Ford to Upgrade SYNC with ‘American Journey 2.0’ Project

American manufacturer Ford and the University of Michigan have launched a research project called ‘American Journey 2.0’, destined to allow students to test and program new applications for the future innovations for the in-car connectivity and social networking. The two-phase program is, in fact, aimed at finding new ways to enhance the traditional American road trips.

Current technologies included in Ford’s SYNC system, co-developed with Microsoft, include: on-board text-to-speech engine, data-over-voice technology, a GPS receiver, and an off-board routing engine and information services network accessed through a voice portal.

Ford and the University of Michigan hope to built on the current technology and be able to allow in-car access to social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook, plus other Internet data.

Phase one of the project starts with a small group of computer and electrical engineering students beta testing a Ford prototype in-vehicle connectivity software platform that supports navigation, cell phone and digital music players, while also acting as an interface for social networking applications. The six-week testing of the open platform began in early October, with students running multiple combinations of applications, trying to break codes and force the system to crash.

The winter course will be open to 25-30 students from multiple disciplines, and will feature small teams collaborating on the Ford developmental software platform and building upon its connectivity capabilities with new applications.

A panel of judges from Ford, the University of Michigan, Microsoft and others will pick the winning application and the chosen student team will install the new connectivity programs in a specially prepared Ford Fiesta for the “American Journey 2.0”.

This means the Fiesta will be engaged in a group expedition that will test the new application and will be displayed at the 2010 Maker Faire a do-it-yourself convention held next spring in California.
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