Over the past ten years, General Motors has poured over $11 million into a research partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, and there are signs that the relationship is bearing fruit.
The human/machine interface department at GM has developed a working heads-up display that turns an ordinary windshield into an augmented reality information dashboard.
The "enhanced vision system" can help drivers by highlighting landmarks, obstacles and road signs on the windshield in real-time to improve safety and navigation-- it even brings GPS functions right into the dashboard by outlining the exact building you're going to.
According to Technology Review, to turn the entire windshield into a display, GM used a special type of glass coated with red-emitting and blue-emitting phosphors--a clear synthetic material that glows when it is excited by ultraviolet light. The phosphor display is then activated by tiny, ultraviolet lasers bouncing off mirrors bundled near the windshield. Three cameras mounted on the dashboard track the driver's head and eyes to determine where she is looking.
To sense what is in front of the car, the system uses a variety of sensors, including night vision, navigation systems, and cameras to gather relevant data. Then, ultraviolet lasers project corresponding images onto the windshield surface.
GM says the new HUD windshield, which so far has only been tested in simulations, wouldn't be incorporated into cars until around 2018. By then, other sensor technologies in the car will likely be adapted into the system and could help reduce costs.
The AR windshield was developed with partners from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Southern California. View the video below to see it in action: