Spotlight: Kia Uvo

Uvo is Kia’s new infotainment and telematics package a la Ford Sync.  Based on the Microsoft Auto OS Uvo offers a number of the same features as Sync including the advanced voice controls.  Unlike Sync the system is not available without the 4.3″ color screen which is used to “detailed information on media content, phonebook data and vehicle information, and the screen also doubles as a rear-view camera when the shifter is put in reverse.”

The MS Auto OS provides the all important flexibility to connect and control various media devices and upgrade the system as new features are rolled out.  Speaking of new features, in addition to the core feature set established for the launch of the Uvo (on the 2011 Sorento) Kia was demonstrating a few other technologies that will likely work their way into the car eventually.

Included in Kia’s literature, but not mentioned as a launch feature are the safety and security features Ford announced for Sync.  Automatic Crash Notification, Vehicle Diagnostics and POI Downloads, when implemented, will be delivered over the user’s Bluetooth paired phone.

A Digital TV option for the rear-seat entertainment system will allow users to receive “uninterrupted reception … at speeds of up to 180 mph” [Author's Note: I don't know who is going 180mph in a Kia with passengers watching TV, but more power to them].  This seems to be an application of standard DTV broadcasts (like for your house), but in the car.

The haptic steering wheel switch was an interesting demonstration of how a single knob on the steering wheel can provide significant feedback for various uses within the vehicle.

The last, but definitely my favorite, of these technologies is the inclusion of a widget platform to allow users to customize their display.  Developed with Ubivelox the system allows the user to customize the display with widgets like RSS feeds, traffic and weather, and social networking updates.

Kia’s sometimes vague documentation calls out a point that I believe is not considered often enough.

The main benefit of the widget system is that it allows users easier access to key services by reducing the number of steps involved in accessing them.

That is to say, by allowing users to customize the display Kia can provide not only an improved user experience, but also a safer one.  Kia doesn’t go as far as announcing an API like the Ford Sync system, but the ability to customize the experience through simple widgets for popular uses is an excellent opportunity to engage the customer and add value to their experience while simplifying the overall interaction.

Checkout a video of the system below:

via [PR Newswire]

Kia Motors Unveils Advanced Infotainment System Powered by Microsoft(R)

- Kia UVO, short for ‘Your Voice,’ features a breakthrough user interface that provides simple and quick access to your vehicle’s multimedia and infotainment systems

– UVO is the first in-vehicle solution to integrate full Microsoft(R) intelligent speech engine technology

IRVINE, Calif., Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ — Kia Motors America (KMA) today unveiled an innovative and intelligent in-car communications and entertainment system, “UVO powered by Microsoft®,” to be available in select Kia vehicles starting this summer. UVO provides consumer friendly voice- and touch-activated experiences for simple management of music files and hands-free mobile phone operation. Co-developed with Microsoft and based on Windows Embedded Auto software, UVO is an easy-to-use, hands-free solution that allows drivers and passengers to answer and place phone calls, receive and respond to SMS text messages, access music from a variety of media sources and create custom music experiences.

Understanding drivers want and need intuitive controls, Kia Motors and Microsoft® designed UVO to enable a new level of voice recognition through Microsoft® speech technology. UVO users will be able to access media content and connect with people through simple, quick voice commands without having to navigate through menus. By supporting complex grammar, UVO needs only short voice commands to connect drivers and passengers with their desired functions. An interactive system, UVO responds to inquiries such as “What’s playing?” and provides audible answers and related functions, helping to keep drivers’ eyes safely focused on the road ahead of them.

UVO also brings advancements to in-car technology through an immersive user experience. The interface features a 4.3-inch, full-color display that provides detailed information on media content, phonebook data and vehicle information, and the screen also doubles as a rear-view camera when the shifter is put in reverse. UVO is an open platform that seamlessly integrates with a wide variety of mobile phones, music players and other devices, making it easy for drivers to quickly pair devices.

“UVO powered by Microsoft® is a breakthrough for in-vehicle infotainment that helps allow drivers and passengers to safely and easily use all of their personal technologies to create personalized in-vehicle communications and entertainment experiences,” says Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing, KMA. “Collaborating with Microsoft, Kia Motors is able to offer drivers an experience that will provide our cars with a clear competitive advantage.”

“We are very excited with the customized approach Kia Motors is bringing to in-car infotainment,” says Kevin Dallas, General Manager of Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Business division. “Kia’s UVO system demonstrates how the power of Windows Embedded technology can keep consumers connected to the devices, information and entertainment that matters to them most.”

Based on the award-winning Windows Embedded Auto platform, UVO can be updated easily as new consumer devices continue to be introduced to the market.

UVO will debut this summer in the all-new 2011 Kia Sorento CUV and will be extended to additional Kia vehicles as part of the brand’s technological evolution. Kia Sorento, Soul, Forte and Forte KOUP already come standard and at no extra cost with Bluetooth® wireless technology connectivity, iPod®/MP3/USB connectivity, and a three-month SIRIUS® satellite radio subscription.(1)

UVO will be shown for the first time at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 7-10, in both the Kia Motors and Microsoft booths and representatives from both companies will be on-hand for demonstrations.

Key Features of UVO, powered by Microsoft:

  • Advanced Speech Recognition: Intelligent Microsoft® speech technology is trained to the system operator’s voice, creating a personal profile and allowing for up to two different voice profiles in various languages. Support for large grammar commands and faster response time means the content is delivered when you ask for it. Kia Motors’ UVO system is the first in-vehicle solution to integrate full Microsoft® speech engine technology.
  • Natural Interface Advancements: A full-color, easy-to-use in-dash monitor allows occupants to quickly scroll through media and mobile device content through intuitive voice and touch-screen commands.
  • Custom Media Experiences with MyMusic: UVO’s “Jukebox” function features a 1GB hard drive for media storage, allowing users to rip music from CDs or an MP3 player into personal MyMusic folders and store up to 250 songs sorted by title and/or artist – all through voice commands. The system can shuffle through an MP3 player or AM/FM and SIRIUS® radio stations and instantly identify what’s playing all through simple voice commands.
  • Rear Backup Camera: When the vehicle is put in reverse, a built-in rear backup camera uses UVO’s in-dash display to provide clearer images of the environment behind the car assisting the driver to identify certain objects that otherwise may be difficult to see.
  • Ability to Continuously Update Features and Services: Based on a flexible Windows Embedded Auto platform, updates and services can be delivered in a number of ways (over-the-air, over-the-Web) for Kia to continue to provide a superior user experience after the system enters the market.

Kia Motors is in the midst of a dramatic, design-led transformation, which has been delivering dynamically styled vehicles in several important segments at exactly the right time contributing to the brand’s continued gains in U.S. market share. The launch of the all-new 2011 Sorento CUV, the official vehicle of the NBA and the first vehicle to be built(2) at Kia Motors’ first U.S.-based manufacturing facilities in West Point, Georgia, will further enhance the Kia lineup.

About Kia Motors America

Kia Motors America (KMA) is the marketing and distribution arm of Kia Motors Corporation based in Seoul, South Korea. KMA offers a complete line of vehicles through more than 670 dealers throughout the United States. For 2009, KMA recorded its 15th consecutive year of increased U.S. market share and recently achieved its best quarter of sales ever. Kia Motors subscribes to a philosophy of building high value, high quality, safe and dynamic vehicles. Kia Motors prides itself on producing vehicles that are exciting and enabling and evoke the Kia tagline “The Power to Surprise.”

Kia Motors America is the “Official Automotive Partner of the NBA.” Information about Kia Motors America and its full vehicle line-up is available at its Web site – For media information, including photography, visit

1 The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are registered trademarks owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc., and any use of such marks by Kia is under license. A BLUETOOTH® Wireless Technology-enabled cell phone is required to use BLUETOOTH® wireless technology. Ipod® mobile digital device connectivity requires Kia accessory cable, sold separately. iPod is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. Sirius®, XM and all related marks and logos are trademarks of SIRIUS XM Radio Inc. and its subsidiaries. SIRIUS® radio requires a subscription, sold separately, after 3-month subscription included with vehicle purchase. Not available in Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.

2 U.S.- and globally sourced parts.

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