MediaFile

CES: Ford turns hip with Eva

January 10, 2009

Ford CEO Alan Mulally unveiled new features of its voice-command activated in-car system Sync yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, highlighting its connectivity with a driver’s other devices, including cell phones and personal computers.

Mulally then showed off a futuristic dashboard featuring an electronic personal assistant, Eva (for Emotive Voice Activation). In a small video clip of how it could all work, the Eva avatar engaged the driver in conversation and performed tasks like scheduling appointments. It’s the next generation of Ford’s Human Machine Interface (HMI) strategy, Mulally said.

“Everyone is growing up with a connected device and they don’t want to be disconnected,” Mulally told Reuters in a brief interview after his CES keynote address. Ford’s hoping its Sync service, developed with Microsoft and launched 18 months ago, will appeal especially to younger car buyers. Earlier, he’d said his five kids are his “focus group,” often e-mailing him articles about new gadgets and trends from Wired.com and other sites.

“We’re learning to think like an electronics company,” Mulally said.  But even though Mulally might want to bring Detroit closer to Vegas, reporters who thronged him after the keynote hardly let him forget he was an autos guy, and a Big Three CEO at that.

“How did you get to Las Vegas from Detroit?” one reporter asked. “I walked,” Mulally quipped.

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