Paul Aldighieri of Ford speaks with Techvibes about MyFord Touch technology

Paul Aldighieri is a member of Ford‘s Global Human Machine Interface (HMI) Team, where his current responsibilities include future programs and Sustainable Mobility Team programs including hybrid and battery electric vehicles. fmt

Before joining the HMI Team, Paul worked in the Product Design Studio in North America where he was part of the creative core that developed the award-winning SmartGauge cluster (found in the hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan) as well as the MyFord™ and MyFord Touch™ user interfaces. Paul was primarily responsible for sketching out the user experience and information architecture, and working with the design team to deliver ‘desirability’ along with ‘usability’ and ‘usefulness’ that come from working with the HMI Team, the Human Factors team and the functional owners. The output of all that collaboration was the introduction of MyFord, MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch™ at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.

I recently had the opportunity to exchange emails with him. In our exchange we discussed Ford’s new MyFord Touch technology.

What is the MyFord Touch technology?

We are very excited about introducing this new technology. MyFord Touch is a new simple, intuitive interface that maintains the driver’s connections with the rest of their life while in their Ford. It does this by providing easy access to information on large color display screens in different fields of view. The driver can tailor the view of that information through familiar 5-way buttons mounted on the steering wheel and an 8-inch touch screen in the centerstack. MyFord Touch provides three locations to partition the information that is important to the driver, so he/she knows exactly where to glance to support their next voice command through SYNC.

With MyFord Touch, the large touchscreen is presented in “4 corners” for Entertainment, Phone, Navigation and Climate – 4 activities that have been part of motoring for decades. The access point to the functions of these activities is in the corners of the touchscreen where the physicality of the surrounding bezel can be used to make access easier. Additionally, you have the ability to customize your homepage in the touchscreen interface.

A view of those 4 core activities is brought into the instrument cluster as well. On either side of the speedometer are two full color TFT screens – on the one to the right, the driver can choose which of the 4 core activities to monitor (entertainment, phone, navigation or climate settings) and on the left, the driver can customize the vehicle information that he/she wants to see.

How did this all begin?

We started the development of MyFord Touch by interviewing a diverse group of people because we new that we had to appeal to the needs of diverse customers. We spoke to everyday people like you and me and we spoke to people who use vehicles and information in extreme ways, like pilots and police officers. We came away with 4 principles to guide our progress: Be Connected, Be Clear, Be Approachable and Be Attentive. In a nutshell, make it simple to maintain connections to the rest of their lives through clear, mapping of controls to displays; leveraging familiar, approachable control language like the 5-way control and organizing the touchscreen according to in-vehicle activities. Lastly, provide choice to attend to the needs of different users. With these principles in mind, MyFord Touch delivers a solution for everyone.

Why was it important to Ford that this was developed?

It was important to Ford to develop MyFord Touch because we saw that vehicles were going to need to look beyond ‘built-in’ content, for example a 6 CD changer which holds about 100 songs, toward ‘brought-in’ content, such as MP3 players or phones which could contain 1000’s of songs and ‘beamed-in’ content which could be limitless. Our answer could no longer be the content; our answer had to be the connection to that content and the elegance of the experience in making that connection.

On which Ford models is the technology available?

Later this year MyFord Touch will launch on the 2011 Ford Edge, and MyLincoln Touch will launch in the 2011 Lincoln MKX. The next generation Ford Focus will also feature the MyFord technology. Our plan is to migrate this technology across our products – on a global basis – and will offer it on more than 80 per cent of our nameplates within five years.

Ontario recently announced that drivers could only use mobile devices if they were “hands free”. How does MyFord Touch play into this?

Drivers experience many different types of distractions on a daily basis. Research shows that activity that draws drivers’ eyes away from the road for an extended period of time substantially increases risk of accidents. MyFord Touch provides quick, easy access to information both in the instrument cluster – available as part of a scan of your instrumentation, and in the centerstack – available with a glance as you laterally scan the forward road scene. So, as part of their regular driving behaviours, the driver can acquire the information they need to support their next voice command through SYNC. MyFord Touch provides clear information, simple controls and voice command to deliver a safer, smarter way to access vehicle functions and features. MyFord and SYNC help keep the driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

This has been very enlightening Paul. If you could leave us with one final thought about MyFord Touch and Ford in general, what would that be?

Ford is establishing itself as a leader in delivering technology to our customers. Part of that leadership is to provide information that encourages people to drive more efficiently. We delivered that on SmartGauge by re-imagining how fuel efficiency feedback could be provided in a unique and elegant way. The ‘leaves’ present fuel efficiency feedback to appeal to a different mental model than the traditional needle against a scale. This is enabled by updating and taking advantage of the technology that we are providing in the vehicle – in this case, reconfigurable screens.

With MyFord Touch, I’d like to bring up a couple of interesting features that can help drivers improve fuel efficiency. First, we provide a screen that shows instantaneous fuel-efficiency against average fuel-efficiency. We know that people respond to ‘relativity’ and seeing what their performance is now and being able to easily compare that to their average, will likely encourage their behaviour positively. Additionally, the driver can track vehicle fuel economy performance and mile-per-gallon averages for the past 5, 10 or 30 minutes – this information is displayed in the form of a bar chart right next to the fuel economy display. The key here is to provide drivers with relevant information and tools in a simple and interactive way – the behaviours will follow.

The MyFord Touch map-based navigation system also offers an Eco-Route option, which will calculate the most fuel efficient route. Along with the usual choices for calculating the fastest or shortest route, the driver can choose a route that minimizes energy consumption by avoiding busy highways in favour of major roads where they can maintain an efficient rate of speed.

Thanks so much for your time Paul!

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss MyFord Touch with you and the Techvibes community.