Scott Monty, the auto company's Internet-famous social media head, wrote to us tonight with some of the most exciting car-related news an Internet-dependent nerd could wish for.Ford is making a serious bid for geeks' business.
The next generation of Ford's SYNC-enabled vehicles will not only be rolling communications and entertainment systems. They'll also be rolling WiFi hotspots. Passengers will be able to connect to the Internet anywhere, anytime. Our crystal ball is showing a lot more Ford-enabled conference roadtrips.
The way it works is a lot like many devices available from wireless networks. For example, Sprint's MiFi, which we tested earlier this year, allows for multiple devices to connect to the Internet from a small, card-shaped device without a physical connection to any hardware. Other devices we've tested allow for single- and multi-device connections via USB.
Ford's solution is allowing for USB modems connecting to the vehicle's SYNC system and enabling Internet connectivity for multiple devices. These vehicles can also connect to other USB devices. In essence, the user's vehicle becomes one with the user's hardware.
The WiFi signal is broadcast throughout the vehicle, and password protection will guard against piggybacking.
Currently, SYNC vehicles feature hands-free calling, navigation systems, emergency assistance, music searches, news and weather feeds, business search, traffic data and audible text messages.
Without built-in hardware, it's a lot like many other devices we've seen. Users will have to work with their carriers to get the hardware and network coverage to make the magic happen.
Nevertheless, Internet connectivity in a moving vehicle is something we've waited a long time to see, and we're glad to see Ford recognizing that need.