Head Up Display esthetics

Many cars these days come with head up displays. These kind of displays are used to make information like the current speed appear “floating” over the street ahead right in your field of vision.

This has the clear advantage that the driver can stay focused on the street rather than looking away from the street and to the speedometer.

As practical as it seems these displays are not easy to build and seemingly not easy to design. Every time I came across one it’s built-in functionalities where limited in a way that I only can assume not a lot of thought had gone into what exactly would the driver like to see and how that would be displayed. There was always so much left to desire.

Apparently the technology behind these HUDs is at a point where it’s quite affordable to start playing with some ideas to retrofit a car with a more personal and likeable version.

So I started to take a look at what is available – smart phones have bright displays and I had never tried to see what happens when you try to utilize them to project information into the windshield. So I tried.

As you can see – bright enough, readable but hazy and not perfectly sharp. The reason is quite simple:

“In the special windshield normally used, the transparent plastic safety material sandwiched in between the two pieces of glass must have a slight and very precise wedge, so that the vehicle operator does not see a HUD double image.”

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There are some retrofit adhesive film solutions available that claim to help with that. I have not tried any yet. To be honest: to my eye the difference is noticeable but not a deal-breaker.

So I’ve tried apps available. They work. But they do a lot of things different from how I would have expected or done them. They are bearable, but I think it could be done better.

tldr: I started prototyping away and made a list of things that need to be done about the existing HUD applications.

mirrored basic html prototype, not well adjusted, just to play…

Here’s my list of what I want to achieve:

  • display orientation according to driving direction – I had expected all HUD applications to do this. They know the driving direction. They know how the device is oriented in space. They can tell which direction the windshield is. They know how to correctly turn the screen. They do not do that. None of them.
  • fonts and numbers – I cannot stand the numbers jumping around when they change up and down
  • speed steps interpolation – GPS only delivers a speed update every second or so. In this time speed might jump up and down by more than +1. The display has 60 fps and gyros to play with and interpolate… I want smooth number transitions.
  • have an “eco-meter” – using gyros the HUD would be able to display harsh accelleration and breaking. Maybe display a color-coded bar and whatever is measured is reflected in the bar going left or right…
  • speed-limit display – apparently this is a huge issue looking at the data availability. There seems to be open-street-map data and options to contribute. Maybe that can be added.
  • have a non-hud mode – non mirrored to use for example to set speed limits and contribute to OpenStreetMap this way!
  • automatically switch between HUD and non-HUD mode – because the device knows it’s orientation in space – if you pick it up from the dashboard and look into it, why not automatically switch?
  • speed zones color coding – change the color of the speed display depending on configurable speed regions. 0-80 is green, 80-130 is yellow, 130-250 is red.
  • turn display off when car stopped – if there’s nothing displayed or needs to be displayed, for example because the car stopped the display can be turned off completely on it’s own.

Navigation is of limited value as the only way I could think of adding value would be a serious AR solution that uses the whole windshield. Now I’ve got these small low-power projectors around… that get’s me thinking…

What would you want to have in such a HUD in your car?

reward driven speed limits

As you might know I am living in Germany. Germany is the one country where you have some roads that are legally not having any speed limit whatsoever. If the circumstances allow to safely drive 250 km/h you are allowed to do so. It’s up to the drivers judgement.

Now as much as this is a great thing of personal freedom it also has some negative side effects on the climate.

Your car is burning a lot more fuel when driving those kind of speeds. And a lot meaning that it resembles more an exponential curve than a linear line. Rule of thumb: 2x the speed is more than 4x the consumption.

Ever once in a while people start discussing about a general speed limit for Germany – as every other country has it. Some talk about 160 km/h, some about 120 km/h.

The motivations are diverse: climate, resource use, safety, …

In any case additional limits would need to be enforced. More speed traps…

A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons · WikiPhotoSpace)

What if things would be handled differently?

How about this:

Politics would introduce a “best speed lottery”. On every street without a speed limit there would randomly be speed controls and speed traps. Those who follow the best practices of driving … Let’s say 120 km/h… Would be rewarded when randomly photographed. The reward would be a tax discount on car tax and/or gas tax and one ticket put into the countries lottery pool. Once a quarter a new electric car or similar would be given to a random winner.

What would you think would make people drive slower in their own motivation?

Formula 1 is past – now it’s drone racing!

As racing cars with petrol engines gets more and more uninteresting for the masses and even Formula 1 faces competition by Formula E.

Now having humans inside cars racing a wide track is one thing, but using relatively cheap but extremely high-tech multi-copters with first-person-view cameras mounted on them and flown by crazy guys sitting next to the “racing track” is the next big thing!

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zDDsX5xYcA[/youtube]

As you can see it basically looks like the Endor-scenes from Star Wars. In fact it does look so interesting that I am tempted to try it myself…

Porsche Carrera Cup at Norisring

It’s nice to have business partners who sponsor racing teams. Even nicer is when they invite you over to enjoy a couple of porsches racing the only german city race course called Norisring.

Urheber: Eimann

 

I always wanted to watch a race there live. And it was a total blast. As guests of Hermes and Hermes Attempto Racing we had seats on the Porsche bleachers and we had access to the Porsche Hospitality center. The weather was great, maybe even a little bit too good – over 35 C / 95 F with a merciless sun so that even the tarmac melted during a race which lead to the race being cancelled.

Source 1: http://www.norisring.de
Source 2: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norisring
Source 3: http://www.attemptoracing.de/

How to sell a car

Mission accomplished. I successfully talked a co-worker, who needed to buy a new car, into buying a gadget-packed BMW 1 series.

He calls it his “cluster on 4 wheels” – because obviously there is some processing “horse-power” in this machine :-)

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May he always have a safe ride!

Source 1: http://blog.ahzf.de/index.php/2009/09/21/mein-cluster-hat-vier-rader/

Zed-4

Uhh what a day! We had the opportunity to test drive a brand new BMW Z4 sDrive23i. This straight-6 engine is just phenomenal. Even this smallest 204 hp version feels and sounds like a roadster should sound and feel.

We almost emptied a complete fuel tank on about than 350 km of road today – which means we had that much fun. Maybe when we buy one in the future it should have a bit more horsepower.

We even made some pictures:

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thanks to our dealership: BMW Autohaus Poerlitz

new GPS track analyzer found

My beloved GPS analyzer “GPS-Track” has been discontinued :-( I wasn’t able to locate an old version of it so I had to find a new tool which does the trick. On the other hand I upgraded my Windows Mobile phone to a newer version – resulting in the not-running of my previous gps logging tool. So I had to find another new tool.

First the GPS Logging tool:

It’s freeware, written in .NET and worked out of the box with my bluetooth gps. It’s called “GPS Cycle Computer” and has a lot of cool features like Google-Earth KML export, the obligatory GPX support and a great several display modes.

GPS-Cycle-Computer

The GPS Logger exports an .GPX file which then is imported into the Analyzer called “GPS-Track-Analyse.NET”. This tool – obviously designed to analyze hiking – allows you to view the data in different ways, edit waypoints and export it to several other formats.

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Source 1: http://www.gps-freeware.de/Vorschau.aspx
Source 2: the previous GPS Tracker Tool I used
Source 3: the new Windows Mobile GPS Logger tool

the first 3000 km with the beemer

After more than 53 hours inside of our BMW are enjoying the car as much as we thought we would. Well I think we enjoy it even more than we would have thought.

In this nearly 54 hours we travelled 3252 km which translates to 2020 miles. With about 8,7 l of gas per 100 km (which translates to about 34 mpg) it’s less than I expected.

At around 2100 we had the first full-throttle run getting us up to about 230 km/h followed by the first car wash session and the first replacement windshield…(narf!)

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Two weeks ago we had the chance to take the car out for a great drive through the “Franconian Switzerland” (I still like “Fränkische Schweiz” better). The only thing I write about this weekend is: great fun!

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