Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ford SYNC Turns Your Car into Mobile WiFi Hotspot

Ford SYNCAre you serious about your on-the-road wireless broadband? If so then you will be pleased to hear that Ford's next generation of Sync systems will come equipped with built-in WiFi as well as the ability to share a 3G connection with a driver-defined list of approved devices. Ford is working on making your car a mobile WiFi hotspot.

The process is simple. By inserting a USB mobile broadband modem, otherwise known as an air card, into SYNC's USB port you will produce a secure wireless connection that broadcasts throughout the entire vehicle. This will allow passengers in the car with WiFi enabled devices, like laptops, cell phones, iPods or handheld gaming devices to access the internet anywhere the broadband modem receives a connection.

According to Mark Fields, Ford President of the Americas, "While you're driving to grandma's house, your spouse can be finishing the holiday shopping and the kids can be chatting with friends and updating their Facebook profiles. And you're not paying for yet another mobile subscription or piece of hardware because Ford will let you use technology you already have."

According to some recent studies conducted by the Consumer Electronics Association, as many as 77 million adults comprise the "technology enthusiasts drivers" population. It also showed that more than half of these people show the desire for a connected communications and information system in their vehicles.

The handy USB port will allow owners to not only plug in the broadband air card but also a variety of other devices as well. But the question arises to many whether or not new technology will be able to work. Well the answer is yes, thanks to an upgrade system, SYNC has installed. Through simple software updates, SYNC can be formatted to work with even the newest of technologies.

"The speeds with which technology is evolving, particularly on the wireless front, makes obsolescence a real problem." said director of Ford's Connected Services Solutions Organization Doug VanDagens. VanDagens goes on to say "We've solved that problem by making SYNC work with just about any technology you plug into it. By leveraging a user's existing hardware, which can be upgraded independent of SYNC, we've helped ensure 'forward compatibility' with whatever connectivity technology comes next."

The fact that the SYNC hardware is factory installed makes it that much more convenient for the user. There is no bulky device installed by the dealer that takes up valuable cabin space. Another benefit with Ford's system is that other systems bought separately can run as much as $500 for just the equipment and installation and then you have a monthly subscription fee on top of that. 'Using SYNC with existing mobile devices helps Ford provide the most value, the most flexibility and the most convenience for owners," said Fields. "Constant connectivity is becoming a routine par of our customers' lives, and we're making existing technology more accessible without adding costs."

With the SYNC system, a WiFi signal will be broadcast throughout the entire vehicle. The default security will be set to WiFi protected Access 2 (WPA2), which requires users to enter a randomly chosen password to connect to the internet. When SYNC sees a new WiFi device for the first time, the driver has to allow that device to connect. This prevents unauthorized users from stealing the car's signal.

This new generation of SYNC systems is supposed to launch next year and considering Ford's CEO is the keynote speaker of CES 2010, I'm sure we will be seeing a lot more of this new mobile WiFi hotspot then.

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