Ford Electric Concept Car

Ford LogoTodd takes a look at Ford’s C-Max Solar Energi concept car, which amongst other things, features a solar panel roof that uses a special light concentrator lens similar to a magnifying glass to improve the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells. Ford reckons that a day’s worth of sunshine is enough to charge the hybrid’s battery, which is good for 21 electric-only miles.

This is good news for the environment as it would reduce yearly carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions from the average US car by as much as four metric tons – the equivalent of what a American house produces in four months. This probably assumes a perfect sunshine record and maximum electric mileage each day, but, hey, every little bit helps.

Review by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Livio talks about its apps for cars

livioLivio, a company recently acquired by Ford, produces apps designed to work in cars — a technology that Ford obviously has a great deal of interest in. If you aren’t familiar with the company, it produces a library and developers can use this within their apps, which can then interact with the software, also produced by Livio, that is installed in the car stereo system.

Livio discussed its plans for moving forward in 2014, which, despite its new owner, include plans for an open format that all can use. A standard that will work in Ford, GM and other autos. The proposed standardization would benefit everyone if the company can pull it off. You can learn more by watching the video below.

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Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor

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Ford Sync comes to millions of more drivers

Ford_logoThose driving certain late-model Ford cars and trucks can enjoy a lot of in-vehicle technology. But, millions more will soon be able to get this experience as well.

In conjunction with next week’s CES in Las Vegas, the company announces “Building on the pioneering SYNC in-car connectivity system it launched in 2007, Ford Motor Company today announces new system investments and organizational alignments to deliver the industry’s best fully integrated connected car and digital consumer experience”.

More than one-million vehicles equipped with SYNC AppLink are on the road today, and another 3.4 million vehicles — model year 2010 and newer — will be eligible to download AppLink later this year.

Ford Debuts Solar Energy Hybrid Vehicle at CES

Ford Go FurtherWhen we think of hybrid vehicles, what comes to mind is a car that uses both gas and electricity. Ford has come up with something new.

The Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept is the first-of-its-kind sun-powered vehicle. It is a hybrid vehicle that does not depend on a connection to the electric grid for fuel.

The Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept uses a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass. It directs rays from the sun onto solar panels that have been placed on the roof of the vehicle. As someone who lives in “sunny California”, I am very interested in Ford’s new idea.

Right now, the Ford C-Max Solar Energy Concept is a concept vehicle (as you may have guessed from the name). It takes a day’s worth of sunlight to deliver the same performance that one would get from Ford’s conventional C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid (which draws power from the electric grid). The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept uses renewable energy from the sun.

A quick look at the stats about the C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid will give you a good idea of what the C-Max Solar Energy Concept is expected to be able to do. The C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 108 MPGe city and 92 MPGe highway (which is a combined 100 MPGe).

The C-Max Solar Energi Concept is estimated to reduce the annual greenhouse gas emissions that a typical vehicle owner would produce by four metric tons. Ford has data that suggests that the sun could power up to 75% of all trips made by the average driver of a solar hybrid vehicle.

You can check out Ford’s C-Max Solar Energi Concept at the 2014 International CES. They will be at the Ford book (LVCC North Hall #2222).

Microsoft Loses Top Engineer as they Scramble for CEO Closure

MicrosoftLast week I was at Ford for a press event. I got to talk directly to Ford CEO Alan Mulally (he was interested in my Google Glass). I didn’t ask about the Microsoft offer because that was covered in the press bombardment earlier — which he side-stepped the answer. But now, Microsoft is facing a new issue as a top Microsoft engineer Blaise Agüera y Arcas has announced he is joining Google. Will more follow?

Blaise has been with Microsoft since 2006 when his company (Seadragon) was acquired. Arcas was a lead software architect on Bing Maps photosynth software. In a blog post confirming his departure, Arcas said this was “The hardest decision of my life.”

Writings on the Wall?

Alan-Mulally-FordIf Mulally doesn’t head to Microsoft, the company will be in a very bad spot for the start of 2014. Most other CEO avenues have been closed up – most recently Steve Mollenkopf of Qualcomm as he accepted the CEO role there. With Microsoft being the world’s largest software maker, you don’t want to have an unidentified road map coming into Q1.

Add to that the bad year that Microsoft had. Windows 8.1 was lack-luster, the Surface tablet was not what they expected in sales, and phone sales are not even competing with the iPhone. Even the XBox One is having a hard time catching up to PS4 sales.

So with all this data, how will other employees react? Will we start to see a ship jump as the month goes on?

If Microsoft can’t get a CEO that can handle the job by January, we could start seeing employees sprucing up their resumes. Other names in the CEO hunt are former Skype CEO Tony Bates and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.

Some have even suggested Bill Gates come back and help in these questionable times. If the other avenues turn to be dead ends, would Gates come back?

In the meantime, reports of Ford hosting their own analyst meeting to figure out the direction if Mulally steps down. There are rumors he could step down as Ford CEO even if he doesn’t take the role at Microsoft. CFO Bob Shanks will address those issues next week.

Ford Acquires Software Developer Livio for In-Dash App Connection

Livio Connect API

Livio Connect API

Ford has been the innovator on connected in-dash infotainment since they first announced their new systems in 2007. So now with all the other car companies coming up fast on in-app systems, Ford needs to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Today, they have continued their strength with purchasing Livio for an undisclosed sum, but less than 10 million dollars.

Livio is a company which links applications for iOS, Android and Blackberry to your car. Livio takes the devices Programming interfaces and makes sure they can talk to the Ford Sync system. Livio created Sync Applink for just that purpose.

Ford_logoFord is also getting a product that is an industry standard. This would give app creators a single platform to work with, resulting in faster development of higher quality apps. Consumers – in turn – would have a safe way to access digital content on the go.

“With the additional expertise Livio provides us, Ford intends to continue to lead the next generation of in-car connectivity with technology advancements that give consumers more options to access their devices on the go,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford Research and Innovation.

Livio was co-founded by Jake Sigal and Massimo Baldini in 2008. Their motto: More music, less work. based in Metro-Detroit, the company has grown since.

Find out more: Todd and Don interviewed Livio on the CES Live Feed

The Ford Developer Program

Developer Program Ford Motor Company opened up their app program to all developers at CES 2013 The new platform is called Uplink it is a suite of technology that works with Connect to Sync. This program has gone through two years of beta testing using such apps as Pandora however now it is open to all developers. It should be opened to North America, Europe and China by the end of the year. Ford has hired people from the mobile industries work previously done some development so they are ready for the volume. They’ve have told developers there are certain categories they will not permit including games videos anything with a lot of texts involved. Ford has developed a multiple number of test that the developer’s app must pass before it is even submitted. These standards are available at the Ford Developer Program website. Ford would like developers to concentrate on using voice commands or if that’s not available quick touch. Right now Ford is concentrating on the driver and they want to make sure that the apps are distraction free.

Developers can work on either the iOS platform or the Android platform. The IOS platform works with the Xcode package in Objective C. The Android platform uses the Eclipse package in Java. Is it a Json library with an API call. The head unit software accepts and manage the information. The head unit software is being open to the industry. Ford is trying to work with competitors so that developers don’t have to develop a different package for each car company.

The apps once developed or tweaked for the environment will be available directly through iTunes and the Google Play Store. Ford is also continuing to work on opening up their diagnostic platform or OpenXC Platform to produce more data for research. If you are developer and interested in developing for the Ford platform you can find more information at the Ford developer website.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network and by Don Baine, the Gadget Professor. l

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Ford Launches the OpenXC Program at CES 2013

OpenXC Today, January 10 Ford announced the launch of the OpenXC Program at CES 2013. OpenXC is an API to your car. It works off a small hardware module which reads and translate information from a car’s internal network. The module is isolated to ensure it can’t be used to brick your car. The module is based on the Arduino platform. The information can then be access by most Android applications using the OpenXC library. This allows the developer to make applications for the vehicle that have a better interface based on context. They can also integrate with other connected services offering you more insight into your cars operation.

OpenXC is a joint venture between Ford Motor Company and Bug Labs. What makes this program different from other existing programs is it is open-source and is built with the hobbyist and independent developer in mind.   It runs on a combination of Arduino and Android platforms. The code to get started will be released on Github and the Ford team will be monitoring Google Groups to answer any questions. OpenXC is not just a software program it can also be used to develop hardware that will extend your vehicle, like for example a Bluetooth Heads-up display.

“Ford is committed to innovating with the help of software and now hardware developers,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford vice president and chief technical officer. “By connecting cars and trucks to wireless networks, and giving unheard-of access to vehicle data, entirely new application categories and hardware modules can be explored — safety, energy efficiency, sharing, health; the list goes on. OpenXC gives developers and researchers the tools they need to get involved.”

If you are an Android software or hardware developer who is interested in working on a project involving cars then you may want to look into Ford’s OpenXC Program.

This article written @ GeekNewsCentral.com and if seen anyplace else has been illegally re-posted.

 

Ford C-MAX Hybrid Review – First Drive Impressions


I had the chance to drive the New 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid in sunny Los Angeles along with Jeffery Powers from Geekazine.

My first impression of the car is that is a very nice looking vehicle. It defiantly has a Ford family resemblance. From the Grill and headlights on back, you can tell it’s a new Ford. The C-MAX is a name plate that has been used by Ford since 2003 in Europe and late this year, they are bringing it to the US. Totally redesigned for 2013, the C-MAX is built on the global chassis that the Ford Focus is based on, and will be built in Wayne Michigan for the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid (Energi) versions.

Our drive started off in West Hollywood California towards the coast and up the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu. We drove in a good mix of Highway, City, and Mountains. In the 100 or so miles we put on the car, it averaged 38MPG according to the on-board readout. The EPA Estimates that the C-MAX Hybrid will get 47mpg highway and 47mpg city if driven conservatively.

The C-MAX has 50 more horsepower than the Prius V, which is a similar sized vehicle, and gets 7 more MPG. I did get a chance to drive the Prius V as a comparison and in the Mountains, the C-MAX definitely didn’t seem to be working as hard to climb the hills. I could really feel that extra 50hp!

The C-MAX Hybrid will be hitting the Ford showrooms sometime later this year at a price of around $25k.

If I were in the market for a small car (Hybrid or not) the C-MAX would be high on my list.

For more information about the C-MAX check out http://www.ford.com/cars/cmax/

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Ford Announces New Silicon Valley Lab

Ford has just announced the opening of their brand new Silicon Valley Lab.  Nestled in the heart of the U.S. tech industry, the new lab will work closely with the innovators in the area in the hopes of bringing new technologies into being.  “We have been innovating for more than a century at Ford, but we acknowledge we don’t have a monopoly on creativity,” said Ford. “Our new office will complement our existing research efforts by allowing us to tap into the region that has been driving consumer technology forward in recent decades.”

Ford has been at the forefront of computer technology in automobiles for time now, and their SYNC and AppLink technology is among the most innovative in-car technologies currently on the market.  SYNC and AppLink provide integration with today’s devices and allow the driver hands-free control over much of what goes on in today’s automobiles.  SYNC began in 2005 when Ford partnered with Microsoft to try and change the face of car technology and also turn around their own fortunes.

“We want Silicon Valley to view Ford as a platform that is open, accessible and ready for their innovative ideas and technologies,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.  Venkatesh Prasad, general manager of the new lab and senior technical leader of open innovation added, “As new ways of processing, curating and filtering information are conceived, the possibilities for enhancing personal mobility are virtually limitless.”

As part of the announcement, Ford provided the following trip down memory lane.