This prototype turns your car’s windshield into a giant AR display

Car infotainment systems are getting ever bigger, but a startup’s new prototype takes things further than even something like Ford’s pillar-to-pillar touchscreen — by turning your windshield into a full-color 3D heads-up display.

Distance Technologies, established by the co-founders of enterprise headset maker Varjo, showed off its design last week at Augmented World Expo in Long Beach, California. The company’s goal is to push heads-up displays beyond flat and simple overlays. Its early efforts are impressive but also illuminate how tough (and risky) putting it into a real car could be.

The Distance Technologies prototype uses an LCD panel pointed up at a windshield with a reflective coating, projecting a transparent image onto it. It’s conceptually similar to some existing car HUDs, which can be found in a slew of aftermarket accessories and integrated options from companies like Volvo and Mercedes-Benz.

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