Cadillac unveils its Cadillac CUE infotainment system; we take it for a spin

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Cadillac took the wraps off of its new Cadillac CUE infotainment system on Tuesday in San Diego. We're not, strictly speaking, looking at an Android product here. (Though it does run Linux, so that's close enough, right?) But it absolutely concerns your Android smartphone on a couple of levels.

Cadillac CUE -- that stands for Cadillac User Experience -- is a gorgeous in-dash and in-console experience. On the dash side, you have a totally digital readout. Tach, spedometer -- all digital. It's also customizable. You can have a traditional (read: boring) look, or go with something more sexy at the touch of a button. Very cool.

But what we're more concered with is the monster 8-inch capactive touchscreen with haptic feedback in the center of the cockpit. You read that right. An 8-inch capactive touchscreen with haptic feedback. Oh, and it's got a proximity sensor. Yes, Cadillac's taken the best parts of smartphone and tablet tech and has put it in a vehicle. And it's gone even further, with a user interface that's as intuitive as anything we've seen. Smartphone and tablet manufacturers should take note -- this car manufactuer just showed you how to do car mode.

So where does your phone come in? You'll be able to connect your device to the vehicle over Bluetooth, and they'll interact just as you saw in our walkthrough of Chevy MyLink. In fact, Pandora once again is on board here. Cadillac CUE doesn't replace your phone. Yet.

What you see here will be available on in 2012 in the Cadillac XTS and ATS, and the SRX luxury crossover. So, yeah, it'll be out of reach for many of us. But we'll repeat what we said back in the summer with the MyLink launch: This is the future of your smartphone on the road. Get ready for it.

More official footage from Cadillac, as well as the press release, is after the break.

Cadillac CUE: Intuitive and Connected Driving in 2012 Integrates interior design with industry-first control, command technologies

  • Natural voice recognition, fewer buttons, larger icons, greater customization
  • Central instrument panel features fully capacitive faceplate, vibrant 8-inch LCD touch screen with proximity sensing, multi-touch hand gestures
  •  3.5 times more processing power than current systems

SAN DIEGO – Cadillac CUE, a comprehensive in-vehicle experience that merges intuitive design with auto industry-first controls and commands for information and entertainment data, will benefit consumers by offering personalized, connected driving beginning in 2012.

“CUE will transform personal transportation by simply and efficiently integrating luxury design and instinctive technology with unparalleled levels of customized in-vehicle connectivity,” Don Butler, Vice President, Cadillac Marketing, announced at the CTIA Wireless Association’s Enterprise and Applications conference.

CUE will debut in 2012 in the Cadillac XTS and ATS luxury sedans and SRX luxury crossover. CUE is designed to be unique for each consumer, from the “simple user” to the fully connected “super user.”

“For the tech-savvy, it’s everything you want it to be – a full suite of infotainment, navigation and communication tools that keeps you fully connected. For the tech-averse, its power is remarkably simple, intuitive and accessible,” Butler said.

CUE which stands for Cadillac User Experience, will pair entertainment and information data from up to 10 Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices, USBs, SD cards and MP3 players with a vehicle infotainment system that reduces complexity through customized information, natural voice commands and fewer buttons and larger icons

For example, most of today’s luxury cars have around 20 buttons controlling the radio and entertainment functions. CUE reduces that to just four buttons.

“CUE doesn’t replace your smartphone or your iPod™,” said Micky Bly, executive director, Global Electric Systems, Infotainment and Electrification.  “Rather it allows consumers to securely store those mobile devices and channeling the information on those devices, along with your navigation tools, weather maps with Doppler radar, AM/FM and XM radio, instant messages and emails, through a central portal in your Cadillac, keeping hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”

The heart of CUE is the 8-inch LCD touch screen, seamlessly integrated into the top of the central instrument panel and a motorized fully capacitive  faceplate at the bottom concealing a 1.8L storage area.   The vibrant LCD screen displays CUE’s home page, which resembles a smart phone’s screen by using large, easy-to-target icons to execute commands. Capacitive refers to using electrodes to sense the conductive properties of objects, such as a finger.

“CUE is a very elegant in-vehicle hub of all the information and entertainment in your life. All of CUE’s controls use the same design vernac­ular to create a harmony unique to Cadillac,” said Dave Lyon, executive director, Cadillac Interior Design. “Vibrant colors, a piano black face plate, precision-milled buttons, intuitive touch screen placement and sculpted front console provide a spacious, fashion-forward cabin.”

To improve simplicity and connectivity for consumers, CUE will feature several auto

Industry firsts:

  • Proximity Sensing:  As the user’s hand approaches the   LCD screen, command icons appear. Icons can be customized and arranged by consumers to improve ease of use.
  • Haptic Feedback: Buttons on the fully capacitive faceplate pulse when pressed to acknowledge the driver’s commands and helps keep the driver’s eyes on the road.
  • Multi-Touch Hand Gestures: interactive motions (tap, flick, swipe and spread) popularized by smartphones and tablets allow tasks on the LCD screen, such as scrolling lists, zooming maps and searching favorites to be easily accomplished.
  • 12.3 in. LCD reconfigurable gauge cluster (on select models) offers four selectable displays – Simple, Enhanced, Balanced  and Performance  – that can mix traditional vehicle data such as a speedometer and fuel gauge with navigation, entertainment and 3D vehicle image.
  • Natural Speech Recognition lets consumers speak logically with fewer specific commands to recall stored media or input navigation destinations. CUE’s text-to-speech feature will also allow consumers to receive text messages by system voice and to send recorded text messages in return. 
  • Linux operating system, “open” software platform and ARM 11 3-core processor, each operating at 400 million of instructions (mips) per second. This  hardware setup offers 3.5 times more processing power  than current infotainment systems, and allow developers to write applications to CUE that be downloaded by consumers. 

“It’s processing speed and power that make CUE so capable,” said Bly.

Connectivity, Control, Convenience

CUE development began in 2008 when Cadillac designers rode with 32 consumers for six months to study driver habits. Engineers and designers then used the data to develop CUE.

CUE’s LCD screen features the driver’s five most frequently used functions stored along the top of the screen. Along the bottom of the screen, users can select up to 60 favorites from music to points of interest, addresses, maps for weather or directions, phone numbers or system commands, such as “tag song.”

Favorites can also be re-ordered and named to be easily recallable.

The steering wheel contains a five-way controller on the right side to navigate the cluster display, a volume control and buttons to cycle through favorites, while the five-way controller on the left side manages cruise con­trol functions, voice recognition, phone hang-up and heated steering wheel.

CUE’s customization and control features are further enhanced through OnStar’s suite of safety, security and connectivity  services , such as Turn-by-Turn navigation, Automatic Crash Notification, hands-free calling and the OnStar RemoteLink mobile application.

Key OnStar features are available through CUE’s LCD screen, gauge cluster and steering wheel controls.

Phil Nickinson
  • There is at least one Android car unit in production, it is called a Dynavin. I tried to get some interest on XDA forums to get some early adopters help with rooting and fixing what I'd think would be elementary problems with the unit but didn't really get any bites.
    The simplest thing any of these units could and should do would be to have the ability to toggle or split-screen their native auto functions with the android/iphone screen, so you could use the smartphone function on the larger screen, or use google nav in place of the native nav if you wanted, etc. Just like Android, if it's Linux, somebody will hack it up to give us what we want!
    Good job Cadillac! ADS
  • It'll eventually trickle down like OnStar did.
  • What sucks is in the most expensive caddy, the escalade, this system is missing. i understand this system is kind of "built in" and the escalades is on a older platform, but still.
    your paying 60-90k for a SUV and it should have the latest and greatest. meh on the srx and ats. the XTS and CTS are nice but caddy will die without a large rwd/awd model with v8 option!
  • The CTS is RWD; and who would pay $90k and not get the CTS V?
  • So how does it connect to the web? Some service you pay extra for via the car manufacturer, or can you tether it to your phone? I'm sure these questions don't have answers yet, just thought I'd bring em up.
  • I'm betting it's using your device.
  • Yes, if you're streaming Pandora or other apps, it will be through your phone's internet(EvDO/3G/4G/2G, etc)
  • Thinking about hacking Car Infotainment Systems?
    If you hack it and cause bugs or glitches you might kill people, including yourself....!!!!!!! Somethings are built a certain way for a reason.
  • Thank you
  • Most body and entertainment info in a car is on a separate bus from the ecu and sensors that do the driving part; those of us who go there realize that. The odds of causing a safety problem hacking into the infotainment of a car is lower than a rounding error compared to:
    1 using some of normal function at the wrong time (nav, texting, etc) or
    2 lack of skill or focus on the task at hand, which SHOULD BE driving.
    By the way, the supposed "safety" devices that brake and avoid things for you (lane change steering avoidance) will make number 2 WORSE as folks expect the car to do what they should be focusing on.
    Hope that helps!
  • I feel like Phil should be playing Forza while sitting in that "cockpit"
  • That's the new ATS interior , right?
    It looks awesome The wired thing is , the system will be available in the SRX , but the CTS & the Escalade (the best selling Cadillacs) wont have it
  • CTS and Escalade are not on the same release schedule as the others...
  • GM's version of My Ford Touch. Now that that's happened, I expect we'll start seeing the competition breed feature wars between the two, which is pretty good in my books.
  • My Ford Touch is much more complicated to use for normal users. This system seems to be more intuitive, as they have taken a page from the downfalls of My Ford Touch.
  • There's a reason the Ford system is complicated, Microsoft did all the software.
  • I'll bet you can't adjust anything on the screen after you put it DRIVE! GM locks up everything so you can't use it while driving! If it is the same clunky GPS software as the Traverse, it was designed by someone that had never used a GPS before. You can't enter a destination while driving even if there is a passenger in the car. Really rotten software! To find the Biloxi Airport you have to look under the OTHER catagory because it is not found under the AIRPORT catagory! Duh! There is an upgrade disk available now for $199. It doesn't say in the flyer weather it is a software update or just a map update! My Garmin works so much easier and is always available!
  • I should be able to be doing something on my phone such as streaming music; get in my car and touch my phone to the car screen and it transfer over via NFC. Ah future, here's looking at ya.
  • I dislike Cadillac but I like this very much. At least the idea. I look forward to the day when all of this is more widely available.
  • I'm surprised they didn't make more mention of the fact that you can control Pandora through an ANDROID device, and over BLUETOOTH! As far as I know, all of the apps that interact with your phone (save SMS and simple music streaming) require an iphone to be physically tethered to the headunit. Can't wait for the aftermarket units to pick up features like this. Then I can say goodbye to satellite radio!