Ford Reworks Sync with MyFord Touch

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Ready to fulfill your Knight Rider fantasy of owning a fully automated car with personality, like KITT?

Sorry, you’ll still need to cobble together a replica and sculpt your own Hasselhoff hair, for now. But Ford will bring the ordinary buying public a step closer this year with the introduction of MyFord Touch, the next generation of the longstanding Sync project with Microsoft. The company showed off live examples of the technology at the Microsoft Embedded booth at CES 2010.

Along with a central 8-inch LCD touch screen, the MyFord system offers two extra 4.2-inch LCDs that flank the speedometer, delivering information on everything from engine RPMs (on the left-side diagnostic panel) to the caller ID on an incoming call (on the right-hand entertainment panel).

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Like the original Sync system, MyFord can tether to Bluetooth-enabled devices like phones to serve as a speakerphone or play media, as well as tap USB devices like thumb drives or plugged-in iPods for additional access to media. Microsoft and Ford have also added some new controls – like adjusting ambient lighting – and will open the platform to select developers who will develop in-car apps. Pandora and Twitter were both shown at CES. (Before you panic at the thought of drivers tweeting from behind the wheel at 70 mph, the Twitter app merely reads back tweets from friends as you drive.)

In total, drivers have three ways to control the system: by touch, by voice, and by the five-way directional controller mounted on the steering wheel. Although Sync also had voice activation, Microsoft has refined both the quality of the voice recognition and the ease of use this time around. For instance, rather than telling it which source you want to play music from, you can just say, “Play Radiohead, Karma Police” and it will figure out the rest.

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At the moment, the MyFord Touch system is slated to appear in both the 2011 Ford Edge and 2012 Ford Focus, as well as select Lincoln and Mercury vehicles as MyLincoln and MyMercury, respectively. It will come standard, but appear in three different tiers, the lower two of which will reduce the size and number of screens.

Check out our photo gallery of the MyFord Touch In-Car Connectivity System.

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