If your spouse can’t understand you, at least your Ford vehicle might be able to. And in more languages than ever as Ford expands SYNC® to more global markets and expands the system ability to understand an industry-leading 19 languages.
The expansion brings the convenience of SYNC to a much larger audience of potential customers, said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally, who kicked off the global launch of SYNC this week at the 2011 CeBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany.
“We are pleased to announce that SYNC will soon be available to customers around the world,” Mulally said. “It is a smart and simple way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives.”
When SYNC makes its European debut in the all-new Ford Focus, drivers will have access to one of the most advanced voice control and device-connecting technologies on the market with unrivalled connectivity and integration options for vehicle drivers and occupants.
The European version of SYNC will include a unique emergency assistance feature similar to the 911 Assist™ feature in the U.S., but that can communicate in appropriate languages to both driver and emergency operator based on geography coordinates.
Within Europe, for example, drivers often cross regional and country borders where multiple languages and dialects are spoken from English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Spanish, Flemish and more. In addition, the European emergency services infrastructure is not as standardized as it is in the U.S., with varying levels of technology present in call centers.
“If a German customer drives into France and gets in an accident, we need Emergency Assistance to call the correct number and speak to the local emergency operator in French, but then speak to the driver and passengers in the vehicle in their native tongue, German,” said Ed Pleet, Business Manager, Ford Connected Services.
Ford anticipates that nearly 2 million new vehicles in Europe will feature the system by 2015, making a major contribution to the use of in-car technology alongside customer convenience.
Powered by the Microsoft Windows Embedded Automotive platform, SYNC has been designed to offer a smarter, simpler and safer means for drivers to operate mobile devices inside their cars and to stay in touch with the outside world while on the move.
At the heart of SYNC is the speech engine, and Ford is working with its speech technology partner, Nuance Communications, to deliver a similar experience across the multiple languages.
Ford leverages significant investments made by Nuance to support the broad dialect coverage required in larger regions such as the United States. Additionally, regions such as Europe present unique challenges, in part because of the proximity of different countries and the resulting need for multilingual solutions.
For the customer, that means SYNC can recognize 10,000 voice commands in any one of the available 19 languages, and can cope with variances in accents, vocabulary and local dialects.
If a German customer, for example, is driving in Italy, the system can provide directions in German but will use the correct Italian pronunciation for street names.
Within each international market, a unique set of abbreviations for text messaging also has been identified. For example, “cvd,” short for “Ci vediamo dopo,” was added for SYNC to read aloud, which basically means “See you later” in Italian.
“We had to make sure the system would behave as people expect in different countries and different cultures,” said Mark Porter, SYNC Product Development Supervisor. “That means we had to solicit local, native-speaking input for common abbreviations used in SMS messages as well as support different units of distance and date formats.”
With the language expansion, SYNC with MyFord Touch™ will be available in:
SYNC can recognize 10,000 commands in any one of 19 languages, giving drivers across Europe and around the world the power to control the majority of the vehicle’s functions using their voice.
SYNC will be able to understand U.S., U.K. and Australian English; European and Canadian French; European and U.S. Spanish; and European and Brazilian Portuguese. Elsewhere in Europe, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian and Turkish are all understood. Beyond Europe, languages such as Arabic, Korean and Japanese are also compatible.
Working with Nuance, Ford engineers have developed SYNC to be highly responsive to spoken commands, eliminating the need for multiple layers of command entry in many cases. For example, SYNC leverages Nuance’s one-shot destination entry capabilities, allowing the driver to state aloud a full destination address without needing to prompt individually for city, postcode and street.
The system’s voice recognition ability also allows voice operation of the climate control system, audio and entertainment functions, navigation and, crucially, devices linked to the car using the comprehensive connectivity abilities via Bluetooth or USB port.