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
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."