In response to customer complaints, Ford is taking steps to refine and improve the voice recognition capability of its Sync system and MyFord Touch. The Detroit News reports that the carmaker has partnered with voice recognition software Nuance Communications to try and make the system more user friendly.
The ongoing research project has been underway for more than a year, and is meant to enable users to use more conversational language rather than have to speak specific commands that the system understands.
When Sync was launched, Ford says it understood about 100 voice commands. That number has increased to some 10,000 as Sync has continued to evolve and additional functionality has been added through developments including MyFord Touch, which eliminates most hard key controls in favor of a touch screen and voice commands.
While Ford says customers comfortable with the system are very pleased with it, others have found it non-intuitive and frustrating, requiring specific language to change temperature, tune the radio, and perform other functions.
The planned enhancements are meant to address this, and allow users to simply ask a question like if their favorite team won yesterday’s game - much like they would when speaking to another human - rather than having to ask a specific command. Sync will then pick out certain key words and fulfill the request.
While Sync can be a real convenience on the road, and has the potential to reduce distraction by enabling drivers to keep their eyes on the road rather than fiddle with controls, Consumer Reports has found the added complexity of MyFord Touch can be frustrating, and lead to greater distraction.
And complaints about MyFord Touch have caused the carmaker to slip in owner satisfaction, dropping Ford from fifth overall to 23rd among non-luxury brands in a recent J.D.Power survey.