- Six years after lauconnected car experience to be based on intelligence through the fusion of cloud computing and sensor data
Just six years after the introduction of Ford SYNC®, the 10-millionth vehicle equipped with this award-winning technology has been produced, transforming the in-car connectivity experience for customers around the world.
“SYNC was more than just a technology breakthrough, it has reshaped how we see ourselves as a company,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln, speaking at the Connected Car Expo to open the 2013 Los Angeles International Auto Show.
“SYNC has helped us to think and act more like a technology company,” Farley acknowledged. “It has forever changed how we look at our business and how we respond to our customers. Ultimately, SYNC embodies what Ford is all about – going further to turn innovative ideas into products that are affordable, attainable and valuable to millions of people.”
Today, nearly all Ford retail vehicles are sold with advanced infotainment technologies, and the company ranks first in ABI Research’s OEM connected automotive infotainment Competitive Assessment, with high ratings for implementation, innovation and price.
When Ford began developing SYNC in 2005, the engineering teams recognized cellphones and digital media players were quickly becoming an increasingly important part of people’s lives. Given how quickly mobile device usage had grown in just a few years, Ford decided a new technology development approach was needed.
The SYNC development team created an architecture based on open protocols like USB and Bluetooth® to enable virtually any device to be connected for media playback and communications. That decision turned out to be more prescient than anyone could have imagined.
“Now it’s clear that building an open, upgradable connectivity platform has been key to the success of SYNC because it has allowed us to stay relevant to the consumer,” said Farley. “With available SYNC, Ford vehicles can keep pace with the latest consumer trends through simple software updates.”
When SYNC was first announced in January 2007 at the International CES, the presentation featured the Apple iPod, Motorola RAZR flip-phone and Palm TREO smartphone. Two days later, Apple ushered in the app economy era with the original iPhone. Because leveraging a smart device’s features was still in its infancy, most consumers used SYNC to access basic features such as hands-free calling and their music catalogs.
Six years on, smartphones are powered by a diverse range of platforms including iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone mobile operating systems. With ample on-board storage, processing power that rivals desktops, and ultrafast wireless data connections, these phones work as well with original SYNC-equipped vehicles in addition to handling new available capabilities such as SYNC AppLink™, which uses voice-activated technology to build a hands-free bridge between you and your smartphone applications.
“We have literally turned the car into a platform for app developers, who work with us to add value through new features delivered at the speed consumers expect,” said Farley. “With more than 1 billion smartphones now in service around the world, we expect mobile connectivity will continue to be a foundational element of our strategy going forward.”
While cars and trucks typically stay on the road for more than 10 years on average, people often replace their consumer electronics every couple of years to keep pace with the latest advances in technology.
SYNC availability has expanded to include nearly the entire line of Ford cars and trucks, along with Lincoln products. With 10 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on the road including in Europe and Asia, Ford continues to work on new enhancements that can keep customers on the leading edge of in-car technology.
“At Ford, we’re focused on how data and connectivity can turn devices into intelligent systems that enable insight-driven action,” said Doug VanDagens, global director of connected services solutions for Ford. “In the vehicle, this means the ability to connect to more data from more sources and use that to help the driver. It’s our goal to turn the connected vehicle into an intelligent vehicle.”
Cloud connectivity, on-board sensors and data access are key components for creating this kind of intelligent vehicle experience. Other advances, such as natural language processing and machine learning, could help Ford SYNC provide a more natural interaction between car and driver, enabling a driving experience that’s more personalized and convenient.