CES Video Highlights: Ford Shows Off Sync and Travel Link

In his post, "Ford in Sync, But Out of Step," IEEE Spectrum editor Steven Cherry describes the new gadget-friendly features Ford promoted at CES. Everyone's seen the TV ads where the passenger uses Sync to call up a Michael Bolton song on his friend's playlist, but Spectrum wanted a closer look. We hopped in a new Ford Focus with product development manager Gary Jablonski and tested out the features. In the video, you'll notice that, while Sync does work, it definitely takes longer to repond than the commercial makes it seem. The system ably comprehended both Gary and Steven, but I found it annoying to listen to Sync's voice in response, especially when it said "laughing out loud." I asked Jablonski why they didn't just have the computer voice laugh uproariously, but I guess some things are just too creepy.

Sync wasn't the only in-vehicle technology Ford was touting at CES; they also teamed up with Sirius to make a navigation system called Travel Link. As Steven mentioned, the information only travels one way: to your car. In addition, it's clear that Ford hasn't worked out the kinks. Instead of getting Sync software updates through the Travel Link connection, Ford owners will have to download it onto a USB stick at their computer first, and then physically carry it to the car. But the real-time info does seem to give Travel Link an edge over many GPS systems:

Ford has obviously put a lot of time into all of this, working with Microsoft, Sirius, Gracenote, and the others just to make it this far. What do you think of their efforts? Will Sync and Travel Link boost sales? Would you be willing to spend more for a car with voice control?


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