The car and home are typically separate domains, but Ford wants to change that by giving drivers the ability to control smart home devices from their car – and their car from their smart home devices. The carmaker is exploring Sync integration with devices like Amazon Echo and Wink.
Sync is Ford's in-car communications and infotainment system, which the carmaker has been developing under the connectivity strand of its Smart Mobility plan. Recent announcements, like the Sync Connect remote control and monitoring service and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the system, contribute to Ford's aim to deliver the "next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data."
"Consumers increasingly want to stay connected to their homes while on the move," says Ford's executive director for Connected Vehicle and Services Don Butler. "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."
Such integrations would allow users to do things like start, stop, lock and unlock their vehicle, as well as check its fuel range, from inside their home. This could be done by using voice commands with the Amazon Echo and its built-in personal assistant Alexa. Ford gives the following example of a potential interaction:
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 am, with a cabin temperature set to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Tuesday at 5.45 am, 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."
Meanwhile, using Sync in the car, it would be possible to control lights, thermostats, security systems and other home devices. Users would be able to converse with Alexa via the communications and infotainment system and a steering wheel-mounted voice recognition button. Example of potential interactions include:
"Alexa, is my garage door closed?"
"Alexa, turn my porch lights on."
"Alexa, when is my next appointment?"
Ford says it is also working with smart home platform Wink, as a means of easily controlling smart home devices from the dashboard or using voice commands. This would allow user to, for example, have a button or voice command that opens the garage door, turns on the lights, and unlocks the front door.