Ford Takes Tweets To The Streets PDF Print E-mail

The Ford Motor Company is making an addition to its cars which could potentially wreck driver concentration, although the company claims that it is merely creating a safer way for already-distracted drivers to multi-task behind the wheel.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the American auto manufacturer announced that it is adding an application to its next-generation Sync in-car communication system that will allow drivers to use the micro-blogging Web service Twitter while they are on the road.

The Sync technology was co-created with Microsoft and since its introduction three years ago, Ford has sold almost one million vehicles with it. The in-car, Web-connected dashboard communication system enables drivers to operate Bluetooth-enabled smart phones and music players with voice commands and have text messages read out loud to them, along with a host of other functions.

By adding a Twitter application to Sync, drivers will have their Twitter feeds read to them. There has also been some hinting that the technology will eventually – probably within the next 12 to 18 months – enable motorists to update their own Twitter accounts verbally.

Ford also plans to install other in-car applications for Pandora, an Internet music service, and Stitcher, a service that streams podcasts and Internet-based talk, entertainment and news radio stations.

According to Ford, these new Sync applications are safer and less distracting for drivers to use than talking on cellphones and texting while on the road – activities drivers already engage in anyway.

“We take what people do – they talk on the phone, they fumble with mp3 players, they look at maps. We take these activities and make them safer,” Doug VanDagens, Ford’s global director of connected services, told CNN.

The American motor safety group, the AAA, does not agree. A spokesperson for the group said that more things going on in a vehicle only serve as additional driver distractions. “You only have so much attention to give, and we really want everyone to keep their attention on the roadway for safety reasons.”

Despite the protests, the Sync system will be installed in some Edge and Focus model cars in the United States later this year.

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