2017 Ford Mustang Review

Although they've come a long way in recent years, if we're going to be totally honest, voice activation systems in cars can still leave an awful lot to be desired at times. It's not surprising, though, especially when you think how different we can sound with the countless different accents there are out there. How on earth is a computer expected to understand everything that's said by someone with a fairly neutral accent one minute, and then work just as well for someone with a strong French lilt from Quebec for example? But if voice recognition is hard for programmers to perfect for car infotainment systems, think about having to come up with one to work with Chinese handwriting! It's now been done, though, and the2017 Ford Mustang is the model that can handle it. That's right, engineers from the Blue Oval's Research and Engineering Center in Nanjing have helped the Ford Mustang, China’s best-selling sports car coupe, master the ancient country’s traditional and incredibly complex handwriting system.

SYNC 3, which is the latest generation of Ford’s in-car media and navigation system, can now understand handwritten Chinese characters inputted through the touchscreen with the swipe of a finger. And yes, there's also some very advanced, enhanced voice recognition technology at work too, so SYNC 3 can also recognise Mandarin Chinese voice commands. This all works together to provide drivers with what is now a seamless connectivity experience, for everything from choosing which music to play to searching for a destination.

The new system has come an awful long way to offer Chinese buyers the same kind of in-car infotainment experience we take for granted. Until now, putting Chinese characters into an infotainment touchscreen meant having to type in what's known as pinyin, which is the phonetic spelling of Chinese words using the regular alphabet. Then the driver would have to choose the right one from a selection of multiple characters where all potential matches would have analogous pronunciations; all this just to enter a simple command or search for the desired destination. Even using helpful predictive technology, this would be a slow and less intuitive process for the driver and would be particularly unhelpful for older Chinese drivers who may well have difficulties using pinyin.

Fisher Xu, the SYNC Supervisor for Ford Asia Pacific, explains, "The Chinese version of SYNC 3 is far more than just a translation of global technology. It’s been localised to respond to a Chinese driver’s needs with a local point of view, from the voice commands that understand our accents and our habits to the way we structure our statements. For instance, when you talk to a friend in China and they ask where you are, they’re looking for a building name or a point of interest, not a street number. That’s probably different to other parts of the world, and SYNC 3 is smart enough to know this local preference, seamlessly."

Of course, unless you speak and write Mandarin Chinese fluently, you'll have to take someone else's word for how accurate and efficient the system is in practice. But we can only marvel at the intelligence of the engineers and developers who've come up with this system.

As well as the Mustang, other Ford nameplates sold in China that offer SYNC 3’s Chinese handwriting feature now include the Focus and Taurus Limited Edition passenger cars, the Edge, the Kuga, and Explorer SUV.

For more information about the 2017 Ford Mustang we have over here that probably won’t recognise Mandarin Chinese, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Lamb Ford.

2017 Ford Mustang GT in Triple Yellow Tri-Coat
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