With no standouts on the market, heads-up displays (HUDs) for cars never really caught on. For instance, Garmin's unit is proprietary, Hudway's concept is cool but simplistic and Navdy is already a year late and still hasn't shipped. A new contender called iScout is trying to address many of those issues. It works with any smartphone, shows notifications from apps like WhatsApp, takes or reject calls with a hand-wave, and has blind-spot cameras. Now comes the gotcha: It's launching on Kickstarter, so before breaking out the plastic, bear in mind that it may never ship.
With that bit of pessimism out of the way, the company does have a solid-looking prototype and a lot of nice features. The "photochromic" display works in day and night conditions, and it has its own app and GPS to display heads-up route guidance. The device also connects with your smartphone over Bluetooth, letting you take or reject calls by waving your hand, for example, while still keeping the GPS on the screen. You can compose texts via voice dictation and see notifications from apps like WhatsApp and Twitter, or control music from Spotify and others.
As iScout can link up with the vehicle's ODB plug, you can also see information like fuel levels, maintenance issues and speed. If you're running out of gas, for instance, it can give you a warning and guide you to the nearest service station. The premium model has blind spot cameras that automatically activate when you use your turn signals, helping keep your eyes on the road. Speaking of cameras, the device has a forward looking dashcam, in case any of any accidents (or meteorites).
The company is marketing the product as a safety device, but receiving notifications on the device may be nearly as distracting as checking them on your phone. That said, it's about as safety-friendly as you're going to get in a connected car. The display, for example "is focused into the distance and shown just below your line of sight," according to the company. That means it'll require very little of your attention to check your GPS, speed and other info compared to in- or on-dash devices.
The iScout is on pre-order starting at $269 for the basic edition and $299 for the premium model with blind spot cameras. Those are ambitiously scheduled to ship this November, but you can jump the line and get one in September if you're willing to pay $499 and help with final testing. If you take into account the caveat emptors about Kickstarter, and believe the company's claims, those sums seem fair to pay for jet fighter-like situational awareness.