Ford’s Sync, developed by Microsoft, gives the driver voice-recognition which integrates into the car’s audio system, bluetooth, and navigation. It’s a good system, and until now, has yet to be rivaled by any other car maker.
The Kia UVO is the first rival to Sync, and is also developed in partnership with Microsoft. Kia just unveiled the system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and from the looks of it, will successfully blow the pants off of any other in-car infotainment system.
The Kia UVO offers voice-recognition, a 4.3-inch LCD touch-screen display, bluetooth, digital jukebox, 5-disc CD changer, and expandability options. On the steering wheel, the driver gets a “haptic wheel,” which is a knob that varies its feedback based on the menu options on the screen. Seven different modes of reactive feedback (see below) let the driver feel the selections, rather than see them. Kia’s goal here is to allow the driver to control the system without taking their eyes off the road. Take a look at the controls below:
UVO will also use your cell phone’s data network to download traffic and weather information, as well as vehicle diagnostic data and emergency alerts. This new “Telematics” system will work on GSM, CDMA, and 3G high-speed data networks, and I imagine this technology will be adopted by other manufacturers very soon as well, given its incredible usefulness. The UVO also allows for live, in-car digital TV via a rear-seat entertainment system.
One of the coolest things about the Kia UVO is the “widget” framework, which displays on the main idle screen when nothing else is in use. Through the widgets, you can add different information to the screen to read at a glance, including news, RSS feeds, weather, traffic, schedule, stock ticker, social networks, car diagnostics, and other info. While the car is off, the driver can scroll through the info via the touch screen, and once the car is moving they can use the scroll wheel to navigate.
The Kia UVO also has many of the other features you’d expect like voice-recognition that integrates into navigation and bluetooth, a digital jukebox with five-disc CD changer, and rear-backup camera. Users can add HD radio and a few other add-ons. UVO allows a bit more cell phone connectivity than most systems, though. In addition to the Telematics data system described above, the system will read your text messages aloud to you, hopefully cutting down on all those jerks who text while driving.
Head over to Kia Buzz for more information and images on the UVO.