It’s no surprise, technology has always been a passion of mine. I bought my first Ford a couple of years ago mostly because it had a Microsoft powered computer in it, called SYNC. I’m a big Microsoft fan. I loved how it integrated calling, subscription radio, navigation, DVDs, USB, and voice activation into the car. Having a built-in navigational system like SNYC is like having powered windows…once you get them, you can never imagine going back to a car without it.
SNYC is now standard on 90% of the cars Ford sells. For those cars without SYNC, the cost is $295 to upgrade. SYNC is available in four flavors from basic SYNC to SYNC myFord Touch, the most advanced model.
The new myFord Touch (with SYNC powering it), surpasses previous features of the SYNC by enhancing and simplifying its voice activation, navigation, and user interface. I had the opportunity to play with myFord Touch a couple of times during the Go Forward with Ford event and found it very easy-to-use and better integrated. The user interface of the screen is simplified and appealing. The myFord Touch offers an 8 inch screen with WiFi, two USB’s, and a RCA plug. It can actually act as a router, providing wireless service to all cellphone users in the car.
MyFord Touch offers turn-by-turn SYNC premium services like voice search, operator assistance, traffic, and personalized information for free for the first 3 years. There after, these services are $60/yr. Basic navigation, voice calling, and cellphone integration will remain free.
During the Go Forward with Ford event, Ford talked about how they are architecting their car technology to make it more flexible to amend with these changing digital times. Utilizing cloud services will help them to do this.
Moving to the Cloud - Ford wisely foresees that building and upgrading to a better computer system behind myFord Touch does not benefit their current Ford customers. No one wants to spend a lot of money on a car with an excellent computer system only to find it’s outdated a year later.
By moving the processing power to the cloud, Ford can take advantage of apps that work with favorite apps on our phone to provide a seamless use of our favorite apps from home to car. For example, in the car you can say “Pandora” and you can access your favorite personal stations verbally from your phone.
With Ford’s forthcoming AppLink, software upgrades will allow drivers to keep updated with the latest apps and features without having to buy a new car. MyFord Touch Apps already integrated with many cellphones include iHeartRadio, Pandora, Stitcher, Slacker, MOG, NPR, Orangatame OpenBeak (a twitter based program that reads you your tweets), and SYNC destinations (traffic/directions). Talk about a great way for Ford to build loyalty with their customers.
Upcoming Features in Research and Development
There are some fun up and coming possibilities available from Ford in their future cares:
More Commands, More Possibilities - Translation services using Nuance voice recognition Google translation can be accessed from the cloud to translate your language to be understood from myFord Touch. Say you’re traveling and you don’t know the language. A car equipped with myFord Touch will make finding your way around a foreign city much more enjoyable.
Talk Your Text – With the increasing capabilities of Ford’s partner, Nuance, voice recognition is getting more and more reliable. With your smartphone connected to your car via Bluetooth, you will be alerted by myFord Touch when an incoming text arrives to your phone. It will than proceed to read your text to you. Better yet, you can reply by your voice. This technology has been around for a short time but is becoming much more effective.
Bio-metric Measures - Now this is fascinating. By measuring driver reaction, Ford can gleam a lot about stressful situations. Ford’s motto behind their advancing in-dash technology is “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road.” Ford recognizes people are checking their texts, which can cause possible collisions. People like to be informed at all times and changing this habit unlikely. But even if the text message is voiced to the driver, it can come at a very inopportune time. Ford has researched that when a driver makes a lane change, is getting on a freeway, or merging, these can be stressful times for the driver.
Ford hopes to minimize driver distractions during these crucial times by assessing when the driver could be in the middle of one and delay the delivery of a text message. The text message will be delivered once the stressful moment ceases.
- by sudden acceleration
- movement of the steering wheel
- Heart rate measurement – 4 stainless steel electrodes on the steering wheel can measure your heartbeat (similar to what you see on a treadmill)
- Hand to hand voltage – how sweaty your palms are – all good indications of stress
- smart seat belt – detects gentle bending of seatbelt as driver breathes. Determined by two piezoelectric film sensors located on lap portion of seatbelt, near center of drivers lap.
I love the thought Ford puts into their cars. I attended Ford’s trend conference last year, Forward with Ford, and learned a lot about their technology. To be honest, I didn’t expect to learn much more in this arena. But I was pleasantly surprised…and impressed…at Ford’s dedication to take technology to new levels in their cars.
*Ford paid my expenses for the flights and lodging. All opinions are my own.