Five years ago, Ford Motor Company and Microsoft came together to launch the benchmark for in-vehicle connectivity systems with the introduction of SYNC. Fast forward to 2012 and there are now 5 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on the road and the system is just beginning to launch in Europe and Asia. Ford, Microsoft, Nuance and all our SYNC partners are always working on new enhancements that can keep customers on the leading edge of in-vehicle technology. Ford thanks its partners for making SYNC a worldwide success over the past five years and looks to another successful five years of in-vehicle technology.
As the first Focus Electric gas-free models arrive at dealerships, Ford and Microsoft executives are highlighting the car’s connectivity and recharging technologies as the kind of innovations required to help address global transportation challenges such as congestion and oil dependency.
The executives are joining other technology leaders through Friday at the Future in Review Conference (FiRe), a forum to discuss ways to solve even bigger looming issues such as global gridlock that could happen in major cities if urbanization and vehicle ownership growth continue unchecked.
“Ford and Microsoft continue to demonstrate the importance of marrying automobiles with creative technologies such as the features built into SYNC® and MyFord® Mobile that help people stay connected to their digital lives,” says Sheryl Connelly, Ford Global Trends manager. “These innovations will be even more important in a future where urbanization and growing vehicle ownership could literally grind major cities to a halt around the world.”
“Microsoft technology is opening up new possibilities for the connected car in areas that both augment and transcend today’s systems,” says Ben Smith, director of program management for Windows Embedded at Microsoft. “From using simple voice commands to navigate to the nearest coffee shop or manage the interior temperature, to using the vehicle’s on-board technology to find the most economical place to charge up, Microsoft and Ford are changing the way people interact with their vehicle.”
Ford and Microsoft jointly released the first generation of SYNC in 2007 as part of a shared commitment to creating a better-connected car experience through the Ford SYNC software platform. SYNC has been a hit with customers since the initial version was launched in late 2007, with more than 4 million Ford vehicles now equipped with SYNC.
Combining forces on EVs
SYNC is one of many technology features available on the gasoline-free 2012 Ford Focus Electric and is shared across Ford’s electrified vehicle lineup. SYNC with MyFord Touch® offers multiple ways – including voice commands – for customers to manage and control their phone, navigation, entertainment and climate functions. Plug-in hybrids and all-electric models have additional options for monitoring information like battery state of charge.
Additionally, Ford Focus Electric customers have access to MyFord Mobile, which is accessible via smartphone or Web-based interface to perform key tasks. This mobile application can monitor a vehicle’s state of charge or its current range, locate charge stations and plan routes.
The MyFord Mobile app harnesses the power of cloud computing through another unique capability developed with Microsoft called value charging.
With value charging, the app keeps track of when participating local utilities switch to lower off-peak charging rates, helping to minimize costs by helping owners in the U.S. charge their vehicles at the cheapest utility rates.
Drivers can enable a single setting in the app and then plug in their cars without ever worrying about what time the rates change in their area. The network monitors utility rate schedules and automatically transmits a signal to the vehicle through embedded cellular connectivity to start charging at the lowest cost.
“The MyFord Mobile Microsoft value charging technology can help save customers money now and, in the future, lessen the pressure on our infrastructure as more electrified vehicles hit the streets,” says Bill Frykman, Product & Business Development, Ford Connected Services.
The MyFord Mobile app will be available for use on most major smartphone platforms including Android, BlackBerry and iPhone. The same capabilities can also be accessed through a mobile Web app for other platforms as well as a secure Ford website.
Stop by Beach Ford in Virginia Beach or Suffolk to learn more about all the technologies Ford has to offer.
Ford, Microsoft, Healthrageous and BlueMetal Architects recently announced an alliance to research technology to help people monitor and maintain health and wellness while on the move.
The alliance was unveiled during the “Doctor in Your Car” keynote address at the Digital Health Summit at the International CES.
“People are spending more time in their cars, and with the tremendous growth in mobile healthcare solutions, Ford is dedicated to understanding the value of being able to connect to health and wellness-related services while driving,” said Gary Strumolo, manager of Infotainment, Interiors, Health and Wellness at Ford Research and Innovation. “Our connectivity platform – Ford SYNC – provides easy, voice-controlled access to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and therefore it makes sense to research areas that are important to our customers.”
Customer research and societal trends suggest there’s a strong business case for Ford to explore opportunities in health and wellness technology, Strumolo said.
The car that cares
Strumolo said Ford seeks to develop “the car that cares.” As people spend more time in their cars, the ability to manage health and wellness on the go becomes more important.
The goal is to figure out how to extend health management into the personal vehicle in a nonintrusive fashion. The prototype system was designed by BlueMetal Architects.
Using information collected from blood pressure monitors, activity monitors and glucose meters along with behavioral data shared by the user, Healthrageous is able to help people lead healthier lifestyles by shedding unhealthy habits.
Microsoft’s contribution is to translate robotic sensory information provided by the vehicle into an application that also provides a voice and touch-screen interface, while integrating biometrical data that come from a wearable device.
Ford SYNC allows this all to be done hands-free.
“This alliance signifies an important step in bringing health innovation into people’s everyday lives,” said Todd Bremner, chief technical officer for BlueMetal Architects. “Ford’s SYNC platform allows us to imagine, design and build natural user experiences leveraging voice and touch, which seamlessly bring wellness into your everyday commute.”
Ford and Microsoft have teamed up to create the SYNC system. The application connects the driver’s Bluetooth to the Ford Service Delivery Network, and gives the driver access to directions, traffic information, directory assistance, news, weather, and sports via voice commands.
SYNC allows the driver to keep both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while making phone calls, receiving text messages, and using an audio player. Ford even went a step further beyond expectations, employing two Bluetooth interfaces so that your phone and your audio device can be connected at the same time
There’s talk that the SYNC system may soon get streaming internet radio capabilities through a partnership with Pandora, but nothing has been confirmed yet.
The application will come pre-installed on most 2010 models. Buyers of early 2010 models can download the system at no cost from syncmyride.com.