Ford announces European launch for industry-leading SYNC technology
BRENTWOOD, Essex, 28 February 2011
– Ford customers in Britain will be among the first to benefit from the global launch of Ford SYNC
when it makes its European debut on the Ford Focus in 2012, bringing the company’s award-winning voice-control and connectivity technology to a new audience.
Ford president and CEO Alan Mulally will deliver the news to the 2011 CeBIT technology show in Hannover, Germany, tomorrow.
"We are pleased to announce that SYNC will soon be available to customers around the world," Mulally said. "It is a smarter, safer and simpler way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives.
"At Ford, we have always believed that the intelligent application of technology can help us deliver the very best customer experience and help us contribute to a better world, so we challenged ourselves to build technologically advanced cars that make driving greener, safer and smarter for all."
SYNC with the MyFord Touch interface is a rich, interactive experience that makes vehicle functions, settings and information easily accessible to the driver through voice control, through steering wheel controls or a simple tap of the centre stack touch screen.
When SYNC makes its European debut in the all-new Ford Focus next year, drivers will have access to one of the most advanced voice control and device connect technologies on the market with unrivalled connectivity and integration options for vehicle drivers and occupants.
Ford anticipates that nearly 2 million new vehicles in Europe will feature the system by 2015, making a major contribution to the use of in-car technology alongside customer convenience.
Powered by the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive platform, SYNC has been designed to offer a smarter, simpler and safer means for drivers to operate mobile devices inside their cars and to stay in touch with the outside world while on the move.
"SYNC’s unique connection between the driver’s devices and the vehicle means that the user’s voice can control both the car and the device," said Jason Johnson, SYNC Product Development engineer. "Plus, SYNC is being developed specifically for European customers with the ability to understand multiple languages and accents; it can even decipher unique regional text message acronyms and support different units of distance and date formats."
Leading voice control system meets European challenge
Key to SYNC is the voice command and control system. Developed in partnership with Nuance, the world’s leading provider of voice technology, the system is able to cope with the unique challenge provided by Europe in terms of the number of languages spoken and the variance of accents and vocabulary within those languages.
SYNC can recognize 10,000 commands in any one of 19 languages, giving drivers across Europe and around the world the power to control the majority of the vehicle's functions using their voice.
SYNC will be able to understand U.S., U.K. and Australian English; European and Canadian French; European and U.S. Spanish; and European and Brazilian Portuguese. Elsewhere in Europe, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian and Turkish are all understood. Beyond Europe, languages such as Arabic, Korean and Japanese are also compatible.
Working with Nuance, Ford engineers have developed SYNC to be highly responsive to spoken commands, eliminating the need for multiple layers of command entry in many cases. For example, SYNC leverages Nuance’s one-shot destination entry capabilities, allowing the driver to state aloud a full destination address without needing to prompt individually for city, postcode and street.
The system's voice recognition ability also allows voice operation of the climate control system, audio and entertainment functions, navigation and, crucially, devices linked to the car using the comprehensive connectivity abilities via Bluetooth or USB port.
Global SYNC heralds new era of connectivity
SYNC is able to connect to mobile phones via Bluetooth, offering a fully integrated hands-free, voice command and control that is safe and extremely convenient.
It offers far more than a basic level of phone integration however, being able to automatically transfer contact information and photos from the device phonebook to the vehicle.
When connected to a compatible phone, SYNC can retrieve text messages and read them aloud, allowing a response to be sent using voice activation from a predetermined list of responses while on the move.
Media can be acquired using built-in USB ports for devices such as MP3 players, an SD-Card port and RCA inputs for audio and video.
Playback of audio files including audiobooks can be controlled once attached and, thanks to collaboration with Gracenote, album artwork and track information can be viewed on the 8-inch touch screen – class-leading in the Ford Focus – which replaces the standard centre console control configuration with its touch screen interface.
SYNC can also turn the car into a mobile WiFi hot spot. Offering a connection using a portable USB modem or Bluetooth-tethered compatible smartphone, SYNC can turn an incoming single point of internet connectivity into a WiFi broadcast inside the car for up to five passengers to connect their internet-powered devices.
Recognising that communication and multimedia technology never sits still, Ford has worked to ensure SYNC can be kept at the leading edge of compatibility through a regular cadence of software upgrades, whether delivered via a local Ford dealer or by download and installation via USB from home.
"We knew from the beginning that our connectivity solution would have to keep pace with the rapid advancement of consumer electronics and be flexible and upgradeable in order to remain useful to customers for as long as they own their vehicles," Johnson said.
SYNC offers safer, smarter and simpler operation
The benefits of integrating a mobile phone or entertainment device into a car's control system have long been recognised by the automotive industry, but SYNC allows the driver to take control without removing hands from the steering wheel or eyes from the road.
When SYNC combines with the existing technologies including Lane Keeping Aid, Lane Keeping Alert, Driver Alert and Active City Stop presently available in the new Ford Focus, the result will be a level of driver assistance technology not offered by any other vehicle in the Focus' segment or the one above.
More than 3 million Ford vehicles in the US have been equipped with SYNC since late 2007.