Ford SYNC goes global, 2012 Focus will accept commands in 19 languages

For a long time Ford kept its best cars in Europe and Australia, leaving Americans to make do with the Tempo or teasing us with a Focus that wasn't nearly as good as those elsewhere in the world. That's all changed now, and we're dutifully returning the favor. SYNC, which has been present on many an American Blue Oval since 2007, is now going international, Ford and Nuance managing to add an additional 16 languages to the voice recognition processing, bringing the total to 19. Emergency assistance has also been expanded to cover other languages as well, so you can now hollar for help, schreien for hilfe, or even schreeuwen om help.

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Ford SYNC to be More Multilingual as Vocabulary Expands to Industry-Leading 19 Languages

Ford SYNC® to expand its vocabulary from three to 19 languages, as Ford announces global rollout of the in-vehicle connectivity technology
New languages will be available first in Europe in 2012 with introduction in the Ford Focus

SYNC language expansion sets an industry benchmark for automotive voice recognition capability

DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 27, 2011 – Ford is expanding the reach of Ford SYNC globally with the European launch of its popular voice-controlled connectivity system, with the capability of now offering 19 languages.

SYNC was originally launched in North America in 2007 with three languages. With the additional 16 vernaculars, Ford will offer voice recognition capability, powered by Nuance Communications, in more languages than any other automaker offering voice control.

The expansion brings the convenience of SYNC to a much larger audience of potential customers, said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally, who kicked off the global launch of SYNC this week at the 2011 CeBIT technology show in Hanover, Germany.

"We are pleased to announce that SYNC will soon be available to customers around the world," Mulally said. "It is a smart and simple way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives."

Teaching a car to speak
At the heart of SYNC is the speech engine, and Ford is working with its speech technology partner, Nuance Communications, to deliver a similar experience across the multiple languages.

Ford leverages significant investments made by Nuance to support the broad dialect coverage required in larger regions such as the United States. Additionally, regions such as Europe present unique challenges, in part because of the proximity of different countries and the resulting need for multilingual solutions.

For the customer, that means SYNC can recognize 10,000 voice commands in any one of the available 19 languages, and can cope with variances in accents, vocabulary and local dialects.

If a German customer, for example, is driving in Italy, the system can provide directions in German but will use the correct Italian pronunciation for street names.
Within each international market, a unique set of abbreviations for text messaging also has been identified. For example, "cvd," short for "Ci vediamo dopo," was added for SYNC to read aloud, which basically means "See you later" in Italian.

"We had to make sure the system would behave as people expect in different countries and different cultures," said Mark Porter, supervisor, SYNC Product Development. "That means we had to solicit local, native-speaking input for common abbreviations used in SMS messages as well as support different units of distance and date formats."

Song titles and artist names posed further challenges. A German owner, for instance, may have songs by artists of German, American, Spanish and other nationalities on an MP3 player. Due to phonetic differences between the languages, the system must be able to recognize a name whether it's pronounced in German or deep southern American English.

"The in-car experience needs to be global in nature, supporting a variety of languages to ensure all commands, addresses and song titles are recognized, whether you're from Germany, Portugal or France. Localization should not equal limitations," said Arnd Weil, vice president, Nuance Automotive. "Working closely with Ford, we've customized the SYNC experience across multiple languages to ensure drivers in all regions experience the simplicity and convenience that in-car voice technology has to offer."

With the language expansion, SYNC with MyFord Touch will be available in:

U.S. English
U.K. English
Australian English
European French
Canadian French
European Spanish
U.S. Spanish
European Portuguese
Brazilian Portuguese
Mandarin Chinese
Taiwanese Mandarin (supported through Mandarin Chinese)
Software, rather than hardware, solutions
As with many SYNC advancements over the years, the expanded language capabilities leverage the system's flexible, software-based platform for a cost-effective and efficient solution.

Using a single, common hardware module equipped with Wi-Fi®, SYNC can be easily configured for language on the assembly line. An on-the-line server connects with the SYNC module wirelessly, determines the appropriate software installation – including language – and downloads the information to the vehicle.

Using a common module and Wi-Fi installation avoids the logistics of stocking unique modules with every possible combination of language and capability offered by SYNC. In fact, Ford would have had to produce more than 90 different hardware modules to accommodate all of the different languages installed at assembly plants around the world.

Voice poised to become primary in-car communication interface
With independent research firms such as Datamonitor predicting that advanced speech recognition in the mobile world will triple by 2014 with similar growth for speech recognition in vehicles, Ford is ahead of the curve with the SYNC global language expansion plan.

"Ford is committed to making voice recognition the primary user interface inside the car throughout the world, helping all drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel," said Jim Buczkowski, a Henry Ford Technical Fellow and director of Electrical and Electronics Systems for Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. "This expansion of SYNC language capabilities is a huge step forward in bringing voice technology to every market Ford serves."

The Ford Focus will be the first vehicle to launch with SYNC in Europe in 2012.

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit

About Nuance Communications, Inc.
Nuance is a leading provider of speech and imaging solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with information and how they create, share and use documents. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance's proven applications and professional services. For more information, please visit:

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Ford Announces SYNC With Emergency Assistance in Multiple Languages at No Additional Cost

Emergency Assistance feature identifies exactly where in Europe an accident has taken place and calls 112 emergency number in the local language

The Emergency Assistance feature will be operational in more than twice the number of European countries than any other automatic emergency call system

Free service utilises the driver's mobile phone and will benefit subsequent vehicle owners, making a significant contribution to European customers

COLOGNE, Germany, Mar. 1, 2011 – Ford has announced that it will provide vehicle drivers and passengers across Europe and nearby regions with an extremely advanced system offering additional peace of mind as part of the SYNC package.

Emergency Assistance is a new feature developed as part of the SYNC system for Europe that will automatically inform the emergency services in the event of an accident.

Emergency Assistance is able to accurately determine the location of the vehicle using a combination of the onboard GPS unit, map database and information from the customer's mobile phone before making a call to emergency services.

The system ensures that emergency services are contacted with an introductory message communicating to the operator that a crash has occurred at a precise location in the correct language for the region.

"Emergency Assistance is a potentially life-saving technology that we will be offering to customers free of charge for the life of their Ford vehicle," said Ford CEO and president
Alan Mulally.

"It's another example of how we deliver real value to our customers through smart technology that leverages the connectivity they already pay for with their mobile device for our European customers."

Emergency Assistance is the only system that calls the emergency operator directly with key information about the incident including GPS location, rather than losing precious time by first directing the call through a third party call centre.

The Emergency Assistance feature is the most advanced system of its type available; able to directly communicate with emergency services in double the number of European countries than any other emergency call service, as well as several countries outside of the EU.

The feature eliminates concerns drivers may have of not being able to call for assistance in the event of an accident because of language limitations or not knowing the emergency number for the area that they are in. The Emergency Assistance feature acts as an on-board intermediary when it's needed the most.

Europe provided a specific challenge in developing such a system, thanks to a high concentration of languages, borders and emergency services as well as the varying levels of technology present in emergency call centres across the continent.

In response, Ford developed an industry first system that communicates to the operator in the local language, while continuing to speak with the occupant in their preferred language. To ensure the system would work throughout European call centres, the system has been designed to pass along all critical information to the operator audibly.

During the development of the Emergency Assistance feature Ford worked with the European Emergency Number Association, gaining valuable input into the system design. The EENA aims to ensure a consistently high level of response to 112 emergency number calls across Europe. Ford is currently validating the system with several emergency operator offices across the continent.

"We are pleased that Ford has consulted with the EENA and European emergency call centres in the development of the Emergency Assistance feature," said Gary Machado, Executive Director of the EENA.

"We are confident that solutions enabling vehicles to be connected to emergency call centres will contribute to saving lives in Europe."

Ensuring a rapid response to road accidents

Following road traffic accidents, lives can be saved by a quick response from highly skilled emergency services. Seconds count, which is why Ford has developed Emergency Assistance to reduce response times by ensuring that, regardless of where in Europe a SYNC-equipped vehicle is involved in an accident, an emergency response is directly requested in the local language, provided 112 emergency calls are possible in the area.

Emergency Assistance operates as part of SYNC. It becomes active when a mobile phone is paired with the system using the standard Bluetooth™ integration, enabling the Emergency Assistance feature to be offered by Ford without the subscription required by systems from some competitors.

Emergency Assistance is primed to respond to the activation of an airbag within the vehicle or the emergency fuel pump shut-off. In some cases the accident may not require the attendance of the emergency services, and the vehicle occupants receive an audible and visual message in their preferred language informing them that the call will be made. They then have an opportunity to cancel the automated call.

If there is no response the Emergency Assistance feature goes swiftly into action. The system uses an onboard GPS module combined with map data and mobile network information acquired from the customer's mobile phone to identify precise location details. This enables the Emergency Assistance feature to determine the correct language for the incident specific introductory message that will be delivered to the emergency services.

Emergency Assistance calls 112 direct, without the need to be connected via a third party call centre operator, and delivers the message that the vehicle has been involved in an accident along with precise GPS co-ordinates for the vehicle location.

After SYNC delivers the critical information, hands-free communication is made available so that vehicle occupants are able to speak directly with the emergency service call centre operator from inside the vehicle if required. Alternatively, the customer can continue to communicate with the operator via the mobile phone if able to move away from the crash site.

This provides a vital opportunity to offer additional information such as the number of occupants and vehicles involved in the incident, aiding the emergency services in providing an appropriate response.

As part of the updatable SYNC platform, the Emergency Assistance feature has been designed to be very versatile and can even accommodate any future legislative guidelines, including any 'eCall' legislation that may be introduced by the European Commission.

Ford's commitment to safety

When SYNC technology becomes available to European Ford customers initially on the Focus model in 2012, it will provide drivers with an additional means to stay safe on the road by offering a voice control system that ensures they can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

The Focus will offer the greatest level of technology in its class and the class above when equipped with SYNC, alongside Ford's latest driver assistance systems – including Lane Keeping Aid, Lane Keeping Alert, Driver Alert and Active City Stop.

The Emergency Assistance feature will complement these features when it arrives in Europe, and will be available for free to Ford customers with SYNC enabled vehicles. It will remain free for the life of the vehicle, ensuring that subsequent owners can benefit from the considerable additional peace-of-mind on offer. This is made possible as the Emergency Assistance feature automatically utilises the driver's mobile phone when it is paired using the Bluetooth function.

By developing Emergency Assistance, Ford has ensured that it provides drivers and passengers with the highest level of response procurement in the event of an accident.

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About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 164,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the company's automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford's products, please visit

Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 51 individual markets and employs approximately 66,000 employees. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford of Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 22 manufacturing facilities, including joint ventures. The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.