added insight into SmartHUD™ - a very exciting new product design. We will let you know if we are one of the lucky few to get evaluation units when they become available.