REDMOND, Wash. — July 28, 2010 — It was a common question asked during last week’s national unveiling of the 2011 Kia Sportage CUV in San Francisco: “What is Microsoft’s role in Kia UVO?” Sure — many are familiar with UVO, an innovative in-vehicle information system offering in the 2011 Sportage, Sorento and upcoming Optima from Kia Motors America (KMA). Some may even know it is powered by Microsoft, but the specific answer may be unclear for those not familiar with the technology.
One way to think of the answer is to view the Windows Embedded Automotive software as the underlying enabler of the UVO system. Microsoft offers this technology platform to carmakers like Kia Motors, providing the first layer needed for them to build their own connected, differentiated experiences that meet the needs of consumers. For example, via Microsoft technology UVO offers simplified speech commands that let drivers easily go from phone to music in one quick voice command, a JukeBox that houses up to 250 of the driver’s favorite songs, and a rear back-up camera that shows the surroundings behind the vehicle when the car is put in reverse and displays them on UVO’s in-dash display.
Demos of UVO, powered by Microsoft. Photo courtesy of Kia Motors America.
During the event, Kia Motors reiterated broader plans for UVO moving forward, noting this is just the first stop on the system’s journey. Consumers want and expect to be connected all of the time to people, information and portable devices such as phones and media players, and Kia Motors plans to continue building upon the first iteration of UVO by offering drivers additional features in vehicles later this year. The company is particularly proud of the simplicity of the system and how well it interacts with the driver, highlighting the way it adapts to a person’s unique voice and its related “one-shot commands.”
“Through the enabling Windows Embedded Automotive technology, we plan to provide more and more features, building on the platform at a larger scale. To keep the system competitive, we plan to bring more and more aspects to the UVO experience,” said Henry Bzeih, national manager, Connected Car, KMA.
The Microsoft relationship is important to Kia Motors and one they look to leverage as they continue to evolve their technology offering with UVO. “Microsoft has provided us the platform for us to build our infotainment system. This is the springboard for the future where we will continue with our strategy to include more enhancements and more capabilities in UVO,” Bzeih said.
Those who attended the San Francisco event also asked if Microsoft provides the hardware for UVO. While automakers work with other industry partners for the actual hardware design, each carmaker building on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform is able to harness the power of the software and distinguish itself and the experiences it delivers to drivers.
“At Kia Motors, we design and build great cars. Microsoft comes up with cutting-edge technology, and we will collaborate with them as we look toward the future,” said Michael Sprague, vice president of Marketing & Communications, KMA.
Henry Bzeih, National Manager, Connected Car for Kia Motors talks UVO, powered by Microsoft. Photo courtesy of Kia Motors America.
An important part of the software platform is not only the opportunity for automakers to continue building new experiences, but also the capacity to be continually updated. “Updateability in the automotive space is critical. The ability to update the software so that it can always connect to the new devices drivers bring into the car is really a critical aspect of the software platform,” said Walter Sullivan, senior product manager for Windows Embedded at Microsoft.
Microsoft has a long history in the automotive industry spanning more than 13 years and is committed to working with automotive OEMs to deliver unique and rich in-vehicle experiences to drivers. The Windows Embedded Automotive software platform received honorable mention in the Best Telematics Component Solution category at the Telematics Update event in Detroit in June.
UVO, powered by Microsoft, will be offered in the all-new Sportage, Sorento and Optima later this year. Further images from last week’s press event in San Francisco can be viewed on the Windows Embedded Flickr page. Check out the brochure on the Windows Embedded Automotive software platform for additional information on the technology.