Your future windshield will look more like a see-through TV than a window

jaguars augmented reality laser hud jaguar xe incartech infographic
Augmented Reality Head-Up Display (HUD): think of it as Google Glass … without the glasses.

The concept isn’t exactly new. In fact, Land Rover bragged that all of the glass in its Discovery Concept Vision, which debuted in New York earlier this year, would be “Smart Glass” capable of displaying images, directions, and point of interest (POI) information to passengers.

Though Land Rover only boasted this technology in virtual concept form, Jaguar taken the tech one step further and announced that its new XE sedan with offer a laser-projected Head-Up Display, providing drivers with unprecedented augmented reality information about the world outside the car.

The system won’t be able to perch a pleading six-inch tall Princess Leia atop your dashboard, but it will project sharp, high-contrast images on the XE’s windshield using a device that is smaller and lighter than today’s HUD projectors, according to Jaguar.

These laser diodes will contribute to a larger field of view with higher contrast and an extended range of reproducible colors.

The British automaker says its system will display speed and navigation information on the windshield, which is depicted in an image from Jaguar as much larger than the tiny tidbits of data today’s HUDs provide.

Japanese semiconductor supplier Nichia Corp. has announced development of blue and green laser diodes that it says are specifically designed for automotive HUDs. The laser diodes are slated for production in October, 2015. According to Nichia, these laser diodes will contribute to a larger field of view with higher contrast and an extended range of reproducible colors.

Jag isn’t ready to give more details, and, although Pioneer demonstrated a laser HUD system at CES a few years ago, that company is now mum on its progress.

Whichever carmaker rolls it out, using components from whichever suppliers, there is much more to come, reports Danny Shapiro, director of marketing for Nvidia.

To bridge the gap from a simple HUD projecting rudimentary data ahead of the driver to full augmented reality, a few technical improvements are needed, Shapiro pointed out.

Tech gaps

First, the system must be able to project its images over a much larger area to cover more of the driver’s field of view, rather than the small square currently occupied by modern HUD. That way the augmenting information can directly overlay objects the driver is seeing in the real world.

After larger real estate is conquered, the system will have to then need to monitor the driver’s head position so that the projector can align the images with the real objects it is augmenting.

Finally, the system needs a blazing fast processor that can feed these images with as close to zero latency as possible. “It must be nearly instantaneous, because latency creates a weird experience,” Shapiro told Digital Trends.

With virtually zero latency, the HUD could virtually paints arrows and lines on the road ahead, making directions from the navigation system more obvious. Alternatively, the system could paint lines in the sky for the driver to follow, sort of like the overhead cables of electric trolleys, Shapiro suggested. This approach has the advantage of letting the driver see the path further in advance.

Such as system can also create virtual highway signs, or could pop up information regarding POI, like available parking spaces, for example, he said.

And here’s another idea: virtual brake lights on cars ahead. “Hybrid cars engaged in regenerative braking may not always show brake lights,” even though they may be slowing aggressively, Shapiro pointed out.

The HUD could virtually paint arrows and lines on the road ahead, making directions from the navigation system more obvious.

If a car’s forward collision radar detects deceleration in the car ahead, an augmented reality HUD could paint flaming red brake lights on its taillights, if the forward car fails do activate its own.

Perhaps best of all, once an advanced projector is in place, backed by a powerful computer, it can perform additional functions in the future through software upgrades.

“It comes down to software and connecting the car to the immediate environment and to the cloud,” Shapiro said. “Sure there are innovations in the optics and LEDs, but it is about really developing sophisticated software applications to leverage the power of the processor. You’ll see new software updates giving you capabilities that weren’t there originally. The laser HUD is just a projector. What we are trying to do is develop a computer platform for the car as opposed to a module with fixed function.”

All of the navigation and artificial brake light functions, however, will be nullified, as cars become increasingly autonomous. In the interim, these laser HUD will bridge the gap between where in-car infotainment is today and autonomous cars of the future.

Product Review

The iPad Pro is the best tablet ever. But don't sell your laptop just yet

Apple has unveiled a big redesign for the iPad Pro, slimming down the bezels, adding Face ID, and the ability to attach and charge the Apple Pencil. All of this comes at a high cost however, as the iPad Pro starts at $799.
Photography

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
DT Daily

DT Daily: Alexa helps you vote, our new series ‘Behind the Wheel,’ and more

Today on DT Daily we covered all the newest headlines from Apple AirPods to the World Drone Racing Championship. We also chatted with Tim Walbridge, the host of our new video series Behind the Wheel, and a very special guest.
Cars

Tesla appoints Robyn Denholm as chair, Elon Musk steps down

Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk agreed to step down from his role as chairman as part of a settlement deal with the SEC. Tesla has named a 55-year-old Australian businesswoman named Robyn Denholm as his successor.
Cars

Ares turns the Tesla Model S into a two-door roadster with Italian flair

Italian coachbuilder Ares has done what Tesla won't. It's taking a Model S, chopping off the roof, and sending the rear doors back to the parts bin to create a roadster that's ready for the French Riviera.
Cars

Ford buys scooter-sharing service Spin as it looks to expand beyond cars

Ford has acquired San Francisco-based scooter-sharing company Spin. The Blue Oval believes mobility services like scooter sharing can complement its existing car business going forward.
Cars

Bosch, Daimler team up to deploy autonomous Mercedes-Benz S-Classes in San Jose

In 1986, when Bosch and Daimler joined an autonomous car research project, the technology seemed overly futuristic. Now, the partners are aiming to make a production self-driving car by the early 2020s.
Cars

Thinking of driving for Uber? These cars are safe, comfy, and fuel-efficient

Uber is a viable means for making money on the side, but you won't earn much if all of your profits are going direct toward fuel and maintenance. Thankfully, these five cars are a perfect fit for those looking to shuttle passengers from…
Cars

Ambitious but not rubbish: The best 'Top Gear' episodes

Since its relaunch in 2002, 'Top Gear' has become required viewing for any serious gearhead. The great moments from this show may seem too numerous to count, but we've managed to pick some of the highlights from the first 25 seasons.
Cars

Camaro vs. Mustang: Differences and similarities between two premier pony cars

The Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang are two of America's favorite sports cars. In this comparison piece, we highlight the main differences between the two machines when it comes to their design and performance, among other factors.
Cars

Roborace wants human drivers and machines to work together

Roborace believes the future of racing is autonomous, but it's keeping human drivers in the picture for now. For its first race season, Roborace will use a car called DevBot 2.0 that can be driven by humans or machines.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

Tesla raises prices and simplifies options on Model S and Model X

Tesla is making changes to its offerings of the Model S and Model X. The lower-range 75D models will increase in price, while the higher-range 100D models will decrease in price.