User experience -- the focus of any savvy consumer electronics company (though not all) looking to differentiate itself in a marketplace saturated by imitators. Now an auto company is hoping to capitalize on this fundamental tenant of modern consumerism: Ford. With the introduction of MyFord, the Detroit institution will attempt to refashion the driver's interface so as to more closely align with the rich graphic displays found on today's consumer electronics. Derrick Kuzak, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, says "it's not just a technology; it's an experience... that will cause people to fall in love with their vehicles again." Powered by the second generation of Ford Sync that is itself built upon Microsoft Auto 4.0, MyFord Touch offers improved voice recognition, touch-sensitive buttons, touch screens, and thumb-wheel controls that replace most traditional knobs and switches scattered about the driver's cockpit. MyFord also boosts connectivity with the help of an SD card slot and WiFi. Information is displayed on a pair of 4.2-inch full-color LCDs flanking an analog speedometer with five-way navigation buttons on each side of the steering wheel crossbar that give the driver control over data on the corresponding left- or right-side display; vehicle data on the left (fuel economy, mechanical status, safety features) and infotainment on the right (audio setting, climate controls, phone communications and navigation menus). An 8-inch touchscreen LCD at the top of the center console stack is the centerpiece of phone, navigation, climate and audio/entertainment functions and features fingertip slider controls for adjusting the audio volume and fan speed -- voice commands can also be used in most cases.
In yet another blow to makers of personal GPS navigators, Ford is also making its existing Traffic, Directions & Information application standard on all MyFord and Sync-equipped cars. Enhanced 3D map-based navigation is enabled by upgradeable SD cards (supplied by TeleNav) containing the map database and voice data, 3D map graphics, and enhanced point-of-interest data from Wcities. Naturally, the navigation system takes full advantage of those 3x MyFord LCDs to displays visual cues like street names, directional arrows, and distance makers in addition to spoken turn-by-turn directions.
Expect to see MyFord branded as MyLincoln Touch and MyMercury Touch on respective Lincoln and Mercury branded rigs kicking off with the 2011 Lincoln MKX set for reveal at the North American International Auto Show next week.