Ford adds Bluetooth MAP to SYNC; Aims to address driver distraction

Article contributed to TN by Stephen Longden from SBD.

To help make the in-car connection safer, Ford is improving the SYNC text message readback feature and empowering drivers with a “Do Not Disturb” button so they can decide the level of connectivity and communications they want to manage while in the car.

Ford is also taking the proactive step to “lock-out” capabilities that are not relevant to the task of driving while the vehicle is in motion.

Ford will offer the new features on 2011 model year vehicles equipped with MyFord or MyLincoln Touch.

To improve the number of phones that can “communicate” with SYNC so the system can read
aloud incoming text messages to drivers, Ford has adopted the latest Bluetooth standard – Message Access Profile (MAP).

Defined by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the MAP standard outlines a set of features and procedures used to exchange email, SMS, and MMS messages between devices.

Ford is already working with Research In Motion (RIM) and supports the company’s intention to begin implementing it in all new BlackBerry smartphones.

“RIM plans to implement MAP on BlackBerry smartphones moving forward and we are pleased to work with Ford in an effort to foster industry-wide adoption and standardization,” said Andrew Bocking, Vice President, Handheld Software Product Management at Research In Motion.

The new 2011 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX will be first to offer the “Do Not Disturb” button. This feature blocks incoming phone calls or text messages from a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone paired with SYNC.

But unlike turning the phone off, drivers can still make voice-activated outgoing phone calls, if they so decide, and the SYNC 911 Assist feature can make a call to 911 in case of emergency.

Ford is also taking the proactive step of locking out or limiting content and capabilities of MyFord Touch that are not related to the task of driving when the vehicle is in motion, for instance:

— Screens with information not intended to be used by the driver while driving such as point-of-interest reviews and ratings plus SIRIUS Travel Link sports scores, movie listings, and ski conditions

— Any action that requires typing on a keypad (e.g. typing a navigation destination, editing information)

— Limiting lists of navigation and phone choices that the user can view to fewer entries (e.g. phone contacts, recent phone call entries)

Specific functions that are locked out when the vehicle is in motion:

— Cell Phone
o Pairing a Bluetooth-capable phone
o Manually adding individual contacts into the Phonebook
o Viewing received text messages on screen

— WiFi Connectivity
o Web browsing on the vehicle screen

— Video/Photos/Graphics
o Playing video
o Album cover art and Phonebook photo browsing
o Editing photos
o Editing the screen’s wallpaper or adding a new one

— Navigation
o Destination entry by touchscreen keyboard input (voice entry is permissible)

Source: IT News.

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