With concerns about distracted drivers causing automobile accidents, Microsoft has created Sync, a voice controlled in car system where there is no LCD screen distracting you from the road. Push a button on the steering wheel, tell the system what you want and your request is confirmed by a robotic female voice.

Sync is Ford’s voice-controlled in-car system for wireless hands-free operation of a cell phone and for playing music from a connected MP3 player. Automated calls for 911 assistance in the event of an air bag deployment are also part of the Sync package Ford has been adding features to Sync since its introduction. The latest version includes built-in GPS navigation with spoken turn-by-turn directions; traffic updates; recorded news and sports articles; and vehicle health reports.

There is no monthly fees for the first three years (Ford has not determined whether fees may be applicable after that), and drivers do not need to pay extra for a data cell phone plan. The system sends information over a voice channel of the driver’s phone.

Though the system is quite simple to use, drivers do need to learn Sync’s preset commands which means either reading the manual or waiting for prompts from the interactive voice menu. People who have tried the system say they are never 100% comfortable with only voice commands and having passengers in the vehicle make it difficult to have a conversation and follow directions at the same time. Like all new technology, Sync has it’s glitches but hopefully with more testing it can become a tool in making our roads a little safer.

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