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Ford has the Magic Touch

19th January 2010

For the 3rd year in a row, Ford took advanatge of the platform given by the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las vegas to announce a major new product.  Ford is announcing major enhancements to its in-car electronics.  SYNC was the first major electronic feature, and now Ford is taking it another giant leap further.  Called MyTouch, or MyFord Touch in Ford vehicles and MyLincoln Touch in the Lincolns. What this amounts to is a major redesign of the vehicle interior, and a complete redesign of the way information is presented to the driver and how he/she interacts with the vehicle.

MyFord includes an 8″ display in the center stack area that can be customized in three ways, reflecting that some customers are less techno-savvy than others and would be confused by all of the choices. “Quiet” is the setting that has the least information, which is nested in the 4 corners of the display. The majority of the display is devoted to a driver-selected “wallpaper” image. “Smart Corners” has a set of predetermined buttons with the most popular top-level functions. The “Shortcuts” display is fully customized by the customer.

The interface also includes dual 4″ LCD displays on either side of the speedometer which show various vehicle personalization options. The displays are controlled by a 5-way button located on either side of the steering wheel.

Left Side MyFord display

Left Side MyFord display

The left side display shows driver assist settings (on/off choices for traction control, front or rear park assist, etc.), vehicle settings (autolamp delay in seconds, door lock settings, remote start climate control settings, fuel economy, distance to empty, etc.), English/metric settings, and gauge settings (tachometer, tach/fuel, or tach/fuel/water temp).

The right side display contains infotainment information, including audio settings, climate control, phone communications and navigation menus.

MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch also include an array of touch-sensitive switches for those that might get freaked out by the touch screens. They are not true switches, but touch-sensitive “areas” that confirm that you’ve activated it by a beep or a light. One of these is the “MyTemp” function, which automatically sets the temperature to your pre-programmed favorite temperature. This is a bit of a gimmick, but would be useful if somebody else has borrowed your car and changed it.

You might be wondering if you can use all of this cool electronics with a glove on your hand. I asked the

MyLincoln Touch

MyLincoln Touch

Ford engineer and yes, you can use a glove, just not a real thick one. More on this after I get a chance for a full review.

Along with the personalization, MyFord and My Lincoln also afford portability to all of your settings. Selected user settings can be programmed to individual vehicle keys – this part isn’t new or unique. However, the settings can also be downloaded to a USB drive and exported to another MyFord-equipped vehicle, instantly transferring the driver’s preferences. This also might be a bit of a gimmick, but think if you were to rent a car and can instantly tell the car what temperature you like, and all of the other settings discussed above.

Another advantage of this system is it allows navigation to be an inexpensive upgrade, because the large touchscreen is already in the car. The upgrade is in the form of an SD card with the maps and software on it. Just plug it in and go!

The MyTouch innovation has the potential to really elevate Ford’s reputation – and sales. This is true innovation. Time will tell if the customers agree and appreciate it. I think it is a game-changer, and will likely be copied by other manufacturers as soon as they can.

That’s what I think – how about you? Please leave your comments below.

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