Sure, most smartphones offer free GPS navigation these days. But unless you have a smartphone mount on your dashboard, looking down at your phone for navigation can be awkward — and potentially dangerous — while driving.
Popular GPS navigation app Sygic has a solution: Just bring the navigation data to your windshield. Sygic is today launching a heads-up display (HUD) interface on its iPhone and Android apps — no extra gadgets required.
You just need to place your smartphone under your windshield and Sygic’s high-contrast HUD interface will be reflected on it, making it appear as if your car has a futuristic smart windshield. The interface highlights the most important navigation information, like the distance to your next turn, and it works in conjunction with the app’s voice navigation.
Garmin recently released a $150 gadget to enable a similar HUD feature on its $50 mobile app. Sygic’s HUD, in comparison, costs just $5 (plus more for other navigation features).
With 33 million users and $18 million in revenue this year, Sygic is one of the most popular navigation apps in the world. But while it has 3 million users in the U.S., it isn’t as well known in this country as other GPS solutions from Garmin, TomTom, or the free offerings from Google and Apple.
Unlike most GPS apps, Sygic downloads its maps to your phone so you can use its navigation features even without a cellular connection (in those cases, it just relies on your phone’s GPS). The company also differs from many of its competitors by taking a freemium approach: Basic navigation is free, but you have to shell out $29 for voice guidance and other premium features.
“We have a different strategy [from competitors], our business model is very transparent,” said Michal Stencl, Sygic’s founder and CEO, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We don’t want to collect info about the users, that’s why we ask for micropayments.”
Stencl tells me the HUD feature was developed as part of one of the company’s “Innovation Days” just a few weeks ago. That fast turnaround is telling: Sygic has 115 employees, but it’s still far more nimble than navigation giants.
The Bratislava, Slovakia-based company has been around since 2004 and is entirely bootstrapped by Stencl.