New gadget is new technology that you should need it

Earlier this week, I came home and found a box on my porch. Inside was something I had pre-ordered 22-½ months ago. It’s been almost two years.

The item in question is Navdy, a $800 head-up display (HUD) that pairs with your smartphone to show driving directions, text messages and phone calls on a transparent screen on your dash. Navdy’s maps appear as though they are projected onto the road in front of you so there are no visual obstructions. Calls and messages are managed using simple hand gestures.

It makes virtually any car smart. I thought it sounded like a smart idea when I placed my pre-order in mid-December 2014. At that time, Navdy was supposed to ship in the first quarter of 2015. Here we are, early November of 2016. So, I asked Navdy founder and CEO Doug Simpson what the heck the deal was.

“We thought we could leverage more off the shelf technology but we learned that we had to build almost everything ourselves,” Simpson admits. “During the development process, we encountered opportunities to improve the experience and we thoughtfully chose to do so. Every aspect of the product was carefully designed and tested, and we are now excited to get it into the hands of consumers.”

So, with excited hands, I unboxed Navdy and put it through its paces. Here’s a rundown of my experiences and observations over the last few days.

The setup

Navdy finally arrived — two years later.
Image credit: Jason Fell

Inside the box is the Navdy display, three dashboard mounts (shorter to taller, depending on your needs), a dial that attaches to your steering wheel and allows additional control of the device, and a power cord, among other things.

You can have Navdy set up in minutes — maybe 30 at most. Download the Navdy app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play and watch the simple how-to video. Once the dashboard mount is adhered, attach the power cord and plug it into your OBD-II port.

Navdy comes with clips to conveniently run the power cord from the mount, along the back and side of the dashboard, out of the way. The adhesive on my clips unfortunately was not sticky. Luckily, I had some double-sided mounting tape laying around and used that. We’ll see how long those clips stay put.

Directions and the display

Chalk it up to early days using the device, but Navdy monopolized my attention on a recent nighttime drive to a nearby hardware store. Toggling through music, accepting a phone call and searching through the interface was probably too much to do while trying to keep my focus on the road and Navdy’s directions.

For instance, when the call came in from my friend Alex, I was so interested in accepting it and adjusting the speaker volume on my phone that I missed my exit off the highway. Immediately after hanging up, a text came in on Navdy’s display from Alex. “Don’t crash,” he wrote. Thanks, buddy.