Ford’s been pretty excited about SYNC – it’s branded and unique in-car communications system that enables the driver to use voice commands with some of the car’s functions. Drivers have been able to access 911 as well as traffic, directions and information using a bluetooth device paired with a mobile phone.
Now, having watched the success of mobile apps and the iPhone, Ford has begun taking steps to integrate SYNC with that larger playground. Searching for ways to adapt Smartphone mobile apps for in-car use through voice control of the SYNC(®) communications system, the company first turned to the nearby University of Michigan-Dearborn campus to spur innovative ideas around “what’s next” for the connected car experience.
There, Ford enlisted the help of six computer science students, working with their professors to devise an extracurricular project that would net the young programmers invaluable real-world experience. Not surprisingly, after reviewing roughly 100,000 apps in the iPhone App store, the students pinpointed Internet radio as one of two areas most relevant to in-car use. The resulting app, called SYNCcast, lets users enjoy Internet radio while driving. It will launch in 2010.
Presumably, Pandora is part of that development project. Pandora’s CTO Tom Conrad recently spoke about Pandora’s in-car development plans, saying that Pandora is working with car makers, including an existing deal with Ford, to put Pandora contols in the dashboard.