Ford SYNC AppLink Hackathons Tap into Latest Trends: Mobile Payments, Navigation, Wearables, Digital Assistants

  • Ford SYNC® AppLink – Ford’s smartphone app
    connectivity technology – is driving new consumer experiences through
    developer program and global hackathons
  • ExxonMobil, Samsung, DriverScore, Sygic and Dash Radio are latest
    AppLink developers delivering innovations in mobile payments,
    wearables, usage-based insurance, navigation and entertainment
  • Global hackathons stimulate innovative ideas; most recent
    hackathon-winning team integrated IBM Watson technology – showcasing
    potential for digital assistant integration

LAS VEGAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Paying for gas without leaving the car, projecting a navigation map from
your smartphone to the in-car touch screen, and using a new app that
could help you lower vehicle insurance rates are all now possible thanks
to Ford SYNC® AppLink software.

Ford Motor Company is today announcing cutting-edge innovations with
ExxonMobil, Samsung, DriverScore, Sygic and Dash Radio to enable
customers to have a more enjoyable, productive and convenient time
behind the wheel.

These new experiences demonstrate the power of Ford SYNC AppLink to
integrate the latest in technology trends – mobile payments and
navigation, wearables, usage-based insurance and streaming music – with
the car.

And to drive creation of even more experiences, Ford is conducting
global hackathons to introduce its Ford
Developer Program
to software programmers – giving them access and
tools to turn their apps, or even just their ideas, into reality.

The latest innovation to come from a Ford hackathon is integration of
IBM Watson – showcasing the potential to provide customers with access
to voice-controlled digital assistants in the car.

Digital assistants

This year’s hackathon winner leveraging IBM Watson technology – a
machine-learning, question-answering system – shows that with AppLink,
Ford is well positioned to capitalize on the popularity and capability
of cloud-based digital assistants, which are on the rise.

Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal
insights from large amounts of unstructured data. Drivers can easily
control the Watson app using their vehicle’s touch screen, steering
wheel controls and voice capability. If developed into a consumer
offering, it could ultimately serve as a comprehensive in-vehicle
assistant that addresses requests ranging from “What’s the weather
like?” to “What’s on my calendar?” to “Where’s the nearest restaurant?”

The Watson app uses the voice pass-through capabilities of both AppLink
and other SYNC tools that provide access to vehicle fuel level. When
fuel is low, the app issues a verbal alert and suggests nearby gas
stations along the vehicle route. Working exclusively with Ford SYNC, it
combines unique machine-learning capabilities to answer questions more
effectively over time.

“The abundance of new apps we’re seeing is a direct result of the ease
and flexibility of the SYNC AppLink platform for connecting with new
technology,” said Doug VanDagens, director Ford Connected Vehicle and
Services. “Digital assistants are a big trend because they provide
in-vehicle convenience while letting drivers keep their eyes on the road
and hands on the wheel.”

The Ford hackathon was held in September as part of the company’s annual
SYNC AppLink Developer Conference – in conjunction with CTIA Super
Mobility 2016 in Las Vegas. Submissions and participation
came from across the globe, including the United States, Canada,
Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, India and Brazil.

“Though the app is still a prototype, we’re really excited because we
think it has the potential to deliver a lot of value to consumers,” said
Dean Phillips, lead developer on the team, which was comprised of IBM
employees. “SYNC 3 and AppLink provide an easy way for developers to
modify and build applications to work in vehicles seamlessly, without
causing driver distraction.”

Mobile navigation

In-car navigation is made easier as Ford offers a new feature to project
navigation apps from the smartphone to the vehicle’s SYNC 3 touch screen.

Using a smartphone paired to the vehicle via USB cable, control of the
Sygic app is removed from the smartphone. The app is automatically
projected to the vehicle touch screen and linked to voice control. The
feature works to help make navigation apps better by reducing drivers’
urges to pick up and look at their mobile devices.

For more information, click here.

Mobile payments

Ford and ExxonMobil introduce a new e-commerce app that helps make the
chore of refueling and payment faster, easier and more secure. The
feature comes as mobile commerce continues to gain traction, with growth
in on-the-road purchases from 2013 through 2016 projected to be 42
percent, according to a May Forbes article.

Leveraging ExxonMobil’s Speedpass+, an automated payment
system now available for Ford SYNC 3, drivers can use voice commands to
search for and find participating Exxon Mobil stations, as well as pay
for fuel.

To find out more about Ford’s Speedpass+ integration, click here.

Ford first introduced a mobile payment app in 2014 when it worked with
Domino’s Pizza® to add AppLink compatibility for its app –
making the technology capable of placing a pizza order using a few
simple voice commands.

Usage-based insurance

With insurance premiums on the rise nationwide, Ford introduces
DriverScore – the first smartphone app to create a personalized driving
score based on individual driving behavior that can lead to lower
insurance rates.

Other usage-model insurance programs are based on performance of a
vehicle, which often can have multiple drivers, so the driving behavior
reported back to an insurance company isn’t personalized. Some other
programs require raw vehicle data and driving performance data be shared
with insurance carriers – information you might prefer to keep to

Developed by IVOX, DriverScore users share what they want,
when they want. Only the score is shared, not the specific data points.
DriverScore accesses vehicle data for consumers’ direct benefit. The
user can agree to let the app’s sophisticated algorithm access vehicle
data to objectively analyze driving patterns. The app takes into account
speed, acceleration, braking, location and time of day.

For details about the DriverScore app, click here.


With the popularity of wearable devices on the rise, Ford is offering
vehicle integration to help make life more convenient and personalized.

Samsung Gear S2 and S3 smartwatch owners will soon be able to integrate
their smartwatches to their Ford SYNC system for convenient parking and
alerts that help them remain attentive in the car. The feature acts as
an easy-to-use digital assistant that sends helpful prompts right to
your wrist.

The integration will include logging vehicle location upon parking and
navigation back to the parking spot. It will help ensure attentiveness
by sending audible chimes and voice alerts at intervals convenient to
the driver.

For further details, click here.

Streaming music

Launching soon, Dash
– the biggest all-original digital radio broadcasting platform
in the world – will soon be accessible to consumers via an app on their
SYNC touch screen. Running 24/7 and commercial-free, Dash Radio features
more than 80 stations and more than 300 top DJs, artists and figures in
the entertainment business. Dash Radio is available for free in an
easy-to-use interface.

About Ford Motor Company

Motor Company
is a global automotive and mobility company
based in Dearborn, Michigan. With about 203,000 employees and 62 plants
worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing,
manufacturing, marketing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks
and SUVs, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles. To expand its business
model, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities with
investments in electrification, autonomy and mobility. Ford provides
financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more
information regarding Ford and its products and services, please visit

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Ford Motor Company
Alan Hall