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Ford may let drivers download a better car!

By: Drivers staff

Date: Thursday, 02. September 2010

Car infotainment systems are moving beyond simply integrating multimedia devices into cars and may soon allow the driver to download updates such as additional Satellite Navigation features or even to download a more sporty transmission shifting mode.

Ford's SYNC system is at the cutting edge of what is becoming an increasingly important and competitive area for the automotive industry. SYNC is built on the Windows Embedded Automotive platform and is described as '... a factory-installed, fully integrated in-car communications and entertainment system that allows drivers to combine their digital lifestyles with their life on the road.' [Source:]

Traditionally, in-car technology involved devices such as inbuilt DVD players and other multimedia hardware. More recently, infotainment became less about providing the hardware and more about accommodating various devices that the consumers or drivers already use in their everyday lives. The next stage of in-car technology will allow drivers to download updates for either the in-car infotainment system or software updates for the vehicles themselves.

As well as signaling a whole new realm of possibilities in infotainment for the vehicle, the move towards downloadable updates for infotainment and telematics systems in cars also creates the possibility for an ongoing financial relationship between the car manufacturer and the consumer. You may still be a valuable customer long after you drive your car off the forecourt. Like the iTunes app store, Ford's online store will allow you to purchase updates and add-ons for your infotainment system and may even allow you to upgrade other areas of your vehicle, 'there's even talk of allowing owners to download sportier transmission shifting modes for their car, or to customize the power seat settings online.' [Source:]

Ford SYNC is also leading the way in allowing drivers to integrate radio programs with their own music preferences via iTunes 'through the SYNC system, iTunes Tagging will provide Ford customers with the ability to capture a song they hear on the HD Radio receiver for later purchase. With a simple push of the TAG button on the radio display, the song information will be stored in the radio's memory.

In-car infotainment has developed at a relatively slow pace over the past ten years, due in no small part to the security risks involved in developing and integrating such systems. However, as the pace of progress picks up we will see a lot more interesting developments in infotainment and telematics, and those who don't catch up quickly may find themselves out of the race entirely.

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