July 8, 2013
Garmin’s New GPS Device Brings Luxury Car Features To The Masses
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
It wasn't very long ago that GPS devices from Garmin and others were popular accessories in millions of cars around the globe. Sales of these units were high, and towards their later years these devices began to turn into full entertainment hubs, able to play MP3s and radio stations.
However, now that nearly every phone has GPS functionality baked right in and baked with carrier support, these once ubiquitous accessories have become all but obsolete. There are areas, however, such as the state of California, where all cell phone use while driving is prohibited. It is in these locales where Garmin hopes they can thrive - or at least survive.
Today they're announcing a brand new GPS device that not only pairs with your cell phone to gather location data but also displays navigation directions on a so-called "heads-up display" (HUD) projected directly onto the windshield. Garmin's vice president Dan Bartel said in an official statement that the HUD brings the flair of higher-end automobiles to any car with a dashboard.
"HUD redefines the navigation experience by allowing drivers to find their way without taking their eyes off the road," said Bartel. "Head-up displays currently have their place in select high-end cars, but HUD makes this technology available as an aftermarket accessory for any vehicle, at an affordable price."
Though the popularity of smartphones has cut into GPS makers' market, Garmin has decided to work with rather than against user's smartphones to power the HUD. Any Bluetooth-enabled phone running one of Garmin's navigation apps (Navigon or StreetPilot) can pair with HUD. Once connected, the HUD then displays navigation details to either a piece of reflective film which can be affixed to the windshield or a reflector lens that attaches directly to the unit. Both of these reflective options are included with the device.
The HUD will display all the usual information you'd expect from a navigation device, such as current speed, speed limit and estimated time of arrival. However, Garmin's new device also offers a few novel features, such as alerting drivers to which lane they should be in for the next step of their trip as well as upcoming traffic delays and approaching safety cameras. According to Garmin, the HUD will shine brightly day or night, adjusting the screen to the external level of light.
The HUD also utilizes spoken turn-by-turn directions and can give these instructions through the smartphone's speaker. If the car is outfitted with a Bluetooth option that plays music and other sounds through the car's speakers, however, the HUD will utilize this link. When the driver is listening to music, podcasts, or anything else with their smartphone (as they often want to do) the HUD will turn down the volume so the directions come through loud and clear. The HUD also pairs with smartphones in another way; the power cord which plugs into the car's outlet has a built-in USB port, allowing drivers with only one available USB charging port the ability to charge both devices at once.
Garmin says the HUD will be available sometime this summer and will retail at $129.99 - a fair price for the kind of features normally found exclusively in luxury cars. Garmin's Navigon and StreetPilot are available now in app stores starting at $29.99.