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Myford Touch Defines Iituitive Driver Experience: Advanced Capabilities All Voice-Controlled Now

Sunday, January 10th, 2010


The new MyFord TouchTM driver connect technology announced today at the 2010 International CES is designed to be powerful yet intuitive for drivers, blending strengths of the most proven interfaces in consumer electronics – including MP3 players and mobile phones – with a new generation of Ford’s award-winning SYNC® system.
“MyFord Touch, combined with new SYNC functionality, creates an experience that will cause people to fall in love with their vehicles again,” said Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “It’s not just a technology; it’s an experience – one we hope will have people across the globe looking forward to spending time behind the wheel of their vehicle.”
MyFord, which will be branded as MyLincoln Touch and MyMercury Touch on respective Lincoln and Mercury brand products, redesigns the in-car interface, mirroring how consumers interact with most devices in their lives using touch-sensitive buttons, touch screens, thumb-wheel controls and voice recognition.
In that respect, MyFord is instantly familiar. Using reconfigurable displays and simplified voice commands, though, MyFord also can present multiple layers of information, just as the driver wants it.
“MyFord really is about managing information,” said Jason Johnson, Ford user interface design engineer. “Driving is the priority when you’re behind the wheel, so we’ve made it possible to simplify the content management so customers can drive with minimal distraction. In the end, what MyFord displays is really up to the driver.”
MyFord Touch layout
MyFord Touch retains the traditional car interior layout that has existed for decades – instrument cluster in front of the driver, center stack dividing the dashboard – and adds even more voice control plus full-color LCD screens for much of the visual information presentation. The information presented is customizable by the driver using a combination of voice controls, touch-screen technology and five-way cell phone-style buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
MyFord Touch instrument panel view
MyFord Touch displays information using two 4.2-inch full-color LCD screens flanking an analog speedometer and an 8-inch touch-screen LCD at the top of the center stack. A five-way switch on each side of the steering wheel crossbar – similar to the one found on most mobile phones and MP3 players – controls the information displayed on the corresponding instrument panel screens.
“The steering wheel has all the necessary functions available in a very compact area, right where your hand falls as you grab the wheel,” said Johnson. “The five-way buttons will feel familiar to anyone who has used a mobile phone or MP3 player. Drivers aren’t forced to use a quirky or unfamiliar interface like a joystick or rotary knob.”
MyFord Touch center stack with 8-inch touch-screen and capacitive switches
The left display, which is controlled by the left five-way controller, features information and settings for the vehicle: fuel economy, mechanical status, safety features.
The right display, controlled by the right five-way controller, contains infotainment information: audio settings, climate control, phone communications and navigation menus.
Eight-inch LCD center stack screen showing four-corner layout
Those same right-hand functions also appear in the vehicle’s center stack, now augmented with capacitive switches and touch-screen technology, which subtly replaces most traditional knobs and switches.
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.
Available touch-screen display
The 8-inch touch-screen center stack display is the key interface on MyFord Touch. Designers employed a four-corner solution for its layout, representing the four activities most important to customers: phone, navigation, climate and audio/entertainment functions.
Regardless of what menus customers are viewing, a single touch on the appropriate corner will always bring up the desired functionality, and in most cases, a voice command also can be used to adjust the controls.
With the four-corner layout, functions are where they’re expected to be, and they’re always visible on the screen, so it’s clear and easy for users to understand where they are in the system.
Color also is used to give drivers intuitive visual cues between the central 8-inch MyFord Touch display and the instrument-panel-mounted 4.2-inch display. Phone and communications functions always are presented with an orange background, navigation with a green background, climate control with a blue background and audio/entertainment functions with a red background.
SYNC – behind the scenes
Behind the displays of MyFord Touch driver connect technology, the next generation of Ford’s award-winning SYNC system runs the show, built using the Microsoft Windows Embedded Auto software platform.
SYNC has evolved from a standalone module providing voice-activated control for mobile devices to a fully integrated platform for Ford vehicles with MyFord – a technology that will become the global interior architecture for all future Ford products.
“With more than a million SYNC-equipped cars on the road already, it’s exciting to see Ford continue to push the envelope and explore new applications for Microsoft’s Windows Embedded automotive software,” said Kevin Dallas, general manager for Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Business division. “The car is returning to the place where consumers go to see high tech innovation.”
Features available through MyFord Touch, powered by SYNC include:
Media Hub
  • Additional USB port for a total of two USB 2.0 inputs
  • SD Card slot
  • RCA A/V input jacks
Internet Connectivity
  • Full WiFi capability including Internet “hot spot” connectivity and a built-in browser for use while in “Park” (late availability)
  • Integrated browser supports tabbed page navigation, “drag” to pan and scroll and a provides a 3-D carousel for bookmark browsing
  • Support for on-screen and USB-connected keyboards
  • RSS feed aggregator and text-to-voice reader
  • Mobile in-car WiFi “hot spot” capability through USB-installed air card or USB mobile broadband modem
  • Phone book contact photo download and 3-D carousel browsing
  • Birthday reminders
  • Enhanced error correction and reporting
Voice Recognition
  • Direct speech commands and “flattened structure” for quicker, more responsive voice control
  • Voice-command activation of selected climate control functions
    Voice commands will be available for most radio functions, including AM/FM, HD RadioTM Technology and SIRIUS/XM® Satellite Radio
  • SIRIUS Game Finder application will facilitate automatic voice tuning for desired sporting events using commands such as “Tune to Detroit Lions game” or “Show NFL games”
  • Improved visual presentation of SYNC Traffic, Directions & Information app adds directional arrows, street names and distance markers
  • Map-based navigation app provided by TeleNav via an optional SD Card
  • SD Card navigation includes SIRIUS Travel LinkTM services such as weather maps, movie listings, gas prices, and sports scores
  • SD Card navigation also adds cities point-of-interest information including ratings and amenities
  • Map data includes 3-D visual landmarks
Climate Control
  • MyTemp personalization allows the driver to store a preferred temperature, which is then accessible with a single touch of the MyTemp button
  • Different MyTemp settings can be programmed to different keys; multiple drivers in a household can each have unique MyTemp settings
  • AM/FM/CD, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, USB-connected MP3 players and memory sticks
  • New HD Radio capability
  • Song tagging capability via HD Radio Technology, allowing listeners to identify song information and store it for later use
  • Browse tracks by artist, scan lists of tracks with identical names, and browse through devices without having to change audio sources
  • 3-D carousel album cover art and photo viewing displays allow easy scanning of available material, especially combined with Gracenote Media Management
  • Media player equipped with new “Podcast” source category
  • Enhanced Bluetooth® audio support including metadata, which allows additional command and control functions for capable mobile devices
Vehicle Setting Personalization
  • Ambient lighting color control using a 3-D carousel browser
  • Custom welcome messages
  • Saved and transferrable user profiles that can be ported between Ford vehicles equipped with MyFord
  • Door keypad code control using on-screen menus
  • Where available, Active Park Assist and Rear View Camera displays
  • Image and video uploading via SD card slot or USB 2.0 ports
SYNC Apps & Services
  • Traffic, Directions & Information offers personalized traffic reports and routing from INRIX, turn-by-turn directions, business search, sports, news and weather via SYNC and the user’s mobile phone
  • Downloadable destinations when coupled with the SD card navigation function; SYNC Service Delivery Network (SDN) will be able to send a destination directly to the vehicle
  • Vehicle Health Reports will download service reminders and vehicle information directly to the in-car displays
  • Improved 911 Assist™ capability with GPS location can call for help in the event of an air bag deployment
Flexible, upgradable and ready for global deployment
Built using the latest technology from the Windows Embedded Business at Microsoft, the second generation of SYNC has been designed from the outset to be expandable, allowing it to grow and add new features without requiring new hardware. By employing a Media Hub for interfacing with external devices and media, Ford has helped ensure compatibility with future innovations.

“The Media Hub is really the key to SYNC’s new upgradability,” said User Interface Design Engineer Johnson. “Take navigation: In the past, map data was stored on a hard drive and updates took hours to load from DVD. With SYNC and MyFord Touch, if you need a map update, you take the old SD card out of the Media Hub and pop in a new one. It’ll be the first time an automaker will offer something that competes with the cost and ease of personal navigation devices.”
The system also has been configured for global deployment from the start, using one hardware package in all regions worldwide. The identical global SYNC hardware will be outfitted with branding, languages and regionally appropriate applications while the host vehicle is on the assembly line, all using WiFi technology.
MyFord technology will not be exclusive to high-end products. As new and refreshed Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury models continue to arrive on the world stage, all will be outfitted with an implementation of MyFord driver connect technology.
“MyFord will become part of the global DNA of Ford products,” said Kuzak. “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.”
Source: http://www.ford.com/about-ford/news-announcements/press-releases/press-releases-detail/pr-myford-touch-defines-intuitive-31716

Openback, Pandora and Stitcher are First To Use Ford Sync Application Interface, Bringing Twitter, Internet Radio Control Into Vehicles

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

Ford Motor Company today announced Pandora, Stitcher and Orangatame’s OpenBeak (formerly TwitterBerry) are the first partners to enable their apps to be controlled in the car by SYNC using the new application programming interface (API) in the SYNC software development kit.

“SYNC’s open platform approach is unique in the industry and allows us to capitalize on the ever-improving capabilities of mobile devices,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford Connected Services Solutions Organization. “Smartphone mobile apps are experiencing explosive growth, and consumers are becoming dependent on them for news, entertainment and information, so we’re excited to be working with some of the most popular apps on the market, OpenBeak, Pandora and Stitcher, to showcase the potential of the SYNC API.”

The SYNC API is being created in conjunction with a related software development kit (SDK) and associated hardware that will include a Ford radio head and related SYNC components configured to operate outside of the vehicle. The entire package is planned for broader rollout later this year and will allow developers to modify existing mobile applications and create all-new apps that can interface with Ford’s popular SYNC voice-activated in-car communications system.

By enabling developers to integrate the SYNC API into their apps, Ford is providing customers with the capability to access the applications they use most while in the car. Leveraging SYNC’s safer voice commands and steering wheel controls, drivers are able to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Using an open API model allows Ford to leverage the mobile device as an operating system and processor, while using SYNC to access the vehicle controls.

“To use OpenBeak, Pandora or Stitcher in the car right now, drivers have to take their eyes off the road and manually control the device,” explained VanDagens. “Recent research shows that activity that draws drivers’ eyes off the road substantially increases the risk of accidents. By allowing drivers to control the app through SYNC’s voice commands and steering wheel buttons, we can hopefully reduce distraction for millions of drivers wanting to enjoy these apps during their commutes.”

Ford is joining millions of customers in embracing the app marketplace. Studies show what was a nonexistent niche just three years ago is expected to blossom into a $4 billion industry by 2012. The App Store, run by Apple, is one of dozens of application marketplaces and already boasts more than 100,000 mobile apps and more than 2 billion downloads.

Similar sites serving other mobile operating systems, such as Android and BlackBerry®, have experienced the same explosive growth. Analysts predict the mobile device will become the No. 1 source for Internet access by 2020, surpassing the home computer. Ford and SYNC will answer the consumer demand by offering the only platform available for drivers to safely manage their mobile applications.

Customers will be able to download SYNC-enabled mobile apps through the same app store interfaces consumers currently use. As SYNC-enabled versions of existing apps are released into the app stores, users will be prompted to download the latest version upon connection. Also, as developers grasp the notion that the vehicle interior has opened to them, a new dimension of apps designed from the outset to maximize the unique in-car environment will follow.

OpenBeak is a mobile client for posting updates and reading messages on Twitter. It works over the data network, so users don’t need to use Short Message Service from their mobile phones. OpenBeak is the evolution of the original Twitter app for BlackBerry smartphones, TwitterBerry, which was launched in 2007. OpenBeak reflects the app’s expansion beyond its original functionality.

The SYNC application will take the Twitter experience to a whole new level, with safety while interacting in the vehicle as the main goal. Timelines, direct messages and friends can be read out loud. While listening to a particular tweet, the display indicates the user and elapsed time since the tweet was written. Also planned is the capability to retweet a post, be notified when new messages are received or tweets appear in a user’s timeline and, upon startup, present the total number of new tweets. Steering wheel controls will skip to the next tweet or go back to the previous item in the timeline.

With more than 40 million users, Pandora is the most popular Internet radio service in the world. Users simply enter a favorite song or artist into Pandora and the app quickly creates personalized radio stations, based on that musical style. The use of Pandora’s thumb up/thumb down feature allows listeners to further curate their stations and enjoy a stream of great music, perfectly suited to their taste – new and old, well known and obscure.

Pandora’s mobile audience, 17 million strong and growing rapidly, is ripe for the SYNC application, which will allow them to further extend their listening into the car. With the SYNC-enabled Pandora app, listeners can use vehicle controls to pause and skip songs, and use voice commands to thumb up or down songs, switch between Pandora stations, or create a new station from a currently playing artist or song.

Focusing on the mobile market, Stitcher allows listeners to create personalized, on-demand Internet radio stations with news, talk and entertainment programming. Within the Stitcher app, users choose the programs they want “stitched” together, and the app then streams that content to the user’s mobile device. Stitcher also will recommend new programs that come online if they match with the types of programs the user already has chosen.

Since its release in 2008, Stitcher has received numerous awards including a People’s Choice Webby award for mobile news, a Best of ’09 award from San Francisco magazine and a PC Mag Top 10 App of 2009.

Additional apps to come
Working with new partners, Ford is completing beta-testing on the SDK. Once the kits are out of the beta-testing stage, a broader release of the development tools is planned for late 2010. Initial reports have been positive, with one of Ford’s development partners creating a SYNC-enabled version of its app just three days after receiving the development tools.

“We’re really encouraged by the rapid development time and positive feedback we’ve seen from our first partners,” said VanDagens. “Getting app functionality inside the vehicle, controllable through vehicle interfaces, will be huge for customer convenience and for helping drivers complete their tasks while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”

Source: http://www.ford.com/about-ford/news-announcements/press-releases/press-releases-detail/pr-openbeak-pandora-and-stitcher-are-31712

Japanese Used Vehicles for Sale

Foreign carmakers offering big discounts in Japan

Monday, May 4th, 2009

With car sales stalling amid the global recession, foreign carmakers in Japan recently launched discount campaigns in a bid to overcome the double disadvantage they suffer as many of their car are not subject to tax breaks or government purchase subsidies for eco-friendly car buyers.

The foreign carmakers’ strategy is to play up the distinctive and luxurious features of their new models, while calling consumers’ attention to their reduced prices.

On May 8, Mercedes-Benz Japan began offering a discount of up to 450,000 yen on three models. BMW Japan is offering a discount of up to 250,000 yen. Fiat, Volvo and Audi are also offering discounts in a bid to boost flagging sales of imported cars.

Renault-Nissan and Project Better Place pursue their strategy of zero-emission vehicles in Denmark

Friday, March 28th, 2008

The Renault-Nissan Alliance actively supports the initiative of Project Better Place which announced today its second deployment in Denmark.

Renault will provide Danish customers with 100% electric vehicles at European standards in 2011, providing zero emission mobility while at the same time offering driving performance similar to a gasoline engine.
Nissan, through its joint venture with NEC, has created an advanced lithium-ion battery pack that both meets the requirements of this electric vehicle and can be mass-produced.
In Denmark, the conditions necessary for electric vehicles to be successfully mass-marketed are being brought together. The Danish government will provide tax incentives on 100% electric vehicles, Renault will supply the electric vehicles and, Better Place Denmark will construct and operate an Electric Recharge Grid across the entire country.

This announcement follows the January 21st 2008 signature of an MOU in Jerusalem by Renault and Project Better Place for the first mass-marketed electric vehicles. This second deployment illustrates the major role played by the Renault-Nissan Alliance to bring to mass-market zero-emission cars.

Renault Corporate
The Renault Group generated global revenues of €40,682 million in 2007. It designs, engineers, manufactures and sells passenger and light commercial vehicles throughout the world. The Renault Group is present in 118 countries and sells vehicles under its three brands – Renault, Dacia and Samsung. The Renault Group employs 129,000 people worldwide.

Nissan Corporate
The Nissan Motor Company generated global net revenues of 10.468 trillion yen in 2006. Nissan is present in all major global auto markets selling a comprehensive range of cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. Nissan employs over 220,000 people worldwide.

Renault-Nissan Alliance
The Renault-Nissan Alliance, created in 1999, has sold 6,160,046 vehicles in 2007. The Alliance aims to be ranked in the top three in terms of quality, technology and profitability amongst the major global automakers.

Source: Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

Mitsubishi Motors transfers production of SUV for PSA Peugeot Citroen

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announces today that it has decided to transfer production of all EU-bound SUVs it supplies to PSA Peugeot Citroen from its Mizushima Plant (Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture), where they are currently built, to its European production hub, Netherlands Car B.V. (”NedCar”, Born, The Netherlands).

The transfer will be effective as of January 2009.

This decision was driven by MMC’s desire to optimize its production capacities according to demand for each model, minimizing missed sales opportunities.

A 100% Mitsubishi Motors facility, NedCar currently builds the European Colt family of compact cars. From August 2008, NedCar will add production of the Outlander SUV.

In parallel, production of the non EU-bound PSA Peugeot Citroen SUVs will be transferred to MMC’s Nagoya Plant (Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture), starting November 2008.

Source: Mitsubishi Motors Corporation

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