Ford SYNC Inducted into Computer History Museum
Mon, Jul 2, 2012
- The Computer History Museum adds award-winning Ford SYNC® in-vehicle connectivity system to its permanent collection
- Powered by Microsoft, SYNC’s easily upgradeable and extendable platform enables Ford owners to take advantage of the latest developments in mobile communications
- More than 4 million Ford vehicles already on the road with SYNC, a population expected to grow to more than 9 million by 2015 as SYNC goes global
When people think of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., names such as Microsoft, IBM, Cray, Apple and Google come to mind. Now those technological luminaries are joined by Ford, as curators add the SYNC® in-car communications and connectivity system to the museum’s permanent collection.
“We are honoured. SYNC has helped us move faster than what is usually assumed of an automaker, providing a new level of openness and access that has forever changed how we look at our business and respond to our customers,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation. “Ultimately, SYNC embodies what Ford is all about: going further to transform innovative ideas into products that are affordable, attainable and valuable to millions of people.”
Alex Bochannek, curator and senior manager of the Computer History Museum said: “As cars have transformed into mobile platforms for consumers’ communication and entertainment needs, the intersection of automotive and computing developments is becoming an increasingly important area for the museum to consider.
“Ford Motor Company’s collaboration with Microsoft on SYNC technology is an example of this changing landscape,” he added. “The Computer History Museum is pleased to add a first-generation Ford SYNC module to its permanent collection in support of our continued efforts to document the effects of computing on society at large.”
SYNC is the award-winning in-car connectivity system that provides voice control for mobile phones and digital music players connected via Bluetooth® or USB. Ford co-developed the system with Microsoft using the Windows Embedded Automotive platform.
“When we first teamed up with Ford nearly a decade ago, we knew we wanted to develop a system that connected consumers’ digital lifestyles to the vehicle they love today, and seamlessly for years to come – regardless of the device,” said Kevin Dallas, general manager, Windows Embedded at Microsoft. “Having SYNC inducted into the Computer History Museum’s collection is a testament to the system’s groundbreaking innovation and to all of the hard work of our engineers, both in Dearborn and Redmond, to deliver a product that continues to meet consumers’ evolving needs and exceed expectations.”
SYNC debuted in the 2008 Focus, Ford’s most affordable car offering at the time, as a $395 option.
Within two years, SYNC became available in every new Ford Motor Company product. By early 2012, more than 4 million SYNC-equipped vehicles were on the road. By 2015, that number is expected to grow to 9 million as Ford introduces the technology into products around the world.
The birth of SYNC
In 2005, Ford – long considered a “fast-follower” in technology – was looking for ways to change both its perception and its culture.
“We saw connectivity as a way to change that paradigm,” said Doug VanDagens, now global director of Ford Connected Services and an early team member working on the SYNC project.
At the same time, Microsoft was breaking into the automotive market with its Windows CE embedded operating system.
Click here to view video about the beginnings of SYNC: http://youtu.be/CGP9j9iYzww
In April 2005, both Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates were featured speakers at the Microsoft Global Automotive Summit in Dearborn, Mich. The pair started to discuss how they could collaborate on bringing state-of-the-art connectivity into cars.
While consumers replaced mobile phones and digital media players every couple of years to keep up with the latest advances, vehicles typically lasted a decade or more. Relying on an embedded system could leave a car hopelessly outdated long before the end of its useful life.
Rather than force owners to pay for another wireless plan for their vehicles, Ford pursued connectivity platforms that would allow drivers to use the technology they already carried with them.
Collaborating with suppliers, including voice recognition leader Nuance, they developed a robust and easy-to-use voice interface. This enabled drivers to make and receive phone calls and select songs, artists, albums, genres and playlists all while keeping their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
By January 2007, SYNC was ready to take center stage with simultaneous announcements at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Designing the system around connecting to mobile devices proved to be fortuitous almost immediately. Just two days after the initial SYNC announcement, Apple introduced the iPhone. Within just a few years, smartphones went from a tiny niche to dominating the mobile phone market.
With hundreds of millions of people using phones running a wide array of apps able to stream media over fast wireless connections, SYNC was poised to take advantage.
“SYNC ultimately became a turning point for the redefinition of the automobile from just an ordinary transportation device into a technology platform that empowers consumers to take advantage of the latest innovations,” said Venkatesh Prasad, another member of the early development team and now senior technical leader of open innovation for Ford Research and Innovation..
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