How Does A Heads-Up Display (HUD) Work?

Every new car model that comes out today seems to have either bigger displays inside, or more of them altogether. The reason is simple – people become increasingly more dependent on their apps and services. On top of that, these screens can be used to display essential driving information. Things like navigation, speed limit, night vision, back-up cameras, etc. That is fine until you put the safety factor into the equation. Displays often take the drivers’ eyes off the road, which can be extremely dangerous. Luckily, you can install a heads-up display (HUD) on your car and see all the essential information at the same time you’re watching the roads ahead. A HUD may be especially useful the next time you go on a road trip.

Heads-up displays are honestly nothing new in the world of mobility. Fighter planes were equipped with these contraptions even in WWII to aid the pilots during battle. Today, most car companies offer HUD’s as an option in their vehicles, but only in the premium category. They seem to be very slow, adopting the technology for their lower-tier cars, which is a shame. What makes that even more shameful is the fact that HUD’s are very cheap today, even those with built-in navigation.

What makes them cheap is the fact that they are straightforward to make. HUD’s may seem “high-end,” but the core of every heads-up display is an LCD screen and glass to project it to. Okay, there are some other things you need to know, and that’s why we’ve prepared this article for you. Apart from explaining how HUD’s work, we will also tell you about the different types of these devices, and also about the best car heads up display kits available on the market.

Inside view of a car featuring a heads-up display

What Is A Heads-Up Display?

It is a transparent display that displays various information, including velocity, navigation, speed limit, current song, road hazards, apps, etc. The transparent part means that you can view it while driving – no need to take your eyes off the road. Thanks to that, HUD’s are a much safer way to monitor everything about your vehicle and the road ahead.

How Does A HUD Display Information On A Transparent Screen?

In a few words, it is a small display that projects information on a transparent screen. Car manufacturers use the windshield to project the information on, as it looks much better. Some aftermarket kits, on the other hand, display the information on a small glass part. The reason behind this is simple – the glass needs to have a unique film applied that reflects light better. Here are all the different parts that make one HUD system work:

  • LCD – situated under the dashboard, this display shows the information you will see on the windshield or glass. The screen is sometimes flipped because you will see a mirror reflection of it.
  • Series of mirrors – used to magnify the image from the display. Some manufacturers use more mirrors to flip the image, while some flip the image on the screen via software. Depending on the model, the mirrors can be motorized. Thanks to that, the driver can better position the image on the windshield (up and down). This way, shorter and taller drivers can adjust the reflected image according to their height.
  • Glass with a transparent film –  The film is important because the windshield has more layers on it and the HUD may project a duplicate picture. The best car heads up display kits come with a glass or plastic part that has the film already applied.

What Information Can A HUD Show?

In the past, these systems were only able to show the speed and perhaps the engine RPM. Today, though, HUD’s can reveal all sorts of information. Apart from the speed, HUD’s can also display information on the engine, which gear you’re in, etc. Some can even show you the navigation and news from some other apps. That said, different types of HUD’s provide different information.

What Types of Heads-Up Display Car Kits Are Available?

Today, the most popular heads up display car aftermarket kits connect to your smartphone (wired or wirelessly). Some models can even use the screen of your smartphone and project it to a glass surface. Thanks to that, they can show information from almost any app on your smartphone. For example, you can project Google Maps or Waze onto the transparent display. These apps are much better than the built-in solutions car manufacturers offer, showing information like speed limits and traffic info. Of course, you can use a navigation app of your choice if you’re into it. Google Maps and Waze will also show a more accurate current speed, but they can’t display information from the car.

Inside view of a car featuring a heads-up display

If you want a HUD that will show engine RPM or G-forces in the corners, you’ll need an OBD II interface system. These connect directly to your car and can show all sorts of information. For example, an OBD II system can display the engine RPM, image of the in-car navigation, current song or radio, etc. In other words, every information that your car already shows on the screens inside can be projected on the HUD. That said, these heads-up displays tend to be more expensive than the ones that connect to your smartphone.

Inside view of a car featuring a heads-up display

What car HUD you choose is up to you, but in our opinion, those that connect to smartphones are better. In-car infotainment systems often become dated, while smartphones are updated regularly with the latest features. That said, some heads-up display car kits can connect both to the car and your smartphone. Sure, they cost a bit more, but they’re worth it if you want the best option.

VIZR – A cheap and Straightforward HUD Solution

VIZR heads-up display

No wires, no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection issues – VIZR has a very simple HUD solution. The best thing about this HUD is that it is cheap, despite its unlimited capabilities. Here you need to place your smartphone under the transparent glass, and the image will be projected on it. This means that you can view every app you have on your smartphone. The manufacturer also designed a free iOS and Android app, which works best with the device. Oh, and thanks to the unique film applied to the scratch-resistant glass, you can view all the information during day and night, regardless of the conditions outside. VIZR also keeps your phone secure in place – it has an adjustable screen and works in every type of car.

Learn more about the VIZR HUD right here.


About Ivo G

Hey guys and girls, I’m Ivo, a passionate car enthusiast with a particular weakness for rear-wheel-drive and stick-shift gearbox cars. Meanwhile, I don’t mind getting my hands dirty – I have experience as a Certified Head of Service at a Toyota Dealership, and knowledge that I wish to share with you.

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