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Ford To Equip More Vehicles With Text-Reading Capabilities

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On: Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 3:02PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford To Equip More Vehicles With Text-Reading Capabilities

Imagine this. You're driving along in your Mustang on a deserted road in the middle of the afternoon. The sky is bright blue; there's not a single car on the road ahead; and you decide to put that V-6 engine to the test, going a little faster than you'd usually go. All of the sudden, your car starts talking to you telling you all about how your girlfriend is out shopping for her bridesmaid dress and is so pissed about what a bridezilla diva-monger the bride is being.

"OMG! OMG!!!!" you think. "Please tell me more! My fast, serene country road drive was oh so perfect before it was ruined by completely random girlfriend drama that I don't care about. Thanks Ford!"

That is your future with Ford's text-reading function, which will be equipped to a raft of new vehicles.

To be fair, you could keep your phone disconnected and prevent the surge of inanities from penetrating into the cabin of your Mustang. Ford is just expanding the availability of text-to-speech functionality via a software upgrade to its Sync system. In addition to 2011 Edge, Explorer and Focus models, Ford will offer the function on Sync-equipped 2011 and 2012 Ford F-150, Fiesta, Flex, Fusion, Mustang and Taurus models.

When a text is received via a connected smartphone, the Sync system will read it out loud. Drivers can then use steering-wheel-mounted controls to select from one of 15 preset responses.

Ford and other automakers that offer similar functions always frame them as a means of cutting down on the problem of texting and driving. However, some studies have shown that the problem isn't solely with the hardware but with the distraction that talking on the phone or texting presents to drivers. So by equipping cars with the ability to text, automakers may not be adding that much safety to the roads. Sure, using a text-to-voice system and integrated controls sounds a lot safer than staring at your cell phone while driving, but what sounds even safer is just not messing around with texting at all.

I'd love to see more emphasis on disabling texting/cellular signal technology within vehicles rather than elaborate hardware solutions that just work around it. I guess that wouldn't let automakers include oh-so-cool functions like Internet radio and Facebook updates, though.

The function is not compatible with all operating systems, including the iPhone, though Ford is sure to expand to other phones. Owners wishing to install the upgrade can find it at syncmyride.com.



DipStick | 11:44AM (Fri, Oct 21, 2011)

Great! now if Ford can only find a way to eliminate idiots off the road I would really be happy

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