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Ford Is Syncing Up With Silicon Valley
By Jason Rand June 25, 2012
The Ford Motor Company, the pioneer of the assembly line and an automotive behemoth, is raising eyebrows with its latest move. It’s launching a new research laboratory located in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Although Ford isn’t planning to build the next Facebook, it is investing in in-car entertainment technology in its vehicles to give the driver (and the passengers) flawless access to services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pandora. By situating itself in Silicon Valley, Ford is opening its doors to developers and a large engineering community, forging connections with tech innovators in the San Francisco Bay Area to help drive forward the technology in Ford vehicles.
The technology, co-developed with Microsoft, is dubbed SYNC. Mobile devices like iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerrys can connect to the optional system via Bluetooth or USB, and the feature can be easily used with voice commands. What differentiates SYNC from other systems? SYNC supports a bevy of apps you likely already use. Have the NPR app on your iPhone? Use your voice to choose and stream Terry Gross from the app directly into the car through SYNC. I had a chance to see it in action. It’s pretty slick, and it worked so intuitively.
Executive chairman Bill Ford recently said that Ford is a “mobility company whose job is to make people’s lives better.” If that means I’ll be able to have my tweets read to me or stream my David Guetta Pandora station through my car’s audio system, then Ford is doing its job really well. Hopefully others will follow suit too—ensuring that more drivers stay focused on the road, not fumbling with a complicated in-car system.
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