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Hands on: Cadillac CUE vehicle user experience

updated 12:00 am EDT, Wed October 12, 2011

System takes advantage of common phone tech

Among the myriad of companies focusing on cellphone technology this week at the fall CTIA expo, Cadillac jumped in to debut its new "CUE" vehicle infotainment system. The name is an acronym that stands for Cadillac User Experience--the company's refined and expanded approach to connected vehicles. Electronista took an early look at the new system before it arrives in production vehicles.

Most of the individual features in the CUE system are not technically new to vehicles, but Cadillac has worked to take inspiration from the latest mobile hardware and operating systems. The approach aims to expand connectivity and customizability, while also improving existing technologies.

CUE enables users to connect up to 10 devices, including Bluetooth-enabled phones, SD cards, USB sticks, and MP3 players. The eight-inch nav display and instrument cluster--a larger LCD--provide access to media content and other information such as e-mails, instant messages and Doppler radar. Like smartphone interfaces, CUE supports familiar multi-touch gestures.

The standard features can be found on a number of vehicles, however Cadillac's interface presents customizable and arrangeable icons that only appear when proximity sensors detect an approaching hand. Capacitive sensors on a panel below the display eliminate the need for standard buttons, while haptic feedback provides input confirmation.

Cadillac also claims to have made significant improvements to its speech-recognition technology, which is said to require fewer spoken commands for finding a song or inputting navigation destinations. The system will also vocalize incoming text messages, or use the voice recognition to allow a user to reply.

The Linux-based system is designed to be "open," though the company has yet to provide full details regarding developer programs for third-party apps. The OS is said to be driven by an ARM 11 processor with three cores.

We were impressed by the system as a whole, particularly when considering the range of customizability. Users who do not want to see the numerical speed readout can simply switch to one of several additional arrangements, which include virtual representations of analog speedometers and tachometers. We also liked the haptic feedback, which should be a standard feature on any vehicle with capacitive input to replace hardware buttons.

CUE is set to be offered next year on the Cadillac XTS and ATS sedans, along with the SRX crossover.

By Electronista Staff
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