Days after announcing the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into its new SYNC 3 infotainment and connectivity system, Ford is doubling up on its partnerships by announcing a new collaboration with Amazon, one of America’s leading technology companies. Ford CEO Mark Fields made the announcement at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show.

As part of its new tie-up with Amazon, Ford’s third-generation SYNC system will connect with Amazon’s Echo voice-recognition system, allowing homeowners to link with cloud-based voice service Alexa. The interaction with Alexa comes with numerous remote actions, including the ability to start their cars, evaluate their electric range, and provide vehicle location, complete with the street name, the mileage, and driving time away from home.

Alexa also has the ability to link Internet-enabled smart devices that should be of great use to homeowners. Even when an owner isn’t home, he can ask Alexa to remotely operate the lights, automatic garage doors, and home security systems.

In addition to its new partnership with Amazon, Ford is also set to begin its collaboration with smart home platform Wink to bring together a number of smart home devices from different companies and put them under one roof. SYNC’s compatibility with the Wink system makes it easier for homeowners to remotely control their smart home devices from the confines of their own car. This partnerships works similarly to Amazon Echo, but instead of Alexa doing the chores, the driver can remotely operate the lights, garage door, and other home functions himself.

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Why it matters

Ford Upgrades SYNC With Amazon Echo And Alexa, Wink High Resolution Interior
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Mobility solutions are a pretty big thing in the auto industry these days and yet, it doesn’t feel like it’s getting the kind of attention it deserves. Part of that has to do with the attention being placed in other technological pursuits in the business, including the race to develop autonomous driving technology.

But, it’s also important to know that autonomous driving is still in its embryonic stage. Mobility solutions, by contrast, is already present in the here and now. That’s why a lot of companies have been making huge announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show.

For its part, Ford has been front and center in this department, having taken an aggressive approach in enhancing its own SYNC infotainment and connectivity system. Now that it’s on its third-generation, there’s an even bigger pressure for the SYNC system to be better than it has ever been. It can’t rely on the applications that it already carries to take it to the next level. Ford knows this and it’s a big reason why the company has been aggressive in partnering with mobility solutions providers. The tie-up with Amazon caught me off guard because it wasn’t the tech company I thought Ford had its eyes on. But, after learning about how Ford plans to use Amazon Echo, I believe that it took a big step in addressing the growing need of consumers to stay connected to their homes while they’re on the move. Being able to link smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink via the new SYNC system achieves that objective.

In the end, these new mobility devices should help make lives easier and more convenient for owners of Ford vehicles, because as the technology continues to evolve, Ford is right there in step with the changing landscape of the industry.

Press Release

Ford is exploring linking smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink to its vehicles to allow consumers to control lights, thermostats, security systems and other features of their homes from their car, and to stop, start, lock, unlock and check their vehicle’s fuel range from the comforts of their couch.

Ford is working to link the home automation devices with its vehicles through industry-leading Ford SYNC®. This comes as half of consumers say they will buy at least one smart home product in the next year, according to Icontrol Networks.

“Consumers increasingly want to stay connected to their homes while on the move,” said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services. “Linking smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink to vehicles via SYNC would fulfill that desire, and allow consumers to connect with their vehicles even when they aren’t behind the wheel.”

With more than 15 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on roads around the world today and 43 million expected by 2020, Ford’s industry-leading communications and entertainment technology is offering customers even more connectivity. Amazon Echo and Wink connectivity innovations are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the plan to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

SYNC Connect and Amazon Echo
Ford is looking to use new SYNC Connect technology to link vehicles with the Amazon cloud-based voice service Alexa, which would allow customers to access their vehicle from inside their home. Using Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker and voice command device that interfaces with Alexa, Ford owners could request assistance with various functions of their car including:

Start/stop the vehicle
State range and charge status of their electric vehicle
Check fuel level/miles-to-empty
State vehicle mileage summary
Provide vehicle location with street name and driving time/mileage home

While at home, a Ford owner would experience an interaction such as this:

Owner: “Alexa, ask my Ford for my scheduled car start time.”
Alexa: “Here is the list of your current go times. You have a start time set for Monday at 7 a.m., with a cabin temperature set to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Tuesday at 5:45 a.m., with a cabin temperature set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Owner: “Alexa, ask my Ford for my car’s driving range.”
Alexa: “You have an available range of 56 miles.”

Alexa also provides a link to a variety of Internet-enabled smart devices, such as lights, home security systems, automatic garage doors and more.

From inside the vehicle, a driver would access Alexa through the steering wheel-mounted voice recognition button, allowing the driver to make requests of connected smart devices or functions of Alexa, including weather reports, music, shopping lists and more.

On the move, a driver could ask and receive answers to the following:

“Alexa, is my garage door closed?”
“Alexa, turn my porch lights on.”
“Alexa, when is my next appointment?”

SYNC AppLink and Wink
Ford also is working with Wink, the smart home platform that brings together smart home devices from many different companies. Compatibility with SYNC AppLink enables Wink users to easily control and automate their smart home device on the dashboard of their car or through voice control.

For example, a driver nearing home could have the option to either press a button or say a command that opens the garage door, turns on the lights, and unlocks the front door.

“Connecting homes and cars is all about making life easier and convenient for our customers,” said Butler. “As smart homes and smart cars continue to evolve, SYNC technology makes it easy to implement features that will make life better and more convenient for our customers.”

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