Harman also made an undisclosed sum of money in Navdy.
Connected to a car via an OBD (On-Board Diagnostic system)-II port and designed to talk to the driver’s smartphone via Bluetooth, Navdy’s HUD projects car, phone, and music information as a transparent image on the windshield, directly over the road. The deal with Harman will give Navdy’s heads-up driving technology a broad set of distribution channels ranging from aftermarket to automotive OEMs, Tier Ones, and telecom operators.
Harman’s credibility and close ties to the automotive industry are a huge boost for the three-year-old startup.
For Harman, the deal illustrates the company’s upstream strategy. It helps Harman provide customers with “end-to-end connected experiences,” explained Jeffery Fay, vice president and general manager of aftermarket services at Harman. Harman’s broad business spans connected cars, lifestyle audio, professional audio/video/lighting solutions, and connected services. Harman’s connected services include over-the-air updates and cyber security solutions, said Fay. Navdy’s device will become one more platform allowing Harman to offer consumers and OEMs connected services.
Who is Navdy?
Navdy, founded in 2013, is headed by Doug Simpson, originally from Hewlett Packard. The company has a team of 75 engineers and scientists with expertise that ranges from computer vision to optics and machine learning. Many are Apple alumni. Navdy believes its new product is no ordinary HUD. It’s so small that it can fit easily on a dashboard. It works under almost any lighting conditions. Even when the car faces into direct sunlight, the HUD image is clear. Polarized glasses worn by a driver cause no problems, either.
Navdy’s transparent image is purposely projected into the distance so that the road stays in focus while the driver views the information.
What impressed Harman most is the simplicity of Navdy’s user interface. Harman’s Fay said that Navdy has “figured out a very natural, safer way for drivers to access information.”
The HUD display isn’t cluttered with information. It can project only types of information that the individual driver prefers.
While navigation information from Google Maps and traffic information from HERE are on display, a user can choose the items from his smartphone to be transferred to the HUD.