Engineers from Ford’s Research and Engineering Center in Nanjing have upgraded the SYNC 3 system in Ford Mustang coupes to make it recognize Chinese handwriting.
Mustang can understand handwritten Chinese characters inputted with a swipe of the finger. With enhanced voice recognition technology, SYNC 3 also recognizes voice commands in Mandarin Chinese from selecting music to searching for a destination.
In addition to Mustang, SYNC 3’s Chinese handwriting feature is now available in several different Ford models sold in China, including the Focus and Taurus Limited Edition passenger cars, and the Edge, Kuga, and Explorer SUVs.
The new handwriting feature allows users to scribble characters by hand, and instantly recognizes each stroke of the character as it is made, by tracing it and turning it into a typeface. With more than 2,500 commonly used characters in the Chinese language and a wide range of different writing styles and habits, it leverages automatic association technology based on a large database of characters and fuzzy search algorithms to save users time and increase accuracy.
Previously, inputting Chinese characters on an in-car touch screen would require typing in pinyin (phonetic spellings of Chinese words using the alphabet) and then selecting one of multiple characters, all of which have analogous pronunciations, in order to enter a command or search for a destination. Even with predictive technology, this process can be slow and less intuitive for the driver, and doesn’t suit people – usually older Chinese – who have difficulties using pinyin.
SYNC 3 can also decipher Chinese characters written at angles of up to 15 degrees. This means that after a driver is buckled up and about to pull out of a parking space, they can lean over and comfortably handwrite any address or point of interest. Or, while they’re driving, their front seat passenger can lean across and scribble, and the system understands that just as easily. After the system finds the address, the driver or passenger can zoom in and out on the map just by pinching the 8-inch screen, just as they would on a smartphone.