The Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was the first production car to have a head-up display in 1988. HUDs have greatly evolved since then by becoming larger in size, with the Lexus LS providing a generous 24-inch projection. Highly configurable, modern setups display loads of info in a crisp resolution. However, some automakers have already found a way to make sure those behind the wheel literally keep their eyes on the road.
Mercedes was the first to do so with its optional Digital Light for the S-Class a couple of years ago, but now a mainstream brand is previewing its own similar tech. Ford is working on what it refers to as "high-resolution" headlights that do more than just illuminate the road up ahead. The Blue Oval's headlights also double as sign projectors by displaying directions, speed limits, and even weather information onto the road, thus directly in the driver's line of sight.
Ford high-resolution headlights
The technology is being developed not only with the driver in mind but also to help out other road participants. A relevant example is when road markings are faded or unclear and people can't properly see the crosswalk up ahead. These headlights could project a crosswalk that would reduce the risks of an accident involving a pedestrian. In addition, the headlights could light up a path the driver would use to safely pass cyclists.
The Dearborn sees a future in which headlights are linked to the infotainment's navigation system to alert the driver about slippery conditions, snow falling, icy roads, or fog up ahead. If the driver uses the navigation to input a destination, upcoming turns would be displayed on the road. With cars getting bigger and bigger, one other neat feature would be for the headlights to project the vehicle's width. Doing so would allow the driver to figure out whether there is enough room to fit into a parking spot or through a gap.
Ford doesn't say when it will introduce the high-resolution headlights on a production model, but there will come a time when this tech won't be exclusive to luxury cars.