Ford teams up with Microsoft to deliver sync; in-car digital system
Ford Motor Company today announced the launch of a new factory-installed, in-car communications and entertainment system that is designed to change the way consumers use digital media portable music players and mobile phones in their vehicles.
The Ford-exclusive technology based on Microsoft Auto software, called Sync, provides consumers the convenience and flexibility to bring into their vehicle nearly any mobile phone or digital media player and operate it using voice commands or the vehicle’s steering wheel or radio controls.
Ford owners will not need to worry about whether their car or truck is compatible with the latest phone or music player that hits the market. Sync seamlessly integrates the vehicle with the popular portable electronic devices of today and is upgradeable to support the devices and services of tomorrow.
“Sync is what today’s generation and today’s drivers demand in connectivity,” says Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, product development, Ford Motor Company. “Not only does it offer hands-free phone operation and iPod®, Zune or MP3 player connectivity, it’s built on a software platform that is upgradeable and will allow us to offer new features by simply upgrading the software.”
Sync offers consumers two ways to bring electronic devices into their Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles and operate them seamlessly through voice commands or steering wheel controls:
- Bluetooth, for wireless connection of phones and phones that play music.
- A USB 2.0 port for command and control and charging of digital media players – including the Apple iPod and Microsoft Zune – as well as PlaysForSure music devices and most USB media storage devices. Supported formats include MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV and PCM.
The ability to upgrade Sync, control all portable electronic devices via voice commands, offer a USB port to connect storage devices and recharge electronics puts this technology well beyond technology available today – including Bluetooth, hands-free offerings or portable music device connections.
“More than 80 percent of U.S. households use cell phones , and 60 million digital music devices have been sold. That’s a 50 percent increase from just 2005,” Kuzak said. “With such market growth led by consumers’ needs, Sync is the right new technology at the right time for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.”
Sync will debut this calendar year on the 2008 Ford Focus, Fusion, Five Hundred, Edge, Freestyle, Explorer and Sport Trac; Mercury Milan, Montego and Mountaineer; and Lincoln MKX and MKZ. The technology will be on all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles in the near future.
“Ford and Microsoft share a vision for a future where drivers are safely connected to the people, information and entertainment they care about while they are on the road,” said Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation. “Built on Microsoft Auto technology, Ford Sync delivers an in-car system that is an important step toward achieving this vision. Using software that bridges the automotive and consumer electronics industries, Sync will help revolutionize the driving experience by providing a simple system that intelligently connects mobile phones, music players, and more.”
- Voice-activated, hands-free calling: Simply press the “Push to Talk” button on the steering wheel, and then say the name of the person you wish to call. Sync will automatically connect with the names in the mobile phone’s contact list.
- Uninterrupted connections: No need to hang up in the middle of a cell phone call as you enter your vehicle. Simply touch the Telephone Button on the steering wheel, and Sync will instantly connect to a Bluetooth phone.
- Audible text messages: Sync will convert text messages from your phone to audio and read it out loud. The system is even smart enough to translate such commonly used text messaging expressions as “LOL” and J. You can choose to reply from any of 20 predefined responses.
- Advanced calling features: Sync includes the same features offered on mobile phones, including caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, a caller log, a list of contacts, a signal strength icon, and a phone battery charge icon – all conveniently located on the radio’s display screen.
- Voice-activated music: Browse the music collection on your digital media player, mobile phone or USB drive by genre, album, artist and song title using simple voice commands, such as “Play genre Rock,” “Play ,” or “Play Track .”
- Instant voice recognition: Sync’s advanced voice recognition technology means when you’re ready to use your phone or digital music player, just speak simple voice commands.
- Ring tone support: For supported phones, Sync will play personal ring tones. If you’ve configured unique ring tones to identify specific callers, Sync will automatically play those, too.
- Automatic phonebook transfer: Sync will automatically and wirelessly transfer all the names and numbers in a mobile phonebook.
- Multilingual intelligence: Sync is fluent in English, French and Spanish.