Vehicle heads up display startup hopes to reduce distracted driving risk

Is more technology the answer to a problem created by technology? A San Francisco tech startup company thinks so.

The problem, in this case, is using a cellphone while driving – a behavior that roughly quadruples the odds of a driver getting in a crash. And the solution, or so Navdy believes, is a heads-up display (HUD) similar to the technology used by airline pilots that projects cellphone information onto a transparent display on the windshield.

According to a company blog post, “Navdy is built from the ground up to be the safest and most intuitive way to make calls, use navigation, listen to music or access notifications without ever looking away from the road.”

Navdy’s hologram technology allows users to not only text and call but also to use programs such as Google Maps and Spotify through voice command or hand gestures. It is designed to work with any car manufactured since 1996 and is compatible with iOS 7 or later (Apple) and Android 4.3 or later. Navdy is available for a pre-order price of $299 and will retail for $499.

In the context of distracted driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says claimed more than 3,300 lives and caused 421,000 injuries in 2012, a few hundred dollars may be a small price to pay for improved safety. But not all reviewers are convinced that Navdy works as well as advertised.

‘Frustrating and Unsafe’

Roberto Baldwin of The Next Web, said about Navdy, “Not only is it frustrating, it’s unsafe and Navdy is all about safety,” reports the Christian Science Monitor. In a review posted on InformationWeek, Thomas Claburn called the comparison by Navdy of its technology to that used by commercial pilots “dubious logic” because airline and automotive safety issues are significantly different.

Claburn noted a 2004 NASA study that found HUDs have attention benefits as well as cost and stopped short of declaring the displays to be safe.

Relatedly, other studies have found that cellphone headsets do not substantially reduce distracted driving risk any more than hand-held cell phone use. In fact, the National Safety Council says that hands-free devices offer no safety benefit when driving.

The reason has to do with the brain’s inability to effectively multitask.

A 2013 NSC press release says point blank that, “The human brain is incapable of performing, at the same time, the tasks necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle while engaged in other cognitively demanding tasks such as a phone conversation or speech to text.”

That logic would seem to apply to Navdy as well.

“If safety is the goal, the best option would be to set one’s smartphone aside while at the wheel,” Claburn concluded.

Contact Our Colorado Car Accident Law Firm

Attorney Steve Ray is a former Marine Corps judge now fights for the rights of accident victims in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado. If you have been seriously injured in a car accident resulting from distracted driving, he brings more than 35 years of legal experience and military discipline to pursuing your claim for compensation.

He will meet with you to discuss your case and, if a claim is possible, pursue the maximum financial recovery available. If we cannot recover money for you, you will pay nothing for our legal services.

Contact us today to discuss your case in a free consultation.