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In an impressive keynote yesterday opening CES, Ford announced their radically revised new instrument panels for driving in a digital world. Completely integrating the car's interface with other devices and services, the brand will introduce the system, called MyFord, not just in their high-end vehicles but across the line starting with the 2011 MyTouch Lincoln MKX (which will be shown at next week's Detroit Auto Show) and the Ford Edge models. The 2012 Ford Focus will be the next car to feature MyTouch, and Ford intends to roll it out to 80% of their models over the next five years. The best news is that MyTouch will be a standard feature with two upgradable versions; the dual instrument panel screens and 8" touch screen represent the top end).

The internal Ford team started working on MyTouch in 2006 along with industry leaders Microsoft on customizing its Sync (voice activation) platform and IDEO on research and strategy. MyTouch is essentially a completely new interface to Sync enabling control of the car's navigation, entertainment, communications and climate control functions using GUI, TUI and VUI (graphic, touch and voice user interface) technologies, such as the dual 5-way controllers in the steering wheel.

MyTouch introduces many new features—the ability to send Mapquest directions to your car from your phone or computer, customizable screens, full voice control for Pandora, voice delivery of stock quotations and tweets, HD radio and iTunes tagging among them. Ford has opened up their API with the expectation that multiple applications will be developed.

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The center stack's screen serves as the main interface for the car to operate nearly every function. Each of the four main categories now has its own corner and color associated with it. To simplify the multitude of tasks, users can customize the screen (above left) for easy access to manipulate features like ambient lighting (above right).

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Navigation in 3D makes getting there easier, while the main screen also serves as an internet browser when parked. (The cars will also host WiFi via USB slot designed for a broadband modem and to work with future tech developments.)

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Taking Bluetooth phone integration to the next level, the panel also allows drivers to dial and text from the touch-screen.

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Ford's improved Sync system allows for futuristic experiences like controlling the entertainment (among many other features) by improved voice command, integrating with mobile apps, and "911 assist" which helps communicate info about the car and location in case of an emergency.

We're excited about MyTouch and Ford's commitment to improving the way people can access and use technology safely while in their cars.

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Two 4.2-inch LCD screens flank an analog speedometer, allowing for a flexible, info-rich display.

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