There are plenty of ways to get directions in the car, but most have one big shortcoming. Whether you’re using a standalone GPS, in-car navi system, smartphone, the Apple Watch, or even a paper map, you have to look away from the road (you know, that thing you’re supposed to be paying attention to when driving) in order to see where you’re supposed to be going.
So how to keep your eyes on the road and not get lost? One option is the heads-up display. Increasingly common on high-end cars, these devices project things like navigation directions and current speed onto the windshield, so the driver has important information right in their field of vision.
It’s a technology that’s fast spreading beyond this incarnation, though: We’ve seen screens showing ghost cars for racers and another that uses lasers to “paint” the edge of a road on the windshield in inclement weather. Then there are these wacky augmented reality concept goggles from Mini.
One of the latest gadgets to enter the fray is something called the Navion, from Swiss firm WayRay. Rather than throwing little left-turn arrows up in your field of vision, Navion projects holographic arrows that follow the road in front of you and then onto the road where you need to turn left.
There’s no need to look at the navigation screen in the centre console to figure out if the robot voice who pronounces everything wrong is telling you to take this left coming up right now or the next one. Navion will just run those green arrows along the correct path right in front of your eyeballs. No headset required.
Navion will use gesture controls, but while your eyes will still be on the road, you might want to keep your hands upon the wheel. WayRay’s website says the system’s gesture controls will work as easily as tapping physical buttons and turning knobs, but anyone who’s tried to manoeuvre the sometimes flickering white hand of an Xbox Kinect will be sceptical of that claim. There’s also a voice control component, which at least keeps your hands at nine and three on the wheel, where they should be.
The Switzerland-based WayRay, maker of Navion, says that the system will work with your smartphone and any car. It’ll be ready to ship by fall 2015 and you can sign up on the WayRay website to get updates sent via email.