This week's 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) promises to deliver a mega-load of cool in-vehicle technology enhancements and the first to break cover is Kia's new UVO infotainment interface. Formally, "UVO powered by Microsoft," it's based on the software giant's Windows Embedded Auto platform, and is reportedly the first to integrate a full measure of Microsoft's intelligent speech engine technology to help simplify the execution of voice commands.
Aimed squarely at Ford's phenomenally popular SYNC system, which also uses Microsoft technology, UVO -- short for Your Voice -- relies on its enhanced speech recognition and grammar context capabilities to eliminate various levels of "menu clutter" and respond more directly to short voice commands. "Trainable" to optimize responses to both a primary and a secondary operator's voice, it offers a hands-free solution for everything from placing/receiving phone calls or text messages to downloading/accessing your favorite tunes. Designed as an open platform, UVO can interface with a wide variety of phones, music players and other electronic devices while offering quick, easy updating capabilities.
The UVO graphic interface is a 4.3-inch full-color display screen in the center of the dash that facilitates speedy scrolls through data using both voice and touch commands. It also includes a rear-view camera that comes alive when the vehicle is shifted into reverse and a multifunction "Jukebox" with a one-gigabyte hard drive. Kia says UVO will debut later this summer on the new 2011 Sorrento CUV and subsequently appear in other models in its lineup. No word on pricing just yet, but a sub-$500 number would seem likely.