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August 10, 2007

Ford announces pricing on Sync

Ford Motor Company announced pricing yesterday for their new Sync product that was developed in partnership with Microsoft Windows Automotive.  It's going to be a $395 option on new Fords and will be available in the Ford Focus, Ford Edge and the Lincoln MKX.  It's a "fully integrated voice-activated in-car communications and entertainment system for mobile phones and digital media players" according to Mark Fields, the Ford Motor Company President of the Americas.  You can see Mr. Fields and Mr. Gates talking about the Ford/Microsoft partnership and a promo video at the Zune-Online website.  Sync will be available in nine other Ford vehicles by the end of the year.  You can get more information at Ford's SyncMyRide.com website too.

Here are some of the cool things that can be done with Sync.

  • You can use speech recognition to access any track in your Zune, iPod or even a flash drive (yes, it has a USB interface).  I saw a prototype in a Lincoln Navigator earlier this year and it worked perfectly.  The person demoing it had a Zune full of pop music and he was taking requests from other people in the car, saying the track name and then a moment later the music started playing.  I suggested "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and the guy said he didn't have any Bluegrass on his Zune, but he offered to plug mine in and show that it really would work on any device.
  • When you get in the car, Bluetooth pairs automatically (as you would expect) but if you are talking on the phone it moves the conversation from the handset to the sound system automatically so that you can keep both hands on the wheel.  If you are talking on the phone when you get to work, you just pick up your cell phone and walk in and the conversation automatically moves back to the handset.  (If you must talk and drive, use hands-free and be careful out there!)
  • If you get a text message to your phone, the Sync will read the text message to you over the sound system, even translating emoticons like smiley faces.  This has great prank-potential and I can't wait for one of my friends to get one!  Of course, they can always block me from sending them text messages, so maybe I'd better rethink that.
  • Hands free-dialing, as you would expect, and caller-id read aloud for incoming calls.
  • The video mentions conference calling, but I didn't see that demo'd and I'm not sure how it's implemented.

I think it's great that Ford decided to release this across the line, starting with the lower-end cars.  If they had made it a high-end, expensive option I think it would have died on the vine, but with this strategy I expect that a lot of people will be ordering it.  Congratulations to Ford for getting ahead of a technical wave that is surely going to just get bigger over the next few years.  At a price that isn't a lot higher than what some manufactures have charged for putting a 29 cent headphone jack in the dash, Ford is delivering a lot of capabilities and I'm sure there will be more to come.

Speaking of Fords, does anyone know where my 65 Mustang is?  I sold it for $2,400 in 1977 after restoring it to what you see here.  Last I heard, 25 years ago, was that a collector had put a set of red-stripe tires on it and was keeping it in a warehouse.  My name is on a blank IBM punch-card underneath the carpet on the passenger side.  The bill of sale says it was a 64 1/2, but I'm certain it was a 65. I'd love to get it back someday and I realize it has appreciated a bit since I sold it.


August 10, 2007 in Car Computer, Speech Recognition | Permalink


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» Look what Ford is doing with speech from Marshall Harrison - "the gotspeech guy"
Terry Gold has this to say concerning what Ford is doing with speech - http://www.terrygold.com/t/2007/08/ford-announces-.html [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 13, 2007 7:16:44 PM

» Look what Ford is doing with speech from Marshall Harrison - "the gotspeech guy"
Terry Gold has this to say concerning what Ford is doing with speech - http://www.terrygold.com/t/2007 [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 13, 2007 7:55:52 PM