Ford SYNC AppLink Hackathons Tap into Latest Trends: Mobile Payments, Wearables, Digital Assistants

Automotive Press Releases Friday January 13, 2017 09:44
Bangkok--13 Jan--Hill+Knowlton Strategies
· Ford SYNC® AppLink™ – Ford's smartphone app connectivity technology – is driving new consumer experiences through developer program and global hackathons
· ExxonMobil, Samsung, DriverScore, Sygic and Dash Radio are latest AppLink developers delivering innovations in mobile payments, wearables, usage-based insurance, navigation and entertainment
· Global hackathons stimulate innovative ideas; most recent hackathon-winning team integrated IBM Watson technology – showcasing potential for digital assistant integration

Paying for gas without leaving the car, projecting a navigation map from your smartphone to the in-car touch screen, and using a new app that could help you lower vehicle insurance rates are all now possible thanks to Ford SYNC® AppLink™ software.

Ford Motor Company is today announcing cutting-edge innovations with ExxonMobil, Samsung, DriverScore, Sygic and Dash Radio to enable customers to have a more enjoyable, productive and convenient time behind the wheel.

These new experiences demonstrate the power of Ford SYNC AppLink to integrate the latest in technology trends – mobile payments and navigation, wearables, usage-based insurance and streaming music – with the car.

And to drive creation of even more experiences, Ford is conducting global hackathons to introduce its Ford Developer Program to software programmers – giving them access and tools to turn their apps, or even just their ideas, into reality.

The latest innovation to come from a Ford hackathon is integration of IBM Watson – showcasing the potential to provide customers with access to voice-controlled digital assistants in the car.
Digital assistants

This year's hackathon winner leveraging IBM Watson technology – a machine-learning, question-answering system – shows that with AppLink, Ford is well positioned to capitalize on the popularity and capability of cloud-based digital assistants, which are on the rise.

Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Drivers can easily control the Watson app using their vehicle's touch screen, steering wheel controls and voice capability. If developed into a consumer offering, it could ultimately serve as a comprehensive in-vehicle assistant that addresses requests ranging from "What's the weather like?" to "What's on my calendar?" to "Where's the nearest restaurant?"

The Watson app uses the voice pass-through capabilities of both AppLink and other SYNC tools that provide access to vehicle fuel level. When fuel is low, the app issues a verbal alert and suggests nearby gas stations along the vehicle route. Working exclusively with Ford SYNC, it combines unique machine-learning capabilities to answer questions more effectively over time.

"The abundance of new apps we're seeing is a direct result of the ease and flexibility of the SYNC AppLink platform for connecting with new technology," said Doug VanDagens, director Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. "Digital assistants are a big trend because they provide in-vehicle convenience while letting drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel."

The Ford hackathon was held in September as part of the company's annual SYNC AppLink Developer Conference – in conjunction with CTIA Super Mobility 2016™ in Las Vegas. Submissions and participation came from across the globe, including the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, India and Brazil.

"Though the app is still a prototype, we're really excited because we think it has the potential to deliver a lot of value to consumers," said Dean Phillips, lead developer on the team, which was comprised of IBM employees. "SYNC 3 and AppLink provide an easy way for developers to modify and build applications to work in vehicles seamlessly, without causing driver distraction."

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