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HUD (computing)

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In computing, the HUD (head-up display) is the method by which information is visually relayed to the user as part of a program or OS user interface. It takes its name from the head-up displays used in modern aircraft.[1]


The technology can be traced back to the mid-20th century, at a time when it was being used for radar aiming, being used widely in aircraft. Later, the technology was adopted in automobiles, first being used in cars around 1988 by General Motors who displayed speed and other data on the windshield. Other car manufacturers followed with their own implementations, such as Nissan and Toyota. By the year 2000, Cadillac had a HUD system which incorporated thermal imaging information. Later developments have seen navigational systems and animations of road conditions being projected via the use of HUD.[1]

HUDs and burn-in[edit]

Prolonged display of HUD elements on certain CRT-based screens may cause permanent damage in the form of burning into the inner coating of the television sets, which is impossible to repair. Also players who pause their games for long hours without turning off their television or putting it on standby risk harming their TV sets. Plasma TV screens are also at risk, although the effects are usually not as permanent.

Burn-in can still happen on LCD monitors, but only when the same image is displayed for weeks.[citation needed]

Mac OS X[edit]

In Mac OS X applications, heads-up displays (or HUDs) usually take the form of miniature, darkly-colored, transparent windows which are revealed outside the window of the currently-running application. Their purposes vary, from simply displaying information concerning a currently-running task, to displaying the tools for carrying out the task. HUDs often overlap with palettes, a similarly-functioning GUI element that usually fits the general interface of the main parent application (see Dashboard).

HUDs can also figure in larger settings, such as the display modes for the Exposé and Dashboard applications.

Transparent floating HUDs[edit]

In recent years[when?], Mac applications have started to utilize HUDs as displays for buttons and controls, such as in QuickTime, which shows the user a transparent, rounded, and rectangular control bar that floats within the bottom of a video but does not touch the very bottom of the application window; this is usually the main means of control of the video playback when in full-screen mode.

Applications which use the HUD element[edit]



  1. 1.0 1.1 Kurosu 2016, p. 278.


  • Kurosu, Masaaki (2016). Human-Computer Interaction. Novel User Experiences. Springer. ISBN 9783319395135. Search this book on

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