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MyFord Touch, the next-generation infotainment system from the Blue Oval featuring three LCD screens, has been unveiled at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show. The new system controls navigation, entertainment, a connected phone, and the climate, and allows for greater integration of devices, applications, and Internet-based services. Hardware includes two color LCD screens in the instrument panel, one large touch screen in the center stack, steering-wheel controls, touch-sensitive buttons, and a microphone for voice commands. The technology will debut in late 2010 on the 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX, followed by the 2012 Ford Focus.
The centerpiece of MyFord Touch is an 8-inch color LCD in the center stack. Each corner is home to one of the four core components (navigation, phone, entertainment, and climate control) allowing access to the functions from any screen and showing basic information. In the middle of the display, dynamic information for specific tasks is presented, showing a number pad for making a call, song information for satellite radio, climate settings for driver and passenger, or a navigation map. The home screen can be customized to highlight different functions or display a custom wallpaper, and settings can be saved so they are activated by the particular key used to start the vehicle.
Underneath the MyFord interface, Ford is retaining its Microsoft operating system, complete with the Sync name, but the capabilities have been significantly updated. A new MediaHub for connecting devices includes two USB ports, an SD card reader, and RCA jacks. When parked, passengers can connect to a WiFi Internet signal and check email or visit Web sites with the built-in browser. Conversely, the vehicle can become a rolling hotspot with a USB broadband card plugged into the MediaHub, allowing up to five devices to connect to the data signal.
Of course, Bluetooth and USB-connected audio is still a large part of Sync, as is voice control. Ford has aimed at improving usability by increasing the system’s vocabulary and learning ability. Additionally, the number of commands required to complete a task has been reduced. So rather than saying “dial” and waiting for a prompt to give the number, you can simply say “dial 734-555-1212.”
Ford has also developed an application platform for Sync that allows drivers to interact with apps on their mobile phone using either the touch screen or voice commands. During a product briefing, Ford demonstrated the application platform by using a voice command to activate Pandora, choose a channel and then give the song a positive vote. The touch screen also shows song information and provides redundant controls for changing songs or stations. As Ford doesn’t want to compete with existing platforms, all applications will be run off a user’s mobile phone while being controlled by the vehicle. In addition to Pandora, Ford has worked with developers to accommodate the Stitcher news radio app, and OpenBeak, allowing Twitter feeds to be read to the driver.
For additional information, two 4.2-inch LCD screens flank the analog speedometer in the instrument cluster. The right side of the screen serves as a redundant display of the central screen, allowing for simplified information and navigation. The driver interacts with the screens using five-way controls (four directional arrows and a center button) on the left and right side of the steering wheel for the respective screens. The left screen displays vehicle information, such as a tachometer, fuel level, water temperature, and a trip computer. It also provides access to vehicle settings for features like traction control, blind spot warning, park assist, and remote start.
Lincoln and Mercury vehicles will use the technology under the name MyLincoln Touch and MyMercury Touch with the largest differences being physical controls below the screen and colors that are more saturated in Lincolns. Rather than a volume knob as on the Ford interface, the Lincoln version uses a touch-sensitive bar that you drag your finger across to raise the volume. MyLincoln Touch will be standard on all Lincoln vehicles following the MKX, while the technology will be optional on Ford and Mercury products.