Ford Sync Feature Spotlight: Service Delivery Network

Ford has launched their Service Delivery Network (SDN) to provide real-time access to information in a flexible, integrated, and affordable solution.  The system gives Ford Sync users access to voice-activated turn-by-turn directions, traffic, business, news, sports and weather information without the high hardware and subscription costs of many telematics solutions.

The latest and greatest in distributed technology nowadays is cloud computing.  Roughly, cloud computing is a decentralized network of servers accessed by various applications.

By leveraging the efficiency of ‘the cloud’ the Ford SDN provides a few significant tactical advantages.  Each provider (the providers are detailed later in the article) is able to constantly update their systems and information behind the scenes.  This means each time an update to a system or database is necessary it is basically invisible to the end-user (barring major updates).  This minimizes issues with legacy hardware and system updates by not storing significant information in the vehicle and leaving the bulk of the storage and processing to the cloud.  In addition to updates, this network configuration makes switching out a partner (e.g. Sync wanted to change map providers) or rolling in a new feature a much less daunting task.  It’s unlikely that Ford will phase out any partners in the near future, but as they expand the information they are delivering to the user their partnerships will branch out.

Conclusion

The Ford Service Delivery Network is a fairly impressive step towards updating real-time information delivery in the automotive industry.  It follows many of the best practices of the new Web 2.0 world and opens the door for a future full of new features and services.  The Ford Sync system started out fairly simple and so has the SDN.  Sync has been evolving regularly, I’d expect the SDN to grow right along with it.

Providers

  • Microsoft Tellme – The voice portal that interprets the “services” voice command made by the SYNC TDI user and readies the request for routing to the appropriate SDN provider.
  • INRIX – Requests for “traffic” or “directions,” for instance, are routed by Tellme to INRIX, which gathers real-time traffic data to build the most efficient, fastest route.
  • deCarta – Linked to INRIX, deCarta offers up its routing engine – used by many Internet mapping sites – to help create that route, accessing its database of more than 800,000 miles of roadways.
  • Telenav – The route then is sent to Telenav’s servers, which packages the route created by INRIX and deCarta for consumption in the vehicle.
  • Airbiquity – The provider of SDN’s data-over-voice technology, Airbiquity allows information to be sent to the vehicle over the voice channel without the need for a data plan from the SYNC TDI user.

The System

  • Ford leverages a total of six servers residing in Mountain View, Calif.; San Jose, Calif.; Sunnyvale, Calif.; Tokwila, Wash.; and Sterling, Va.; as well as Dearborn, Mich.
  • Information is transmitted in approximately 30 to 45 seconds.

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