When Ford began researching ways to adapt Smartphone mobile apps for in-car use through voice control of its popular SYNC communications system, the company first turned to the nearby University of Michigan-Dearborn campus to spur innovative ideas around “what’s next” for the connected car experience.
The students sorted through more than 100 different concepts with the Ford API development team, finally narrowing their focus to two areas; audio infotainment (internet music, news and talk show streaming sites) and GPS location-based navigation services.
The resulting apps included a mash-up of infotainment features codenamed “SYNCcast” and “FollowMe.” SYNCcast lets users enjoy internet radio in the vehicle. The navigation app called “FollowMe” allows two or more friends to follow a lead vehicle to a location without the need to physically follow each other, thanks to GPS turn-by-turn directions transmitted from the leader to the followers and read aloud to the drivers.
The work done through Ford’s University of Michigan-Dearborn collaboration is expected to lead to a planned 2010 release of the full open API first to established, trusted developer partners.
By working initially with trusted partners, Ford will be able to ensure any SYNC-enabled apps conform to vehicle telematics standards for safety and security, following the company’s guidelines for in-car connectivity to keep driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. At the same time, an open API strategy will help add the creativity and excitement present in the open development arena.