We're getting our engines warmed up for Alan Mulally's CES keynote address. We're crammed in our seats and eager to see if there's anything new to learn about Sync or MyFord after our extensive hands-on time yesterday. The crowd is filtering in and we're about to get rolling, so buckle in and join us, won't you?
10:11AM Hands clapping, show stopping, that was a long one. We're done here!
10:11AM He just called us the "Consumer electronics thought leaders." Gosh, thanks!
10:10AM "We anticipated a shift in the US consumer attitude desiring cars with higher fuel economy." But, not everyone wanted a hybrid. The result: EcoBoost -- and an updated Mustang, which we've heard has proved to be hot tamale in its testing at Laguna Seca.
10:09AM "The best bet is to develop products that are versatile and easy to personalize...By modelling ourselves after the consumer electronics industry, the Ford Team has learned it has better results."
10:08AM "Simpler, safer, and smarter." is his mantra now. "CEOs are not mind readers, the point is to have a point of view about the future."
10:08AM Alan's back, people are starting to politely excuse themselves, seems like we're winding down. Good thing, these chairs are not comfortable.
10:07AM He's launching Open Beak, just got his feed read to him, predictably Ford-related spiel.
10:06AM He's saying that the devs from Stitcher and Pandora were happy to work together and share code and infos. It took them less than 10 days to update their apps to work with Sync. Not saying how long those days were, though. Them coders tend to not sleep very much at crunch time.
10:05AM "Launch Stitcher, play channel Technology." Even launching apps is hands-free.
10:05AM He's just served up some steamy Jessica Stone, thumbing it up.
10:04AM To access apps, just hit the "Mobile Apps" section of MyFord, which will poll your phone for compatible apps and give a list.
10:03AM Ford's strategy is to let you use your phone and your data plan, which we like much preferable to subscribing to OnStar like you'll have to do if you want to cool mobile app for the Chevy Volt.
10:02AM Stitcher is the "only on-demand radio provider that has content from all major news sources." 40% of its users listen in the car, "fumbling with their phones."
10:01AM He's explaining how it works, there's MGMT up on the screen as a selection. Thumbs up!
10:01AM "We recognize that Pandora is simply the most popular Internet radio application." Over 17 million users, seven million listen on a mobile device. That's a lot of tunes.
10:00AM Julius Marchwicki, Product manager at Ford is up on stage. He's the one who showed us Pandora yesterday, and is now quoting that app downloads are up 82%. Three billion app downloads total.
9:59AM Confirming that there will be no additional fees for this mobile app integration, which is also quite reasonable. They're announcing parnterships with Pandora, Twitter, and OpenBeak -- which we know about yesterday.
9:59AM "Our API can be integrated into existing applications with minimal changes...enables us to leverage existing distribution channels rather than trying to create a Ford version of the same thing." Did you hear that? That's the sound of reason right there, folks.
9:58AM "Now let me describe how Ford is addressing the love affair with applications they have on their smartphone." He's talking about the Mobile Application Connectivity Package. They expect the Bluetooth API will work with every smartphone suite, including iPhone, Android, and they're in active talks with RIM and Google.
9:56AM He's indicating that more phones are going to support texting through Sync, and that RIM is getting on-board. You can get your texts read to you, and just push the "Dial" button to call them back. No text responding through the car.
9:55AM He's talking about 4.1 billion texts per day overall, anecdote about his daughter ringing up the largest texting bill for his daughter. He's asking for help from Verizon on his bills. Unlimited plan, Doug, unlimited.
9:54AM We've got in-car song tagging with HD radio, a first. Tag a song and the info will be downloaded to your iPod to download later. Sporadic applause. Must be the terrestrial radio execs back in the corner.
9:53AM Now he's showing the in-dash web browser, only available when the car is in park, "which we think you'll all agree is a good thing." Totally.
9:53AM You can send maps and destinations from MapQuest to the MyFord Touch dash, no word about custom waypoints and routes, though.
9:52AM Announcing a partnership with "American's most popular online mapping service." It's MapQuest -- a few people are looking at each other and mumbling about whether that's really more popular than Google Maps.
9:52AM There are 14 million POI listings available to both premium navigation users, and the free TDI users.
9:51AM "Customers will now be able to request such time-sensitive information as movie listings, horoscopes, and even stock listings." Your show is sold out, your stars are in a bad way, sell sell sell!
9:50AM "Now with the improved MyFord screens, turn-by-turn directions are enhanced." We've got arrows now! Distances! It's still free!
9:49AM "There are two ways to get navigation assistance in a Ford vehicle." First is the Sync TDI service, which uses an analog connection through your phone to give turn-by-turn directions. It's free for three years and, since it hasn't been three years since it was released, it's free for all.
9:48AM He's saying that Ford's equivalent of an App Store is "already up and running" while the competition is still just talking. We'll believe it we can download iFart ringtones from the dash, Doug.
9:47AM "From its inception, Sync was designed as a platform to be continuously upgraded and improved...New applications have been added, including 911 Assist, Traffic Alert..."
9:46AM Doug VanDagens, Director of Connected Services is up now, recognizing the work of the teams behind Sync and MyFord have done amazing things.
9:46AM Oops, Jason's out of time and is being given the metaphorical hook and dragged off the stage.
9:45AM Green is for vehicle information, emergency 911, diagnostics, etc.
9:45AM He's showing his customizations versus his mother's and his wife's customizations. His is a maze of shortcuts, his mother's is a more intuitive display, and his wife's is just a pic of their child. Cute kid, big laughs.
9:44AM Yellow is for phone, which is accessed through the upper-left.
9:43AM The car will welcome you by name when you walk in, then immediately jump into its customized version for you.
9:43AM "Note that we don't have any mechanical switches. Everything is touch-sensitive." He's showing off a cool temperature slider that lights up under his finger. Super fresh.
9:42AM Actually this is the Lincoln version we're seeing here, which other than some branding and subtle color tweaks looks identical to the MyFord Touch system.
9:41AM He's at the Edge "convertible" unit, which is a mockup with no doors, roof, windshield, wheels... but it's got the dash. That's all ya need up on stage.
9:41AM Time for a demo, Jason Johnson, UI designer, is out on stage.
9:41AM 2011 Edge will get MyFord Touch first, 2012 Focus after that, and then throughout the rest of the range.
9:40AM Linkcoln owners will be able to upgrade to a THX audio system. Oh boy, we just got treated to "the THX sound." Somewhere Grampa Simpson's dentures are exploding.
9:39AM Sony has signed on to produce the dash and displays for MyFord Touch. There could be others, but Sony is the first we're talking about here. Lincoln will have MyLincoln Touch, set to be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show next week.
9:38AM All these features will be found in "your next new Ford."
9:37AM Each of the four primary areas of the controls are awarded a different color, and each area is stacked for intuitive navigation.
9:37AM LCDs are for critical information (like changing interior light color), the dash displays are for critical information, and the wheel controls are split to encourage left and right controls.
9:36AM He's talking about GUI, TUI, and VUI systems. That's Graphics, Touch, and Voice interfaces. You can jump from one to the next seamlessly.
9:36AM The new voice tech will also auto-learn a drivers' accent, getting better with time. Like a fine wine... which you should totally never drink before driving.
9:35AM You can just say "Call Alan's Mobile" and it'll call Alan Mulally's cellphone. You don't need to say any more prefixes or, apparently, know Alan personally.
9:35AM "There are literally thousands of intuitive commands that Sync now understands at the touch of the button."
9:34AM Nuance is the group who provided Sync's voice recognition tech. They're being told to stand up. Enthusiastic applause!
9:34AM Ford has "set the industry benchmark for technology controls," and they're "taking it to the next level with Nuance.
9:33AM #5 - Logically relevant information. No extraneous bits or bytes here, folks.
9:33AM #4 - Logically organized information.
9:33AM #3 - Color. People dig color, too.
9:32AM #2 - People dig LCD screens.
9:32AM #1 - five-way controllers. This is a four-way D-pad with the ability to push in the middle.
9:31AM The result was "The Ford Five Guidelines" into design queues.
9:31AM He also spoke with modders who installed PCs into their dashboards, and the designer of the Falcon 2000 dash.
9:31AM He spoke with IDEO, designer of numerous ergonomic mice.
9:30AM "Make the complex simple, and serve up the details only when needed."
9:29AM Minority Reports' interface was an inspiration, as was the heads-up display that Downey Jr. spied in Iron Man.
9:29AM It's a sea of gadgets floating by on the screen, all inspirations for next-gen Ford tech.
9:29AM "We looked at hundreds of different remote control devices, and gaming controls..."
9:28AM We chatted with Jim quite a bit yesterday. Turns out he worked on the ECU for the Ford Cosworth Formula One engine back in "the day!"
9:27AM Director of Electrical and Electronics Subsystems Jim Buczkowski is on-stage.
9:26AM "All while keeping their eyes on the road, and their hands on the road." This is called the MyFord Experience. Doesn't quite have the ring of Jimi's band, but we can dig it.
9:26AM "It's the integration of the entire car entertainment experience. Our vision for Sync is that drivers can connect to friends and family, and all the data stored in the cloud, using touch controls, voice controls, and colorful LCD graphics."
9:25AM "We've delivered the device connect technology, now we're progressing to seamless driver connected technology."
9:24AM Now they're sponsoring a competition to see which student can write the best app. Winner get a Fiesta equipped with the winning app!
9:23AM Ford has a cooperation with University of Michigan, providing them with the API. The results were two apps -- but he's not mentioning what. We're guessing voice-activated Hot or Not has to be one of them.
9:22AM He's mentioning the Sync Developer Toolkit, which will enable Bluetooth devices to interact with Sync. It's available now to some, opening soon to all. Coders, get your compilers ready.
9:21AM "Collaboration with Microsoft has been invaluable."
9:21AM "We even block things like touchscreen destination entry while the vehicle is at speed... We at Ford pride ourselves at minimizing driver distractions while ensuring that our drivers can connect to their technologies simply."
9:21AM "Research data and naturalistic studies show that just talking on a cell phone does not increase the risk of a crash compared to just driving."
9:20AM He's showing how you can queue up a new tune using Sync in 4.9 seconds. With "manual activation" it took over 30 seconds to get a new tune -- mostly with eyes off the road.
9:20AM Yes, texting was tested. No, the results aren't good.
9:19AM He's talking about VIRTTEX, a driving simulator that Ford has used to test over 2,000 drivers and see what distracts drivers.
9:19AM "We have to keep interfaces simple and intuitive, and they have to minimize driver interaction. That's the whole point of Sync technology."
9:18AM When was the last time you saw an Apple employee testing the iPhone out in the Arctic Tundra and on washboard roads?
9:18AM "There is one area where we must think like an automotive company. That is in the area of safety, durability, and reliability."
9:17AM "I see millions lining up to be the first to get the new iPhone... or whatever the latest 'gotta have it' experience is. How do we create that with Ford?"
9:17AM Anything is possible...
9:17AM Recent additions like traffic, 911 assist, directions, and more to come. Maybe we'll see some of them today?
9:16AM "With the introduction of Sync two years ago, we created an unprecedented level of in-car connectivity."
9:16AM Wow, EasyFuel gas fillers. No more fuel caps to leave on the roof of the car next to your coffee when you drive off from the gas station!
9:15AM Ford's technologies are labeled Brand Signature Technologies -- the "Brand" part implies there's no premium technology going on here. The idea is to hit all the cars all the time.
9:15AM He's talking about Ford's active parking tech, saying it's "just easier to use" than the competition.
9:14AM Turns out Kuzak was instrumental in getting American cars to drive more like their European counterparts. So, pat him on the back the next time you see him, yeah?
9:14AM Ford Group VP Derrick Kuzak is now on stage. We chatted with him quite a bit yesterday about MyFord and lots of other interesting topics.
9:13AM "So many of you here have inspired us to move at Silicon Valley speed." Hopefully he's not talking about average speed during commutes out there.
9:13AM Two Ford technologies have won the 2010 CES innovations awards, "we are honored that CES, among others, has recognized our customer-driven technologies"
9:12AM "The success of the pilot program has confirmed our strategy." More work with Best Buys in Pennsylvania and California in the coming months.
9:11AM Ford is talking up the Best Buy partnership, with Geek Squad providing tech support and demonstrations. How long until we buy "pre-optimized" Focuses for $400 more?
9:11AM Well, other than the voice command button, obviously.
9:10AM 63% of Sync customers now use voice commands. Who needs buttons?
9:10AM 32% of Ford buyers indicate Sync was a major factor in their decision to buy. 81% are satisfied, 77% would recommend the technology to a friend.
9:10AM The Smart Gauge technology was given an award by HOW magazine, for helping people to drive... smart.
9:09AM Talking about the Ford Fusion, 41mpg, most efficient fuel efficient sedan on the market today.
9:09AM Quality and safety are top priorities for Ford, but fuel efficiency and "smart" technology are nearly equally important.
9:08AM Alan is talking about the company's "signature technologies" belong in every model across the range, which is great news for those of us pining for a Fiesta.
9:08AM That is pretty impressive. No doubt Sync is a massive success story for Ford.
9:08AM "Last year I said that we would have one million Sync equipped cars by the start of 2010. I am proud to announce that we hit that goal in May of 2009."
9:07AM OMG Alan just mentioned grandmothers using TwitPic. We predict yfrog adoption rates to soar in the coming days.
9:06AM "Ford is in a different place, our products are being recognized, and we are making great progress as a business despite the economy."
9:06AM "It seems like 12 weeks ago was 12 months ago" -- we think he probably meant it the other way, but we get ya, Alan.
9:06AM Giant door is opening, away goes the Taurus. There goes the SHO.
9:05AM Hey, that's a great sweater-vest. Comfortable, practical, and branded.
9:04AM And the crowd goes wild.
9:04AM "Please join me in welcoming back to the International CES, Alan Mulally"
9:04AM Gary Shapiro is still talking up Mulally, saying how it's a model of competing against tax-subsidized companies.
9:03AM Edmunds has given the Taurus a technology award for "setting the standard for intuitive, practical technology."
9:02AM Hey, as it turns out the Taurus is CES car of the show. Sadly there are no keys under the seats. We checked.
9:02AM Buckle up, it's Mulally time!
9:01AM "It's my great pleasure to introduce a man who thinks about the future every time he gets behind the wheel."
9:01AM We're being asked if we're "observing the future, or defining it."
9:01AM Just noticed that the driver of the Taurus is still sitting there politely, bolt upright, hasn't moved a muscle since he pulled in. Robot?
9:00AM "Consumers are not only concerned about the environment; they want innovation but they want simple innovation."
8:59AM He's talking about the most recent winner of the CEA's i-stage award, a grant for innovation. It's a device called Renew that relates to solar power.
8:58AM CEA will soon be talking to Congress about a national plan for electronics recycling.
8:58AM We're getting political again...
8:58AM "What we really need to avoid is different mandates by different states."
8:57AM "We must work toward a national system, a national solution" to measure the energy usage of every device, to better inform consumers.
8:57AM Despite that they're against a proposed NYC law that would require companies to accept unwanted electronics -- apparently due to pollution caused by the trucks that would pick up the stuff.
8:56AM CEA is also focusing on the environment, they are "responsible stewards of energy efficiency and recycling."
8:56AM It's a "commitment to our consumers" providing advice on protecting your ears when listening to your iPod, saving power while watching your 105-inch plasma, and other good stuff.
8:54AM Talking about solidifying the organization, focusing on the consumer, announcing the launch of CE Cares.
8:54AM "We're part of an industry creating the future, but the CEA feels the pain of its members."
8:53AM Polite laughter.
8:53AM He indicated the DTV transition went "without a hiccup" -- joking that we actually did it twice, in February and in June.
8:53AM CEA is projecting that by 2010 wireless phones will surpass televisions as the largest product category -- but "TV is still king" for now.
8:52AM On Jan 7th in 1927 the first trans-Atlantic telephone call was placed. We've come a long way, baby.
8:51AM Okay, phew, we're getting back to the technology talk.
8:51AM "Invent our future! Join the movement!" One of us! One of us!
8:51AM Can we talk about the Taurus now? I think we're all here to see the Taurus.
8:50AM "Who's going to pay off that record $2
billion trillion in debt that the government generated in 2009? Our children will."
8:50AM "Every dollar given away for stimulus or for clunkers is a future debt that must be repaid."
8:49AM Sporadic applause, uncomfortable foot shuffling as well. CEA also wants more less government interference in outsourcing, better education, and less "stimulus" money.
8:48AM Uh oh, we're getting political. Looking for free trade, less government interference...
8:48AM If you want to help you can join CEA's Innovation Movement, companies driving good stuff without asking for government handouts.
8:47AM More motivation, "innovate or die" is driving plenty of innovation. We're certainly seeing plenty of that.
8:47AM Oops, he just called Microsoft's Natal "nay-tell". Ballmer beat-down in 3... 2......
8:46AM He's also talking up the "incredible pace of announcements." If you need proof of that, check out the bags under any of our writers' eyes.
8:45AM He's predicting a return to revenue growth this year, citing a growth of of exhibitors this year. Over 300 new companies here.
8:44AM "We own innovation, and we invent the future."
8:44AM Today we're going to be talking about "innovation and technology" -- surprise surprise.
8:43AM He's talking about how CEA predicted a modest drop in revenue for last year, confirming a 7% drop in last year -- that's despite sales being up 10%.
8:43AM "Many of us will look back on 2009 as the most challenging year of our lives... our global economy is only now edging away from the brink."
8:43AM CEA CEO Gary Shapiro just rolled on stage in a lovely red Taurus SHO. No powerslides on the carpet, sadly.
8:40AM Shame it's still 8:30 in the morning.
8:39AM Okay, now we're rolling, time for the inspirational video. Theme is "Tonight's Going to be a Good Night."
8:38AM Oookay, lights are back up, as are the tunes. Some sort of a Kruder & Dorfmeister remix. Very chill. How appropriate!
8:32AM The drum and bass is fading, the lights are dimming, and the temperature seems to be dropping too. It wouldn't be Vegas without excessive air conditioning....