Hands-on with the Ford Sync at CeBIT...
Next year Ford will introduce an in-car computer system that will allow drivers to use voice commands to make calls, navigate and choose music.
The Ford Sync system, which is built on Microsoft's Windows Embedded Automotive platform, will be available in Ford cars sold in Europe from 2012, starting with the Ford Focus, as seen here.
The computer system can be controlled using one of 10,000 voice commands in 19 different languages, through the touchscreen console on the car dashboard or buttons on the steering wheel.
The steering wheel has a five-button panel on each side that can be used to browse through the Ford Sync menus without the need for drivers to take their hands off the wheel.
A shot of the Ford Sync's in-car phone system, which will allow drivers to use voice commands to access their contacts and make or answer calls.
When the driver is on a call, Sync automatically reduces the volume of in-car music, then returns it to its previous volume once the call has finished.
Sync will also read out text messages and enables the driver to reply to text messages by choosing from a list of potted phrases such as, "I'm on my way".
The system will also automatically call the local emergency services number and announce there has been a crash, communicating the car's location, in the event of an accident where the car's airbag is deployed.
Drivers will be able to connect their smartphones wirelessly to the Ford Sync system via USB or Bluetooth.
Sync's navigation system provides turn-by-turn directions to a destination, both reading them out and displaying them on a map on the touchscreen.
Destinations can be set via voice commands or by using the touchscreen.
Voice commands can also be used to find the nearest relevant business or place of interest. For example, saying "I'm hungry" will prompt the car to read out and display information on nearby restaurants, using information from The Michelin Guide. Once the driver selects a restaurant, the Sync will provide contact details for the outlet and directions.
Sync's other navigation abilities include being able to select the shortest or fastest route to a destination, or the route that it estimates will use the least fuel.
Sync can access music stored on MP3 players, smartphones, USB sticks and memory cards, alongside the car's built-in radio.
Drivers will be able to select the music or radio station they want to listen to via voice commands or buttons on the steering wheel, with Sync capable of recognising spoken album, band and track names.
Voice commands or touchscreen controls can also be used to set the temperature inside the car and adjust various fans and heaters, as well as the air con.
The Ford Sync can also function as a wi-fi hotspot, allowing passengers in the car to use the internet.
The system creates a wi-fi hotspot using a USB modem plugged into Sync, or through the phone connection of a mobile linked to Sync via Bluetooth.
Drivers will be able to customise the Ford Sync system by setting the homescreen wallpaper, for example, as seen here.
When it launches in Europe, Ford Sync is also expected to include AppLink, a feature that will allow smartphone apps to be developed that can be controlled via Sync.
Specially developed apps for Apple iOS, BlackBerry and Google Android handsets are expected to be supported.
Sync can also provide a selection of general information such as nearby traffic, weather and local film showing times.