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  (Source: Reuters)
Microsoft showed off the latest generation of its Sync in-car service during CES

During a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally discussed new features of its new Sync system, as Ford and Microsoft prepare to roll out the system to more vehicles.

The next generation version of Sync will offer Sync with Traffic, Directions and Information, a voice-activated communications that sends real-time information to a driver's mobile phone.  The new Sync system also offers drivers directions by voice so that drivers will have both eyes on the road while driving.

It's also possible to preset driving destinations -- i.e. workplace or friend's house -- and have traffic updates sent to a mobile phone, or the directions can be read to the driver.

"We are a car company that through market-driven, customer focused innovation is learning to think and act like an electronics company, leveraging partnerships with fresh, innovative technology leaders," Mulally said in a statement.

Sync reportedly helped Ford boost sales of its Focus compact car to younger buyers, interested in the built-in MP3 player, among other things.  Ford has used Sync as an option on some car models while making it standard on the Ford Focus.  The cars that are Sync-equipped reportedly sell almost twice as fast as the same cars without Sync, an internal Ford survey revealed.

The struggling auto maker hopes its renewed efforts in Sync will help keep the company ahead of auto makers who are beginning to incorporate technology inside their vehicles.

New car models with Sync capabilities will roll out on select 2010 Fusion and Mustang models this year, and will be used in a wider variety of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury cars for the 2011 lineup.  The service is free for three months; then will cost $8 per month after the three-month trial.

Car manufacturers are looking to help draw in interested buyers, and adding technological perks seems to be their latest frontier.  Microsoft is working with Hyundai to offer easier access to in-car music and information systems.  Toyota also is working on creating onboard navigation and communications systems to playback music, show directions, and other added features.

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and BMW goes open source
By Screwballl on 1/9/2009 1:10:52 PM , Rating: 1

October 28, 2008

BMW AG is asking automakers to work together to make vehicle electronics more innovative.

The automaker is developing an open-source platform for vehicle electronics to allow providers of information and entertainment services to develop plug-and-play applications.

BMW is asking other automakers to join in its effort and abandon the practice of using proprietary software for platform development.

It made its pitch during a panel discussion on auto electronics here last week.

Of the five panelists at Convergence 2008, a conference on automotive electronics, only BMW's engineer said his company would have an open-source platform in a vehicle of 200,000 or more units in five to seven years.

Electrical and electronics engineers from BMW, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor, General Motors, and Honda R&D Co. also participated on the panel.

The open-source Linux system was created by BMW, Wind River Systems, and Intel for the in-vehicle infotainment market.

BMW is going the right direction and Ford is going the wrong direction. Microsoft is fine for a desktop OS but with their track record on non-PC hardware, there have been too many problems, and it is only a matter of time before they start showing up in the cars as well.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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