Hudway appA new free iPhone app called Hudway provides a head-up display (HUD) on a vehicle’s windshield, to provide navigation in what Hudway calls augmented reality. The Russian startup company says the app increases driver safety in low-visibility conditions such as rain, fog or heavy snow, citing the World Health Organization’s claim that 350 people die every day because of poor visibility conditions on roads.

According to Hudway’s website, existing navigation systems are “inherently unsafe,” as they distract a driver’s attention away from the road. However, there are critics who say that this app  might itself be distracting. As a commenter using the name Blooper7 writes in a post below CNET‘s article about this app:

‘Usually, we like to drive — it’s convenient, fast, and fun. But when it’s heavy rain, snow, foggy conditions, or just a dark night, driving can be very dangerous,’ the app’s description reads. ‘And this danger is due to very limited visibility of the road, usually 20 to 50 meters (60-150 feet) ahead. There might be a sharp turn or just straight way.’

So lets project something on your windshield to create the fish bowl effect in an already dangerous situation… [V]ery smart…

As Michelle Starr writes for CNET, Hudway works off of Google Maps. After building your route on Google Maps, you place your iPhone on the dashboard. Ben Coxworth, writing for gizmag, recommends putting it on top of a non-slip surface, such as a silicon pad. The app keeps track of your driving speed, location, upcoming curves and elevations in the road, and the distance to turns on your route, Coxworth writes. He notes that the data is displayed on the smartphone’s screen upside down and backward so that it appears right-side up and forward when it’s reflected onto the windshield.

In an article about the app on Digital Trends, Nick Jaynes says he worries that, although Hudway “looks brilliant” when you are driving at dusk, the iPhone screen would not be bright enough to project a visible image in bright daylight. Starr also raises that concern but says the developer is very careful to point out that Hudway was designed with low-visibility conditions in mind.

The free version is available for download from iTunes and contains ads. The ad-free version costs $1.99, Coxworth writes, noting that an Android version is expected to be out in February. The Pro version lets you customize the view of roads and turns, and displays dangerous road sections in red, Starr writes. Both versions only require online access to build your route, the company says; once you have stored the route, you can use Hudway offline.

Garmin also offers a HUD, but unlike the new Hudway, Garmin’s device (which sells for $149.99) requires that a transparent film be applied to the windshield or that a reflector lens be used on the device, according to buy.garmin.com.

Here is a video about the Hudway app:

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