Ford Adds Second-Gen Wi-Fi to Turn Vehicles into Mobile Hot Spots
Ford says it will introduce the second generation of its Sync in-car connectivity system, which turns a vehicle into a Wi-Fi hot spot, at an undisclosed time in an undisclosed number of models in 2010. The first generation of the Sync is currently offered in 13 Ford models. Wi-Fi technology is being increasingly integrated into vehicles by a variety of manufacturers, perhaps building on consumer demand for constant connectivity.Ford plans to roll out the second generation of its Sync in-car connectivity system, which establishes a Wi-Fi hot spot inside a vehicle, sometime in 2010. However, the company has not yet disclosed which of its hot rods will be hot-spot-enabled. To activate the second-generation Sync, a driver or passenger will insert a USB mobile broadband modem into a USB port, creating a secure wireless connection and allowing everyone within the vehicle to use Wi-Fi devices.
As smartphones and other devices encourage users to remain always connected, vehicle makers have been incorporating more features into their vehicles that play to that perceived need. For example, a consortium of companies showed the LTE Connected Car, a proof-of-concept vehicle, to reporters in New York on Nov. 3.That concept car featured four touch screens, allowing access to navigation, entertainment, communications and vehicle diagnostics applications. A variety of companies, ranging from Alcatel-Lucent to Toyota, contributed their particular knowledge bases to the endeavor. The vehicle included an in-vehicle Wi-Fi environment. While that particular car remains firmly in the concept stage, other automakers have taken more concrete steps. Ford has built a number of next-generation features into its vehicles, such as a 76GHz radar system that alerts the driver to oncoming obstacles.
Ford also developed a MyKey feature that lets a parent program vehicle keys to enable default modes for specific drivers; for example, limiting a teen driver's speed and volume level. Microsoft's Traffic, Directions and Information Sync application provides real-time traffic reports and other data. These new abilities at least partially stem from new technologies introduced by hardware manufacturers such as Intel, which in March rolled out a series of Atom processors designed for in-vehicle systems. Paired with the Microsoft Auto software platform, the processors power vehicle features such as mobile device syncing and speech recognition.