Windshield Gizmo Finally Catching On

General Motors invented and patented a technology decades ago, promising buyers would love it.And the revolutionary gizmo sank without a trace.

But the heads-up display's time may finally have come.Heads-up displays, or HUDs, project information such as speed and warning lights onto the windshield above the steering wheel.The technology was in its infancy when GM first put it on cars in the 1980s.HUDs were jet-jockey stuff, part of the deal when GM bought Hughes Electronics, maker of satellites and other I-could-tell-you-but-I'd-have-to-kill-you gadgets.

So naturally, GM and its auto parts group -- later spun off to become Delphi -- put the gizmo on the small-selling Corvette and a few Buicks.

"Older drivers will appreciate this. With their eyes, it's easier for them to shift their focus from the road to the HUD rather than looking all the way down to the speedometer," GM executives said when they introduced the HUD.

Twenty years after that initial news conference, I can tell you that GM was right -- HUDs are easier on older eyes. Safer, too: It takes half as long to shift your focus from the road to an HUD as to look at the instrument panel.

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