CES: Ford links car and home with Amazon and Wink
Issue Date: 2016-01-21

Ford is exploring linking smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink to its vehicles to allow consumers to control lights, thermostats, security systems and other features of their homes from their car, and to stop, start, lock, unlock and check their vehicle's fuel range from the comforts of their couch.

Ford is working to link the home automation devices with its vehicles through industry-leading Ford SYNC. This comes as half of consumers say they will buy at least one smart home product in the next year, according to Icontrol Networks.

"Consumers increasingly want to stay connected to their homes while on the move," said Don Butler, Ford executive director, Connected Vehicle and Services. "Linking smart devices like Amazon Echo and Wink to vehicles via SYNC would fulfill that desire, and allow consumers to connect with their vehicles even when they aren't behind the wheel."

With more than 15 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on roads around the world today and 43 million expected by 2020, Ford's industry-leading communications and entertainment technology is offering customers even more connectivity. Amazon Echo and Wink connectivity innovations are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the plan to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.

SYNC Connect and Amazon Echo

Ford is looking to use new SYNC Connect technology to link vehicles with the Amazon cloud-based voice service Alexa, which would allow customers to access their vehicle from inside their home. Using Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker and voice command device that interfaces with Alexa, Ford owners could request assistance with various functions of their car including:

·Start/stop the vehicle

·Lock/unlock

·State range and charge status of their electric vehicle

·Check fuel level/miles-to-empty

·State vehicle mileage summary

·Provide vehicle location with street name and driving time/mileage home

While at home, a Ford owner would experience an interaction such as this:

Owner: "Alexa, ask my Ford for my scheduled car start time."

Alexa: "Here is the list of your current go times. You have a start time set for Monday at 7 a.m., with a cabin temperature set to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Tuesday at 5:45 a.m., with a cabin temperature set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit."

Owner: "Alexa, ask my Ford for my car's driving range."

Alexa: "You have an available range of 56 miles."

Alexa also provides a link to a variety of Internet-enabled smart devices, such as lights, home security systems, automatic garage doors and more.

From inside the vehicle, a driver would access Alexa through the steering wheel-mounted voice recognition button, allowing the driver to make requests of connected smart devices or functions of Alexa, including weather reports, music, shopping lists and more.

On the move, a driver could ask and receive answers to the following:

"Alexa, is my garage door closed?"

"Alexa, turn my porch lights on."

"Alexa, when is my next appointment?"

SYNC AppLink and Wink

Ford also is working with Wink, the smart home platform that brings together smart home devices from many different companies. Compatibility with SYNC AppLink enables Wink users to easily control and automate their smart home device on the dashboard of their car or through voice control.

For example, a driver nearing home could have the option to either press a button or say a command that opens the garage door, turns on the lights, and unlocks the front door.

"Connecting homes and cars is all about making life easier and convenient for our customers," said Butler. "As smart homes and smart cars continue to evolve, SYNC technology makes it easy to implement features that will make life better and more convenient for our customers."

Ford opens Techstars Mobility to applications

Ford-sponsored Techstars Mobility, driven by Detroit today begins accepting applications from startups interested in developing future mobility solutions.

Up to 12 startups will receive $120,000 in funding and three months of mentoring and training to develop ideas and solutions aligned with Ford Smart Mobility, the plan to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, as well as data and analytics.

"Working together, Techstars Mobility and Ford are supporting smart, ambitious inventors who are creating innovative solutions to change the way the world moves," said Ken Washington, Ford vice president, Research and Advanced Engineering. "Some of today's most innovative thinking is coming from startups, and we're excited to bring this new thinking to Detroit and the auto industry."

This class of innovative startups is invited to focus on developing advancements in four key areas:

·The consumer experience

·Information technology and data analytics

·Multimodal trip integration

·Flexible ownership and user experience

Applicants can apply now at www.techstars.com/apply. Deadline for submissions is March 22. Participants will kick off the program June 13, culminating with Demo Day on Sept. 8.

Techstars Mobility, a mentorship-driven accelerator program, launched in 2015 to focus on next-generation mobility and transportation solutions. The program is managed by Techstars, which was launched in 2007 and has accelerated 660 companies that have raised $5 billion.

Techstars Mobility's focus on Ford Smart Mobility stems from the vision of company Executive Chairman Bill Ford, who has led the charge to bring attention to the potential long-term consequences of growing gridlock worldwide.

The consortium includes several other global corporations, including Magna International, Verizon, Dana, Honda, McDonald's, Munich Re and Michelin. Each is contributing program funding and mentorship support.

The 2015 class included 10 startups that raised more than $3 million since completing the program. Seven of the companies are establishing a presence in metro Detroit to advance their innovations, including:

Cosmos, a pay-as-you-go mobile platform. Now in testing, the plan would give mobile phone customers the option to pay per day or per use for phone data – eliminating the need for pricey contracts

Elegus Technologies, a battery technology that would increase the energy density and safety of traditional batteries – enabling batteries to become smaller and hold more power. Developed over a four-year period, the team is testing the technology for production in the near future

"The first year exceeded all expectations, with 10 amazing companies, a worldwide response, more than 300 participating mentors across Detroit and eight active corporate entities," said Ted Serbinski, managing director, Techstars Mobility. "This was all brought together by the automotive dominance and entrepreneurial resurgence in Detroit. We're excited to grow this program in 2016 and beyond."