Carloudy: An Automotive Head-Up Display

By Arthur Berman
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During recent years, head-up displays (HUDs) have become available as an option in some luxury car models. Now, an aftermarket alternative is under development by Cognitive AI Technologies Inc. (Chicago, IL). The device is called Carloudy and it integrates the functionalities of a smartphone including navigation into a voice controlled HUD. Carloudy was launched at the 2016 CES.

Rather than a projector tucked into the dashboard, the tablet-like Carloudy projector is placed face up just under the windshield. In a recent demo, it was held in place by Velcro. A rectangle of transparent, flexible plastic is stuck onto the windshield to reflect the image produced by the Carloudy display. Since the reflector is not glued in place, it can be removed and used again in another vehicle. It is reported that Carloudy can be installed into any vehicle in just a few seconds.

Carloudy 1

Product specs include:

  • 6-inch, high definition, high contrast, semitransparent display on the windshield
  • Ultralow power ARM processor and BlueTooth architecture
  • WiFi enabled – no wires connect to the Carloudy system.
  • Micro USB port
  • High capacity battery
  • Supports iPhone 4S or later models, Android phones with Bluetooth and Android 4.4+ (Google Maps required)
  • Dimensions: 6.57 x 5.16 x 0.39-inches (16.6 x 13.1 x 1 cm)
  • Weight: 0.55 lbs. (0.25Kg)

The Carloudy HUD system claims to work quite well in bright sunlight. This is illustrated in the figure below and to the left. This ability is attributed to the fact that the Carloudy HUD is based on an E-Ink display. A further consequence of this display choice is that the system has very low power consumption providing for excellent battery life. In fact, once the device is charged, the battery can last more than two weeks.

At night, an ambient light sensor activates the multilevel LED display backlight. This is illustrated in the figure below and to the right.

Carloudy 2

Carloudy automatically connects to your iOS/Android smartphone via Bluetooth. It also overwrites the Bluetooth media controller on your steering wheel so your phone never needs to come out of your pocket. The Bluetooth controllers on the steering wheel can, in addition, be used to browse the options and select the driving destination.

The Carloudy app listens to the driver’s voice commands, interprets what is need and delivers the relevant information. To do this, the system uses existing phone applications including Google Maps and other APIs such as Yelp and ParkWhiz. By these means, Carloudy has the ability to provide navigation instructions to a chosen destination, provide info on the speed limit, show traffic information, find the closest parking location and display the rates as well as find local restaurants with their ratings – and more.

Paraphrasing the company web site, Carloudy differs from a standard GPS system or a smartphone in that it has been designed for driving, to optimise the on road experience. The company claims that, given the transparent display, voice input and mobile app integration, Carloudy is both safer and smarter than alternatives.

To fund final development of the Carloudy product, the company has launched a KickStarter campaign. As of the 27th January there are 671 backers that have pledged a total amount of $11,010 towards a goal of $50,000. The project will, therefore, be funded on the 14th February.

A limited number of the devices are available at the early bird price of $179. The MSRP is $259. -Arthur Berman