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HIGHLIGHTS:
·         It plays your favourite songs, suggests chocolate breaks and knows when to stay quiet – are the cars of tomorrow more thoughtful than your other half?
·         Future car voice recognition systems could book and rearrange appointments, order takeaways and even suggest flowers for your mum on Mother’s Day
·         Ford’s in-car connectivity system SYNC 3 already enables voice control, Apple CarPlay
and Android Auto, and will connect U.S. drivers to Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa
LAGOS, Nigeria, June 1, 2017 – Man falls for intelligent computer operating system – it doesn’t seem the most plausible of scenarios (even if the operating system is voiced by Scarlett Johansson). But the 2013 science-fiction drama Her is closer to reality than you might think.
 

Imagine a partner that anticipates your every need – orders takeaway when you’re too tired to cook, plays your favourite mood-boosting song when you’re feeling down and even remembers friends’ birthday. Sounds too good to be true, right?
Luckily, you don’t need to rely on a flesh-and-blood other half to have your back – experts predict your car soon will. With nearly all new vehicles expected to offer voice recognition by 2022 *, the next step could be systems that interpret tone of voice and facial expressions to anticipate drivers’ needs – in other words, empathetic cars.
“We’re well on the road to developing a vehicle that might cheer you up or lend advice when you need it, and keep you alert on a long drive,” said Fatima Vital, a senior director at Nuance Communications, which teamed up with Ford to develop voice recognition on its in-car connectivity system, SYNC 3.
SYNC 3 will connect drivers in the U.S. to Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. Future systems are expected to evolve into personal assistants that can book and rearrange appointments. Within the next two years, voice control systems could prompt us with all sorts of helpful suggestions, like “Would you like to order flowers for your mum for Mothers’ Day?” “Shall I choose a less congested but slower route home?” and “You’re running low on your favourite chocolate and this store has some in stock. Want to stop by and pick some up?”
And, for those times when you’d rather be alone with your thoughts, your car could learn to recognise when silence is best. (If only all real-life partners were that intuitive.)
“Voice commands like ‘I’m hungry’ to find a restaurant and ‘I need coffee’ have already brought SYNC 3 into personal assistant territory,” said Mareike Sauer, voice control engineer, Connectivity Application Team, Ford of Europe. “Eventually, drivers will not only be able to use their native tongue, spoken in their own accent, but also use their own wording, for more natural speech.”
So is there a danger of life imitating art? Could we fall in love with our AI companions as in the movie Her? “In-car systems will be capable of taking the context of almost any situation into account, and will be able to train themselves without human intervention. Language-wise, they won’t need to stick to a narrow script, and could even start to coin words and phrases of their own,” said Dominic Watt, senior lecturer, Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York. “As the technology gets ever smarter we will become accustomed to talking to the systems much as we talk to other people, and the systems will learn to adapt to us.”
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Editor’s note
Apple, Apple CarPlay, iPhone, Apple Maps, and Siri are trademarks of Apple Inc. Android Auto, Google, Google Play and other marks are trademarks of Google Inc.
About Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is a global automotive and mobility company based in Dearborn, Michigan. With about 202,000 employees and 62 plants worldwide, the company’s core business includes designing, manufacturing, marketing and servicing a full line of Ford cars, trucks and SUVs, as well as Lincoln luxury vehicles. To expand its business model, Ford is aggressively pursuing emerging opportunities with investments in electrification, autonomy and mobility. Ford provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.  For more information regarding Ford and its products and services, please visit www.corporate.ford.com.
Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 50 individual markets and employs approximately 52,000 employees at its wholly owned facilities and approximately 68,000 people when joint ventures and unconsolidated businesses are included. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 24 manufacturing facilities (16 wholly owned or consolidated joint venture facilities and 8 unconsolidated joint venture facilities). The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.
Contacts:      
Minesh Bhagaloo
Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa
+27 12 842 2691
Karishma Jivan
                        Meropa Communications
                        karishmaj@meropa.co.za                             
+27 11 506 7389
Felix Mahan
Coscharis Motors Limited
+234 8023159925
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