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July 23, 2012

Accidental Car-Shopping at “Go Further With Ford”

Ford-logoLast week I attended “Go Further With Ford,” a 3-day presentation at the auto maker’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.  Over 250 journalists, bloggers, and other media gathered to get an inside look at the philosophies and practices that Ford, with its technology partners, will be implementing into its cars in the near future.  In short, Ford aims to make cars that will help increasingly busy people multitask while they are driving in our increasingly crowded world.  In style.

Design Trends of the Near Future

Ford executives joined with industry leaders and notables to present four distinct “trend tracks”: Design, Urbanization, Streamline and Simplify, and Eco-psychology.  Each session started with a speech or panel that had a wide focus on the topic at hand, and then the groups were divided into smaller bunches so that we could see up close and in some cases, pretty personal, the actual technologies that Ford is developing to put these theories into practice.

I’ll admit that as a 40-year-old mom who lives on the outskirts of Los Angeles, I view cars as tools to help me get from point A to point B, safely and hopefully with room for all of my family-related gear.  The broader design presentations intimidated me at first, with all their acronyms and discussion of things like “democratization of design” and “natural user experience” and “consumer choice,” and so on.  But when each session moved to the hands-on demonstrations or more in-depth talks, that’s when my ears perked up and I started tweeting up a storm.  (Check the hashtag #gofurther [!/search/gofurther] for hundreds of updates, blog posts, and instagram photos from the attendees.)

Streamline and Simplify

I was most interested in the Streamline and Simplify session, because even though the discussion started out on high-level philosophy of customer needs and experience, the experts, John Hendricks of Microsoft and Gary Clayton of Nuance (the company behind Ford’s voice-activated SYNC feature), were speaking my language.  The language of multi-tasking.  While Ford’s mantra is all about safety - “Eyes on the road, hands on the wheel” - the company knows that people are going to do other things while they are driving, so they strive to make those tasks as safe as possible.  A hands-on demo after the panel talk featured the SYNC console, which will someday allow me to tweet with my voice, a feature I have been dreaming of since 2008.
Kim Tracy Prince


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