Microsoft Tellme Puts Ford Drivers on Cloud 9

SAN FRANCISCO — May 13, 2010

With more than 2 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on the road today, Ford has shown that people want a simpler and easier way to make phone calls, listen to music and get directions while in the car. And now, a whole new group of drivers is about to experience SYNC as Ford launches the all-new 2011 Ford Fiesta later this summer.

The newest addition to the small-car segment, the Fiesta will be available with Ford SYNC, powered by Microsoft, a fully integrated, in-car communications and entertainment system that gives drivers hands-free, voice-activated control over their mobile phones and media players. SYNC includes Microsoft Tellme’s voice-activated Traffic, Directions and Information (TDI) system — an interactive voice-powered service that expands Ford SYNC’s voice-command capabilities. The introduction of the Fiesta is the first time that an economy car will be available with this level of technology.

According to Microsoft Tellme research, 93 percent of motorists want the type of speech services provided by Tellme and 80 percent say availability of the Tellme service would be a key factor in which car to purchase. Vehicle manufacturers like Ford recognize this demand and look to Microsoft for a differentiated product offering with a strong user appeal.

Ford SYNC with TDI breaks ground with in-vehicle infotainment by taking full advantage of the power of Tellme’s speech recognition platform and the Windows Embedded Automotive platform. The flexibility of the Windows Embedded Automotive platform enables automakers to build upon and create unique in-vehicle experience for their consumers.

In April, more than 200 media from all over the country participated in a two-day program in San Francisco where they got to kick the tires and test drive the Fiestas throughout the city, participate in demonstrations, and compete in some street-course activities. Representatives from Microsoft Tellme were also on hand to talk about its role in the Ford SYNC TDI system.

With coverage of more than 14 million business listings, personalized traffic information, turn-by-turn directions, and location-based search, Microsoft Tellme’s cloud-based voice applications give drivers access to real-time information that’s updated continually, ensuring that searches for businesses, addresses and routes are always current.

A question the Microsoft Tellme team gets often is, “How does it work?” SYNC automatically connects drivers’ mobile phones and media players with their vehicle’s in-car microphone and sound system, simply by pushing a button on the steering wheel.

To use TDI, it’s as simple as this:

  • Press the Voice button on the steering wheel and say “Services.” When you hear SYNC’s greeting, say “Traffic.”

  • When prompted, say the name of a personal saved destination, such as work or home or grandma’s house. You can even just say the name of a city.

  • SYNC will respond with a custom traffic report — as determined by the in-vehicle GPS receiver — to your destination.

  • When multiple routes are available, you will hear the estimated travel time on each route, based on distance and traffic conditions.

  • This all happens through a connection with your Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone, in a regular voice call, so there’s no need for a data plan or for Ford to add a costly embedded cellular radio.

Customers are clearly excited about the Fiesta, with more than 1,000 retail orders already placed before the car is even available to the public. The Fiesta will make its debut on North American roadways later this summer.