The world is about to be better connected, as Ford prepares to launch its SYNC voice-controlled connectivity program across the European continent.
With the addition of 16 new languages, Ford SYNC will soon be offered in 19 languages, more than any other automotive voice control system. The new Ford Focus will be the first vehicle to launch with SYNC in Europe in 2012.
“We are pleased to announce that SYNC will soon be available to customers around the world,” said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. “It is a smart and simple way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives.”
Teaching cars to speak European-based languages posed unique challenges for Ford and its speech technology partner, Nuance Communications. Because of the way languages and dialects tend to cross the close international borders of European countries, engineers had to create complex multilingual solutions to voice command programs.
For example, a German motorist driving in Italy will hear SYNC provide directions in German, but with the correct Italian pronunciation of street names. In all, SYNC will recognize 10,000 voice commands in each of the 19 languages, and will be able to recognize the subtle differences in accents and local dialects.
SYNC’s popular music function posed its own set of challenges. For example, a Spanish motorist may have songs by Spanish, German and American artists on his or her MP3 player. Therefore, SYNC had to be programmed to recognize each artist’s name based on local phonetics and pronunciation.
“The in-car experience needs to be global in nature, supporting a variety of languages to ensure all commands, addresses and song titles are recognized, whether you’re from Germany, Portugal or France. Localization should not equal limitations,” said Arnd Weil, Vice President, Nuance Automotive. “Working closely with Ford, we’ve customized the SYNC experience across multiple languages to ensure drivers in all regions experience the simplicity and convenience that in-car voice technology has to offer.”
With its most recent language expansion, SYNC with MyFord Touch will be available in:
* U.S. English
* UK English
* Australian English
* Canadian French
* U.S. Spanish
* European Portuguese
* Brazilian Portuguese
* Mandarin Chinese
Researchers predict that speech-based tools and mobile applications will triple over the next three years with similar growth in automotive applications, meaning that SYNC’s expansion across the European continent places Ford well ahead of the curve. Again.
“Ford is committed to making voice recognition the primary user interface inside the car throughout the world, helping all drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel,” said Jim Buczkowski, a Henry Ford Technical Fellow and Director of Electrical and Electronics Systems for Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “This expansion of SYNC language capabilities is a huge step forward in bringing voice technology to every market Ford serves.”