What is the Head-Up Display?

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What’s a Head-Up Display?

Any display which will be visually projected into a user’s view is often considered a head-up display. Put simply, a HUD is a projection unit that emits a brightly lit image, video, or displays onto a transparent surface.

The purpose of HUDs in cars is to eliminate users’ need to take their gaze far away from where it should be. While it only takes a fraction of a second to glance down at gauges and backup, an instant is required to re-focus your sight. And one moment of distraction is as familiar as all it can want to lose control over a vehicle.

In aircraft and automobiles alike, HUDs put details directly into the pilot or driver’s field of view where their vision remains forward where dangers lie.


A brief history of HUDs

Like many great technologies, head-up displays originated as military-use systems. Rudimentary yet revolutionary HUDs were developed for uses like radar displays within the cockpit of a fighter jet to eliminate the transition between a backlit radar screen and also the dark sky of night. Fighter jets have developed incredibly detailed HUDs for various uses, whether navigation or weapons-based.

In the 1970s, HUDs were introduced for commercial aviation, but the technology wasn’t widely adopted until very recently. They’re now standard equipment on the Boeing 787 and therefore the Airbus A380 also features this technology.

In mobility, HUD technology adoption has been slower. Though first introduced in 1988, only some select luxury nameplates had begun to include the feature in their models at the turn of the last century.

Recently the adoption of HUD in cars has grown almost exponentially, though. While General Motors was the primary carmaker to put in HUDs, Nissan, BMW, Citroen, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, VW, and practically all other carmakers have incorporated HUDs in a minimum of one model in their lineup.

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