Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010 | 12:47 p.m.
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Ford Motor Company executives unveiled the company’s latest developments in in-vehicle technology at Thursday morning’s opening-day keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Dubbed “MyFord Touch,” a new system replaces standard gauges, buttons and the entertainment console with high-resolution, LCD touch-screens.
It displays information using two 4.2-inch, color LCD screens near the speedometer and another 8-inch touch-screen in the center of the dashboard. Controls on the steering wheel allow drivers to switch between the products' four main applications: phone, entertainment, climate and navigation.
“We’re increasing connectivity while minimizing driver distractions,” Ford President and Chief Executive Alan Mulally said.
All of the MyFord Touch features are accessed by voice commands and touch-screen technology, while on the steering wheel it uses a five-point controller similar to an iPod or PlayStation controller.
Ford's head of global product development, Derrick Kuzak, said the goal of MyFord Touch was to bring already-familiar tools -- like video game controllers -- to vehicles.
MyFord Touch will be on showroom floors by the end of the year, starting with the 2011 Edge, followed by the Focus.
The Lincoln version of MyFord Touch will be unveiled next week and will be standard in all Lincoln MKX vehicles by the end of the year.
The Lincoln Touch is an upgraded version of the program for the higher-end vehicle. Drivers can change ambient lighting and change audio levels with “fingertip slider” controls.
Ford also announced advances in the next generation of Sync, Microsoft’s Windows-embedded platform. Mulally said Ford estimated Sync would be available in 1 million vehicles by the end of 2009, although Ford hit its goal in May.
The newest version of Sync upgrades almost everything in the older version, including advanced phone book features, 911 assistance and music scanning.
The latest version includes turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic reports, and soon will include a MapQuest feature that will let drivers send directions from their computer to Sync.
Among other features, the new version of Sync is WiFi-enabled, allowing drivers to send information from their mobile phones and computers straight to their vehicles. Drivers can also browse the Web, but only when the vehicle is in park.
With the tech world and consumers in an app craze, Ford announced its own developments in connecting drivers with their favorite apps. Drivers soon will be able to access their mobile apps through Sync with Ford’s Mobile Connectivity Package.
The company also announced partnerships with Pandora, content aggregator Sticher and Open Beak, a Twitter app.