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Ford Considers Open Sync Apps

Mich. – Ford Motor
Company is experimenting with an open app development environment for its
radios that could impact the Ford Sync.

Ford has teamed with the University of Michigan to permit
students to develop apps for a Ford in-car radio this winter.  A separate experiment with the University has
already launched allowing computer and engineering students to beta test a Ford
prototype navigation/music system that can access car performance data and can
also use social networking applications, said Ford.

Data gathered from the experiment may be used in future Sync
radios, said the company. And Ford is also looking at offering an open software
developers kit (SDK) in the future for third party developers to create Sync
apps, said Venkatesh Prasad, group and technical leader of Ford’s Infotronics
team in research & advanced engineering.

“We are considering this but, unlike the wireless industry,
vehicles have very different and serious safety and security implications,” he
said.  Although key car electronics are
protected by a firewall, “Over and above this we believe we will need a
‘sandbox’ environment to ensure that third party applications don’t create any
unintended interactions with the core applications,” he added.

In terms of the University of Michigan
program, Ford is particularly interested in the social networking apps the
students develop. Ford is looking at drivers communicating within a social
network to share fuel economy information and location information and other
data, said Prasad.