Creating a Mouse for the Automobile

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-01-07 Print this article Print

"What the mouse did for the PC, we need to create for the automobile," Buczkowski said.

The dashboard screen is laid out with the four key communication categories color-coded and located in each corner of the screen: Entertainment (red), Climate (blue), Navigation (green) and Telephone (gold). It makes for simpler operation and less distraction for the driver, Buczkowski said.

On the entertainment side, Ford is developing-in partnership with Sirius Satellite Radio-a feature called Instant Replay Record, which will allow users to record and play back up to 45 minutes of programming at will, using touch screens.

Ford also said that iTunes "tagging" will become standard in cars equipped with HD radio.

Tagging enables listeners to "tag" a song or other track they hear on the radio and send the metadata to a mobile or home device, so that the user can return at a later time and buy the track via iTunes or another online marketer. The tag includes title, artist and other information about the track.

The sound system also allows direct integration with iPods and other portable music devices, and it makes selecting music to play basically effortless.

"With the usual iPod connection, a driver has to shuffle back and forth from looking at the dashboard to watching the road. Totally unsafe," Derrick Kuzak, Ford's vice president of product development, told the audience.

"Using Sync [and its voice capabilities], a driver can call up a song from his iPod to the car's sound system in about 5 seconds, without ever having his eyes leave the road."

A new Ford partnership with Mapquest now enables users to send directions from mobile devices directly into the Ford Sync system.

The first Lincoln MyTouch and the new Ford Edge will be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show Jan. 15. The 2010 Ford Focus also will debut at that show; media members got a preview of the all-electric 2010 Focus back on Oct. 26, 2009.

A key-and apparently highly desired-feature is Active Park Assist, already available on some models, which is expected to become standard on many vehicles. The Active Park Assist system parallel-parks a vehicle, needing little or no involvement from the driver, using a sophisticated system of sensors and steering controls.

Mullaly said that the company expects all these new technologies to be integrated into 80 percent of its vehicles by 2014.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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