Imaging you could install applications on your car as you can on your smartphone today. Sounds incredible? It may be closer than you think. Ford, the only US carmaker that didn’t fold in the current crisis, is developing an open-source platform for Sync, the company’s successful in-car connectivity and communications-and-entertainment system.
In October, Ford announced that it is testing an open-source platform that could be used in the future to develop applications that make use of Sync to connect to social networks in the cloud. According to CNet,
Ford’s representatives said the system is built on a Robotics Studio platform by Microsoft that has been layered with an open-source cloud-computing platform developed by Ford that will allow rich–and hopefully seamless–interactions with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Ford Sync is based on Microsoft Auto, formerly known as Windows CE for Automotive, Windows Automotive, and Windows Mobile for Automotive. Ford runs the first test for its open-source initiative with students of the University of Michigan. Currently no road map is known for when we can expect to see the Sync open platform in production vehicles, as it is still in the prealpha testing phases.
I really like the idea of a, more or less, like the iPhone, open platform for third-party developers on cars. This might be big in the future and a potential Game Changer for the troubled automotive industry. Cars could become the next smartphones. Of course, as the typical car lasts longer than an ordinary smartphone, this means in-car communications systems must be as easily replaceable as car stereos are today.