Hands-on with Cadillac CUE (Cadillac User Experience)

At the CTIA Enterprise & Applications 2011 show in San Diego, Cadillac has just unveiled a brand new technology that they hope will redefine their drivers in-car experiences. Cadillac set out to design a completely unique user experience for their cars that offered the same kind of intuitive user interface that users have grown accustomed to on their smartphones and tablets. The result is CUE (Cadillac User Experience), an icon-based user interface that aims to be both effortless and very customizable as well as the leader among in-car infotainment systems.

Lets face it, when it comes to automobile’s, with the exception of FORD’s SYNC, cars have really been lagging behind tablets and smartphones when it comes to ease of use and power – so it makes a lot of sense to bring that kind of simplicity and technology to a car – and Cadillac CUE wants to be the first to do this. As a matter of fact, the CUE is the first fully capacitive multi-touch based system ever in a car with haptic feedback and proximity sensing (thanks to infrared technology) too.

The system features a 8-inch fully capacitive display with haptic feedback and just four dedicated buttons. It also comes packed with natural voice recognition and proximity sensors. Speaking of proximity sensors, the system can sense your hand’s presence from up-to 8 inches away, so that when your fingers get nearer to the display, a context menu will pop up with additional controls. When you withdraw your hand, those controls will disappear so that the interface remains uncluttered. The system is designed to work with your smartphone and even has a motorized faceplate at the bottom that conceals a special 1.8-liter storage area for you to tuck away your devices in. CUE can actually work with up-to 10- paired devices ago need via bluetooth. The user interface also features an onscreen keyboard and haptic feedback.

The home screen for Cadillac CUE is icon driven, and uses the same kind of familiar icons that users are used to seeing on their mobile devices. But the system isn’t just about being intuitive, it’s also about being customizable – you can customize the U.I. with shortcuts  that take you directly to playlists, the radio, and more. Cadillac is also working with Pandora to offer complete Pandora integration when your smartphone is connected to the system. The display itself is super bright as it packs in 1000 nits of brightness, that is twice than average than the brightness you will find in most displays found in vehicles.

The voice recognition system inside CUE is focused on media, phone, and navigation, which are all three things that require fumbling behind the wheel. Nuance is providing the engine behind the voice recognition system in CUE.  CUE also uses natural voice recognition.  Natural Voice recognition means that you don’t have to use specific voice commands, but that you can talk naturally and say things like “I’d like to listen to the Rolling Stones” or “can you please call John Smith.” The voice recognition button is located on the bottom left of the display, and Cadillac is encouraging people to use it because it’s safer to use it behind the wheel then let’s say fumbling behind the wheel.

Cue also features a 12.3-inch reconfigurable LCD gauge cluster that can be customized into one of four screen layouts which include readouts for speed, fuel level, and media information. two of these layouts are more traditional-looking – with one very performance driven, while two of the others are more modern in aesthetic.

CUE is actually based on a Linux operating system, and is powered by a 3-core, ARM 11 processor. Other features include the ability for CUE to read to you text messages while you drive, a built-in HD radio, iPod integration, two USB ports, an SD card reader and more. The CUE system is also designed to be upgradeable via software, so that a few years down the line your system stays fresh and current.

Cadillac will also be showing off Cue at the L.A. Auto Show next month, but they obviously chose to debut the tech at the CTIA Enterprise show in San Diego today because just like CUE, this show is mobile focused. The Cadillac CUE technology will be available starting in March on three models – the Cadillac XTS and ATS luxury sedans and SRX luxury crossover.

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