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Posts Tagged ‘infotainment’

Ford Opens Silicon Valley Research Center

The lines blur between tech and auto worlds.

by on Jan.23, 2015

Ford expects to employ 125 at its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto.

As modern cars become increasingly dependent on digital technology, whether for safety, emissions or infotainment systems, the lines have been blurring between the rust belt and Silicon Valley. The latest example is a dun-colored office building in Palo Alto not far from such high-tech giants as Apple and Google. But this one will soon be staffed by 125 employees reporting to Ford Motor Co.

Ford was an early pioneer in the world of telematics with its Sync infotainment system. But as the maker – like its competitors – has come to learn, the pace of development in the electronics world operates far faster than in the auto industry. So, Ford’s new Research and Innovation Center will act as an outpost, tapping into the talent and technologies that have made Silicon Valley one of the world’s most important high-tech centers.

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“The valley here is a marketplace of ideas,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields, who was on hand for this week’s dedication of the Research and Innovation Center. “It’s about being in the right neighborhood because of all the collection of companies. Our folks going to the coffee shops will run into folks from other companies and strike up conversation.”


Voice Recognition is the #1 Problem for New Car Buyers

“Sorry, I couldn’t understand.”

by on Aug.29, 2014

Programming systems like the Cadillac CUE can be a nightmare due to faulty voice recognition.

Call it a communications breakdown. If you’ve ever tried to use your car’s voice recognition system to dial a phone number only to have it change the radio station to a disco channel, you’re not alone. A new J.D. Power study reports that voice recognition has become the single largest source of complaints about new vehicles.

And problems pairing smartphones to a vehicle’s Bluetooth system is the second most common problem, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study.

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“Voice recognition and device connectivity are often inherent to the technology design and cannot be fixed at the dealership, creating a high level of angst among new-vehicle owners,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power.


Automakers Join the Smart Watch Procession

New devices could check your pulse, answer your phone - and find your lost car.

by on Dec.26, 2013

Mercedes will formally reveal its smartwatch at the 2014 CES in Las Vegas next month.

Calling Dick Tracy!

One of the hottest gifts trends this year is the smartwatch, a case of comic book technology coming to life.  The devices are designed to let you quickly check e-mail and even make calls without the hassle of having to pull your smartphone out of your pocket.

With automakers already investing heavily in infotainment systems designed to pair up with your iPhone should it be any surprise that several manufacturers are also looking to launch their own lines of smartwatches?  Nissan recently announced its Dick Tracy-like device and Mercedes-Benz plans to formally introduce its smartwatch at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month.

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The Nissan and Mercedes timepieces add some appropriately automotive features, as you might expect.

The Japanese maker’s smartwatch is designed for use in its performance NISMO models and, as that might suggest, will provide a wearer with all sorts of performance telemetry, such as  vehicle speed as well as fuel consumption – as well as the driver’s heart rate.


Ford Produces 10 Millionth Sync-Equipped Vehicle

Technology draws in new buyers – but also creates headaches for Detroit maker.

by on Nov.27, 2013

Ford's latest Sync update permits th maker to draw a number of smartphone apps into the vehicle, including the Pandora music service.

Depending upon your point of view about in-car technology, the announcement from Ford could be seen as good news or bad news – or perhaps a little bit of both.

The maker this month produced its 10 millionth vehicle equipped with the Sync infotainment system.  That’s just six years after Ford first rolled out the technology developed in cooperation with tech giant Microsoft.

“SYNC has helped us to think and act more like a technology company,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service. “It has forever changed how we look at our business and how we respond to our customers.”

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Since its introduction, Sync has fostered some major changes in the auto industry and there’s not a brand to be found today that isn’t offering at least a basic in-car infotainment system. But while Ford claims Sync – and the MyFordTouch and MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems – have drawn plenty of young, tech-savvy buyers into the brand’s showrooms, the technology has also created plenty of headaches for owners and for Ford which has seen its quality ratings tumble, in large parts due to problems with its infotainment systems.


Ford Facing Class Action Over MyFord Touch Problems

High-tech system takes hits for a variety of problems.

by on Jul.18, 2013

Ford has been taking a lot of heat for problems with its touch-based infotainment technology.

Ford has been taking some big hits in consumer surveys for the last several years due to problems with its various infotainment systems, notably the MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch technologies. And now those concerns could land it in court.

A federal class action has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Central California demanding “compensatory relief” on behalf of motorists who have been frustrated by the Ford infotainment systems – in particular, with the problems involving their touchscreen interface and generally software programming issues.

“The MyFord Touch problems in Ford vehicles are legion and now well-documented,” says Adam Levitt, a director at Grant & Eisenhofer, a law firm that specializes in consumer class action lawsuits. “Had consumers known about the numerous and widespread issues with the system in Ford’s cars, they would not have purchased or leased these vehicles. We intend to see that they are properly compensated for defective systems, and will call on Ford take affirmative steps to see that customers’ expectations are met.”

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Indeed, Ford has taken some sharp criticism in recent years after initially being hailed as a high-tech pioneer.  Five years ago, Ford was among the top mainstream manufacturers on the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey. The IQS released last month found Ford sinking to well below industry average which, according to Power’s automotive research chief Dave Sargent, was almost entirely due to problems with the various Touch systems.


GM Tops Power’s Initial Quality Survey for 1st Time

High-tech problems are now car buyers’ biggest headache.

by on Jun.19, 2013

Hot Wheels...the Camaro was one of eight segment winners for GM in the 2013 IQS.

After years lagging the imports, General Motors has surged to the top of the charts in the 2013 J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, the most influential measure of vehicle quality during the first months off the showroom lot.

The new study also reveals that, on the whole, the quality of this year’s cars, trucks and crossovers actually declined a bit from 2012 – a decline largely the result of design-related problems that, for the most part, can’t be resolved at the dealership. Issued related to the latest infotainment systems and other high-tech devices are the single largest source of these buyer headaches, according to J.D. Power.

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On the positive side, “Manufacturers are doing a lot better when it comes to engines and chasses and other mechanical systems,” explained Dave Sargent, the head of automotive research for California-based J.D. Power and Associates. “Most of the problems people are now reporting involve the latest technology.”


GM Makes Remote Start, Door Unlock App Standard

Basic OnStar features will come free in 2014.

by on Jun.05, 2013

Onstar's remote connected app, allowing features like remote start and remote door unlock, becomes standard in 2014.

Beginning with its 2014 models, consumers buying General Motors vehicles will be able to unlock doors, activate their horns and lights and even remotely start factory-equipped vehicles through the OnStar RemoteLink Mobile App.

Phil Abram, GM’s chief infotainment officer, said he new RemoteLink Key Fob Services program for OnStar-equipped  vehicles will become a standard feature – and fee-free for five years. It will be added to 2014 models sold in the U.S. by Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

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It is the broadest deployment of remote services offered through a mobile app by any auto manufacturer, GM claims – and underscores what has become a virtual war between manufacturers racing to outdo one another with infotainment systems – especially features that focus on safety and security.


Spending More and More Time Behind the Wheel, Motorists Want Upgraded Auto Interiors

It’s all in the details, designers suggest.

by on May.29, 2013

GM made the interior of the 2014 Corvette Stingray one of its highest priorities in the development of the new C7.

If you haven’t bought a car in recent years, you may be in for a surprise to discover the way the demands for greater fuel-efficiency, connectivity and fashion are transforming vehicle interiors.

“There is a coolness factor involved,” Johann Jungwirth, president and chief executive officer of Mercedes-Benz research and Development in Silicon Valley. “The basic ability to connect digitally is important,” particularly for younger consumers not only in the U.S. but in Europe and China, which has spawned a major research effort on the part of Mercedes.

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The ultimate goal is to find apps that enhance the driver’s needs without compromising safety, Jungwirth told the Wards Auto Interiors Conference.

Mike VanNieuwkyuk, executive director of global vehicle research at J.D. Power & Associates, noted motorists now spend more time in their cars but are also being pressed to use the smart phone technology to be more productive while they are commuting. Consumers want the same access to connected technology in their vehicles they have in the home or office.


Mercedes Goes Digital – With Help From Google

New "Heat Map" app can find night club, restaurant, shopping hot spots.

by on May.15, 2013

Mercedes will demonstrate a variety of new Google-based infotainment apps and functions at the Google I/O conference.

The typical new car is likely to have as many digital processors onboard as the average home – and advanced technology, especially infotainment apps, have become a key differentiator between brands. That’s especially true in the luxury segment. Just ask Mercedes-Benz.

The German maker is expanding its relationship with Silicon Valley by demonstrating a variety of new apps and services at Google I/O, the technology giant’s annual conference  for software and app developers. Among the apps it will show off, the new “Heat Map” can find night club, restaurant and shopping hot spots.

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Mercedes-Benz is the featured developer at this year’s event where it is demonstrating the Drive Kit Plus, a system which enables the seamless integration of a smartphone into the vehicle’s infotainment architecture.


First Look: Volkswagen iBeetle

A car that thinks it's an app.

by on Apr.19, 2013

The iBeetle will go on sale in early 2014.

The iPhone has become an integral part of life for many folks these days, so perhaps it should come as no surprise it will soon “become an integrated component” in what Volkswagen has dubbed the iBeetle which is making its debut this coming weekend at the Shanghai Motor Show.

The modified Bug will feature a specially developed app and docking station and serves as a preview of new versions of the Beetle and Beetle Convertible that Volkswagen plans to launch early next year.

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Motorists will either be able to link their iPhone and iBeetle through an app or the special docking station to access a range of infotainment features, including navigation, hands-free calling, music and more, Volkswagen says.

Among the initial iPhone apps that the iBeetle can handle are: (more…)