A San Francisco startup says it has a new product that will make texting while driving a little bit safer.
The company's name is Navdy and its product is a heads-up display (HUD) announced Tuesday. The aftermarket console looks like a small rectangular box and sits on top of the dashboard. Syncing with your smart phone, it lets you access apps and notifications that are projected in a transparent display so that it appears to be about six feet in front of the windshield.
The goal is to make your smart phone a part of the car since it's generally agreed that using your phone while driving is dangerous, even though people do use their phones while driving all the time. But while this device may sound similar to smart-car features such as Android Auto or Apple Carplay, Navdy insists that it's not.
"Built-in consoles like Android Auto and Apple Carplay are just bigger touchscreens that do nothing to solve the problem," reads a Navdy company blog post.
Instead, Navdy says it designed its product by "completely rethinking what the experience of using apps behind the wheel should feel like."
"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," says Navdy co-founder and chief executive Doug Simpson, in the blog post.
Navdy features voice and gesture controls that let you interact with apps through a voice command or a wave of your hand. The company says its device can connect to any car made since 1996 and works with iPhones running iOS 7 or later or Android 4.3 or later.
Still, Roberto Baldwin, a reporter for The Next Web who says he got to test out a prototype of Navdy, said that the product was difficult to use while driving. "Not only is it frustrating, it’s unsafe and Navdy is all about safety," he writes.
It's been difficult for regulators to keep up with the pace of technology when it comes to ensuring driver safety. In June, the Obama administration introduced a bill titled The Grow America Act that included a provision that sought legal authority to regulate phone and tablet-based navigation apps. While automakers that produce cars with navigation systems already mostly adhere to voluntary guidelines for navigation systems, it was the first time such a law could affect Silicon Valley – consequently, it faced resistance from technology companies.
Navdy is one of the first aftermarket heads-up displays in the US, according to Wired, though similar devices have been available in Europe. And Google Glass, the heads-up display that famously wants users to bring their heads up to reconnect with the world instead of keeping their faces buried in smart phones, is working to integrate with Mercedes-Benz cars, Wired reports.
Last year, the Department of Transportation released a series of voluntary guidelines that outlined precautions drivers can take to better ensure road safety given drivers' in-car distractions. Citing a federal study, those guidelines stated that using phones or other portable electronic devices while driving triples the likelihood of crashing.
Navdy is available for pre-order for a price of $299 and will have a retail price of $499. It is expected to begin shipping in early 2015.