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Ford and University of Michigan team up to develop new apps for the SYNC system

The University of Michigan College of Engineering and Ford are partnering up to work on the SYNC system being implemented into upcoming vehicles.

The "American Journey 2.0" project will have support from 25 to 30 UM students who enroll in a winter 2010 course designed to develop apps for SYNC.

SYNC has proven extremely popular among car owners, as SYNC-enabled vehicles sell twice as fast as Fords that don't have the technology.

The SYNC system currently offers drivers MP3 support, data-over-voice, GPS, and text-to-speech features.  UM-created apps could range from driver habit observations to social networking apps.

Teams of students in the UM class will be given the opportunity to develop the apps they're interested in -- and they'll be judged by UM professors and Ford officials.  The most popular app will then be used in a new  Ford Fiesta model, UM and Ford said.

The partnership is a win-win for both Ford and UM:  Ford receives innovative support from future software developers, while the UM students get real-world knowledge -- and the ability to have their apps utilized in future SYNC vehicles.

"We're going to hand them this platform and say, 'build us something really impressive,'" UM associate professor Brian Noble said in an interview with Crain's Detroit.  "This project has a high reality quotient, we're  connecting our students to a real industrial problem and that's exciting."

The Microsoft-powered SYNC system has gained popularity since its launch, as car owners look to use a single in-car entertainment and navigation system while driving.





"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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