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Ford Enhances In-Vehicle Connectivity

Ford Enhances In-Vehicle Connectivity

In a speech that emphasized innovation and independence, Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally told attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) today that Ford is ratcheting up its efforts in in-vehicle connectivity.

"The best bet is to develop products that are versatile and loaded with features that make them easy to personalize," Mulally told the crowd at the Las Vegas Hilton.

Ford's efforts going forward include a wide variety of technologies that enhance eyes-on-the-road driving while providing connectivity to phone calls, text messages and navigation services.

During the presentation, Ford engineers described a new technology called MyFord Touch, which ties the technologies together with strong design and graphics. The company said its strategy will include integrated GUIs (graphical user interfaces), TUIs (touch user interfaces), and VUIs (voice user interfaces) in the form of LCD screens, steering wheel controls, instrument clusters and media hubs that make communications simpler and safer. They added that the MyFord Touch technology will be available in showrooms later this year. Next week, the company will also roll out a similar technology called MyLincoln Touch.

The giant automaker also announced that it has forged a partnership with Mapquest.com to provide voice navigation services to drivers through the company's well-known Sync platform.

Ford engineers demonstrated voice-based communications by having the dashboard software read aloud from a text message sent to the speaker while on stage. They also credited engineers from Nuance for helping with its voice control effort. "The Nuance team was invaluable in improving voice recognition and simplifying command sequences, using fewer words to get what you want," said Jim Buczkowski, director of global electrical and electronics systems engineering for Ford. "With their help, we've been able to flatten the required grammar sequences and make Ford voice control more conversational."

Engineers said the new voice control systems will enable improved voice command control of radios, CD players, MP3 players, climate control systems, navigation, phones and other features.

Mulally's introduction drew cheers from the audience when a Consumer Electronics Association executive credited him with leading Ford through the tough economic times of the past year. Mulally's decision to borrow $23 billion, instead of looking to the federal government, "has allowed Ford to steer through the current economic crisis without public assistance," noted Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association. "As a result, Ford is owned by shareholders, not by the federal government."

Ford CEO Alan Mulally demonstrated the future of vehicle connectivity at CES.



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