My Ford Touch: Hands Free/Remote Applications to Power Your 21st Century Car
What is "My Ford Touch"?
Ever wish you could combine all the technologies you need in your daily life to be at your fingertips when you are commuting or carpooling? With My Ford Touch - and its counterparts My Lincoln Touch and My Mercury Touch - you can.
Recently, Ford Motor Company introduced its safe and easy-to-use system at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which allows drivers to connect to both internal systems of their automobile and their digital lives with touch screens and voice recognition technologies. This hands free application is revolutionary and will change the way we get around and stay in touch while on the road.
The technology is available starting with the 2011 Ford Edge in the United States, and can be enjoyed worldwide beginning with the 2012 Ford Focus. MyLincoln Touch will be standard on Lincoln models starting with the 2011 Lincoln MKX.
I got to interview Ford employees about the safety and reliability of the MyFord Touch technology, which will be branded as MyLincoln Touch and MyMercury Touch on Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, during my visit to Detroit in January 2011 for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
What Can You Do with MyFord Touch?
Driving a vehicle with MyFord Touch is like being surrounded by your own personal assistant. MyFord Touch has been in development for years. As described by Wikipedia, the Ford SYNC technology stands to change the way we interact with our vehicles:
Ford SYNC is a factory-installed, fully integrated in-vehicle communications and entertainment system that allows users to make hands-free telephone calls and control music and other functions using voice commands.The system consists of applications and user interfaces developed by Ford and third-party developers that run on the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive operating system.
My Ford Touch brings the information up to eye level to reduce driver distraction, displaying information on two 4.2-inch full-color LCD screens that sit on either side of an analog speedometer and an 8-inch touch-screen LCD. Each side of the steering wheel includes a 5-way switch that can control the information displayed on the panel screens.
What can you do with MyFord Touch? Maybe the question should be, what can't you do?
- Access phone information including contacts, birthday reminders with 3-D carousel browsing
- Enjoy voice recognition technology that uses direct speech commands and “flattened structure” for more responsive voice control. Voice commands can be used for climate control, radio functions and SIRIUS satellite radio (which includes the amazing SIRIUS "Game Finder" application that allows commands like, “Tune to Seattle Seahawks game”)
- Use one of several navigational applications, including Ford SYNC with traffic, directions and information, or one of several optional SD card navigation apps provided via TeleNav or SIRIUS TravelLink
- SD card navigation includes point-of-interest information, with ratings, amenities and 3-D visual landmarks
- Program your preferred climate control temperature that you can access each time with a single touch of the MyTemp button
- Enjoy your favorite music with USB-connected MP3 players, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and HD Radio technology that allows you to ID and tag songs, browse tracks by artist and even enjoy 3-D album covers... and much more!
- Personalize and save your My Ford Touch settings for yourself and other drivers
- Get traffic, directions, news, business, weather and other information from Ford SYNC apps and services via your mobile phone
- Your car will tell you when its ready for service through in-vehicle displays
- Get in an accident or break-down? 911 Assist and GPS location will call for help
How does My Ford Touch Work?
Going Electric? Use My Ford Touch and My Ford Mobile
While Ford's newest electric passenger car, the 2012 Ford Focus EV, is still about a year away, you'll be able to use some of the features of My Ford Touch and "My Ford Mobile," an application available on Android, which gives you the number of remaining miles on your electric car charge so you can calculate whether you'll need to find a quick charging station before reaching your destination. My Ford Mobile also gives you information regarding "Value Charging," using technology developed with Microsoft to let you know when grid-based electricity is priced the cheapest and you can plan your plug-ins accordingly.
With My Ford Touch, you can program it to warm up your car before you get into it. Not by running the engine or idling (electric cars don't have an engine that gets warm), but by literally getting the interior heated to a comfortable temperature before you pull away from the curb.
Save gas, save the environment and enjoy the coolest, cutting edge MyFord Touch technology! Stay tuned for when the 2012 Ford Focus EV hits the market.
2011 Ford Edge with My Ford Touch
But is "My Ford Touch" Safe?
We were invited to NAIAS by Ford Motor Company to hear information about their new products, learn about green cars and technologies and even hear about how the company is minimizing its own carbon footprint at its Driving Green Technology event.**
I was one of about 100 bloggers invited to cover the event, and I can say that a number of us had questions regarding the safety of driving a car while potentially being distracted by the cool, interactive screens of the My Ford Touch system. We were assured that the screens are at eye level and can be operated both via the steering wheel and voice recognition technology. It does appear to be capable of entirely hands-free operation. It will even read text messages to you, and you can pick standard responses to "text" back via voice command (i.e. "LOL" or "Be home soon").
As was noted, we are increasingly reliant on our phones, navigational apps and GPS devices. Consumers are determined to use their electronics in their vehicles and, if Ford can find a safe way to accommodate these activities, then more power to them!
As My Ford Touch rolls out, we'll soon get more "real life" stories of how it works to better assess the potential driver distraction component. With smart phones and other devices, why not own a "smart car," that is truly interactive? After all, when you and your car can operate as one, you could minimize the distractions otherwise associated with adjusting HVAC, searching for radio stations you like, or even answering your cell phone.
**Although Ford Motor Company paid for my travel and accommodations at the 2-day event, I was not compensated in any other manner for my time. My opinions posted here are my own.
Ford SYNC: Hands Free Technology for the 21st Century
© 2011 Stephanie Hicks