Ford Sync, introduced in January 2007, works with 19 languages worldwide.
The expansion brings convenience of SYNC to a much larger audience of potential customers, said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally, who kicked off a global launch at a tech show in Germany in late Feb. 2011.
SYNC was originally launched in North American in 2007 with three languages – English, Spanish and French. New languages will be available first in Europe in 2012 with the introduction in the Ford Focus. This expansion of languages sets an industry benchmark for automotive voice recognition capability.
Mulally added, “Sync is a smart and simple way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives.”
At the heart of SYNC is the speech engine and Ford is working with its speech technology partner, Nuance Communications, to deliver a similar experience across the multiple languages. Since the system has expanded across the United States – Sync is now in more than 3 million vehicles – Ford and Nuance have bridged the problems of one system understanding everything from ValleyGirl speak to Southern drawl.
Obviously, regions across Europe will present new dialect and language challenges. Sync can recognize 10,000 voice commands in any one of the available 19 languages and can cope with accents, vocabulary and local dialects.
Sync with MyFord Touch will be available in US English, UK English, Australian English, French, Canadian French, Spanish, U.S. Spanish, European Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Turkish, Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese.
Here’s where it gets interesting… if a German customer is driving in Italy, the system can provide directions in German but will use the correct Italian pronunciation for street names. Within each international market, a unique set of abbreviations for text messaging also has been indentified. For example, “cvd,” short for “C’vediamo doppo,” was added for Sync to read aloud, which basically means “See you later” in Italian.
It is amazing that the intelligence of the Sync system can understand the names of music artists in German, America, Spanish and other nationalities. Due to phonetic differences between languages, Sync must be able to recognize a name whether it’s pronounced in French or with a Jersey Shore East Coast accent.
Sync’s flexible, software-based platform uses a single, common hardware module equipped with Wi-Fi, which can be configured for language on the assembly line. An on-the-line server connects with the Sync module wirelessly, determines the appropriate software installation – including language – and downloads the information to the vehicle. This use of a common module and Wi-Fi avoided the logistics of stocking unique voice modules to accommodate different languages for vehicles being built at plants around the world.
Jim Buczkowski, a Henry Ford Technical Fellow and director of Electrical and Electronics Systems for Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said, “Ford is committed to making voice recognition the primary user interface inside the car throughout the world, helping drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.”
The Ford Focus will be the first vehicle to launch with the expanded Sync language capability in Europe in 2012.
Originally published May 4, 2011
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