Ford adding tweets to its Sync in-car technology

January 7, 2010 By RACHEL METZ , AP Technology Writer
Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally gives the keynote address at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010. (AP Photo/Laura Rauch)

(AP) -- Ford Motor Co. is adding Twitter messages and Internet radio to its in-car entertainment and communication service, known as Sync, and suggests that the voice-activated system is safer for drivers than trying to manipulate applications on their cell phones.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally told an audience at the International on Thursday that Sync is designed as a way for drivers to do things like chat with their kids and make dinner reservations, "all while keeping their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel."

Ford is one of many companies at CES that are showing off information and entertainment technologies for car drivers and passengers. Such products have been available for several years, but their proliferation is leading to increased fears about whether drivers can stay focused on the road while listening to tweets and requesting stock quotes.

Paul Green, a professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute who studies the effects of distractions for motorists, said automakers are making a "reasonable effort" to minimize the problem. It's unclear how successful they are, though, because vehicles are becoming more and more complicated, adding to a driver's workload.

Green said that since Sync uses voice-activated commands, it should make it easier for drivers to keep their attention on the road.

"They're providing more things for drivers to do, but they're providing them in an easy way," he said. "One hopes it's a net gain."

Ford's Sync service, which was developed by Corp. and rolled out in 2007, already lets drivers do such things as make phone calls and use GPS technology to get turn-by-turn directions and traffic information.

Now, Ford executives said Thursday, Sync will begin working with two Internet radio services, Pandora and Stitcher. It also will connect to OpenBeak, which can read your or your friends' Twitter posts out loud. Users will need to have the Sync versions of these applications on a phone with a Bluetooth wireless link.

Later this year, Ford plans to allow more software developers to modify their applications to work with Sync, too.

In an interview, Pandora founder Tim Westergren said the car is the "holy grail" of radio, and having his music application available through Sync shows how important Internet radio has become. Internet radio services offer a much wider variety of music than commercial services, generally without ads.

"This is a tipping point, I think," he said.

Ford executives said that the company is talking with Google Inc. about bringing its services to cars as well, and that it plans to add Wi-Fi to some cars that have Sync.

Ford also said it will roll out a new LCD dashboard for cars later this year. Called MyFord Touch, it would work with Sync and let users do things such as personalize a car's audio and temperature settings. The company plans to have MyFord Touch on 80 percent of its vehicles in the next five years.

Explore further: Auto show looking more like CES than not


Related Stories

Auto show looking more like CES than not

January 21, 2009

As I toured the convention hall this past week, I had to keep reminding myself that this was Detroit and the North American International Auto Show, not Las Vegas and the Consumer Electronics Show.

Ford backs bill to ban texting while driving

September 11, 2009

(AP) -- Ford said Thursday it backs federal legislation pressuring states to ban texting while driving in an effort to reduce driver distractions that could lead to accidents.

Google Apps synch to Microsoft Outlook email

June 10, 2009

Google on Tuesday synched applications available online as services with Outlook email programs, continuing a push into workplaces historically dominated by Microsoft software.

Warning signals for drivers who like to listen to music

November 26, 2007

Listening to the radio can make it hard for drivers to hear the collision avoidance warning signals that are increasingly being introduced into new cars. Oxford University experimental psychologists have analysed how car ...

Recommended for you

Old, meet new: Drones, high-tech camera revamp archaeology

November 24, 2017

Scanning an empty field that once housed a Shaker village in New Hampshire, Jesse Casana had come in search of the foundations of stone buildings, long-forgotten roadways and other remnants of this community dating to the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.