New Fords To Read Your Text Messages

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Ford has announced that it’s going to be installing a fancy new feature that will allow users to sit back and relax while their car reads their text messages to them – and responds on their behalf, too. Ford’s vehicles, both their brand new models and all those made post-2010, will be fitted with the technology in an effort to reduce the instance of dangerous text-driving – and it’s a response, in part, to the recent spate of car insurance hikes, so will reduce the cost of insurance for young drivers, too.

Ford’s voice-activated technology, Sync, is already installed on all model 2012 Ford vehicles (except Ford’s Ranger), and works by using a Bluetooth connection to connect to the driver’s mobile phone handset.

Whenever the driver receives a text message, it alerts them and reads the text out loud. Drivers are then able to reply by selecting a response from a series of pre-written message templates. So drivers needn’t be rendered unreachable while driving in the name of safety – this can all take place without the driver having to remove their hands from the wheel.

Revealing studies into the danger of text-driving
Only a couple of years ago in 2009, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) published the results of a poll that revealed drive-texting to raise the risk of a lorry being involved in a collision by more than twenty three times.

A similar study in 2007 that was conducted by South Carolina’s Clemson University showed, via the means of a driving simulator, text messaging and the use of iPods caused one in ten motorists to deviate from their lane while driving and texting or using their iPod at the same time.

So why have car manufacturers waited until now to start using this technology?
Not many phone handsets are compatible with text-to-speech technology like Ford’s Sync, although various smartphone apps like SMS Replier and DriveSafe.ly give users popular solutions. However, there’s still a long way to go, because just a few manufacturers in the automotive industry, like Ford and BMW, are beginning to incorporate this technology in the designs of their latest and upcoming models.

BlackBerry phones are the most notable handset brand to come complete with full compatibility with the in-car technology, as well as a few Android-powered handsets.

The industry believes that the major stumbling block for the technology is that iPhones are not compatible with it, so those customers who can afford a brand new car and would probably own an expensive iPhone, too, simply can’t use it, and there’s therefore almost no point in having it built in.

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