Ford, Microsoft Jointly Promote SYNC Connectivity Technologies at Computex Taipei

Jun 05, 2012 Ι Industry In-Focus Ι Auto Parts and Accessories Ι By Ken Liu, CENS
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Taipei, June 5, 2012 (CENS)--Ford Motor Co. and Microsoft Corp. yesterday co-promoted Microsoft's SYNC in-car connectivity platforms embedded in latest Ford cars at Ford's booth on the eve of the Computex Taipei 2012, highlighting the market potential of broadband-connectivity vehicle technologies.

“Ford SYNC is actually a technology that allows people and consumers to bring in mobile phones and MP3 player and use them in cars through a series of voice commands. So that way they can drive while keeping eyes on the road and hands on the wheel,” Chris Elliott, senior marketing communication manger of Windows Embedded, said in an interview with CENS. He noted that SYNC is compatible with almost all types of smartphones.

Edward A. Pleet, Ford's director in charge of connected services in Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa, told CENS that Ford is the first automaker ever to be in Computex. “We're brining SYNC to Asia Pacific, specifically Taiwan. What's unique is it is going to have the ability to use mandarin, both simplified and traditional mandarin in voice interface. It is the most powerful voice-control technology in the market because it allows our customers to use local languages to control their phones, iPods, and music players, you name it,” he said.

SYNC is an in-car communications and entertainment system underscoring voice-dictation technology that Microsoft developed specifically for Ford and was debuted at the CES show in 2007. The system is based on an a Microsoft Auto operating system comprising an ARM 11 processor, 64MB of DRAM and 256MB of flash memory. Bluethooth is the wireless technology inside.

When SYNC made first debut in North America, it had only three languages. Now, it has 19 different languages and superb voice recognition technology inside, according to Elliott. “SYNC can find out difficult friend who has that hard pronounced name, think and identify it. You just give commands in usual voice, you don't need to shout or yell or slow down. You don't need to clarify your language,” he elaborated.

When asked about market potential of in-car connectivity communications and entertainment technologies, Elliot said the market is huge. “The market is staggering with the exploding number of mobile phones people are using and buying every day and the exploding car market in China and in Asia,” he assessed.

Pleet noted that in Taiwan alone, 77% of mobile subscription is broadband and the subscription is going to be 80% at the end of this year. In mainland China, mobile subscription just passed one billion. In India, the subscription is 900 million. “We saw SYNC was an opportunity to let them have the connectivity experience when they get in the vehicles. Through the power of the platform Microsoft team developed with Windows Auto Embedded we've been able to leverage that platform and add these capabilities in vehicle so that customers can be safely connected and have safe drive experience,”

Ford estimates SYNC is now in four million cars of devices and the number will increase by nine million until 2015.

In addition to Ford, Microsoft is working with a dozen of carmakers on similar technology. Among them is Kia of South Korea, according to Elliott.
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