The image appears in focus behind the front of the mirror. “You get the optics to define a sort of point in space where the driver can see the image, but outside that, there is nothing,” Buckley says.
The big advantage of HUDs is improved vehicle safety, Buckley says. It takes a certain amount of time for the muscles in the eyes to adjust their focus, which has safety implications. “At speeds of 100 kilometers an hour, this can cost you 22 meters in stopping distance,” he says.
Steven Stringfellow, a lead engineering specialist in HUDs for General Motors in Warren, MI, notes that HUDs are becoming increasingly common. “Once someone drives with one, the universal reply is that they never want another car without one,” he says. “The safety benefits become obvious in daily use. More features are being added as higher-resolution displays become available.”
It is not the first time holographic projection has been explored for vehicle HUDs, says Sven Krueger, founder of Holoeye, a German company that is also exploring their use. But historically, the use of lasers has created a speckle effect–bright specks of light occur in the field of vision, typically caused by aberrations in the mirror. “And you have to have enough processing power to generate the holograms in real time,” he says.
Light Blue Optics’s core technology includes a more efficient hardware chip as well as software for driving the holographic engine.
“We see holographic projection still at an early stage with these hurdles to overcome,” says Krueger. “We’re not there yet.”
Light Blue Optics is in discussions with several manufacturers, but “it takes at least four years to bring a mature research concept to market,” says Buckley.