Jet-plane tech keeps car driver’s eyes on road

A soon-to-be-released heads-up display, called Navdy, aims to let a car driver safely interact with a smartphone.

WASHINGTON — Using a smartphone or tablet while driving isn’t smart, and in many states is illegal. Fiddling with buttons and knobs while behind the wheel can cause deadly distractions.

But a soon-to-be-released heads-up display, called Navdy, projects easier-to-digest information from a driver’s mobile devices onto the windshield, and responds to voice and gesture commands.

A compact projector mounted in front of the steering wheel throws a 5.1 inch transparent display from iOS and Android phones onto the the vehicle’s windshield.

Similar to Google Glass, the display seems to be about six feet in front of the driver, so his or her eyes don’t need to adjust to absorb the content.

Navdy’s makers say any notification from the phone, including text and social media, can be displayed, read aloud or disabled.

Each application can be controlled separately, to tailor the notifications the driver wants to receive.

Parental controls can limit interactions available to teen drivers.

Is it legal to use?

According to Navdy’s website, “Local regulations vary on the legality of hands-free texting performed without touching your phone and/or texting in a way that does not divert visual attention from the road.”

The site maintains the transparent display is safer than having to touch device controls.

“The same technology is used in all commercial airplanes so the pilot can keep their eyes on the runway while landing the airplane,” according to the site.

Navdy responds to touchless driver commands, including swipe left, swipe right and thumbs-up.

Using those standardized commands, drivers can answer phone calls, end calls, control music and interact with Google Maps and apps that monitor fuel economy and tire pressure.

Navdy is attempting to raise $60,000 for production costs.

It currently costs $299 plus shipping during an ongoing pre-order period, and will sell for $499 when it ships in early 2015.

Not everyone is convinced that hands-free operation is safe.

A National Safety Council study shows “drivers looking out the windshield can miss seeing up to 50 percent of what’s around them when talking on any kind of cell phone,” including hands-free.

See how Navdy works:

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPtech on Twitter, and on the