The downward diffusion of tech

Ford have recently launched the Sync system in South Africa and what’s totally fascinating about the system is you can now get the technology in your car for voice dialling on a car that costs R160,000. According to the press release:

Using the hands-free technology of SYNC, powered by Microsoft, customers can connect almost any mobile phone or digital media player to their Fiesta via Bluetooth and USB connection respectively. Drivers can use either steering wheel-mounted controls or voice commands to manage the system’s features.

Ford’s open platform approach to mobile device connectivity has helped SYNC stand out in the industry for its ease of use, allowing for continuous improvement of the user experience. Unlike embedded connectivity systems SYNC does not allow access to the user’s stored contact information unless his or her phone is connected, hence ensuring a high level of privacy.


Web206743_Full_HiResUsing Bluetooth technology, SYNC can wirelessly connect up to eight different mobile phones to the new Fiesta through a process called pairing. Once paired, SYNC will automatically transfer all the names and numbers in the phone’s contact list to the in-vehicle system.

A microphone inside the cabin allows drivers to use their mobile phone hands-free while driving. Making a phone call is as simple as pushing a button and saying someone’s name. SYNC also enables Fiesta customers to continue their mobile phone conversation as they get into the car – without the need to hang up – as the system will instantly connects to the Bluetooth-enabled phone once the car is started.

By seamlessly integrating with the mobile phone, SYNC includes the same features offered on the phone, including caller ID, call waiting, conference calling, a caller log, contact list, a signal strength icon and a phone battery charge icon – all conveniently shown on the new Fiesta’s centrally-located display screen.

SYNC can recognise the user’s ringtone on supported phones and play it when a call comes in. If unique ring tones have been selected to identify specific callers, SYNC will automatically play those too.

When connected to a compatible phone, SYNC can even retrieve text messages and read them aloud, including popular abbreviations and emoticons such as LOL (laugh out loud) and 😀 (smiley big smile). Using voice activation, the driver can also send a reply from a predetermined list of 15 responses while on the move.

Other than making and receiving calls, SYNC gives the driver full hands-free control over portable media players and USB storage devices. Users can browse their music collection by genre, album, artist, playlist or song title using voice commands. SYNC can even put together a playlist of the music the driver is in the mood for with the “Play similar” command. The SYNC USB port also simultaneously charges the player as the music is being played.

Additionally, SYNC can wirelessly stream the user’s music collection on the mobile phone to the new Fiesta’ sound system via Bluetooth. All music played through SYNC is high-resolution digital quality.

I think the exciting thing is that five years ago voice commands in a car were something you’d only find in a top end Mercedes S-Class. Plug in your iPhone, call people using the button on the steering wheel and you’re safe and sound rather than fumbling for your phone. Genius.