The Head-Up Display was the first step towards in-car implementation of augmented reality. The HUD augments the external scene with additional information and artificially generated objects which react to and adapt to the situation in real time. The Head-Up Display presents useful information such as current speed and navigation information directly in the driver’s line of sight, but the technology has much greater potential than that: its applications can be greatly expanded by the use of contact analogue display technology.
Contact analogue displays are a special form of augmented reality. The displayed information is integrated into the external environment in the correct perspective and at the actual point or points in the scene to which it relates, so that effectively the information appears to be “attached” to the external objects.
Contact analogue displays have many advantages. The fact that the information is presented in the driver’s direct line of sight, and that it is overlaid on the objects it is referring to, means that the driver does not have to shift his attention away from the driving scene. His gaze is not distracted and he does not have to change focus, as he does when looking back from an instrument cluster or central information display to the road. This means that information relevant to the driving situation can be scanned more quickly and more directly. At the same time, currently required actions can be displayed in an intuitive form.
“With the contact analogue HUD, we place the information at exactly that point in the driver’s field of view where it belongs and is required. The driver no longer has to correlate abstract information to the concrete driving situation. Since the display is directly congruent with the real world, we can also selectively direct the driver’s attention to specific information or hazards, so that he can respond quickly and in an appropriate manner”, says Dr Bernhard Niedermaier, Head of Human-Machine Interaction at BMW Group Research and Technology.