With every new release, it seems that motor vehicles and advanced technology become more of a blended entity. Vehicle manufacturers are moving toward the fully-realized autonomous vehicle and while this is happening, drivers of the current generation of technology are treated to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) meant to reduce collisions. While tech such as lane keeping assist and collision detection might ultimately save lives, other advances might do more harm than good.
One feature that is gaining popularity is the heads-up display or HUD. This is a digital projection of valuable information on the windshield in the driver’s field of vision. Designers created the HUD projection so that the driver doesn’t have to look away from the road down to the gauges on the dashboard. Unfortunately, the projected information can also be quite distracting.
Much like the text crawl at the bottom of a news program or televised sporting event, a viewer’s eyes and attention are drawn to the presented information. Historically, the driver would look down at the dash gauge to see the speed of the car, for example, but now the HUD presents the information his or her field of vision. It might be okay if the presentation stopped there, however.
As technology improves, programmers are likely to start adding more and more data to the HUD. Already, vehicles offer information such as:
- Vehicle speed
- Road speed limit
- Follow distance
- Blind spot monitoring
- Radio station
- Current song playing
How long will it take for the standard inclusion of vehicle cabin temperature? The rear and top-view camera system? Text or email messages? There will be an overabundance of information presented to the driver that will only serve to pull his or her attention from the road.
One of the best features, if presented in an intelligent way, is destination directions. Many drivers rely on the GPS on their phone, either sitting in a lower cradle or resting in the passenger seat. Designing a smart way to present turn-by-turn directions on an HUD could save the driver having to look away from traffic.
While ADAS might ultimately save lives, car manufacturers must exercise caution. Presenting every bit of information, especially information that the driver does not need at all times, can disrupt a clean field of vision and potentially lead to more distracted driving accidents than they prevent.