Navigation visualization company Making Virtual Solid, LLC recently announced its Virtual Cable navigation system, based on Heads Up Display (HUD) technology at the Navigation & Location 2007 conference in San Jose, CA. The Virtual Cable system displays a rendering of a cable that looks like it is suspended in front of and outside the car but is in fact just a small projection on the inside of the windshield.
“Imagine that you paint a vector graphic with a laser beam on a flat surface,” says Tom Zamojdo, COO of Making Virtual Solid. “If you start moving the surface at the same time as you are moving the laser point, then you can paint a line in 3-D.”
The virtual cable is made up of a volumetric display that consists of a laser and a series of optics. The laser draws the image of the virtual cable at 60 times/sec in order for it to appear as though there is a solid image. The image is projected onto a small screen made of a modified acoustic speaker, which moves in and out to create the illusion of 3-D. The optics magnify and project the adjusting image of the cable on the windshield of the car.
“Basically the core components are what we call primary volumetric display, which is the unit that builds a very small three dimensional image; the image is only 70mm wide and 2mm deep,” says Zamojdo.
The Virtual Cable relies on the use of GPS. “We need GPS in our units to ascertain the exact position of the car at a given time. We also have some inertial sensors that augment that GPS, but we get map data from the outside,” says Zamojdo, who also indicates the Virtual Cable can interface with any device capable of providing GPS data, through various wireless methods including Bluetooth.
“The root planning is going to be third party; what we provide is just a monitor,” he says. “Using a PC monitor analogy, we basically just provide a monitor with a standard interface and we would expect to receive map data to tell us where that line should be displayed.”
In regard to bandwidth, one advantage of the Virtual Cable over more traditional GPS units is it doesn’t require all the mapping data associated with the other devices. “All we need is a simple mathematical equation for the line that needs to be drawn. We don’t need streets, names, nothing, just the mathematical equation for a line at a given moment,” says Myra Schullman, CEO of Making Virtual Solid, LLC.