Garmin Releasing Heads-Up Display Device for Navigation Through Apps

Andrew Klips  |

S&P 500 component Garmin Ltd. (GRMN) said a division of its company, Garmin International, is later this summer releasing HUD, its first portable heads-up display for smartphone navigation applications.  Dubbed, “Navigation Meets Projection,” the device will project directions onto a transparent film on the windshield or an attached reflector lens.  HUD is shown on the Garmin website for $129.99, but it is clearly defined as not yet receiving authorization from the Federal Communications Commission and not offered for sale until FCC authorization is obtained.

HUD is designed to work with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones running Garmin’s StreetPilot of NAVIGON apps, which are sold separately.  The device pairs with iPhones, Android phones and Windows 8 phones, according to Switzerland-based Garmin.

The heads-up display provides information such as directions, current speed, speed limit, turn arrows, distance to the next turn, lane guidance, estimated overall trip time, possible traffic delays and upcoming safety camera locations.  The spoken directions can be synced with Bluetooth audio systems in cars and have the ability to lower streaming music volume on the car stereo as directions are given.

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“Head-up displays currently have their place in select high-end cars, but HUD makes this technology available as an aftermarket accessory for any vehicle, at an affordable price,” said Dan Bartel, vice president of worldwide sales at Garmin.

Heads-up displays, which are designed to allow drivers to receive information without looking away from the road, were originally developed for military planes with origins back to before World War II.  The first auto to incorporate the technology was the 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

Garmin built its name on GPS devices, but traditional models have been facing stiff competition with the rise in smartphone capabilities and popularity.  Several companies, including Google, Inc. (GOOG) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL), already offer smartphone applications for free that deliver turn-by-turn directions, further putting a pinch on Garmin and other competitors like Amsterdam-based TomTom.  At least the new HUD by Garmin will help differentiate the company from other applications on the market, and at a pretty reasonable price.

Shares of GRMN have slumped about 13 percent so far in 2013.  The company last reported earnings early in May, recording EPS of 40 cents on revenue of $532.0 million in the latest quarter against analyst expectations of EPS of 41 cents on sales of $518.6 million. 

Shares are essentially flat in Monday trading at $35.38.

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