• Jan 5, 2010
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas kicks off this week and the first major announcement from the automotive world comes from Kia in the form of its UVO (short for "your voice") infotainment system.

Co-developed by Microsoft and based on the Windows Embedded Auto software, UVO is similar to Ford's beloved SYNC system, offering users the ability to rip music from CDs and integrate an MP3 player, with a heavy focus on voice commands. Utilizing Microsoft's next generation voice technology, two distinct profiles are stored in the system allowing users to access different elements of the UVO system through voice commands or through the 4.3-inch color touch screen. A back-up camera is also included in the setup, however, it appears that UVO won't be available without the screen, unlike Ford's system.

Although pricing has yet to be announced, UVO is set to launch on the 2011 Kia Sorento this summer and is expected to filter throughout Kia's line-up over the coming year. Make the jump for the official release.




PRESS RELEASE

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
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.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 14 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      So why aren't more manufacturers jumping in on the Sync? Its probably one of the best Microsoft products to come out in a very long time, mainly cuz it JUST WORKS (try saying that about any other Microsoft product...) Sync should be an option just like Sirius/XM is an an option for almost every automaker.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Windows 7 "just works."

        The Zune and Zune HD "just works."

        All the Microsoft hardware I've owned "just works," in fact, they still work.

        Office "just works."

        This whole "ba$h Micro$oft yea lulz omg!!111~~" thing is getting really old. We're not running Windows 98 (or Windows ME :shudder:) anymore.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Windows 7 is definitely better, but it still requires a bit of fiddling from a fresh install to "just work" status. Windows Vista was a disaster, albeit not quite on par with ME level of disaster. Agreed on the Zune HD though. That's another great Microsoft product. The thing with Microsoft for me isn't that i like to bash them, its that they make some truly perplexing design decisions that tend to cripple whatever great work they've put into the product. As much as i like my Xbox 360, I find it strange just how few codecs it actually supports. Microsoft could have the media box market cornered if they could just get off their ass and get some decent codec support in there (mkv anyone?). Like I said, strange and perplexing design decisions...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ford had an exclusive on SYNC.

        As to why more companies aren't using this same platform, they have. The system in the Cadillac CTS and SRX has many of the same features as SYNC and uses the Windows Automotive platform too.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You needed to fiddle with 7?

        Three installs on my side so far, two of them fresh, one from Vista and I have yet to experience any problems at all.
      • 5 Years Ago
      SYNC is a great system! Kia is getting something great here.
      • 5 Years Ago
      How long will it be before there is an open standard in automotive computer connectivity. The vast majority of today's cars electronic and computing functions could be piped through regular old usb.

      There needs to be a way for us to have features like gps, music, internet connectivity, telephone, cameras etc soon. It shouldn't even be expensive. A new lapton can be had for under 300 dollars, an iphone can do all those things.



      • 5 Years Ago
      IIRC, Sync does not had a user-accessible hard drive, so it can't rip CD's etc. I think this is a big difference between the two.

      And if UVO forces you to get an LCD screen, they will be able to offer more features at a cost. Furthermore, Kia customers are probably more budget-conscious than their Ford counterparts, so UVO may no do as well as Sync...

      Just my two cents...
        • 5 Years Ago

        If you have nav in a '09+ FLM vehicle, you have a 10gb harddrive for CDs/pics.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't understand the headline. What about this is antiquated or compared to Sync when it was introduced? It has different functions but the advanced part that is most up to date with Sync is the reading and replying to text messaging, nothing to do with weather and traffic.

      This IS NOT hooked up with Nav, it is stand alone with the screen and camera so it wouldn't make sense to do those things.

      The 1GB of storage seems kind of silly though.
      • 5 Years Ago
      A bit of explanation, since I think there's some confusion about what SYNC is. It's not a Microsoft product. I worked at Ford when SYNC was first being developed, but haven't been there in a couple years.

      SYNC is a Ford product. It's based on Windows for Automotive. Windows for Automotive is sold by Microsoft. SYNC is effectively a Dell or HP computer, using Windows but customizing it and adding hardware (GPS, etc.).

      Kia is customizing Windows for Automotive just as Ford did, and branding it as UVO. And this is a good thing. But it's not the same as the Ford system, because Windows for Automotive only includes the basic calling & text messaging stuff that SYNC had when it launched. As far as I understand, the 911 calling, vehicle health reports, driving directions, stock lookups, weather info, sports scores, etc. on the latest SYNC were all developed in-house by Ford and are applications that sit on top of Windows for Automotive. Unless/until Kia hires a lot of software engineers (maybe they already have), they'll be way behind SYNC, but still ahead of virtually any other car company.

      I'm excited to see the next SYNC stuff at CES later this week. One of my friends is doing the keynote with Alan Mulally.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @David

        That Kia Soul does NOT have UVO. It just has the standard hand free bluetooth calling, thats it. The first Kia to has the UVO is the mid summer production 2011 Kia Sorento, not the current production 2011 Sorentos.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I know it's not a full-blown UVo, but the voice is the exact same, and the hands-free dialing menu sound identical on the Soul.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ian, on mine, as soon as I plug it in, I get an "accessory connected" screen, and you can't get it off except to disconnect.

        By "dock connector" mode, do you mean "USB mode"? That's the only option I have other than "line-in".

        It's on an '09 Escape that I'm talking about, as well as an '09 Milan.

        Hmmm...
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