Ford Announces MyFord Driver Connect Technology
By Alex Kalogiannis
Much to the delight of exuberant technophiles, today, Ford revealed to the world their new driver interface technology, the MyFord Touch. It’s no coincidence that this name sounds familiar; more than something vital to your gym routine. MyFord Touch driver connect technology is a redesign of a driver’s interface with various systems significantly inspired by modern consumer electronics, such as mobile phones and MP3 players, with screens and controls designed for ease-of-use and with rich graphic displays.
Built on a new generation of Ford’s award winning SYNC system, MyFord Touch brings the functionality of SYNC while mirroring how people interact with their day to day electronic devices through touch screens, touch-sensitive buttons, thumb-wheel controls and voice recognition. “Driving is the priority when you’re behind the wheel,” says Jason Johnson, Ford user interface design engineer, “so we’ve made it possible to simplify the content management so customers can drive with minimal distraction.” A thoughtful sentiment in an era where in-car technology has exploded to a maddening degree of distractions so that even further technology is implemented to keep you safe from it (like a certain Lexus).
MyFord Touch retains the traditional layout of a car’s interior, such as instrument cluster and a center stack dividing the dashboard, and adds more voice control and full color LCD screens to display much of the visual information. In the instrument cluster, two full color LCD screens flank a traditional analog speedometer while in the center stack, a customizable 8-inch touch screen with be the focal point for much of the input. On the steering wheel, there will be two 5-way control pads, much like those found on a mobile phone, on each side of the steering wheel crossbar. The left controls will correspond to the screen left of the speedometer, and will cycle through information settings like fuel economy, mechanical status, tachometer, and safety features. The right controls will interact with audio settings and climate control, as well as phone access and navigation menus.
These functions will feature prominently in the center stack where one will find the 8-inch touch screen, the key interface on MyFord Touch. The designers employed a 4- corner solution for its layout, representing the four activities most important to customers: phone, navigation, climate and audio/entertainment functions. Careful thought was given to the colors of the displays to give drivers intuitive visual cues, such as having climate controls with blue backgrounds and red backgrounds for audio functions.
As mentioned before, the underlying system is still SYNC, the latest version, built using the Microsoft Windows Embedded Auto Software platform. This incarnation sports a mind-boggling array of features, such as vehicle personalization settings, AM/FM/CD and satellite radio, USB connectivity for MP3 players, voice recognition, and phone connectivity. Furthermore, each facet has some surprising new details or functions. Take Navigation, for example: all Ford vehicles with MyFord and SYNC, will have standard Turn-by-turn directions from this point onward, with display icons and voice guidance using the existing Traffic, Directions & Information application. The audio system will have song-tagging capability, allowing listeners to ID a song and store the info for later use.
Not enough? Plug in a USB broadband modem in the Media Hub, and the car becomes a rolling Wi-Fi hot spot for those using laptops or other internet capable devices in the car. Drivers will also be able to access the internet through a built-in browser accessible through the standard 8-inch touch-screen of MyFord Touch when the vehicle is parked.
This applies to Ford divisions, Lincoln and Mercury, and will be recognizable as so, being referred to as MyLincoln Touch, for example, and featuring jewel-toned equivalents to the display colors of the various interfaces to match the more luxurious design language. Lincoln center stack applications will take touch-sensitive technology to the next level with fingertip “slider” controls for audio volume and fan speed. Occupants will slide a finger along the touch-sensitive slider bar to adjust settings as an LED chaser gives a visual representation of volume or fan speed.
“MyFord will become part of the global DNA of Ford products,” says Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president of Global Product Development. “Across different models, different trim levels, even different countries, drivers immediately will know they’re behind the wheel of a Ford vehicle equipped with the technology, safety and convenience features they expect.”
As exciting and entertaining as all this tech is, let’s hope they remember to make the thing great to drive as well.
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