New Ford Technologies Enhance ConnectivityPosted on June 22nd, 2011
Automaker increases SYNC AppLink availability, enhances safety features
By Nina Russin
Dateline: Dearborn, Michigan. Ford announced today that it is expanding availability of its SYC AppLink to ten models for 2012, including the F-150, Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, Fiesta, Expedition and Mustang. By enabling drivers to utilize SYNC’s voice controls, Ford is making the use of apps while driving less distracting.
A Nationwide Mutual insurance 2010 study indicates that one-in-four Americans who download smartphone apps use them while driving. Neilsen research shows that smartphones will outnumber feature phones by the end of the year, pointing to an increase in the number of app users.
Ford’s app developer has received 2500 submissions for new SYNC Applinks, including personalized entertainment, information, news, location-based services such as navigation, traffic and business searches, scheduling and planning.
Current SYNC-enabled apps include Pandora, Stitcher and OpenBeak.
Enhanced voice-recognition technology
Collaboration between Ford and Nuance Communications has enhanced voice recognition capabilities for SYNC, making it easier for drivers to learn the system.
New algorithms are designed to understand the intent of typical conversational phrases, and coach users on the correct voice commands to prompt the SYNC interface.
According to Ford’s research, more than 80 percent of car owners equipped with SYNC use voice-activated controls. The current system recognizes 10,000 commands, up from 100 on the first-generation SYNC system.
“We are examining how to take our voice recognition to the next level of command and control, helping further reduce the learning curve and improving ease of use,” said Brigitte Richardson, Ford Global Voice Control Technology and Speech Systems lead engineer.
Bold fonts make infotainment screens easier to read
Ford is changing the type style on the display screens inside its vehices to make them easier for drivers to read. The new bold fonts appear first in the 2012 Edge and Explorer.
According to medical research, a decline in vision begins at about age 40, and increases at age 60. The lens of the eye hardens, making it more difficult to focus. A person’s visual field narrows, and his ability to see in low light decreases.
In a Ford study, the fonts which older subjects found easiest to read were taller, wider, and had a thinner stroke.
“If you choose wisely, the legibility of even relatively small text can be a comfortable reading experience,” said research engineer, Shannon O’Day. “And if (a font) is easy for older people to read, it’s going to be easy for everyone to read.”
Bluetooth interface and cloud services enable drivers to manage chronic health conditions
Although SYNC was developed as an infotainment system, it is becoming an interface between patients and their doctors. New Bluetooth applications will enable Ford owners to monitor chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and asthma from the driver’s seat, while an experimental technology could also monitor the driver’s heart rate.
Ford teamed up with Medtronic, a manufacturer of glucose monitoring devices, to develop a prototype for a real-time glucose monitoring system. Drivers wearing a Medtronic continuous glucose monitoring device will be able to pair with the Ford’s SYNC system to receive audible alerts or center stack displays about their blood sugar levels.
A collaboration with the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America has resulted in a technology which enables allergy/asthma sufferers to monitor pollen levels in the areas they are travelling through, and get audible alerts.
In the future such information may be used to control the car’s ventilation system, turning on recirculation in high-pollen areas. Navigation systems which currently route drivers according to speed and distance could also offer an eco-friendly option, choosing a route through the least polluted areas.
Ford has partnered with WellDoc, a personal healthcare coach, to access cloud services which record and coach those with chronic health conditions on behavior which reduces their health risks. As insurance evolves to become more risk-based, the new system could reward those who follow recommendations to lessen their risks with lower premiums.
Ford of Europe is developing a hearth rate monitoring seat which functions in a similar manner to an electrocardiogram, to monitor and manage the driver’s stress levels. The seat could prompt the car’s infotainment system to reduce the driver’s stress by sending incoming phone calls to voicemail, and managing other infotainment options.
Passive safety developments protect high-risk occupants from injury
This year, Ford rolled out the first rear-seat inflatable seatbelt on the new Explorer. The idea is to spread the load the seatbelt creates during a collision over a wider portion of the chest, reducing the risk of trauma for small children and elderly passengers.
On small passengers, the inflated belt also holds the chin in place, preventing the head from snapping forward. Since children tend to have larger heads and their neck muscles are not fully developed, the inflatable belts are a measure of protection against whiplash.
Ford will expand its offerings on this technology to the Flex crossover vehicle and Lincoln vehicles, beginning in the summer of 2012.
The manufacturer’s data indicates that 40 percent of Explorer buyers are parents who are ordering the inflatable belt option. According to Ford research, 90 percent of those who tested the inflatable belts found them to be similar to or more comfortable than conventional seat belts: a factor which Ford helps will increase the number of rear seat passengers who use their seat belts.
Intelligent vehicle technology
Although it sounds like science fiction, the idea of intelligent transportation is not new. Automakers have been toying with the idea of cars which function independently of the driver or help the driver avoid potential accidents for over a decade.
Ford is using wireless communications to develop a system which could alert owners of their cars about potentially dangerous situations around the vehicle, and use the car’s safety systems to avoid accidents.
The idea is to enable vehicles to communicate with each other using secure wireless networks. The system could warn a driver if a car in the vicinity is about to run a red light, or if there is a risk of a collision when changing lanes.
The technology uses WiFi signals, or short-range communications on a dedicated secured channel authorized by the FCC. The WiFi system allows 360 degrees of detection, enhancing the current capability of passive safety alerts such as blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert.
One response to “New Ford Technologies Enhance Connectivity”
Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.
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