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Ford drives into wearables via Android Wear, dashboard-phone syncing

Ford Motor is moving deeper into wearables by extending its smartphone integration technology to allow wearers of Android Wear smartwatches to check the battery charge for an electric vehicle from their wrists.

The extension of the MyFord mobile application was among several Ford technology announcements that included the appointment of Ford veteran Randy Visintainer to direct autonomous vehicle development and creation of a global program work team. The moves, along with Ford?s expansion of its dashboard system into wrist-based wearable computers, fit with the automaker?s effort to market its vehicles as technology hubs to reach mobile-savvy millennial buyers.

?Wearable is even more accessible than mobile, so having the option to check the charge on an electric vehicle at your wrist is appealing to drivers supported by the MyFord Mobile extension app,? said Eric Mugnier, senior vice president of M&C Saatchi Mobile, New York. ?The information available via smartwatch is an extension of mobile practice.?

Connected cars
The MyFord app for smartphone seeks to give owners of plug-in electric vehicles a seamless connected car experience, by allowing them at the touch of a finger to lock and unlock their vehicle, find where they parked and access mileage, driving efficiency and charging status.

Similarly, the app extension prototype for Android Wear smartwatches aims to allow drivers to access their car?s needs right at the wrist. Users can lock and unlock the vehicle, find where they parked it and access mileage, driving efficiency, charging status and the vehicle manual, according to Ford.

Android Wear smartwatch showing app main screen.

Ford?s five-year plan is to add driver-assist technologies across its product lineup to both make roads safer and continue to increase automated driving capability, Raj Nair, Ford group vice president for global product development, was quoted in a release. 

The wearables connection will allow owners to check the driving range and battery charge for their plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle from their wrists before they leave on a trip, and to even find the location where they last parked.
Ford was first to bring voice control to smartphone apps with AppLink, a connected car system which allows customers to connect their smartphone and control their compatible apps using voice commands or buttons on the touch screen display. 

Last year, Ford joined forces with AccuWeather to let Ford vehicle drivers plan and time trips around weather conditions, enabling AccuWeather?s smartphone app to work with AppLink.

Ford owners could use the integration of AccuWeather to obtain minute-by-minute, hyper-localized weather forecasts to a driver?s exact street address for up to two hours. 
The Android Wear smartwatch announcement comes three weeks after Ford agreed to let Toyota Motor explore Ford?s integration of the Detroit car brand?s smartphone infotainment technology in Toyota vehicles.

Telematics standards
Toyota, the world's top automaker by sales, aimed to adapt Ford?s SmartDeviceLink technology in future Toyota and Lexus vehicles, building on a 2011 Toyota and Ford collaboration on in-car telematics standards. 

Showing vehicle status.

?As the range of mobile devices expand, it is imperative to reach consumers where they are,? Mr. Mugnier said. ?Drivers, especially millennials, take advantage of the automatically updated information and as-it-happens notifications in apps.

?The creation of Smartwatch apps like MyFord is a result of auto marketers taking lengths to embrace the technology,? he said. 

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York