LINCOLN C showcases the future of driver information and in-car connectivity systems
Powered by a sophisticated human machine interface (HMI) and forward-thinking in-car connectivity technologies, the Lincoln C concept reinvents the automobile as a customer’s companion in life on and off the road.
Lincoln C’s car-to-companion transformation is the result of an innovative melding of Ford’s new signature HMI as well as a next-generation in-car connectivity features anchored by Ford’s award-winning SYNC technology and a revolutionary new system that helps intuitively connect occupants with the vehicle, their mobile devices and even the outside world.
All interaction and information is offered up in a simple, intelligent format that keeps a driver informed – but not distracted.
Simple, Sophisticated Control
The foundation of Lincoln C’s connectivity capabilities is Ford’s signature HMI.
This intelligent interface makes useful and relevant information and functionality immediately available to the driver in a way that is logical, easy to use and completely integrated.
“Before technologies such as SYNC were even crystallized, we knew we had to create a way for people to interface with their vehicle and its myriad technologies and features that was more manageable and limitless in terms of its ability to incorporate new innovations as they come,” said Gary Braddock, Ford’s group chief designer. “Our HMI had to create for the auto world what the mouse is to the PC world.”
Unique to Ford’s HMI strategy is the seemingly simplistic approach to how and where information is displayed. All car-related information, for example, appears to the left of the speedometer, including fuel economy, trip information and vehicle diagnostics. Passenger-related functions, such as audio, climate, navigation and phone, appear to the right of the instrument cluster.
“The beauty of this system is that the way information is offered encourages you to explore deeper and deeper and discover – without fear or intimidation – just how much the product can do for you,” said Braddock.
The system’s integrated platform offers tried-and-true methods of information control – steering wheel switches, touch screens and voice-activation – which can be alternatively used by the driver depending on the task, desire for control and preference.
The set of steering wheel controls, one on the left to access the car-related information and another on the right for the people-related functions, uses a stereotypical five-way mapping similar to that found on most cell phones and MP3 players – up, down, left, right and a center OK button – creating instant familiarity for the user.
Ford’s signature HMI also aligns cluster and center stack display technologies and graphic treatments for visual harmony and synchronized information delivery. In the case of the Lincoln C concept, the touch-screen center stack has a four-corner layout that includes phone in the upper left, audio in the lower left, navigation in the upper right and climate in the lower right.
“Our vision for HMI is to make a customer’s transition from home, to car, to the office and back again be experienced as seamless and uncompromised,” said John Schneider, global chief engineer responsible for HMI, Driver Controls and Infotainment. “We want our vehicles to give you exactly what you need, when you need it and how need it. And, we want to do it in a way that adds emotion, personality and excitement for the customer.”
Lincoln C features the latest in terms of SYNC-enabled technologies, providing hands-free, voice-activated cell phone, text messaging, and digital media player integration as well as security and personalized convenience features such as 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Reports.
In addition, the in-vehicle communications system is expanded to include a proprietary plug-and-play network architecture that can use a Bluetooth-enabled phone to access Internet-based services such as traffic reports, turn-by-turn navigation, a 14-million-plus business directory listing, weather forecasts, the latest sports scores and more. Customers have the option to personalize this information.
This latest evolution of SYNC with the Traffic, Directions and Information feature is set to launch next year on nearly all 2010 Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.
“SYNC puts Ford in a sweet spot in terms of vehicle connectivity because it allows us to take the cockpit of a vehicle and open it up to our customers’ personal devices, especially the mobile phone – which is considered by many as an extension of oneself,” said Joseph Berry, a member of Ford’s newly formed Consumer Service Organization and a lead architect of the company’s emerging off-board services system.
Catapulting Lincoln C’s in-car connectivity to an unprecedented level is the system that uses a life-like avatar to connect the driver to the vehicle and all the functionality offered through key systems such as Ford’s signature HMI and SYNC.
This avatar – nicknamed “EVA” – lives on the Lincoln C instrument panel and can take on a personalized visual image and personality. It responds to conversational speech, eliminating the need for menus or learned voice commands. Plus, EVA expertly manages and initiates all vehicle and SYNC-enabled functions and information to the driver. The avatar can even sense a driver’s mood through voice and drive style and respond appropriately with, for example, a favorite song suggestion from a SYNC-connected MP3 music library.
This unique system on the Lincoln C concept also offers in-car Internet access, allowing the avatar to surf the Web for the driver and read the morning’s online news headlines or latest restaurant reviews, check e-mail, or access a friend’s Facebook page. The system will even advise the driver when and where to refuel based on fuel level, driving habits, gas station locations and current prices.
“We’ve taken the notion of effective vehicle HMI and the user’s experience to the next level,” said Braddock. “Our system creates a method of organization and function in the vehicle that is intuitive, familiar and keeps the driver focused on driving, along with creating a personality within the vehicle that evokes emotion, a personal connection and a sense of confident control.”
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