Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ford Voice-Controlled Texting Keeps Hands at 10 and 2

STONEHAM, Mass. -- Ford Motor Company is turning to technology to solve one of the greatest risks on the road: distracted driving. A recent poll from the Pew Internet and American Life Project reported that more than one in four American drivers admit to texting while driving, despite the danger involved and state bans that levy hefty fines against drivers who cannot resist the urge to text from behind the wheel.

Ford, a supporter of texting-while-driving bans, has introduced its solution in the form of a voice-activated, hands-free texting system available in some new models, including the 2011 Ford Edge.

The MyFord Touch system allows drivers to receive texts through audio and use voice commands to reply, so drivers can communicate safely with friends, family and colleagues. This new technology is an industry first, and Ford is pushing for compatibility with all smartphones.

“The state of Massachusetts was right to ban texting while driving. It’s a dangerous habit that removes the driver’s focus from the road,” said Alan Melkonian, general manager of Greater Boston Ford dealer Stoneham Ford. “The MyFord Touch system eliminates the need for unsafe texting while driving by providing an alternative that keeps the driver’s eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”

The new voice text system is the latest hands-free innovation for Ford’s SYNC system, which allows drivers to communicate without jeopardizing the safety of themselves and others on the road. Ford has consistently improved its SYNC system since its 2007 debut, and the automaker is currently working to increase the hands-free capabilities of Ford SYNC by adding more smartphone apps to the system.

At the 2010 CTIA Wireless Association Enterprise and Applications Conference, Ford asked the wireless community and app developers to collaborate on applications that will enhance the Ford driving experience. Ford released the software development kit for its SYNC system and has accepted more than 1,000 submissions for voice-command apps at the SYNC My Ride website. Ford is already working with Pandora internet radio, Stitcher smart radio and Orangatame’s OpenBeak to develop SYNC applications.

“For many drivers, staying connected is essential to their everyday lives. Rather than reaching for their cell phones, Boston Ford drivers will travel safely and remain focused on driving by using the growing number of voice-activated capabilities in Ford vehicles,” Melkonian said. “As Ford advances its SYNC technology, it will transform the way Ford owners drive.”

At the CTIA conference, Ford also hinted at additional technologies that could change the way people travel in the near future. One idea was a parking application that reserves, pays for and finds available parking spots. While many Boston drivers will welcome the convenience of such advanced technology, those with secret, go-to parking spots on side streets may not appreciate the high-tech competition.