Ford forced the rest of the automotive world to sit up and take notice a few years back with the introduction of their joint project with Microsoft, the SYNC information system, which allowed drivers the use of voice commands to do anything from make a call to choosing an MP3 to play. Just when the rest of the industry was finally starting to catch up, Ford just announced at CES that SYNC's successor, the MyFord Touch system, is coming this year, and it makes SYNC look straight up archaic.
According to Ford, the MyFord system has been designed with a specific ethos in mind, which they've dubbed "simplexcity", or the process of making complex things simple. Yeah, they made up a word. But that's okay, because the MyFord system looks pretty awesome.
Most importantly, Ford wanted to take voice commands to the next level, allowing drivers to spend as much time as possible with their eyes on the road instead of on the radio controls. So with that in mind, the voice interaction with the vehicle has been improved significantly.
Instead of a situation where you'd press a button and say "CALL", then wait for a prompt, say "DAVE", then wait for a prompt to confirm mobile or office, you'd say "Call Dave in the office" or something to that effect. Controlling other functions, such as choosing music, playing Pandora internet radio, and navigation follow a similar pattern.
Speaking of internet connectivity, the MyFord system will also allow users to use their vehicles as WiFi hotspots by plugging in a compatible USB mobile broadband modem into the vehicle's USB port, which will then broadcast a secure WiFi signal throughout the vehicle, so you could play Left for Dead with your buddies back home on your laptop while riding shotgun on the way to Vegas, for instance.
Ford has also developed some new bluetooth interface software they've dubbed the "App EcoSystem", which they are sharing with everyone who wants their devices to work with it. So your iPhone, Palm, Windows Mobile, or Android-driven cell phone will be able to interact with the MyFord system, allowing the cell phone to display information on the car's display, have the car read back text from the phone in speech form (like emails or Twitter updates, for instance), and feed some data back in the mobile device. Exactly what data that data will be still remains to be seen.
But that's just a sampling of what the new system is expected to bring to the table. The first vehicle to be equipped with the new system will be the 2011 Lincoln MKX, which will debut at next week's Detroit Auto Show. Expect to hear a lot more about this in the near future. In the meantime, check out the clip below to see how the color-coded touchscreen interface will help drivers navigate the various functions of the system.