The Inquirer-Home

Ford bets big on in-car voice recognition

Interview Ford's Brigitte Richardson and Nuance's Fatima Vital talk up Sync and App-link
Tue May 29 2012, 17:34

VOICE RECOGNITION is becoming commonplace in the information technology industry. Once a novelty, known more for its dysfunctional and irritating nature than being helpful and reliable, the advance in technology used in voice recognition has meant a significant growth in its integration into handheld gadgets and other electronics.

These days, there are not only Apple Iphones deploying speech recognition with relative success, we've also got Microsoft's Xbox 360 Kinect voice commands that can control the console. Then there's Samsung, which launched a range of voice activated TVs only last week. Speech recognition technology is slowly becoming identified as less of a gimmick and more of a valuable resource.

However, it's not just electronics in the home that have witnessed this advance. US motor company Ford has been rolling out a more intelligent voice recognition service in its US vehicles since 2007, and now plans to bring this to the UK.

Ford Voice Recognition in car

Ford's voice technology is called Sync. Licenced by Ford from computer software firm Nuance Communications, the software is now factory installed into virtually all Ford cars made in the US. Connected over a cloud connection, it allows drivers to make hands-free telephone calls, control music and use satellite navigation using just their voice.

"Over the years, controlling navigation by voice has become important and popular. There has been a huge evolution from very simple letters and words, to today, where you can enter a full address for a country, for instance," Nuance's global marketing manager for automotive, Fatima Vital told The INQUIRER.

Fatima explained that Nuance's software is intelligent enough to ensure that drivers can control music playback, operate various dashboard features and command any USB device that is plugged in, based on keywords and phrases even if an exact command isn't given by the user.


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