Hands On: Kia Uvo powered by Microsoft Auto

Kia Ovi is Kia's new infotainment center that is built upon the Microsoft 's automotive platform that also powers Ford's Sync. Neowin was able to get a hands on overview of the infotainment center and can see the future of Uvo once all kinks are worked out.

The infotainment center is set in the center of the dash and provides a touchscreen interface as well as responding to voice commands. Uvo offers many of the features that you would expect, mp3 playback from USB thumb drives and Bluetooth devices, iPod and Zune support, conduct phone calls, satellite radio support and many others as well that are all integrated into the user interface. One feature that is quite convenient is the playback of text messages that are received to the device via a phones Bluetooth connection.

The service, as put by the onsite rep, is in the initial phases of being rolled out and it was apparent in our demo. Uvo had trouble recognizing Tom Warren's voice at first which we suspect may be his accent interfering with the voice recognition software. Although, after some time the device did seem to pick up and acquire his commands more successfully towards the end of our demo. A full video tour of the service can be found in the video posted below.

The device is only being offered in the 2011 Sorento CUV initially but will expand to other models. There was a Kia Soul that did have the device equipped too but that will not be an option for the vehicle until after the Summer.

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Wow. Perhaps they should have worked on the voice recognition a little more and launched at next year's CES. VR still has a while to go...

FWIW, The ugly red clocks *I Think* are a dealer add-on to increase their take, useless as the radios have a clock display too -- to me it seemed odd that it'd be on a model Kia was showing off, but then I remembered they're probably relying on a local dealer &/or distributor to supply vehicles. Kia does not have a mature dealer network. At any rate, upgrading the stereo in my son's late model Kia, the [ugly red] clock was definitely an add-on, poorly added on at that considering the wiring.

Far as screen size &/or layout, Kia has a large, but very finite space stereos, or in this case their entertainment center can fit into... in my one foray into a Kia dash, it reminded me of a steel cage.

Far as Tom having problems, it would be interesting to know if he has or had similar problems with 1st use of Windows' &/or other voice recog. programs. My understanding is that there are a lot of things that we don't hear, but hardware feeding voice recog. software does. The same setup that works for my wife near flawlessly, refuses to even begin to work for me with my voice -- it took a few tries just to get through the initial training, & really for me just never worked.

I do not like these type of computers in cars. In 5 years time your system will most likely be outdated.

Also did anyone notice that ugly red clock?

s put by the onsite rep, is in the initial phases of being rolled out and it was apparent in our demo. Uvo had trouble recognizing Tom Warren's voice at first which we suspect may be his accent interfering with the voice recognition software.
His accent didnt 'interfere' with anything, the software simply failed to work ...

Douche: Play Boom Boom Pow

Computer Lady: Sorry, come again?

Douche: Play Boom Boom Pow...arrgg

Computer Lady: Airbag Deployed Success!

Shouldn't there be a setup that requires the user to read paragraphs,
like the windows speech recognition on vista/7?

Well, it's new, Fords been at this for years so ofc their version works better. But by the time this is in cars i'm sure they'll have it all worked out.

cybertimber2008 said,
Kinda curious why no one has come out with an aftermarket one...

Well, touchscreens themselves are useless unless you're stopped -- your hand just moves too much from the motions & vibrations in the car. Voice recog. will probably be available aftermarket if/when it proves a success for Ford &/or Kia, but till then it would mean a huge investment by companies with in-house experience designing stereo electronics, not PCs or software. GPS makers were getting there, but IMHO were cut short by declining prices as GPS units are approaching commodity status -- and they have little or no experience packaging their products to fit inside a huge variety of dashboards.