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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Virtual HUD, what every private pilot has dreamed of.

VirtualHud gives heads up display to the private pilot

VirtualHud gives heads up display to the private pilot

Like every private private pilot, I have a dream of enjoying a flight with a heads up display so I can spend most of my time looking outside the window, rather than having my head buried in the instruments. And now, the technology for a HUD is now available which utilizes the plane's propeller as a projection screen, and it's called VirtualHud.

HUD technology has been around since the 60s, but has been very expensive and very large and heavy. As such, for nearly 40 years it's been the domain of miltary fighter pilots. Then, the computers came along and the equipment quickly began to get better and tinier in size. It also made it's way to commercial and business aviation applications.

But now the technology has gotten to the point where VirtualHud makes heads up displays a reality for all of us. The projector utilizes augmented reality to project the image on the back side of the planes spinning propeller. A strip of white paint enhances the HUD's visibility, but even without it, the pilot can see everything from from it's turn bank indicator, airspeed, altitude, pitch and roll against the horizon, and GPS landmarks. In fact, if your avionics displays it, so does the Virtual Hud.

Cool video of the VirtualHud in action here.

The VirtualHud is 10″ x 10″ x 3″ deep and installs into the cockpit avionics instrument panel. There is also a portable, night time variant.

But even though it's amazingly cool and a game changer for the private pilot, VirtualHud isn't cheap. Cost is about $7500.

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