Ford to eliminate text / drive dangers with SYNC technology
The study was commissioned by Ford to underscore the safety issue as the company prepares to introduce its SYNC in-car connectivity system, which can read aloud incoming messages through a text-to-speech feature and enables drivers to send a text reply by voice from a predetermined list of responses.
Despite the prevalence of the practice, drivers agreed overwhelmingly that reading texts on the move was dangerous. Up to 95% of drivers thought that texting affected driver ability and safety. At least half of those surveyed said they believed driver response was 50% slower when checking messages from a mobile phone.
'Smartphones have quickly become an essential part of many people’s day,' said Christof Kellerwessel, chief engineer, Electronic and Electrical Systems Engineering, Ford of Europe. 'However, text messages can be a distraction for drivers, so the benefit of a system that can read messages aloud from compatible smartphones is obvious.'
Ford SYNC will debut this summer on the all-new B-MAX and will roll out to other vehicles in Ford’s lineup, including Focus and Kuga. The text-to-speech feature on SYNC, powered by Microsoft, retrieves messages using a simple voice command from Bluetooth-connected compatible smartphones.
SYNC also enables drivers to send a text reply from a predetermined list of responses, such as “See you in 10 minutes” – helping motorists to remain focused on driving while staying in touch with contacts.
SYNC’s text-to-speech feature will be compatible with an increasing range of smartphones thanks to Ford’s adoption of the emerging Message Access Profile standard (MAP) for Bluetooth device-to-device connectivity, which is already used by leading mobile device manufacturers including Blackberry producer Research In Motion (RIM).
'RIM plans to implement MAP on BlackBerry smartphones moving forward and we are pleased to work with Ford in an effort to foster industry-wide adoption and standardisation,' said Andrew Bocking, vice president, Handheld Software Product Management, at Research In Motion.
More than 4m Ford vehicles in the U.S. already feature SYNC and Ford anticipates 3.5m new vehicles in Europe will be equipped with SYNC by 2015.