President and CEO of Ford, Alan Mulally today told a press conference at CeBIT in Hanover that the Ford SYNC technology would be rolled out in Europe next year.
While North American drivers (three million of them) have been enjoying the benefits of Ford’s voice activated and connectivity interface for about 18 months now, we will have to wait for another 12 months to sample the joys of this technology. Mulally and user interface engineerer Jason Jenkins outlined what European customers can expect when SYNC arrives next year. “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.” Speaking to us from Hanover, user interface engineer Jason Johnson said the reason for the delay was tweaking the language packages and the navigation system for Europe. He added that no more specific date than 2012 could be announced at the moment.
SYNC will make its debut with the all new Ford Focus and Ford is predicting that by 2015 there will be two million SYNC vehicles on the roads of Europe. SYNC is powered by the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive platform and as well as voice activation, there is a five-way pad on the steering wheel and an 8in touchscreen where all the functions can be accessed. However it is the voice activation which will set the SYNC system apart from other competitors. Ford is also pointing to the fact that the “seamless interface” doesn’t require embedded technology and allows users to bring their devices (phones, PMPs etc) into the car. Mulally also pointed out the system allows for updates to be sent out to customers whenever new technology or software comes to the market (ie when smartphones update their software).
SYNC can recognize 10,000 commands in any one of 19 languages, and will be able to understand US, UK and Australian English; European and Canadian French; European and US 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. If will have a number of features such as App Link and Emergency Assistance built-in.
Other than SYNC, the new Ford Focus models will have a lot more impressive technology such as Active City Stop, which will use LIDAR to check if the car in front of you has stopped suddenly and automatically charges the brakes to aid you in stopping quickly. Should you not manage to get to the brakes in time, the system will engage them automatically. Other technology includes cameras which will alert you if you leave a lane and even engage the steering wheel to keep you in line. The camera will also read the road signs on the side of the road from speed limits to directions an display them on the instrument cluster.
Finally the new Ford Focus will have an in-built technology which will allow you to parallel park with the minimum of fuss. The car will measure the distance, handle the steering and tell you when to stop – which will be great news for those out there who avoid parallel parking at all costs.