Building on a connected-car technology it first introduced in 2007, Ford today launched an app that will let users remotely lock, unlock, start or locate their vehicles using their smartphones (pictured). The new Sync Connect feature will even allow car owners to, for example, schedule their vehicles to start up at 7:50 a.m. so the interiors are warm and comfortable when they get in to drive to work at 8 a.m.
Ford made the announcement during today’s kickoff of the LA Auto Show and Connected Car Expo. The company said it will first bring the new Sync Connect capabilities to the 2017 Ford Escape SUV.
This summer, Ford updated its connected-car technology with Sync 3, which appears in the 2016 Ford Escape and Fiesta. Sync systems are currently in more than 12 million Ford vehicles around the world.
Two-Step Authentication for Security
“The technology helps you seamlessly integrate your vehicle into your lifestyle,” said Don Butler, executive director of Ford Connected Vehicle and Services, in a statement. “Get locked out? Cold outside? Forget where you parked? No problem. Just use your smartphone.”
The Sync Connect app, which works through a modem built into the vehicle, also allows users to check on the status of some systems, such as tire pressure and fuel, and oil and battery levels. The app uses two-step authentication for security, and requires a user to confirm the system’s setup through a touchscreen in the car.
Other features enabled through Sync include voice activation for smartphones, conversational voice recognition, Siri Eyes-Free support for Apple iPhones and an on-board graphical interface. Ford also provides Sync-equipped vehicle owners with five years of free support for Sync services, including subscription-free emergency calling.
More Autonomous Car Technologies
Ford’s 2017 Escape SUV will also come with a variety of other new technologies, including a lane-keeping alert to warn drivers when their vehicles begin drifting into other traffic lanes, enhanced assistance for parallel or perpendicular parking and a system for monitoring driver alertness.
In addition, a built-in Auto Start-Stop feature in the new Escape will sense when a vehicle is sitting idle and automatically turn off the engine to conserve fuel. The system, which automatically restarts the engine when the driver releases the brake pedal, reduces fuel consumption by 4 percent to 6 percent, according to Ford.
This is the third year the Connected Car Expo has been held in conjunction with the LA Auto Show. The 2015 expo will feature more tha 40 exhibitors, including Volvo, which is showcasing its autonomous vehicle technology; Quanergy Systems, which is announcing the 2016 availability of a new, under-$1,000 solid-state light detection and ranging sensor for self-driving cars; and Hyundai, which plans to unveil an augmented-reality technology it will bring to some of its vehicles later this year.
During today’s kickoff, automotive supplier Faurecia also presented new research into how autonomous vehicles will affect people’s behavior. It noted, for example, that vehicle occupants who no longer need to concentrate on driving have a greater risk of developing motion sickness. The company said it is working to develop solutions to mitigate or avoid such risks.