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GM's CUE System: A Revolutionary Next Step For Vehicle Interfaces?

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GM's upcoming CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system, which will go into the luxury brand's next-generation vehicles, led by the 2013 Cadillac XTS sedan, might just change the way in which we see in-car interfaces.

With CUE, which will be exclusive to Cadillac but might eventually be seen on other models in a few years, GM [NYSE: GM] boasts several auto-industry firsts: the first fully capacitative touch screen in the auto industry, and the first to incorporate proximity sensing, as well as multi-touch gestures like those we've become accustomed to with out smartphones and tablets. It's also an industry first (not just autos, but all of consumer electronics) for touch-sensitive haptic feedback technology—not even featured in any tablet or personal computing device—that sends feedback to fingertips with gentle pushbacks, to key the user in on menus and borders without keeping eyes on the screen.

In addition to the screen-based interface, CUE will include next-generation natural-language voice controls, developed with Nuance. According to GM, you won't need to think about getting through submenues before, for instance, requesting that it play a certain song or artist.

Real-time sync for media contents

CUE is also the first automotive infotainment system we're aware of that will index all the content of all the devices you connect—media devices, SD card, memory stick, phones—and rather than requiring you to switch between devices, making it all available through simple requests; and it's all synced and updated in real-time as contents change on the devices, GM claims.

On the entertainment side, CUE will also be the first automotive interface to incorporate a fully compatible Blu-Ray player.

It's worth noting that when Cadillac began the project of developing CUE, about three and a half years ago, iPhones were just out, and iPads and Android devices didn't yet exist. The company placed some bets on gesture-based technology when it was not yet the norm, and that's clearly paid off.

In addition to the very advanced screen and interface, the system has a processor that's altogether more than three times faster than that used in previous systems from the automaker; its high-speed bus is also, at 50 Mbps, twice as fast as the nearest competitor, which GM did not name. On the software side, the system employs the type of 3D modeling from video games, and it's built on linux, with an open-source foundation.

GM also says that it's tested the system's touch screen down to -40 degrees C, and it's engineered to last the life of the vehicle. It will also work while wearing gloves up to five millimeters thick, we were told.


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