People either love or hate technology, but even if you’re in the latter camp, you know you’re going to have to live with it, because it’s not going anywhere. And truthfully, we’re on to you: You might have fought the idea of a smartphone, but we know you finally broke down and got one “just for emergencies,” which has since been downgraded to texts that read, “Running late, be there in five, lol.”
When it comes to technology in Ford vehicles, we recognize the two different camps. While some customers will expect their vehicle to keep up with all the various devices they own, we know utilizing advanced technology will be a brand-new experience for others. Yet both types of customers want the process to be intuitive and simple. “We want people to say, ‘Oh, I’ve used that on my phone.’ Or, ‘That’s just like my camera,’” explained Jennifer Brace, Ford User Interface Engineer.
Jennifer’s job is to anticipate how customers are going to interact with the vehicle controls and displays; she’s involved in everything from figuring out where to place a button on a screen to working with voice-recognition engineers. “We follow the consumer electronics world closely because it moves quickly. We look at devices that people are using so that we have an idea of what interfaces are familiar to them. People also expect the technology in their car to keep up with their new devices. We make sure our system is updateable to be able to interact with the next hot new thing,” Jennifer said.
She is a member of the Ford engineering team that develops the design, display logic and graphics of the MyFord Touch™ and MyLincoln Touch™ driver connect technology, with Jennifer working in constant conjunction with the Ford design studio, ergonomic and SYNC® teams to ensure that driver technology is pleasing to the eye and provides maximum function. “SYNC with MyFord Touch has 10,000 voice commands, so people can tell the vehicle what they want in a more natural way. If you can talk to your vehicle and it understands, it makes things pretty easy.”
Jennifer helps create products that will redefine the driver experience for Ford customers. “People want to understand the technology, and they want to learn about the system and its capabilities. We have websites, a helpline and online videos. Those things, along with training for dealership personnel, give customers a lot of different opportunities to learn more about the systems if they’d like to.”
And continually improving the product is part of this, which includes talking to the people who use it. The technology must keep people connected to their gadgets while they’re driving, but allowing them to keep their eyes on the road. “We found that people like the design, voice control and having so many features available,” Jennifer said. “We didn’t want the experience to intimidate anyone, but to invite curiosity.”