My Visit With Ford At CES


Why do I make the 2,700 mile trek to Las Vegas, the sensory overload capital of the world, for the Consumer Electronics Show? Why do I attempt to have my feet navigate 2.4 million net square feet of exhibit space? Am I hoping that a spare gadget, device, or thin TV might accidentally find its way into my suitcase? What do 3,600 exhibiting companies and 20,000 products have to do with the radio business?

For me, the mission is all about an inspiring recharge to start off the new year. It’s a way to jump outside of traditional thinking and push the “open-minded” button. Of course I find drones, robots, and smart bras things to take somewhat seriously, although the fact of the matter is many of the products on display don’t even make it to market. This is the global marketplace for innovation, and if our business is to be properly aligned and fixated on the future, it’s a must-attend.

For our business I’m most curious about how rapidly the car has become a piece of connected technology that just happens to drive. Ford was the first automotive company here at CES some years ago to shake the industry up with advancements around the connected car. For that reason I made Ford the first stop here at the show.

Ford is advancing the mission of their Ford Sync Developer Program which is an innovative concept of opening the doors of the developer ecosystem. This program continues to rapidly advance the next generation of connected cars with more than 15,000 registered developersPatrick Ellis worldwide. I spoke with Patrick Ellis, the Manager of Connected Vehicle Research (pictured right) from their Palo Alto division, and he briefed me on the new partnership between Ford and Amazon.

He refers to the new advancement as “Connected World, Connected Customer, Connected Ford,” and with the Ford Sync product the “Internet of Things” adds convenience to our life. When the Sync 3 with app link functionality comes out in autos by the end of the year, you’ll be able to control devices inside your home and interact with the Amazon Echo and platforms such as Amazon Alexa to deliver real-time information about vehicle status, driving behavior, and other remote vehicle preconditioning. “Alexa, set my home thermostat to 72 degrees.” “Alexa did I close my garage door?” “Alexa, check traffic between my house and office.” Voice recognition is becoming so much more sophisticated!

I asked Patrick what he thought the ramifications of all of this are to the radio industry and he said, ” You have to be comfortable with your audience wanting everything on demand and wanting to live through their phones.” Just further confirmation via CES that we must be protective and proactive about great content from all of our products .


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