Ford To Add Twitter Connectivity To Vehicles

Ford Motor Co. has plans to allow what the company calls “in-car connectivity” in its vehicles by letting you listen to your “tweets” and Internet music and news stations while behind the wheel.

Executives at Ford unveiled the new features at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday, saying will be an easier and safer way for people to connect to their everyday life, while minimizing driver distraction.

Using Bluetooth connectivity through a mobile phone, the user will be able to connect to the Internet using a Twitter application through developer OpenBeak. They will also have access to Pandora music radio and the online newscast service Stitcher. There are also talks with Google about bringing some of its services to Ford’s cars and a partnership with MapQuest has been forged.

Microsoft helped develop the new Sync system that will also offer traffic reports, navigational information and can even provide a diagnostic report on the state of your car. Sync was introduced two years ago by Ford and according to the chief executive of the company, there are more than one million Sync-equipped cars on the road today.

With concerns of driver safety, Ford’s global product development chief, Derrick Kuzak, said making the Sync “simple and intuitive” was crucial to the safety of drivers and their passengers by allowing them to keep their eyes on the road, but be able to access media at the same time. The technology is all about hands-free voice control. “We even block things like touch screen destination entries when the vehicle is at speed,” Kuzak said.

The vision of Ford is to allow costumers to connect with friends and family, access their favorite entertainment devices and all the data stored in the Sync system in the safest way possible.

Paul Green, a professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute who studies the effects of distractions for motorists, told the Associated Press that automakers are working in the right direction to minimize driver distraction. It is unclear how successful this program is or will be, however, due to vehicles becoming more and more complicated, adding to a driver’s workload.

Among the tools that Ford is offering with the new system, are the radio, CD player, MP3, mobile phone, navigations and even a climate control system. An eight-inch LCD touch screen located between driver and front passenger will allow for touch commands. The new device is called “MyFord Touch.”

The MyFord technology will be standard equipment on all Lincoln models beginning this year and will appear in the new Ford Edge model later this year and the Ford Focus in 2012, according to Ford. The MyFord technology will allow Internet connectivity through a built-in WiFi system.

Doug VanDagens, head of Ford’s connectivity group, said the “Sync Internet browser can only be accessed when the car is in park, but I think you’ll agree that’s a good thing.” The Sync browser will only work if the user has the application on their mobile phone and have a Bluetooth connection. Users of the new system won’t be able to “tweet” themselves, but will be able to receive messages – for now.

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