By Rishabh Prasad:
The enlightening Twitter bird seems to have just found a twig on the driving seats of the Ford vehicles. British motorists would soon be able to use the online micro-blogging network, Twitter, while driving with new hands-free technology, called AppLink, from car company Ford.
“The growth in Smartphone mobile apps has been explosive,” Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s Connected Services Organization, said in a release. “Ford has worked hard to respond to the speed of the consumer electronics market.” Ford’s SYNC connectivity system already offers driver to control their phones by using voice commands, but with this new development, the driver will be allowed to integrate various Smartphone applications into vehicle’s controls. AppLink, as the name suggests, will act like an interface to the applications that are already installed on the Smartphones like iPhones, Blackberrys and Android based phones.
Some of the apps that driver (or passengers) will be able to control with the sound of their voices include Pandora, OpenBeak for Twitter andÂ Stitcher radio. The driver will be able to have his tweets read aloud to him through AppLink but he will not be able to respond to the tweets. So tweet-reading becomes easy but tweeting still would require phones or devices to be hand held. This is all controlled by Ford’s SYNC system – a hands-free technology that is also capable of reading out text messages and uses voice recognition to select specific songs from an MP3 player.
The list of applications being incorporated is expected to grow as Ford has decided to give Software Development Kits (SDKs) to the developers. Ford will take a relatively hands-off approach to distributing AppLink-compatible software – developers will continue to offer and sell such software through existing channels, like Blackberry’s AppWorld or Android’s Market.
Research suggested that being distracted for a matter of seconds is a factor in a 80 percent of accidents. Ford says its SYNC technology offers significant safety benefits by allowing the driver to focus more on the road. “It’s only through continuous improvement that Ford will maintain its lead in voice-activated vehicle controls. Making SYNC even more intuitive and easier to use will encourage more drivers to take advantage of its hands-free capabilities, helping them keep their focus on driving,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas.
Although Ford wants safety for drivers by reading out tweets, there still lies a problem that reading out tweets can make the driver eager to respond and can make his hands reach out for hisÂ device and ultimately, lose concentration. For now, safety responsibility tends to rest more on the driver.
AppLink will first appear on 2011 Fiestas equipped with Sync. Those who already own a vehicle with Sync aren’t left either, AppLink will be offered as a downloadable upgrade. Now, will this kind of social networking become a “Social Necessity” or a “Social Evil”? Only time will tell.
The writer is a Tech-Columnist of Youth Ki Awaaz.