Ford SYNC Added to the Computer History Museum Permanent Collection

Posted by at 11:55 pm on June 18, 2012

When people think of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., names like Microsoft, IBM, Cray, Apple and Google come to mind. Those technological luminaries have been joined by Ford as curators add the SYNC in-car communications and connectivity system to the museum’s permanent collection.

The Birth of SYNC

In 2005, Ford was looking for ways to change both its perception and its culture.”We saw connectivity as a way to change that paradigm,” said Doug VanDagens, now global director of Ford Connected Services and an early team member working on the SYNC project. At the same time, Microsoft was breaking into the automotive market with its Windows CE embedded operating system.

In April of that year, both Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates were featured speakers at the Microsoft Global Automotive Summit in Dearborn, Mich. The pair started to discuss how they could collaborate on bringing state-of-the-art connectivity into cars. Relying on an embedded system could leave a car hopelessly outdated long before the end of its useful life. Rather than force owners to pay for another wireless plan for their vehicles, Ford pursued connectivity platforms that would allow drivers to use the technology they already carried with them.

SYNC Today

SYNC debuted in the 2008 Focus, Ford’s most affordable car offering at the time, as a $395 option. More than 4 million Ford vehicles are already on the road with SYNC, a population expected to grow to more than 9 million by 2015 as SYNC goes global.

The SYNC software platform has provided for a regular cadence of new features, many of which have been made available to customers as a simple downloadable update they can install at home or by visiting a local Ford dealer.

New Features Have Included

  • 911 Assist (2008)  an automatic emergency calling feature that uses the customer’s Bluetooth-paired cell phone to directly call 911 if there has been an airbag deployment.
  • Vehicle Health Report (2008)  an on-demand diagnostic report that gets produced on-board the vehicle and sent via data-over-voice through the customer’s cell phone in order to be accessed through the Web portal.
  • SYNC Services (2009)  with the addition of a GPS module to the SYNC module inside the car, Ford created an off-board network of service providers that could be accessed with a simple voice command, “Services,” leveraging a customer’s mobile phone voice plan for voice-activated, personalized news, traffic, turn-by-turn navigation, weather reports and other information.
  • Send to SYNC (2010)  using SYNC Services, customers could now send a destination address from either MapQuest or Google Maps straight to their car for easy download of turn-by-turn directions.
  • Destinations App (2010)  building on Ford’s cloud-based network of services, the first smartphone app for SYNC was launched adding a new level of convenience for customers so they could search for and input destinations, even check traffic, while away from their car.
  • AppLink (2010)  the groundbreaking feature that helped Ford be first to voice-activate and control smartphone apps, such as Pandora and Stitcher.

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