On Sunday, January 9t–the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, Cadillac unveiled the new Cadillac ATS, a luxury car to compete head-to-head with BMW.
The car is beautiful, especially finished in sinfully decadent metallic red. But is it appealing to a working mom? With its big wheels and aggressive profile, I wasn’t sure. But then I sat in it and met ‘CUE’.
CUE is shorthand for Cadillac User Experience, and is a user interface platform built with the Linux open source operating system (extra geek points here).
CUE ‘s interface resembles that on an iPad. In fact, CUE’s interface Designers noted that they drew inspiration from popular touchscreen devices. CUE’s interface features a bright capacitative touch screen with haptic feedback (user feels slight vibration when the driver touches an icon on the screen) and a familiar-looking icon-filled screen. The iPad-like interface even uses similar swipe, pinch, and drag gestures. I liked the fact that the screen is black until a hand comes in proximity of the screen, and that you can select apps to display in your Dashboard cluster so that you don’t have to look over at the touchscreen while driving.
I was lucky enough to meet two of the Interactive Designers who helped design CUE. According to Cadillac Interactive Designers Matt Highstrom and Cody Hansen, Cadillac started from scratch when developing CUE. One of the first things Cadillac designers did was drive around with a bunch of different people (and their families) to observe how customers drive, observe their habits, note their challenges, and even investigate how they used technology while in their cars (smart phones, the radio, and more). From this research, eight personas emerged representing clusters of people with similar profiles. The working mom persona was largely inspired by a woman named Linda the team met during the test drives. Apparently, Linda is a lot like many other working moms who cram work, home, and kid activities into the daily commute.
So, thanks to Linda, Cadillac set out to integrate CUE technology into cars like the new ATS to make life easier for busy moms. Here are some of CUE’s cool features:
1. 12 inch natural gesture capacitive touch screen
2. CUE responds to simple voice commands like ‘play something by the Beatles’ or navigational queries.
3. CUE’s text to speech feature converts incoming text messages to voice and even sends out voice messages as text.
4. CUE’s integration with Android and Apple mobile devices means that contact lists, playlists, and even some apps, are available from the CUE touchscreen.
Although CUE has been in development for four years, it is just getting started. Matt and Cody couldn’t reveal what’s next for CUE, but they did note that was intentionally over-engineered so that it could handle updates as the technology progresses. They also noted that they are continuing to develop the technology with driver safety in mind in order to minimize driver distraction.
Thank you, Cadillac, for helping busy moms leverage technology to provide a safer, more fun, and geekier driving experience. That silky red paint helps, too.