Ford SYNC Inducted into Computer History Museum
- The Computer History Museum today adds award-winning Ford SYNC®
in-vehicle connectivity system to its permanent collection
- Powered by Microsoft, SYNC's easily upgradeable and extendable
platform enables Ford owners to take advantage of the latest
developments in mobile communications
- More than 4 million Ford vehicles are already on the road with SYNC,
a population expected to grow to more than 9 million by 2015 as SYNC
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 18, 2012 – When people think of the
Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., names such as
Microsoft, IBM, Cray, Apple and Google come to mind. Today, those
technological luminaries are joined by Ford as curators add the SYNC®
in-car communications and connectivity system to the museum's
"We are honored. SYNC has helped us move faster than what is
usually assumed of an automaker, providing a new level of openness and
access that has forever changed how we look at our business and
respond to our customers," said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical
officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.
"Ultimately, SYNC embodies what Ford is all about: going further
to transform innovative ideas into products that are affordable,
attainable and valuable to millions of people."
Said Alex Bochannek, curator and senior manager of the Computer
History Museum: "As cars have transformed into mobile platforms
for consumers' communication and entertainment needs, the intersection
of automotive and computing developments is becoming an increasingly
important area for the museum to consider.
"Ford Motor Company's collaboration with Microsoft on SYNC
technology is an example of this changing landscape," he added.
"The Computer History Museum is pleased to add a first-generation
Ford SYNC module to its permanent collection in support of our
continued efforts to document the effects of computing on society at
SYNC is the award-winning in-car connectivity system that provides
voice control for mobile phones and digital music players connected
via Bluetooth® or USB. Ford co-developed the system with Microsoft
using the Windows Embedded Automotive platform.
"When we first teamed up with Ford nearly a decade ago, we knew
we wanted to develop a system that connected consumers' digital
lifestyles to the vehicle they love today, and seamlessly for years to
come – regardless of the device," said Kevin Dallas, general
manager, Windows Embedded at Microsoft. "Having SYNC inducted
into the Computer History Museum's collection is a testament to the
system's groundbreaking innovation and to all of the hard work of our
engineers, both in Dearborn and Redmond, to deliver a product that
continues to meet consumers' evolving needs and exceed
SYNC debuted in the 2008 Focus, Ford's most affordable car offering at
the time, as a $395 option.
Within two years, SYNC became available in every new Ford Motor
Company product. By early 2012, more than 4 million SYNC-equipped
vehicles were on the road. By 2015, that number is expected to grow to
9 million as Ford introduces the technology into products around the
The SYNC software platform has provided for a regular cadence of new
features, many of which have been made available to customers as a
simple downloadable update they can install at home or by visiting a
local Ford dealer. New features have included:
- 911 Assist® (2008) – an automatic emergency calling feature that
uses the customer's Bluetooth-paired cell phone to directly call 911
if there has been an airbag deployment.
- SYNC Services (2009) – with the addition of a GPS module to the SYNC
module inside the car, Ford created an off-board network of service
providers that could be accessed with a simple voice command,
"Services," leveraging a customer's mobile phone voice plan
for voice-activated, personalized news, traffic, turn-by-turn
navigation, weather reports, business search and sports scores; only a
few months later, more services were added to the cloud-based network,
including on-demand horoscopes, stock quotes, movie listings and
- Send to SYNC (2010) – using SYNC Services, customers could now send
a destination address from either MapQuest or Google Maps straight to
their car for easy download of turn-by-turn directions.
- Destinations App (2010) – building on Ford's cloud-based network of
services, the first smartphone app for SYNC was launched adding a new
level of convenience for customers so they could search for and input
destinations, even check traffic, while away from their car.
- AppLink™ (2010) – the groundbreaking feature that helped Ford be
first to voice-activate and control smartphone apps, such as Pandora
and Stitcher, by working with developers in their own native
programming languages and leveraging the SYNC application programming
interface (API); there are now 10 SYNC-enabled smartphone apps across
all three major mobile platforms: iOS, Android and BlackBerry OS.
The birth of SYNC
In 2005, Ford – long considered a "fast-follower" in
technology – was looking for ways to change both its perception and
"We saw connectivity as a way to change that paradigm," said
Doug VanDagens, now global director of Ford Connected Services and an
early team member working on the SYNC project.
At the same time, Microsoft was breaking into the automotive market
with its Windows CE embedded operating system.
In April 2005, both Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and
then-Microsoft CEO Bill Gates were featured speakers at the Microsoft
Global Automotive Summit in Dearborn, Mich. The pair started to
discuss how they could collaborate on bringing state-of-the-art
connectivity into cars.
While consumers replaced mobile phones and digital media players every
couple of years to keep up with the latest advances, vehicles
typically lasted a decade or more. Relying on an embedded system could
leave a car hopelessly outdated long before the end of its useful
Rather than force owners to pay for another wireless plan for their
vehicles, Ford pursued connectivity platforms that would allow drivers
to use the technology they already carried with them.
"By the end of 2005, Ford's Electronics and Electrical Systems
Engineering group started active development of a platform that could
be kept up to date with the latest technology trends throughout the
life of the car," said VanDagens. "With Windows CE as the
base, we could add new functionality through apps that owners could
download from the Web and install with a USB flash drive."
Collaborating with suppliers, including voice recognition leader
Nuance, they developed a robust and easy-to-use voice interface. This
enabled drivers to make and receive phone calls and select songs,
artists, albums, genres and playlists all while keeping their hands on
the wheel and eyes on the road.
By January 2007, SYNC was ready to take center stage with simultaneous
announcements at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit
and the International Consumer
Designing the system around connecting to mobile devices proved to be
fortuitous almost immediately. Just two days after the initial SYNC
announcement, Apple introduced the iPhone. Within just a few years,
smartphones went from a tiny niche to dominating the mobile phone
With hundreds of millions of people using phones running a wide array
of apps able to stream media over fast wireless connections, SYNC was
poised to take advantage.
"SYNC ultimately became a turning point for the redefinition of
the automobile from just an ordinary transportation device into a
technology platform that empowers consumers to take advantage of the
latest innovations," said Venkatesh Prasad, another member of the
early development team and now senior technical leader of open
innovation for Ford Research and Innovation.