Heads up car nav system uses virtual cable to guide drivers

Picture 27 Virtual Cable is a car navigation concept that projects an image of a red cable on your windshield as you drive. All you have to do is follow the overhead cable to get to your destination.

I don't think the technology is too far along, because the videos only show a simulation of the cable.Link (Via Presurfer)


  1. I’m pretty sure this is one of those new technologies they said was right around the corner when I was learning to drive back in the early nineties.

    I also remember seeing a rather amusing video of a car that could swivel its rear on a hydraulic fifth wheel for people who couldn’t be bothered to learn how to parallel park.

  2. I think that this technology is inevitable as we progress towards driverless cars. Another feature I think it needs: The line can be green if the driver is obeying the traffic laws, and morph to red if the driver is speeding, passing on the right, etc. Tied into local traffic reports, it could aid in reducing traffic congestion.

  3. As the GPS nav systems get better and better, this kind of thing will be a great addition, as versus taking your eyes off the road to check a little LCD.

    The bummer thing is that I’ve never see a car with a usable HUD system, so I’m curious how the illusion would be achieved.

  4. Augmented reality is the future, and not just for cars. Pretty soon you’ll be able to hack systems to make people WALK off of bridges!

  5. Agree with the two posts above,

    A GPS system on your dash is an AID. You are still responsible for driving to and from the right place, and obeying road rules etc.

    It is one thing listening to directions, and they can be pretty easy to ignore when you see that things are wrong. But because this looks so real, and is part of the scenery that I think this would be much much harder to ignore or override with common sense.

    Fantastic concept but lets hope it takes a couple of years to come to market, and they have near-live mapping data subscription model so your maps don’t go out of date.

  6. Oh, and I just had a look though their site and their ‘Patents’. This looks a little patent troll-ish as it is still in the vaporware stage.

    They’ll face a huge hurdle with turning the windscreen into a HUD and projecting the line at the required ‘infinite distance’ so you don’t need to focus on it.

    To turn the windscreen into a HUD, it needs to reflect the light projected onto it from the inside, back into the car. This is achieved in aircraft easily with a semi-reflective coating on the inside of a piece of special glass (called the combiner). An aircraft does not have other vehicles directly behind the you shining lights into your vehicle – as doing this may reduce your visibility of the road at night to near Zero.

    The combiner reflects mono-chromatic light, but if you get broadband light from a white light source, it will reflect light in the band for which it is designed.

    I’m now pretty skeptical if they have a working model. (They even say the video is a simulated example)

  7. And honestly, if you keep glancing up at the line, away from the road, you will smash into some little kid as he runs into the road to get a ball or something.

    I have a GPS in the car, and find it invaluable while on business trips in unfamiliar cities, but as noted before, it’s just a tool, and too many people just don’t seem to get it.

    Common sense and the car/gps thing does not work – witness the guy who drove his (rental) car into the path of a train in New York early this year.



  8. BMW 5-series has an optional Head Up Display that can show the arrows for its (excellent) GPS Navigation system, but it’s only on a portion of the window. Its optional night vision doesn’t display in the HUD (yet).

    They also have optional systems to tell you when you’re leaving your lane (if it can tell) and an “active cruise control” to slow if the car you’re following is slowing. The user manual is packed with warnings “But you’re still driving the car and its your responsibility.”

    An interesting demo film at their website shows possible plans for a future wifi network between cars so one BMW can tell a trailing BMW about changing weather conditions, traffic slowdowns, and cops violating the 4th amendment with checkpoints. (OK, they didn’t actually mention that last one.)

    Eventually the technology will filter down into less expensive cars, the way anti-lock brakes and airbags did.

  9. When every car has one of these, the driver will see an enormous tangle of red lines– kind of like the photos of a Manhattan street circa 1910 with zillions of telephone and telegraph wires going every which way.

  10. betcha they’ll have some special shades you wear to use it, ie: magic polaroid sunglasses so you see the HUD projection regardless of ambient contamination.

    Either that or a direct brain implant in the visual center

  11. i love that #10 thinks these lines will be projected into thin air over the street for other cars to see.

  12. Red line? Boring. Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

    I mean, c’mon now, isn’t that the appropriate iconography to use for that kind of display?
    Otherwise, use something like a big red arrow for turns you’ll need to make in the distance.

    In practice, I’d be a bit concerned about how to make sure the heads-up display aligns whatever marker you use correctly for where the driver’s head is, since different drivers are going to be looking from different positions. A line (or road) is a little less sensitive to up/down and forward/back alignment than arrows or whatever, but it probably still needs to be adjusted.

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