SYNC®Arrives in South Africa on New Ford Focus
- The new Focus is the first Ford vehicle in South Africa to feature Ford SYNC® connectivity platform
- The award-winning system provides customers the convenience and flexibility to bring digital media players and Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phones into the new Focus and operate the devices via voice commands and a steering-wheel mounted control
- SYNC® can recognise up to 150 voice commands and cope with variations in accents and vocabulary, making it easier to access more content by voice
pretoria, South Africa, 28 September, 2012 – Turning the new Ford Focus into more than a car, the award-winning Ford SYNC® system will allow customers to make phone calls or play their favourite music using voice commands. The new Ford Focus will be the first Ford vehicle in South Africa to feature the SYNC® connectivity platform.
Using the hands-free technology of SYNC®, powered by Microsoft, customers can connect almost any mobile phone or digital media player to their Focus via Bluetooth® and USB connection respectively. Drivers can use either steering wheel-mounted controls or voice commands to manage the system’s features.
First introduced in North America, SYNC® is now installed in more than 4 million Ford vehicles. With this industry-exclusive system launching across Europe and Asia this year, Ford projects an additional 9 million vehicles will be equipped with SYNC® by 2015.
“SYNC® has been a transformational technology not only for Ford, but for the entire industry,” said Kumar Galhotra, vice president, Product Development, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa.
“SYNC® has been integral to keeping pace with the consumer, delivering value through smart and convenient features that helps keep them connected to their digital lives in a safer, simpler and smarter way.”
Partnering with Microsoft
Ford and Microsoft have worked together for nearly six years to develop an integrated communications and infotainment system that connects drivers and passengers to their digital lifestyles.
“Ford has had a longstanding partnership with Microsoft, and together we have been pioneers in developing and delivering world-class voice-activated connectivity systems for Ford customers around the world,” said Galhotra.
At the heart of SYNC® is Microsoft’s Windows Embedded Automotive, a powerful and reliable software platform which allows Ford to deliver the most comprehensive package of control and connectivity options, as well as innovative features and functionality that deliver an engaging user experience for customers.
“Microsoft and Ford share a common vision where drivers are connected to the people, information and entertainment they care about while they are driving, all in a safe environment,” said Chris Elliott, senior product marketing manager, Windows Embedded, Microsoft Corp. “The platform makes it possible for Ford to continuously evolve the system to keep pace with new market trends and customer demands.”
Ford’s open platform approach to mobile device connectivity has helped SYNC® stand out in the industry for its ease of use, allowing for continuous improvement of the user experience. Unlike embedded connectivity systems, SYNC® does not allow access to the user’s stored contact information unless his or her phone is connected, hence ensuring a high level of privacy.
Using Bluetooth technology, SYNC®can wirelessly connect up to eight different mobile phones to the new Focus through a process called pairing. Once paired, SYNC® will automatically transfer all the names and numbers in the phone’s contact list to the in-vehicle system.
A microphone inside the cabin allows consumers to use their mobile phone hands-free while driving. Making a phone call is as simple as pushing a button and saying someone’s name. SYNC® also enables Focus customers to continue their mobile phone conversation as they get into the car – without the need to hang up – as the system will instantly connect to the Bluetooth-enabled phone once the car is started.
By seamlessly integrating with the mobile phone, SYNC® includes the same features offered on the phone, including caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, a caller log, contact list, a signal strength icon and a phone battery charge icon – all conveniently shown on the new Focus’ centrally-located display screen.
SYNC®can recognize the user’s ringtone on supported phones and play it when a call comes in. If unique ring tones have been selected to identify specific callers, SYNC will automatically play those too.
When connected to a compatible phone, SYNC® can even retrieve text messages and read them aloud, including popular abbreviations and emoticons such as LOL (laugh out loud) and 😀 (smiley big smile). Using voice activation, the driver can also send a reply from a predetermined list of 15 responses while on the move.
Other than making and receiving calls, SYNC® gives the driver full hands-free control over portable media players and USB storage devices. Users can browse their music collection by genre, album, artist, playlist or song title using voice commands. SYNC® can even put together a playlist of the music the driver is in the mood for with the “Play similar” command. The SYNC® USB port also simultaneously charges the player as the music is being played.
Additionally, SYNC® can wirelessly stream the user’s music collection on the mobile phone to the new Focus’ sound system via Bluetooth. All music played through SYNC® is high-resolution digital quality.
Voice control improvements
South African customers who are already familiar with the Fiesta, Focus and Kuga Bluetooth with Voice Control system will find that SYNC® takes in-car connectivity to another level.
Other than being able to automatically transfer contact information from the mobile phone to the new Focus, SYNC® can recognise up to 150 unique voice commands and cope with variations in accents and vocabulary. This allows users to take fewer steps and utilize more conversational commands to control SYNC® features, making it easier to access more content by voice.
In South Africa, SYNC® will be available in UK English. Ford has been working with its voice technology partner and industry leader Nuance Communications to find a way to make voice recognition even easier and more intuitive for drivers to successfully use, especially first-timers.
Nuance’s natural text-to-speech technology is also behind “Serena,” the female voice of SYNC®, providing drivers with a more natural, conversational experience with their Ford vehicle. All of these refinements are designed to encourage drivers to take advantage of the hands-free capabilities of SYNC® and keep their focus on driving.
“We know people want to stay connected in their vehicles, so Ford is continuing to deliver that connectivity for them responsibly and safely,” said Rod Phillips, SYNC® engineering manager, Asia Pacific Africa. “We aim to make the voice-activated SYNC® as easy to use as possible so that drivers can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”