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CES 2009: Ford updates SYNC…

January 9, 2009

Ford and Microsoft debuted SYNC at the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show, updated the system at last year’s event and now keep the tradition alive with more enhancements for 2009. The next iteration of SYNC will sport new features able to take full advantage of a user’s GPS-enabled bluetooth smartphone.

SYNC symbolBoiled down to the bare essentials, these features are summed up as Traffic,
Directions and Information. The Traffic feature sends texts messages
with traffic alerts to the user’s phone, or the SYNC system can read
them aloud in the car. The Directions function mimics a full-feature
navigation system by displaying directions on the radio and speaking
them audibly through the sound system. And finally there’s information,
which allows users to access sports, weather and news of all types
through SYNC.

The best part is that all of these features follow you to any vehicle equipped with SYNC via your smartphone. Ford even claims that the iPhone works with these new capabilities despite the fact Apple limits the phone’s Bluetooth capability and AT&T doesn’t allow data tethering. We’ll be sure to get more details on how all this works later today when we meet with Ford execs and get a demonstration.

The big Blue Oval says it will offer these new SYNC features on almost all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles with three years of service included right up front.

Source: Autoblog

NEW FORD SYNC FEATURES HELP DRIVERS SAVE TIME, FUEL WITH PERSONALIZED NEWS, TRAFFIC DETAILS

* SYNC with Traffic, Directions and Information provides personalized,
real-time information to help drivers get to where they’re going with
information they need. New services come with no monthly subscription
fees for the first three years.
* Users’ customizations stay with
their phone and can be used in other SYNC-equipped vehicles and can be
upgraded free as new services are available.
* New features launch
later this year on select 2010 models and will roll out across the
entire Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury lineup by 2011.
* SYNC sales expected to top 1 million in 2009.

LAS
VEGAS, Jan.7, 2009 – Ford is expanding its connectivity leadership by
introducing exclusive new SYNC real-time information features that
deliver personalized news updates to drivers’ mobile phones while
helping them navigate around trouble spots, saving time and fuel.

“Our
vision with SYNC is to be a leader in connectivity, making it
affordable for millions – just as Ford has done with safety and
fuel-saving technologies,” said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally.
“In less than 18 months since we launched SYNC, Ford has delivered two
more major new features, and we have more in store.

“We are a
car company that through market-driven, customer-focused innovation is
learning to think and act like an electronics company, leveraging
partnerships with fresh, innovative technology leaders,” added Mulally,
who delivers the Consumer Electronics Show keynote address on Thursday.

The
success of SYNC – the award-winning communications and entertainment
system developed by Ford and Microsoft – continues to grow. Ford’s
game-changing vehicle connectivity model and affordability have helped
make it one of the widest technology introductions in the industry,
launching on 12 vehicles simultaneously.

SYNC-equipped Ford,
Lincoln and Mercury vehicles sell nearly twice as fast as those
without, and a Ford survey of SYNC customers showed nearly 80 percent
of respondents “definitely would” recommend it to a friend.

Since
the introduction of SYNC in the 2008 Ford Focus, Ford quickly has
integrated the technology. By summer 2009, Ford’s entire North American
lineup will offer this must-have technology, demonstrating its rapid,
consumer-driven adoption. Ford expects to have 1 million SYNC-equipped
vehicles on the road by the third quarter of 2009.

“We define
connectivity as a way to keep people moving through their lives – not
simply as an on-board computer,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president of
The Americas. “Our approach focuses on connecting people to the
information they need, whenever and wherever they need it. These new
features are aimed at enhancing the driver’s entire quality of life.”

Ford’s
next-generation system – SYNC with Traffic, Directions and Information
– leverages industry-leading voice-recognition software, integrated GPS
technology and a customer’s Bluetooth-capable mobile phone. Debuting
this spring, it will provide simple hands-free access to personalized
traffic reports, precise turn-by-turn driving directions and up-to-date
information including business listings, news, sports and weather.

The
new services will be available on nearly all 2010 Ford, Lincoln and
Mercury models with no initial monthly subscription fees, thanks to
three years of service included with a new vehicle purchase.

“Ford
is unique because we continue to build on the power of the SYNC system
that lets customers connect to off-board services through their own
mobile devices,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected
Services Organization. “With that foundation, there is no limit to the
data we can offer. Working with our partners – the best of the best in
the technology world – we will continue to provide new services in a
timeframe on par with the consumer electronics industry.”

According
to 2008 year-end data, Smartphones were a clear consumer must-have,
offering such advanced capabilities as a keyboard, Web browser and some
PC-like functionality. Research findings suggest that growth in this
industry is expected to continue at 40-percent year-over-year.

SYNC’s
new suite of services allows customers the ability to integrate with
off-board services and provide a personalized infotainment experience
to the driver by utilizing the customer’s own phone. That powerful
match is what differentiates SYNC in the marketplace and what will
expand Ford’s connectivity leadership long-term.

“Today, Ford
leads the industry leader in infotainment,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s
group vice president of Global Product Development. “As we transform
our vehicle lineup, we intend to continue making smart technology a key
differentiator for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products.”

Ford is
partnering with Microsoft and other recognized companies – INRIX,
TeleNav, Tellme (a Microsoft subsidiary), M/A-COM and Airbiquity — to
enable the new services to connect to real-time data.

“We’re
excited to see Ford’s great innovations developed on top of our
Microsoft Auto platform that continue to improve how people spend time
in their car,” says Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment
and Devices Division.

“The combination of software and services,
including the industry leading technology from Microsoft Auto and
Tellme, are delivering entirely new voice-enabled experiences that make
the time spent in the car more entertaining and more productive,” Bach
added.

To take advantage of Traffic, Directions and Information,
customers simply have to pair their Bluetooth-enabled phone with SYNC
and activate the service via http://www.syncmyride.com. Once that’s complete,
the feature becomes “portable,” meaning customers can access the
information in any Ford, Lincoln or Mercury vehicle equipped with SYNC
and the Traffic, Directions and Information function.

Traffic
SYNC’s
new traffic feature will literally save drivers time and money by
providing personalized traffic reports based on best-in-class content.

“We
are able to provide traffic speed, flow and incident information to
drivers in 95 markets nationwide,” said VanDagens. “In addition,
drivers can personalize the system to alert them of changing road
conditions.”

In a text message to the user’s device, drivers
will get the location and severity of accidents or new road
construction causing areas of heavy congestion. Users can personalize
the system to send them an alert before they leave home or have SYNC
read the text message in their vehicle.

“SYNC is working for you before you’re even out of bed,” VanDagens said. “That’s what we mean by a quality-of-life experience.”

Directions
According
to Telematics Research Group, Inc., navigation-enabled mobile phones
are becoming consumers’ top choice for navigation services. This shift
will open up new applications and services – and SYNC is positioned to
take full advantage of this market shift using its powerful partnership
network.

Drivers requesting directions now can use a variety of
search criteria including a 14-million-plus business directory to find
their destination, be it a favorite coffee shop or the location of a
business meeting.

Turn-by-turn directions are downloaded to the
vehicle and are spoken to the user over the vehicle’s audio system and
displayed on the radio.

Like the new traffic service, directions
incorporate real-time traffic information. Through a set of more
conversational voice commands, the user need only speak the name,
category or “nearest.”

The new directions service also offers users a choice of how they’d like to receive the information:

* Automatic connection to business telephone using the driver’s personal device;
* Turn-by-turn directions to the business location using the vehicle’s audio system; or
* Text message to user’s device with business listing and map.

Information
Another
new feature of SYNC will help drivers’ personalize and categorize their
favorite media topics, such as sports, weather and news using voice
commands or through http://www.syncmyride.com.

Examples include:

* Personalized sports reports featuring scores and highlights for any professional or college team;
* Current weather conditions and forecasts based on city, state or zip-code; and
* News of all types – entertainment, business, top stories and technology.

“SYNC
has been developed to allow users to create their own experiences,”
said VanDagens. “Some people may wish to check their stock portfolios;
others might want their hometown baseball scores. With SYNC’s unique
architecture and the powerful Tellme voice service, there are no
boundaries to the information users can access.”

New short-cuts added
SYNC
has gotten smarter as well, and is providing a variety of new
“short-cut” commands. Users recall comments such as, “Call Joe at
work,” and, “Play artist ACDC.” New commands include, “traffic to
work,” and, “directions to home.” Using the website, users can save a
variety of locations such as home, office and airport – any location in
the U.S.

These new capabilities are in addition to SYNC’s
established hallmark suite of services, from hands-free,
voice-activated cell phone, text messaging and digital media player
integration to the more recent security and convenience additions of
911 Assist and Vehicle Health Report.

“We understand how
important it is for customers to feel connected to their lives – even
on the road,” Kuzak said. “Ford is committed to continue working with
the top technology companies in the business to deliver even more of
the features consumers really want.”

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One comment

  1. The updates to Sync are great. It has gone from just controlling your MP3 player, to your cell phone, and now it is exploding into the GPS and other vehicle systems. I like the fact that it will automatically transfer a cell phone call from the car back to your phone in the middle of a conversation if you leave the car.

    We, meaning America, could use some more collaboration among American companies to create great products and technologies like Sync. Hopefully this innovative product can help pull Ford out of this economic situation, but as Jane Barnes says on http://www.americanboom.com, “there’s a certain amount of Darwinian attrition that takes place during a recession.”



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