After the flurry of automotive innovation, which followed the banning of mobile phone use in vehicles, voice command technology is no longer groundbreaking. It’s a footnote, rather than a selling point, in the hyper competitive auto industry.
However, the cutting-edge voice-command and smartphone integration technology SYNC, the lovechild of Ford Motor Company and Microsoft, will surely be music to drivers' ears.
SYNC, like many voice command platforms, allows drivers to joyfully boss their cars into playing music, scribbling text messages and making calls all while maintaining focus on the road.
What sets SYNC apart from other voice command technology is a feature called Applink, which – according to Ford – is the only system in the auto industry that allows drivers to use smartphone apps with their voice.
Upon first contact, the SYNC system will integrate with your smartphone app and learn the controls it uses, meaning fluid and full functionality for the driver.
Accoding to connected services director Ed Pleet: "The app connects to the car and basically tells SYNC ‘this is how I work’, from there the driver can use the commands that relate to that specific app.”
Ford Australia chief executive Bob Graziano says SYNC and other innovations form a major part of the multinational’s “brand DNA".
“This collaborative international design and smart technology is key to being first in class,” he says.
Keen to localise the technology as much as possible, Pleet hopes Kiwi app developers will partner with the multinational and become compatible with SYNC.
“Many of the apps currently compatible are American, so we definitely want to put local APIs into the system,” he said.
Pleet is enthusiastic about SYNC’s voice detection technology, which has evolved from its North American launch in 2007 to now recognise various accents.
Developers, however, stopped short of including Kiwi-English algorithms to SYNC’s arsenal of command recognition, the closest being the neighbouring Aussie twang.
So, when New Zealand drivers get a hold of SYNC, now available in the Ford Focus, be warned – don’t assume the phrase ‘find me fush ‘n chups in Whakatane’ will get the desired result.
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