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Issues with Sync and myFord Touch cost Ford dearly  (Source: Ford)
Ford wants Sync to eventually understand natural spoken commands and the intent of the user

Ford has found out the hard way over the recent months that one poorly received system in a car can create a massive backlash when it comes to consumer feedback in the important J.D. Power rankings for initial quality. Ford was sitting high in the fifth position last year. Fifth spot was the highest ranking for any non-luxury carmaker. This year Ford dropped like a rock to 23rd place.

J.D. Power says the blame lies partly with the new MyFord Touch system that attempted to take Sync one step further. The problem is that Sync originally had about 100 commands that it recognized and the driver could use. The new MyFord Touch system recognizes about 10,000 commands.

Ford and Nuance partnered for the voice recognition technology in Sync and the companies are working together to make the Sync and MyFord Touch system much easier to use by allowing it to recognize naturally spoken questions and the intent of the user.

This will let the driver ask a question to Sync any way they want and the system will do the legwork of turning the spoken query into a command that the system can execute. The goal is to get the system to the point where the driver can ask "Did the Tigers win last night" and the Sync system will understand the driver wants the score for the game and speak it back.

Ford lead voice control engineer Brigitte Richardson said, "It will recognize what you want or decipher the intent of what you want." She also said, "It will help people who can't determine the right command to use. It coaches you to get the information you need."

Ford has been working on this revamped version of Sync for over a year, however, the company points out that the system isn't ready for commercial use just yet.

Ford is also working on a side project looking at bringing voice-controlled fun to your drive. The project is called “Sync my Brain” and is a trivia game that uses voice commands. The game asks a question and offers multiple-choice answers to choose from. Ford's Nello Santori said, "It [Sync my Brain] is purely a research project. There is no production intent. We are looking at whether there is a place for something like this as we work to improve voice recognition."

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RE: Commands are not the problem
By brshoemak on 7/22/2011 10:32:02 AM , Rating: 3
but it can't tell the difference between two people on my call list that have similar names

What they need is a name command that is fairly unique so the car can tell you are addressing it instead of a passenger with a more common name. An good example would be:

KITT, fire the turbo boost! Er, I mean call my wife.

RE: Commands are not the problem
By Mitch101 on 7/24/2011 11:55:44 AM , Rating: 2
The problem seems to be Ford added Nuance into the picture. I don't have any of these issues with my Sync and I just checked im on version 3.1. Its like the X-Box with Kinect I don't have any issues with voice commands on that either so I have to believe its Nuance.

The only issue I have run into is when it doesn't see one of my two Bluetooth enabled phones (Work and Personal) After a few mins the phone recognizes the Bluetooth device and its fine but when I first get into the car sometimes I couldn't call numbers on the one phone which was set as my primary. Was never an issue when I have only one phone programmed into sync but with both it became and issue. I want both in there because of the hands free built into the car. So I just programmed both phones with all the numbers. Problem solved.

I don't think sync needs 1000 commands either. I still haven't used all the features. of my existing system. The only thing I can possibly think of needing more of is more voice command text message replies but I just call them if necessary.

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