Cars That Get You
love the Toyota Prius, but it doesn't really get me. It comes with voice-recognition navigation that thinks I'm looking for a post office or a bank when I tell it to "go home."
Not so with the new Microsoft Sync systems in the Lincoln Navigator I tested. The software system will be built into 12 models of Ford by the end of the year, and as Microsoft Autos product manager Velle Kolde showed me, the voice-recognition system is pretty good at taking commands.
"Play artist Beyonce," Kolde instructed the car, which responded by obediently serving up "Baby Boy" off of the Zune music player stashed in the center console of the car. "Play track 'All Along the Watch Tower,'" he said, and it responded by switching to Jimi Hendrix.
Beyond that, the Sync system can read text messages, including emoticons like :-) as "smiley face," and commonly used short-hand phrases like LOL as "laugh out loud."
But the car's cockpit itself doesn't look like it could fly to the moon, the way you might expect. Instead, it looks indistinguishable from a normal car's features---and all of that is by design. "When you ask people what they want, they don't want big, complex systems," Kolde said.
Timothy Nixon, Ford's manager of technology development for Ford Motor Co. said his company also worked hard to make the voice recognition system smarter to ensure that it remained simple to use.
Want to check it out? Check out www.syncmyride.com, Ford's demo site.
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