Ford innovates with hybrid phone/in-dash navigation system

Ford Europe will be launching in March 2009 an innovative solution which combines a mobile phone and an in-dash navigation solution. This factory-fitted system called “FordMobile Navigation” comprises a GPS and a Bluetooth kit in the dashboard that connects to the driver’s mobile phone where the navigation software is running and the map data is stored, thanks to a 2GB memory card.

The destination is set on the phone, the voice guidance is given by the car audio (from Sony) and turn by turn icons are displayed on the dashboard screen (see picture) as well as street names, distance to next maneuver and estimated time of arrival. The navigation software uses both the GPS and speed data from the car to enable a quick start and a precise navigation.

If the phone has an integrated GPS, the fully fledged navigation software can be used outside of the car, for pedestrian navigation, cycling or in another car like a normal mobile navigation solution.

This system will be offered as an option to Ford Focus, C-Max, Kuga, Mondeo, S-Max and Galaxy vehicles across western Europe starting in March 2009 and retailing at €200. The mobile software is compatible with a range of Nokia phones and will be extended to some Samsung and LG devices in the near future. The map data is from NAVTEQ and comprises 21 European countries.

Ford’s public relations were not able to confirm the name of the software partner at this stage. Despite the fact the screenshot of the navigation software is looking like TomTom, the Dutch company "is not part of this project" said a TomTom representative to GPS Business News.

Connecting mobile phones to dashboards

FordMobile Navigation is a very interesting and innovative solution. Obviously, black and white icons are not the sexiest in-dash navigation interface; however, this system shows the way to more complex implementations which are likely to come in the future. Mobile phones are limited by the size of their screen and, to some extent, by their audio capabilities. Therefore seamlessly transferring the audio and visual output of the mobile navigation to the car’s speakers and dashboard screen is a logic trend for the navigation industry. Ford and its partners are the first to move in that direction.

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