Ron faces big test
A south Auckland Auckland car nut is changing the way drivers see the world.
For 10 years Takanini windscreen specialist Ron Hodgson has been working on a heads-up display unit that uses a patented laser projector to shoot vehicle data on to the inside of the windscreen.
It is hooked up to a computer inside the dash.
But shooting the vital stats is only half the equation, says Mr Hodgson, who has also developed a patented HUD-ready windscreen.
"The biggest headache is getting all the components talking to one another and then projecting it up on to the glass and then for the glass to show it clearly," he says.
His windscreen company supplies glass to the New Zealand V8 Utes series and after 30 years experience in the auto industry Mr Hodgson knows a thing or two about custom glass.
"The bottom line is that from years of experience in the auto industry I was very fortunate to learn a few things."
And that includes how and who you deal with, he says.
That's why he is in now discussion with the makers of car computer systems who are keen to test his creation in different race situations.
Australian outfit MoTec - suppliers of onboard computers to NASCAR, Australian V8 Supercars, Indy Car, Dakar Rally and World Superbikes - has shown a strong interest in Mr Hodgson's creation.
"We are about to sign with a very prominent NASCAR team to test and develop our Raceviz HUD for the 2013/2014 race season.
"Because of the extreme conditions in the cockpit it's the ideal environment for testing anything new."
The deal could lead to working with West Coast Custom of Pimp My Ride fame which is also working with car manufacturers on custom auto technology.
"Ten years ago one of the race car guys said to me ‘is there such a thing as a heads-up display for race cars?' and it stuck with me and I've been chipping away at it ever since."
And he thinks he might have cracked it.
For the past year he's been trialling the Raceviz HUD prototype in his wife's car.
"It was time to put together all of my experience, coupled with new technology to build a windscreen HUD system that can display anything a phone, laptop or iPad can throw at it, and that includes GPS and real-time racing data.
"It's just perseverance. If you have an idea, you've also got to keep the reality that you've got to put kai on the table but every now and then put some time into your idea and keep persevering with it.
"The process is important, don't rush the details," he says.