Microsoft Puts In-Car Technology in the Fast Lane at CES

REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 8, 2010 — At a trade show where conversations about processing power reign supreme, raw horsepower managed to turn a lot of heads at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Microsoft’s automotive efforts were on full display as the software company turned its booth into a miniature car dealership.

Microsoft, along with several of its automotive partners, made a series of announcements this week promoting in-car infotainment systems built upon the Windows Embedded Automotive software platform.

Early in the week, Kia Motor’s America introduced UVO, powered by Microsoft, to the world. The new, intelligent in-car communications and entertainment system offers voice- and touch-activated experiences. Through this system, drivers and passengers can simply speak their commands to access their music files, change radio stations, and make or answer phone calls using Microsoft Speech technology.

Kia UVO, powered by Microsoft

UVO also features a 4.3-inch full-color display that provides detailed information on media content, phonebook data and vehicle information. The screen also doubles as a rear-view camera when the shifter is put in reverse. Watch a demo of Kia UVO.

Ford Motor Co. continued to show what’s possible when it comes to developing in-car technology as it took the wraps off the new MyFord Touch. Together with a new generation of the award-winning SYNC, Ford is hoping to change the way drivers interact with their cars.

Although MyFord Touch retains the traditional car interior layout that we’re all familiar with, it adds even more voice control plus full-color LCD screens for much of the visual information presentation. Drivers can also customize the system by using a combination of voice controls, touch-screen technology and five-way cell phone style buttons mounted on the steering wheel. See the MyFord Touch demo.

An upgrade to the MyFord Touch system, MyFord Touch with Sony adds a Sony-designed electronic finish panel with a high-gloss black finish and unique treatment of the touch-controlled buttons.

Ford CEO and President Alan Mulally spoke at CES about several new features coming to SYNC, including integrating mobile applications such as Pandora into the car and using SYNC to make it a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Fiat also got into the automotive technology mix by announcing it has equipped 1 million of its cars with Blue&Me technology. Built on the Windows Embedded Automotive software platform, Blue&Me enables drivers and passengers to bring a wide variety of mobile phones and MP3 players into their cars simply using their voice and steering wheel controls. The system also boasts eco:Drive, a free application exclusive to Fiat that helps drivers understand how their driving style can affect consumption and CO2 emissions.

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