Skolkovo startup HUDWAY has exceeded its funding target less than 24 hours after it launched a crowdfunding campaign for its latest head-up display (HUD) designed to make driving safer.

The HUD is attached to the dashboard and projects the navigation system onto the road. Photo: HUDWAY.

HUDWAY, a resident of Skolkovo’s space and telecommunications cluster, was seeking to raise $100,000 on Kickstarter to launch mass production of HUDWAY Cast, a system that allows drivers to get directions, receive calls and texts, and control their music while driving. By Tuesday – the day after the launch – it had already raised $128,338.

The company, which won the Global Startup award at the Higher School of Economics’ Startup of the Year awards last year, earlier launched its first hardware product, HUDWAY Glass, following a highly successful crowdfunding campaign. Its new product, HUDWAY Cast, is mounted on the dashboard and projects the navigation system directions into the driver’s vision, so they don’t have to look away from the road to follow navigation instructions.

“The image from HUDWAY Cast display is taken to a lens which enlarges it to 20 inches and focuses the virtual image about 9 feet or 2.8 meters in front of you. This way, it feels easier for your eyes to readjust focus from the road to the projection — just like using a luxury vehicle built-in HUD, but about a dozen times less expensive,” HUDWAY wrote on their crowdfunding page on Kickstarter.

HUDWAY Cast has been designed in partnership with the Chinese HUD maker Carrobot. The HUD is plugged into the cigarette lighter socket, and connects wirelessly to smartphones, enabling drivers to use the navigation app of their choice and then stream it to the HUD. 

The new system can be used in any conditions, ranging from darkness to bright sunshine. Photo: HUDWAY.

A magnetic phone mount and metal sticker to be attached to the phone are also included in the HUDWAY Cast kit, allowing drivers to fix their phone within easy reach. An app designed to distract drivers as little as possible – by using bold colour spots, for example – allows drivers to use their phone for functions such as making and answering calls, and changing the music. The HUD, however, will continue to show the route directions, regardless of what the smartphone is being used for.

HUDWAY Cast also allows drivers to listen to text messages and reply with voice messages or template messages, as well as share their position.

The startup launched its HUDWAY Glass product, an accessory that reflects the smartphone screen image on a lens to transform the phone into an HUD, back in 2015. Back then, the company also aimed to raise $100,000, but attracted more than six times that amount. It subsequently shipped over 12,000 orders to more than 9,000 backers in 97 countries, HUDWAY said on its new crowdfunding page. It has since sold more than 40,000 HUDWAY Glass devices.

The new product produced with Carrobot is “a way more sophisticated and ambitious project,” the company says.

“What could not be implemented in a simple accessory — all-day image brightness, comfortable focal length, wireless connection to a smartphone, unlimited app compatibility — has now become possible in an electronic device,” HUDWAY says.

Pledgers to the month-long crowdfunding campaign get a discount of up to 36 percent off the retail price. The company plans to start mass production in October, and ship the Kickstarter orders and release the app in November.