Heard about Ford’s Sync? To those who haven’t, Ford recently unveiled its latest contribution at the CTIA trade show to the automobile world called Sync – and it is not a car. What Sync is, is a very cool concept. It allows a smartphone user to extend the phone capabilities to his/her Ford. How? It’s simple, Ford has partnered up with companies and services that have apps available for phones and have created a Ford Sync compatible version of those apps so the driver can then sync his phone app with the car and use those apps without even touching his phone. Applications like email, texts and tweets are accessed through voice commands and text-to-speech technologies.
In my opinion this should open up a whole new market. Although Ford is taking a very OS-independent approach by not making Sync a product but a service, I think there is so much potential in the idea of turning a car into a gadget running apps. It shouldn’t also be such a big hassle as all the base technologies this idea needs is already present in cars. LCD screens, microprocessors, USB ports – all the basic ingredients are there. We just need to add a few more touches and it should be done. Instead of having apps syncing to the car, the car itself could be a platform to run apps, basically integrating a smartphone into the car.
Imagine the possibilities! You can have car specific apps that will tell you about traffic jams, alternate routes, closest gas stations, mileage information, miscellaneous car performance statistics etc. And these are besides the usual music, calling, email apps. Most of these things are already present in fancier cars and in smartphones it is just a matter of integrating them and presenting it in a nice user friendly manner.
The car could have voice controls, like Ford’s Sync, and also have certain buttons at the steering wheel at the driver’s fingertips. They could probably be programmable buttons that the driver can assign any function to. A chipset and antenna for 3G and LTE/WiMax/4G services to keep the apps and OS updated, allow downloads and general Internet connectivity could basically complete the picture. Also with the availability of so many open source OS like MeeGo and Android creativity could mean high customizability for different automobile makers to make their “smart interfaces” to represent their brands.
Now if only the term Smart Cars was not taken…