What The HUD?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in fact familiar with NUVIZ and you already know what a HUD is—to a certain extent. But what do you really know about head-up displays? Most information regarding HUD technology can get a little too technical for your average consumer (myself included), but below you'll find some basic info on what HUDs are, where they came from, and who uses them.

But seriously, though, what in the actual hell is a HUD?

HUD stands for head-up display (or heads-up display, but we use "head-up" because most of us only have one head each), which is any transparent display that presents data without requiring users to look away from their usual viewpoints.

When were HUDs developed?

HUDs were originally developed for military use, specifically military aviation back in the 1940s and 1950s, and actually evolved from a pre-World War II parallax-free optical sight technology called the reflector sight. The reflector sight was invented in 1900 and is still the base component in many modern HUDs.

Where does the name come from?

Well, this certainly isn't rocket science. The origin of the name stems from a pilot being able to view information with the head positioned "up" and looking forward, instead of angled down looking at lower instruments. Another advantage that came from the use of HUDs was that the pilot's eyes did not need to refocus to view outside of the cockpit after looking at the optically-nearer instruments. 

Both of these factors are crucial to motorcyclists, as well. Some bikes have information displayed as far down as on the gas tank, and we all know how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road for even a split second! 

Who uses HUDs today?

Today, HUDs are used in commercial aircraft, automobiles, and other (mostly professional) applications, but with the emergence of devices like the NUVIZ, HUDs are becoming more available at the consumer level.

What types of HUDs are there?

Other than fixed mounted HUDs where the displays are mounted to the cockpit of a plane or the dash of a vehicle, there are also head-mounted displays and helmet-mounted displays (both abbreviated HMD) that feature a display element that moves with the orientation of the user's head.

Many modern fighter jets (such as the F/A-18, F-16, and Eurofighter) use both a HUD and HMD concurrently. The F-35 Lightning II was designed without a HUD, relying solely on the HMD, making it the first modern military fighter not to have a fixed HUD. The price of one of these helmet-mounted display systems? A cool $400,000 USD. 

What does a typical HUD consist of?

A typical HUD contains three primary components: a projector unit, a combiner, and a video-generation computer.

The projection unit in a typical HUD is an optical collimator setup: a convex lens or concave mirror with a cathode ray tube, light-emitting diode display, or liquid crystal display (LCD) at its focus, which produces an image where the light is collimated, and the focal point is perceived to be at infinity.

The combiner is typically an angled flat piece of glass (a beam splitter), located directly in front of the viewer, that redirects the projected image from the projector so the user can see the field of view and the projected infinity image at the same time. Combiners may have special coatings that reflect the monochromatic light projected onto it from the projector unit while allowing all other wavelengths of light to pass through. In some optical layouts combiners may also have a curved surface to refocus the image from the projector.

The computer provides the interface between the projection unit and the data to be displayed and generates the imagery and symbology to be displayed by the projection unit.

What is an AR HUD?

The future! Modern head-up displays are being replaced with a newer technology called augmented reality (AR). These AR systems are the new version of HUDs but are far more advanced. AR HUDs can integrate with GPS systems, infrared cameras, the Internet, and mobile apps and transform your car windshield, helmet windscreen, or even eyeglasses into an information screen.

And yes, NUVIZ is indeed an AR HUD.