Garmin built its empire on dedicated GPS devices, but those are obviously facing extinction in the face of smartphones that can replicate their function without requiring an expensive secondary hardware purchase. Today, Garmin announced a device that could help it capitalize on its changing role in the navigation ecosystem, while still allowing it to sell hardware to consumers.
The Garmin HUD is just that, a heads-up-display that sits on your dash and projects a simple set of basic navigation data onto a transparent film affixed to your windshield. This replicates some features found in very expensive and well-appointed luxury cars, and it’s relatively inexpensive at $129.99.
Information displayed on the readout includes current speed, speed limit, an indicator to show when you turn next and the distance to said turn, as well as estimated arrival time. There’s no detailed map or points of interest, which is actually very good in that it will help keep drivers more focused on the road. It also shows yo upcoming traffic delays and traffic camera locations, and auto-adjusts for night and day. The smartphone HUD will work with any Bluetooth-capable smartphone running Android, iOS or Windows Phone 8 that can run Garmin’s StreetPilot and Navigon applications, and will arrive this summer for $129.99.
Garmin and others who make third-party smartphone apps that offer navigation services face an increasingly challenging market: Apple and Google both offer free software that does turn-by-turn navigation on mobile devices, either built-in or free, and offerings like Waze (which Google just acquired) really does a fantastic job of giving you all the bells and whistles for free, with a system that’s intelligent and adapts to changing traffic and road conditions in real time.
How do you differentiate as a dedicated navigation company? Offering your own accessory hardware is one very good way. The HUD from Garmin provides a real, tangible advantage to using Garmin’s paid apps over the free and easy competition. Until HUD projection becomes a built-in feature of every smartphone or in-car infotainment system, at least.