Wednesday, May 30, 2012

In SYNC with the Times: In-Depth Look at Ford SYNC

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, driving a car is like doing an intricate ballet routine: it requires concentration physically and mentally—physically, because you’re constantly pressing and de-pressing different pedals, swinging the steering wheel left and right while sometimes operating a lever or a button; mentally, because you’re always looking out in all directions making minute judgment calls and sometimes even anticipating the unexpected that appear apparently out of nowhere. The last thing you need is the additional distraction of a ringing mobile phone or even an iPod that’s proceeded to play an unwanted tune. Thankfully, there’s a technology out there that addresses these distractions. It’s called SYNC and chances are, it’s in a Ford vehicle near you.

With mobile phone ownership hitting a saturation point in the Philippines, Ford has taken the challenge to provide a unique connectivity solution that’s both integrated and seamless while remaining easy-to-use and understand. With SYNC, owners can easily connect almost any mobile phone or digital player via Bluetooth or USB. In turn, they can then make calls or play their favorite music through the more than 150 available voice commands or steering wheel-mounted controls all the time with eyes on the road and hands always on the wheel.

The system, which has been developed in cooperation with Microsoft is Ford’s open platform solution to mobile device connectivity and has stood out for its ease-of-use as well as robust privacy and security features. SYNC makes use of Bluetooth wireless technology to pair up to 8 mobile phones. Once paired, SYNC can automatically transfer all names and numbers from the phone’s contact list to the in-vehicle system. And unlike a typical embedded connectivity system, SYNC does not allow access to a user’s stored information unless the paired phone is connected. The data cannot be accessed or downloaded by unauthorized users including dealers or service centers.

By seamlessly integrating with the mobile phone, SYNC enables hands-free calling simply by pushing a button and saying someone’s name. More than that, SYNC fully melds with the paired phone enabling it to access the very same features offered on the phone including caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, caller logs, contact list display and even individualized ring tone support. SYNC can also retrieve and read SMS or text messages and read them aloud including popular abbreviations and emoticons.

Other than making and receiving calls, SYNC also gives full hands-free control over popular portable media players and USB storage devices. Users can browse their music collection by genre, album, artist, playlist, or song title all by using voice commands. SYNC can also put together a play list with a “Play Similar” command.

Those familiar with the Ford Fiesta’s Bluetooth and voice control feature will find that SYNC brings in-car connectivity to the next level. Aside from accessing and transferring contact information from mobile phone to car, SYNC can cope with variations in both accent and vocabulary. Nuance, the world leader in text-to-speech technology provides drivers with a more natural, conversational experience with their Ford vehicle. The same company is also behind “Samantha”, the female voice of SYNC.

First introduced in Ford’s Business Class line of vehicles in 2010 (the Expedition EL and E-150), SYNC has since been installed in more than 4 million vehicles. More recently, SYNC has garnered a lot more attention with its integration with MyFord Touch in the all-new Explorer luxury sport utility vehicle. In fact, it has been honored as the Best Technical Innovation of the Year in the 2011-2012 Car of the Year – Philippines. Ford is now accelerating the rollout of SYNC on its future vehicles including the all-new Focus compact car. By 2015, Ford projects that an additional 9 million vehicles will be equipped with SYNC.

In the end, Ford understands that drivers want to stay connected in their vehicles while still maintaining a responsible and safe attitude. With SYNC and its advanced voice command feature, Ford has provided a connectivity solution that keeps the driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times equating to lesser distractions and better concentration on the thing that matters the most: driving.

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