Ford Sync is headed to the UK and Europe. The voice recognition system, which lets you control in-car gadgets simply by speaking to them, will arrive on this side of the pond later this year, but what’s it like to use?
To find out, we hopped into a Ford Focus, pointed a camera at product development engineer Jason Johnson, and watched as he put the system through its paces.
Sync, developed by the voice recognition experts at Nuance, allows drivers to access the most common functions in the cockpit simply by saying a few words. It provides full control of your radio, CD player and iPod, as well as navigation, climate control and your Bluetooth-connected phone. To use it, the driver simply has to push a button on the back of the steering wheel and say the relevant command.
As you’ll see in the video, Sync does all the simple day-to-day stuff very well. It’ll read text messages aloud and lets you initiate phone calls by speaking a person’s name. However it also goes a damn sight further.
Whereas lesser voice recognition systems only let you select a music source or a particular radio station, Sync is sophisticated enough to let you choose individual tracks on your iPod simply by speaking the song title. You’ll have to leave your iPod connected for a few minutes while it indexes your tracks, but once it knows what’s on your device, you can holler at it until the cows come home.
Impressively, Sync can connect to the Internet via a USB Wi-Fi dongle. This gives it the ability to access smartphone-style apps such as Pandora, Sticher and Twitter. It’ll even generate its own in-car wireless hotspot, so passengers can surf the Web on their laptops or tablets whilst on the move.
Sync is expected to make its European debut in the Ford B-Max later this year. Watch the video below to see it in action. When you’re done, head over to Recombu Digital and check out Dragon TV — Nuance’s voice recognition technology for your television.