HANOVER: Car maker Ford is to launch a number of vehicles in Europe with built-in voice activated technology designed to allow drivers to integrate devices such as smartphones.
The Ford Sync technology will be built into 10 vehicles due to be launched in Europe next year, including the latest Ford Focus.
Ford Sync will allow people to connect their own devices, rather than rely on embedded technology, according to Alan Mulally, president and chief executive of Ford.
Jason Johnson, lead user interface design engineer at Ford, was on hand at CeBIT to showcase a number of Ford Sync features, such as reading text messages received on a smartphone and playing music based on voice commands from the driver.
The primary interface for Sync is voice control, but control pads on the steering wheel provide access to functions which can be personalised, Johnson explained.
RCA jack, SD Card slot and two USB ports are also incorporated, and a touch screen allows drivers to monitor information, manage settings and access navigation.
"Everything is mapped out in a logical way on the touch screen. Colour coded corners allow the driver to view and control settings for entertainment, phone, navigation and climate control," Johnson said.
He added that the most relevant information can be personalised in order to minimise driver distraction.
Other features include a built-in Michelin guide to allow searches for restaurants, and an App Link feature compatible with Android, BlackBerry and iOS that allows compatible smartphone apps to be activated using voice recognition.
Ford will offer Sync free of charge and provide over-the-air updates so that the latest smartphones will be compatible with the software.
Sync will launch next year in Europe in 19 languages, and will recognise over 10,000 voice commands, Johnson claimed.
Other technology that will be incorporated into Ford cars include Wi-Fi, Active City Stop, Emergency Assistance and camera detection features.
Active City Stop is designed to prevent collisions in slow moving traffic using a light detection and ranging (Lidar) system, Mulally explained.
"Lidar technology will continually monitor the distance of the vehicle ahead. If that vehicle slows or stops quickly, Active City Stop pre-charges the brakes to help the driver stop. If the driver does not react in time, the brakes are applied automatically," he said.
The free Emergency Assistance service, meanwhile, will automatically call and speak to local emergency services in the local language if the driver has an accident.
Finally, a camera in the front of the vehicle will monitor when users drift out of lanes on the motorway and re-engage the steering wheel if necessary.
The camera features symbol recognition technology, allowing it to 'read' roadside information such as speed limits and display it on the dashboard.
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