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Technology and personal information make for dangerous bedfellows and it’s something drivers will need to worry about very soon.
Handset maker Nokia just finished filing a patent that shows that the Finnish company also has its fingers in the automotive world as well. With a new touch-sensitive steering wheel, could automakers reduce the number of buttons on the wheel?
While this move may come under scrutiny as Ford promoting the usage of tablets while driving, the American automaker is just hoping to take a preventive approach believing that consumers are bringing those devices into their vehicles with them regardless. ”Drivers are bringing these devices into the car already,” said Ford spokesman Alan Hall. “We’re allowing them to access the content in a safer way.”
The tablet compatibility will allow drivers to control devices such as an Apple iPad, Kindle Fire, HP Touchpad, Nook Color, and Sony Tablet S – a variety of different tablet devices – through their voice. Ford hopes that this will allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road when they inevitably have the urge to do something on their tablet.
Now we totally get the people that sit there and try to text on their cellphones while driving, but who seriously tries to access their 7-inch or 10-inch tablet while driving? Either way, at least Ford is taking a proactive approach in trying to develop technology that will make the roads safer, but maybe we just need to expedite the whole autonomous car thing if people really can’t wait to access their tablets.
[Source: Huffington Post]
Ford is rather proud of its new SYNC system, and will be making it standard equipment on all 2013 Ford Fusion and Ford Flex models, the American automaker announced. Their MyFordTouch system will only be seen on upper trim levels however.
Surprisingly the 2013 model year of the Fusion and Flex will be the first time ever Ford has made their SYNC standard equipment. Since its introduction in 2007, Ford has installed SYNC in over four million vehicles. Now that it has become standard fare in the Fusion and Flex, Ford expects to add another nine million vehicles on the road with SYNC over the next three years.
“ Ford SYNC technology has led the industry in transforming the way we connect to our cars,” said Dave Mondragon, Ford general marketing manager. “SYNC has enabled Ford drivers to take advantage of the latest communication and entertainment technology with an easily upgradeable architecture that is friendly to use.”
GALLERY: 2013 Ford Fusion
GALLERY: 2013 Ford Flex
Hands-free voice activated technology has made life so much easier. Now, wouldn’t it be great if they could bring that same level of technology to your car? You’re in luck – it’s coming… but you’re going to have to wait another year for it.
Speech-recognition company Nuance has reported that an auto manufacturer is in the process of integrating advanced voice command technology into its vehicles and it will be ready by next year (there’s no word which automaker this is, but Mercedes-Benz is expected to launch an iPhone-based infotainment system next year). You’ll be able to tell your car that you want to want to make reservations for that trendy Asian fusion restaurant everyone has been talking about, and you car will make it happen.
If you’ve ever used Siri’s services or GM’s IntelliLink infotainment system, then you’ve already experienced Nuance’s speech recognition capabilities. Right now, most OEM systems only recognize 50 or 60 short voice commands (with the exception of Ford’s Sync system, which recognizes 10,000 voice commands). But it takes a lot more than 10,000 voice commands to be truly intuitive, and that’s were most of the work needs to take place. Think about how helpful Siri is – to get that same kind of response in your car, automakers have to put some serious research and development to bring drivers a similar experience.
And even though Nuance is on board, automakers still have to grapple with the increased probability that this type of system will still cause all kinds of distracted driving hazards. As well, this new system will need to offer directions and navigation without relying solely on mobile networks for data connections.
Good news for those optioning up a new Ford: its SYNC system is now $100 cheaper, from $395 to $295.
Ford will also roll out SYNC to every one of their cars within the next three years. Currently, it’s only available on higher trim levels, but with the 2012 Explorer and Edge, base models can get SYNC with the cheaper price.
Next year’s 2013 Escape, Taurus, Flex, and Focus will have SYNC available at that price. Ford aims to make SYNC a safety option as well as for listening to obscure Internet radio stations—hands-free capability and 911 Assist aren’t just available to the bourgeoise anymore.
If Ford has any say, the CD player could go the way of the cassette, 8-track, and the phonograph: because what are ya, some kind of Metamucil-chuggin’ geezer?
Time to throw out that David Bowie’s Greatest Hits CD, because digital media is the only route for Ford and its SYNC system. The well-publicized “infotainment hub” will allow Wifi access of drivers’ digital libraries, from Spotifiy or Apple’s iCloud. MP3 players can also plug right in via aux inputs. And with 2.15 million Fords expected to have SYNC by 2015, it will be enough to sink the CD player and falling physical media sales (down 12.4% in 2010).
Ford researchers are taking an ‘active’ role in developing a series of health and wellness in- car connectivity solutions designed to improve drivers lives. Ford is utilizing its SYNC system to develop a first voice controlled in car connection to an array of health aids such as a glucose monitoring system, diabetes management services and asthma management tools.
“Ford SYNC is well known in the industry and with consumers as a successful in-car infotainment system, but we want to broaden the paradigm, transforming SYNC into a tool that can help improve people’s lives as well as the driving experience,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technology officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.
Medical software including mobile healthcare devices and health and fitness-related software are hitting the market today, leading to the possibility of automotive integration. ”We want to create the car that cares,” Gary Strumolo, Ford manager of vehicle design and infotronics.
Ford is taking a smart, high-volume approach to health and wellness solutions inside the car by looking at two populations with the most need of medical information- people with diabetes and those with asthma.
“Ford’s approach to health and wellness in the vehicle is not about trying to take on the role of a healthcare or medical provider, we’re a car company,” said Gary Strumolo, global manager, Interiors, Infotainment, Health & Wellness Research, Ford Research and Innovation. “Our goal is not to interpret the data offered by the experts, but to work with them to develop intelligent ways for Ford vehicles using the power of SYNC. In essence, creating a secondary alert system and alternate outlet for real-time patient coaching services if you will.”
“Health and wellness provides a tremendous opportunity for Ford to provide peace of mind and a personal benefit to drivers and passengers while they are in our vehicles,” said Strumolo. “As more and more devices and technologies lend themselves to such connectivity in the car, it is our responsibility, our philosophy, to examine those possibilities and open our doors to industry relationships that can help us do it intelligently, efficiently and economically.”
[Source: Ford Media]
GM’s MyLink, available starting with the 2012 Chevrolet Volt and Equinox, will offer smartphone charging, Pandora radio streaming, GraceNote music identification, Bluetooth, XM satellite radio, voice activation, OnStar, and USB inputs, in case listening to drive-time radio is too crushing for commuters.
The MyLink comes hot on the heels of Ford’s SYNC as an inevitable comparison. But unlike the SYNC, MyLink includes the full power of GM’s OnStar behind it, for starters. It will also come with Powermat charging for the smartphones that you won’t need to fiddle with once behind the wheel. And, uh, that’s about it. Functionality between the two infotainment systems is remarkably similar otherwise, which makes you wish that GM had introduced this earlier.
The MyLink includes a 7″ full-color touchscreen standard, which controls climate control and navigation operations. The first GM cars that will be equipped with it later this year will be the Chevrolet Volt and the Equinox, before the rest of the General Motors lineup.
Using Google Maps to plot your route is a major convenience on a home computer, but there’s no good solution on taking them with you. Printing them is cumbersome, and inputing them onto a smartphone or PDA is just another level of distraction.
Now, Ford and Google have teamed up to let you send your Google Maps data right to your car via Sync. Combined with a mobile phone (used for downloading the Google Maps Data), the route information can be sent directly to the GPS system in a Sync equipped vehicle, and drivers can get real-time traffic updates thanks to a tie-in with Sync’s Traffic, Directions and Information system. The service will launch later this month, with a Mapquest based system coming later in 2010.
Hit the jump for the official press release
GM and Google are reportedly working on a deal that would see the integration of Google’s Android mobile phone operating system and GM’s Onstar telematics system.
Potentially scenarios being discussed involve Android phone users being able to use OnStar features outside of their car, while GM vehicle owners can use Android to keep track of service intervals, or in the case of the Chevrolet Volt, data regarding vehicle range and battery charging.
A GM/Google partnership would represent a significant challenge to Ford and Microsoft’s SYNC system, which is primarily an in-car entertainment system, albeit with significant voice activated functions designed to minimize driver distractions.
[Source: Automotive News]
Tech addicts, the 2011 Ford Fiesta may be your next car. (Just as long as you don’t own an Apple iPhone, ’cause it’s not supported yet.) SYNC, the in-car technology platform developed by Microsoft in partnership with Ford, will soon allow for third-party cell phone applications to be controlled by voice commands and in-car controls.
Forget the fact that no other automaker is even close to offering such integration, Sync AppLink will be on production vehicles this year. AppLink works — at launch — on Android and BlackBerry phones, with titles such as Pandora Internet radio, Stitcher “smart radio”, and Orangatame’s Twitter client OpenBeak available.
“The growth in smartphone mobile apps has been explosive, and Ford has worked hard to respond at the speed of the consumer electronics market,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Organization. “SYNC is the only connectivity system available that can extend that functionality into the car. AppLink will allow drivers to control some of the most popular apps through SYNC’s voice commands and steering wheel buttons, helping drivers keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”
Once developers realize they can help distract drivers while on the road, this list is sure to grow exponentially. May we suggest an in-car fart app that can deliver a disgusting noise through a speaker closest to the intended victim?