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Xevo connected car
(Xevo Photo)

The goal of further transforming how drivers interact with their cars is steering an acquisition and name change involving two Seattle-area companies.

Kirkland, Wash.-based UIEvolution Inc. announced Thursday that it is acquiring Seattle-based machine learning startup Surround.io Corp. UIEvolution will also be changing its name to Xevo (pronounced Zee-vo) as part of the transaction.

The deal brings together two companies with strong ties back to Microsoft. UIEvolution was founded in 2000 by Satoshi Nakajima, who is known as the architect behind Microsoft products like Windows 95 and Internet Explorer 3. John Ludwig, founder of 3-year-old Surround, was a vice president at Microsoft from 1988-1999, where he managed development and operations for large scale software projects, according to his LinkedIn.

UIEvolution has over 200 employees and Surround has 10. The new Xevo will be retaining both offices in Kirkland and Seattle and all employees will be remaining with the company — with plans to hire more.

Xevo car
(Xevo Photo)

According to a news release, Xevo is a global leader in connected-car software with nearly 10 million vehicles on the road today using its proprietary technology. Drivers can integrate their digital lifestyle and their in-car experience thanks to Xevo products which connect car and driver to mobile apps, content and services.

The experience — and what’s to come — goes far beyond the days of being able to have your smartphone music play through the car stereo.

Xevo uses in-car data, cloud-based analytics and machine learning to find AI-driven solutions to improve the performance and safety of cars and enhance the driving experience. Drivers gain the ability to detect distracted or impaired drivers, identify and show road obstacles and receive real-time weather notifications, among other things.

Dan Gittleman
Dan Gittleman, CEO of Xevo. (LinkedIn Photo)

“We are excited about the opportunity to join forces with Surround and announce our company name change to Xevo,” Dan Gittleman, CEO of Xevo, said in the news release. “This acquisition reflects the natural evolution of the company to fully embrace the impact of AI and computer vision on the automotive industry. The Surround team will be integrated into our company, and together, with their brilliant data science capacities, we will transform the connected car experience.”

Surround was built by a team of technology and data science veterans with decades of experience. Some were key architects of Amazon Web Services, Windows, Internet Explorer, Hotmail, MSN Messenger, as well as developers of big data frameworks that power Bing and Azure.

Xevo’s news release says that Surround “has been developing an industrial-scale machine learning infrastructure with a specific focus on applying computer vision to automotive scenarios and enabling vast numbers of cars to share information and act cooperatively.”

The acquisition will enable the two companies to combine background, knowledge and resources to bring the future of AI to connected cars.

“We are thrilled to join Xevo to bring our technology to the connected car market,” Srround’s Ludwig said in a statement. “We have an unmatchable opportunity to deploy our technology to help millions of drivers, and are hard at work integrating our work into the Xevo offerings. Adding machine learning to the car experience is a sea change, and is exactly the kind of challenge we have enjoyed and delivered on throughout our careers.”

Xevo is not disclosing terms of the deal, and the transaction is expected to close before the end of the year, subject to certain customary closing conditions.

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