Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Low-cost HUD–coming to a propeller near you

tech-talkWilliam Steele was working on developing a low-cost HUD (Heads Up Display) product when a eureka moment transpired.

“I started down the path of using an HUD with the plate of glass you have to look through, and then, one day, I was playing with a laser pointer at my dad’s house, and I pointed it up at the ceiling fan, and as soon as I hit the ceiling fan with the laser point, I went, ‘Oh, that’s it!’”

What Steele observed that day two and a half years ago was that anywhere within the fan’s arc that he pointed the laser, the beam appeared is if projected on a solid surface. That meant a propeller at the front of an airplane could serve as a virtual surface on which the HUD image could be projected, eliminating the need for a combiner—the high-tech glass plate that HUD systems in business jets require—and opening the door to the creation of a low-cost HUD unit.

Steele recounted the story at the VirtualHUD booth outside of Hangar A at Sun ’n Fun, where the Lawrenceburg, Ind.–based company was displaying its portable NightVU HUD and a prototype of its installed ForwardVU HUD unit.

The HUD system allows flight data to be projected into the pilot’s “through-the-windshield” view, reducing the need to look down at the instrument panel at critical phases of flight.


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