Useful and realized uses for augmented reality are, unfortunately, rare; providing a glimmer of hope is NeXt Co (sic). The company’s goal of reducing distracting driving accidents rests on the development of their first product, HeadsUP! — a transparent display that integrates with the user’s smartphone. Combining a heads-up display (HUD) accessory with voice command technology, the HeadsUP! system will send text messages, calls and navigation to appear on the windshield without obstructing the driver’s view.
Speaking about the idea of an after-market HUD while at Engadget Expand in New York the founder of NeXt Co, Arnab Raychaudhuri, explained that one of the company’s priorities is to make the technology available to the mass market and not be limited to new luxury automobiles. NeXt has decided to go the crowd-funding route to complete the HeadsUP! and launched their Indiegogo campaign (direct link) on November 13.
Despite Raychaudhuri’s statement that “research has shown that head-up technology does reduce distracted driving significantly”, the great majority of people we shared the concept with were very skeptical. The biggest problem is the simple argument that the problem is not simply the looking away from the road while driving, but the mental distraction of whatever is on the screen. Many of our interviewees mentioned the “Texting and Driving… It Can Wait” campaign (www.itcanwait.com) and their seemly overwhelming proof that any distraction while driving increases the likelihood of a crash dramatically.
It is evident that there is a future for the heads-up display in automobiles and we are already seeing limited examples in some vehicles — Pioneer first showed their version at the International CES in 2011 and has been offering it in Japan since July 2012 as part of a $5,000 optional package. The future of NeXt’s HeadsUP! might depend on the public’s perception of the combination of utility and safety that an aftermarket HUD might provide.