- Navdy, a dashboard device that allows smartphone apps to be projected via head-up display on any vehicle, is being offered for 30 days at a pre-order price of $299.
- The San Francisco tech startup expects to begin production this year and get the units into the hands of consumers early in 2015, at the regular price of $499.
- Navdy allows control of smartphone apps, including navigation, infotainment and social media, through touch-free hand gestures and voice commands.
SAN FRANCISCO — Navdy, a dashboard device that allows smartphone apps to be projected via head-up display on any vehicle, is being offered for 30 days at a pre-order price of $299.
The San Francisco tech startup expects to raise $60,000 through the pre-order campaign with the goal of beginning production this year and getting the units into the hands of consumers early in 2015, at the regular price of $499.
Navdy attaches to the top of the dashboard and plugs into the vehicle's onboard diagnostic port (OBDII), a connector that since 1996 has been mandated on all vehicles manufactured for sale in the U.S.
Connection to the OBDII allows Navdy to display information like speed, rpm, fuel economy stats, tire-pressure warnings, fault codes and other data from the vehicle's onboard systems.
But that's not the fun part.
Navdy uses Bluetooth connectivity to sync with either Android or iPhone devices to allow hands-free phone use and control of smartphone apps, including navigation, such as Google Maps; music services, like Pandora, Spotify and iTunes; and various social media mobile apps.
As with the technology that has been used for years in commercial and military aircraft, Navdy projects images on a full-color, transparent display that appears to float in front of the windshield, directly in the operator's field of vision but unobtrusive enough to allow safe control of the vehicle.
Interaction with Navdy is managed through touchless hand gestures or by voice commands, facilitated by either Siri or Google Voice, depending on the smartphone's operating system. Incoming phone calls, text messages or notifications from social media apps are recognized by the system and projected onto the HUD display, which remains active while receiving information, so navigation and other functions are not disrupted.
"Smartphones were never designed to be used while driving," said Navdy co-founder and CEO Doug Simpson in a statement. "Touchscreen-based apps force you to take your eyes off the road. So we started by completely rethinking what the experience of using apps behind the wheel should be like. 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."
Head-up technology, while still not common, is not exactly new to the automotive world. General Motors first introduced HUD on a production car with the 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Indianapolis 500 Pace Car and then extended the option to various other Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Cadillac and Chevrolet Corvette models.
Other manufacturers began making HUD available through the years, and for the 2014 model year, about 38 individual models can be ordered with it. These include the Audi A6, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS and other Cadillac vehicles, Mazda 3 and Toyota Prius.
Usually HUD comes as a factory option, often costing $2,000 or more as part of a "technology package." The majority of these systems display onboard navigation and diagnostic information but are not designed to control smartphone apps.
A few aftermarket firms sell HUD modules that plug into a vehicle's OBDII port and display onboard system information. But although these are inexpensive — often less than $100 — they, too, usually don't link up with smartphones.
Garmin sells a device for about $150 that syncs with smartphones via Bluetooth to provide a HUD display of the company's navigation apps, but it doesn't offer the control of multiple apps or other features built into the Navdy.
Edmunds says: For consumers looking for head-up control of their smartphones, the Navdy sounds pretty nifty.