Building a Better Heads-Up Display (HUD)

AgencyNet Snapshot
HUDs are responsible for affecting a range of behaviors that significantly impact competition, performance, goals and focus.

Heads-up displays, otherwise known as HUDs for the technically or gaming-inclined, are a graphical (and limited textual) method of presenting key points of information without requiring the user to look away from their intended viewpoint.

2010 Lexus RX HUD and Halo 3 HUDs

For drivers, this can be a translucent display projected against the windshield, allowing them to see certain data points while keeping their eyes on the road. In another example, gamers often use one or more HUDs in their viewport that allow them to monitor their status without requiring the use of another window or screen mode that may distract them from gameplay or cost them a competitive advantage.

Here’s where HUDs are useful: The data that’s presented often triggers a change in behavior (determined by the user’s interpretation of the situation). Whether it prompts a driver to slow down or the strategic use of med-kits in a tournament match, HUDs are responsible for affecting a range of behaviors that significantly impact competition, performance, goals, and focus.

The Set-Up

Last November, I attended the Future of Web Design NYC (FOWD) and was sucked into Nicholas Felton’s presentation regarding data recording and presentation in everyday activities. He spoke about the difference between active and passive data recording, that is, data that can be automatically captured by applications and services like iTunes, Twitter and Flickr, and data that must be manually recorded — times you opened the refrigerator, left your desk at the office, looked at your phone, etc.

Each year, Nicholas compiles all the data he’s recorded into annual presentations he calls the “Feltron Reports.” These reports show interesting-yet-mundane statistics about miles he’s walked vs. ridden, the best burger he’s eaten (and the restaurant the burger came from), days worked vs. days on vacation. Each page is presented through different, creative visualizations that aren’t limited to graphs, maps, and charts.

Due to the growing public interest in such information, Nicholas and his buddies created a site called Daytum that helps people record and display their own such statistics, either privately or publicly.

After I returned to the office from my trip to FOWD NYC and was preparing my “take-back presentation,” I came up with an employee contest on who could record the most interesting information. The results of that contest brought forth a few other ideas on how we could utilize aggregated information and present the findings in an easy-to-read display.

See how I presented this data on the next page.

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