Ford and Microsoft have developed technology that will give users a richer in-car information and entertainment experience.
Sharing the stage of the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) yesterday, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and Mark Fields, president: Americas at Ford, launched Synch to integrate user's devices inside the car.
"The car is special," says Gates. "You've got to have things that are simple. If you want to deliver to the driver, you have to think about incredibly simple commands, safe ways to get the driver involved.
"A lot of people spend over an hour-and-a-half in their car every day and so they want to get at their information and their content and have those capabilities."
Fields explains that Synch is a fully-integrated, voice-activated in-car communication and entertainment system for mobile phones and digital music players. It's exclusive to Ford and driven by Microsoft Auto software.
"What Synch does is totally integrates, like never before, all of your electronic devices – like your cell phones, Zunes, iPods; all those things that are in your pockets when you get into the car – right into the vehicle and seamlessly."
What this means, he points out, is that users will have access to the full capacity of their Bluetooth phones – just a voice command away.
"Using Synch means never having to download you phone book again," says Fields. "It downloads every personal setting like personalised ring tones and three-way calling through the vehicle's audio system.
"Drivers can also place and receive calls through the audio system – even maintain a cell phone conversation while entering or exiting a vehicle."
Synch lets readers have their text messages read to them via text-to-speech technology which even translates Internet slang and expressions like smiley faces.
"Most exciting, it has the ability to be a full entertainment platform, as it accepts almost all portable music players and most USB devices – even Flash and Zip drives," Fields adds.
"It can even create personalised play lists with a simple voice command."