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Topic: Microsoft Sync

Debuting in late 2007 in many high-end 2008 models of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles, including the Edge, Explorer, Focus, Fusion, Taurus, Milan, and Sable. Sync is a voice-activated in-car communication and entertainment system developed by Microsoft that supports most Bluetooth-equipped mobile phones (Sync supports a wide range of mobile carriers) as well as many popular portable music players, such as the Apple iPod and Microsoft Zune. Using state-of-the-art intelligent voice recognition technology, Sync is capable of recognizing numerous voices - regardless of who is speaking. Calling your friend Bob is as easy as "Call Bob" and if you'd like to listen to music (supports MP3, AAC, WMA, and WAV) while you wait for Bob to pick up, hearing your favorite band Queen is only a simple request away: "Play artist: Queen". Most high-end 2008 models come with Microsoft Sync standard, but it can come as an optional attachment for $395 (United States). Sync is available at no monthly fee, aside, of course, from the regular fees you pay for your wireless plan.

How It Works:
Microsoft Sync is a flash-memory based system. It uses the Microsoft Auto operating system and has an ARM 11 processor, 64MB of DRAM and 256MB of flash memory. The USB ports enable the software to be updatable. Sync allows users to hook up as many as 12 phones via a Bluetooth enabled connection. Sync then automatically copies their phone books and stores the entries by name. The users can then use the "Push To Talk" button to call someone using voice commands. The system's voice recognition software has multilingual intelligence with settings for English, Spanish, and Canadian French. Sync also comes equipped with text-to-voice technology. It uses this to read aloud incoming text messages. Users can then send pre-programmed stock responses. Also, Sync supports Bluetooth audio so users can play digital music from mobile phones with stored music. If the user wants to play music from their iPod, Zune, or other compatible device they can use the USB 2.0 port to connect their device. After connection, Sync indexes all the music on the player. Then users can use voice commands to play music by title, artist, album or genre. Sync also supports the basic auxiliary input jack. (http://www.cnet.com) Sync doesn’t forget the necessities either. If your air bags deploy, Sync will automatically connect you to your local 911, at no extra cost. Sync also features a Vehicle Health Report. Users can request at anytime an on-demand report of their vehicle's condition. Sync can also prompt the user, based on mileage, to run a health report. (http://www.fordvehicles.com)

The Microsoft sync currently allows users to perform a variety of actions in their car using spoken commands. The Microsoft sync uses voice recognition technology to allow users to do anything from making hands-free phone calls to playing music from an MP3 player to requesting a report of the vehicle's condition.

Currently the Microsoft sync can only be used in cars performing the functions it has currently been developed for, such as:
-Hands-free phone calls
-Voice activated MP3 player functions
-Voice requested Car status reports
-A hands-free early emergency response system

However, when one considers the voice recognition technology behind the Microsoft sync the list of possible future applications for this technology is virtually limitless. Further development of this technology could result in the use of voice recognition/voice commands for almost every aspect of life. As this technology becomes more advanced it could allow the driver to perform various tasks that currently require attention being taken away from driving, an example being the Microsoft sync being used by police officers in squad cars to perform the many tasks the officers need to do in the course of their duty(ex. Radioing in to dispatch, activating sirens, searching the DMV database, ect.).

The voice recognition/voice command technology has huge room for expansion even outside automobile industry. The list of possible real life applications is too vast to mention as almost any activity you can imagine could possibly be integrated with voice recognition/command technology.

What does the future of Microsoft sync hold? The Microsoft home-sync? Opening your door, closing your blinds, turning on the t.v. with just a few words?

Web Resources:

  • Voice Activation/Recognition: Voice or speech recognition is the ability of a machine or program to receive and interpret dictation, or to understand and carry out spoken commands. (http://www.techtarget.com)
  • MP3: (MPEG-1 Audio Layer-3) is a standard technology and format for compressing a sound sequence into a very small file (about one-twelfth the size of the original file) while preserving the original level of sound quality when it is played. (http://www.techtarget.com)
  • WMA: an audio file format developed by Microsoft the maker of Windows Media Player. It may not be as popular as MP3, but it is still supported by a vast number of players and jukeboxes. (http://www.mp3-converter.biz)
  • AAC: Advanced Audio Coding, is a technique for compressing digital audio files. Officially part of the MPEG-4 standard, it is most widely used to create small digital audio files. (http://www.wisegeek.com)
  • WAV: A waveform audio file, also known as a wave file, or simply .wav// after its extension, is a common type of sound file. Microsoft and IBM introduced the wav file in 1991 for use on the Microsoft Windows 3.1 operation system (OS). (http://www.wisegeek.com)
  • Bluetooth: an industrial specification for wireless personal area networks (PANs). Bluetooth provides a way to connect and exchange information between devices such as mobile phones, laptops, personal computers, printers, digital cameras, and video game consoles over a secure, globally unlicensed short-range radio frequency. (http://www.wikipedia.org)
  • USB: a serial bus standard to interface devices. USB was designed to allow peripherals to be connected using a single standardized interface socket and to improve plug-and-play capabilities by allowing devices to be connected and disconnected without rebooting the computer. (http://www.wikipedia.org)
  • Auxiliary input jack: An additional jack allowing the blending of a second audio signal into your speaker system. (http://www.alteclansing.com)
  • Vehicle health report: gives your car a check-up with a voice command, available with Sync (http://www.syncmyride.com)
  • Multilingual intelligence: capability to understand many different languages. (http://www.syncmyride.com)



Compatible Devices

Credit: http://www.howstuffworks.com

Non-Integrated Screen


Ford Vehicle with Integrated Screen

Credit: http://www.arstechnica.com