Navdy makes augmented reality out of Google Maps for in-car navigation

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【Summary】Navdy has developed a dash mounted, augmented reality (AR) device that provides a heads up display (HUD) which allows drivers using their smartphones and Google Maps for navigation to keep their eyes on the road.

Original Eric Walz    May 01, 2017 6:23 PM PT
Navdy makes augmented reality out of Google Maps for in-car navigation

By Eric Walz

San Francisco based start-up Navdy Inc. has developed a dash mounted, augmented reality (AR) device that provides a heads up display (HUD) which allows drivers using their smartphones and Google Maps for navigation to keep their eyes on the road. Navdy was founded in 2013, by CEO Doug Simpson. 

Many drivers today rely on Google Maps and their smartphone for in-car navigation. While this is convenient and popular way to navigate, drivers often need to take their eyes off the road to check the map on their phone for the next turn. "If you're going 60 miles an hour down the highway and you look down for four seconds to swipe to unlock your phone…you've just gone an entire football field blind. Seconds do count." Simpson said in a 2014 interview.

The Navdy is a portable, head-up display (HUD) device that integrates the powerful API's of Google Maps for navigation. The device also allows drivers to receive calls, notifications, and messages from a smartphone in a car while driving, without having to touch it. The Navdy utilizes a high quality projector, which displays navigation and other information using augmented reality, so the display "appears" further away, appearing approximately four to five feet in front of the driver. 


A view of the Navdy HUD Display

Using augmented reality, information is projected in front of the driver so their eyes can remain on the road. The company hopes to solve the distractions of physically interacting with your cell phone ensuring that drivers never have to look away from the road while using Google Maps for directions. 

Navdy also supports voice commands and gestures, eliminating the need to ever take your eyes off the road. For example, a simple swipe of your hand to the left or right to will take a call, or a driver can speak the messege they want to text to someone. For additional safety, if you receive an incoming text, the default setting displays the message only when the vehicle is stationary. When the vehicle is moving the unit will read aloud the message.

Tech Specs

The Navdy HUD built with a dual core processor running Android. The device plugs into a vehicle's OBD II (onboard diagnostic) port for power to the device, or it can powered by an optional 12v power adapter. The Navdy can also display vehicle data while plugged into a vehicle's diagnostic port, such as current speed, engine RPM, tire-pressure warning, or even notifying the driver of any active vehicle faults by displaying a "service engine soon" warning icon.


The Navdy can display vehicle data

The device is equipped with a IR camera to support the gesture commands, audio output jack, accelerometer, compass, and microphone. The built in microphones has built in DSP noise cancellation for clear conversations. The Navdy HUD console can be paired over Bluetooth 4.0/LE, and it can also share data with smartphone over Wi-Fi.WiFi 802.11 b/g/n. The Navdy HUD works with iPhones or Android OS smartphones.

Navdy's GPS sensors can geo-locate your position, and turn-by-turn navigation still functions in cities with tall buildings and poor cell service, as the Navdy has built-in offline maps and its own independent GPS, which is useful for areas with spotty cell coverage.

Navdy also has an app available that works with its display, allowing you to control your phone apps without having to pick it up. You can control your music on Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, or Google Play, view incoming callers, and receive messages from your phone while connected to the Navdy HUD. 

Upgradable Design

The Navdy can receive over-the-air updates via the app. The latest software version 1.1 added a number of new features, including destination search via voice update, improved GUI, nearby suggestions based on your location and improved battery life.

On Thursday, April 27th 2017 Navdy announced they are partnering with Glympse, to provide drivers with a more connected and safer driving experience. Glympse is a real-time location services platform, and the deal allows Navdy users the ability to share their location and trip information including destination, route and estimated time of arrival (ETA), with others without touching their phones or taking their eyes off the road. 

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Share your location using the Navdy

With the feature, the recipient will then receive a text message with a URL that links to a real-time interactive map showing a driver's current location, a map of the route they are on, final destination and ETA. It even counts down the arrival time, second by second, so the recipient knows precisely when the driver will arrive, the company explained in a blog post. The new software update activates this new feature.

Over $40 Million in Financing

Navdy has accepted $41.8 million through four rounds of equity funding from twenty investors so far. The most recent funding was for $15 Million on December 6, 2016 in an undisclosed round.

According to a December 2016 report by Bloomberg, Harman International Industries Inc. (HAR), a leader in connected car technology, has announced a strategic partnership and investment in Navdy to offer an aftermarket Augmented Reality Driving Device to automotive OEMs.

As part of the agreement, Harman will have exclusive rights to distribute the new co-branded aftermarket Navdy. The new Navdy product is the world's first aftermarket heads-up driving device that projects both mobile application information and car data information directly over the road allowing drivers to look forward while staying connected.

The Navdy is currently available for sale on Amazon and at electronics retailer Best Buy.

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