Ford is developing ways to pair millions of SYNC-equipped vehicles globally with home automation devices or smart home products.
Ford is looking to link smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink to its vehicles through the Ford SYNC voice-controlled navigation and infotainment system. This integration would allow consumers to control lights, thermostats, security systems, and other smart home features from their cars, and to stop, start, lock, unlock, and check their vehicles' fuel range from the comforts of their couches.
"Consumers increasingly want to stay connected to their homes while on the move," said Don Butler, Ford's executive director of connected vehicle and services, in a statement. "Linking smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink to vehicles via SYNC would fulfill that desire and allow consumers to connect with their vehicles even when they aren't behind the wheel."
Currently there are more than 15 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on roads around the world.
Amazon Echo and Wink connectivity are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the plan to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
Ford is looking to use new SYNC Connect technology to link vehicles with the Amazon cloud-based voice service Alexa, which would allow customers to access their vehicles from inside their homes. Using Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker and voice command device that interfaces with Alexa, Ford owners could request assistance with various functions of their car including the following:
- Start/stop the vehicle;
- State range and charge status of their electric vehicle;
- Check fuel level/miles-to-empty;
- State vehicle mileage summary; and
- Provide vehicle location with street name and driving time/mileage home.
Alexa also provides a link to a variety of Internet-enabled smart devices, such as lights, home security systems, automatic garage doors, and more. From inside their vehicles, drivers would access Alexa through the steering wheel-mounted voice recognition button to make requests of connected smart devices or functions of Alexa, including weather reports, music, shopping lists, and more.
Ford also is working with Wink, the smart home platform that brings together smart home devices from many companies. Compatibility with SYNC AppLink enables Wink users to control and automate their smart home devices on the dashboards of their cars or through voice control. For example, a driver nearing home could have the option to either press a button or say a command that opens the garage door, turns on the lights, and unlocks the front door.
"Connecting homes and cars is all about making life easier and convenient for our customers," Butler said in the statement. "As smart homes and smart cars continue to evolve, SYNC technology makes it easy to implement features that will make life better and more convenient for our customers."