Up until the release of the highly intuitive Cadillac Cue driver user interface, automobile dashboard technology had been quite lackluster. Resistive screens, reliance on too many menus, and limited compatibility with peripherals are a few primary illnesses that have been plaguing the auto industry for years. But as the latest technology continues to barrel toward the automotive industry at a colossal rate of speed, we’re bound to see substantial changes in how we interact with our vehicles. Cadillac invited me out to San Diego to demo their new Cue interface, and it was a substantially advanced experience compared to what I just went through on the Chevy Volt.

2012-Cadillac-CUE-008The Cadillac Cue driver interface is not just a fancy duo of capacitive touch screens that offer the ability to pinch and zoom, flick and tap. The 8-inch center stack LCD display features haptic feedback and has a 24-bit color depth and 1,000 nit brightness, which is double that of an iPad 2. The 12.3-inch reconfigurable gauge cluster can be controlled via a joystick located on the steering wheel in order to toggle readouts for fuel levels and speed, navigation, phone and entertainment. These screens were tested to withstand temperatures that dip down to -40 Fahrenheit. The finalized software will allow drivers to flick an application like navigation from the center stack display to the gauge cluster via a single swipe.

Similar to Android or iOS, Cadillac Cue has an applications tray and customizable icons. Cue uses a friendly open source Linux OS and is supervised by a 3-core ARM 11 processor that can execute 1.2 billion instructions per second (400 MIPS per core). If only we had that kind of horsepower in our phones! For developers, the Cadillac Cue system uses a Java script HTML5-enabled browser, which is cake for web engineering. Cue has Bluetooth 3.0 support for up to 10 devices with 2 active at the same time and condenses all music found on connected devices into one centralized library.

2012-Cadillac-CUE-004For safety’s sake, Cue supports natural voice recognition provided by Nuance and Jeff Massimilla, Program Manager for Cue Entertainment, assured me that drivers or passengers would not have the opportunity to play Super Mario Bros. ROMs or any other video games. Cadillacs that have the Cue system will feature a 1.8-liter rubberized storage compartment for storing smartphones, tablets and other peripherals that have the ability to be wirelessly connected to the system, which is agnostic of device brand or OS. USB and SD card support will be part of the deal as well and the navigation system will actually feature dopplar radar to map weather as drivers travel.

This is the future of automobile dashboards, folks. Cue will debut on the Cadillac STX and ATS sedans and SRX crossover in 2012. Be sure to check out the hands-on video of Cue in action.