FORWARD WITH FORD: Day One

Contributing Editor: Chris Del Castillo

The week has passed, and the trends are already changing. That was Ford’s main focus for their Forward with Ford conference in Dearborn, Michigan. With over two-hundred of us ready for our senses to be immersed in styles, trends, audible technologies, practical design issues, and safety features, it was only a matter of time that our oohs and awes broke out. We managed to capture every iota of information given except for Aging Population. I was taken so far back by Malcom Gladwells speech from the night before that it literally took me back to the future. Well not really. I just had a bad judgment call when it came to setting my cell phone with the time change for an alarm clock and missed the first seminar. That was made up for by having more intriguing conversations with people who enjoy the same as you and I: technology, cars, and NERDS!  Living Green was immersed in all the sessions. From the soybean infused leather seats, to the flower pigmented coat of paint, and the completely organic lunch meal we had, which by the way is the true source of carbon emissions. Spread a little bit of recyclable loved goods used for the hardware components of the Pandora enabled Sony interface and viola – Living Green!

Ford broke down our day with the following seminars: Emerging Technologies, Safety for All Ages, Global Convergence of Design, Aging Population, Engaging Your Senses, and Living Green.

Engaging your Senses

Ford prides itself in leading innovations, and where it can improve not only Ford cars but all cars in general by working with Schools like MIT, North Western, and a number of world wide companies. The NVH, Noise Vibration Harness, is a noise sensing camera pinpointing sounds in cars and locking on to them. From there it will take pictures with one of its twelve cameras leading to a nice digital output image of the sound. That was pretty cool because it creates something like a heat tracking sensor. How does this benefit drivers? Well cars make a lot of noise not only in the engine bay, but from tires, roads, wind, and much more. The NVH is created to pinpoint those noises so Ford can help control the noise levels or even mask them to create a quiet environment. This is also used for hybrid cars which create a different type of noise all together. The NHV has been in creation mode for more than two years, and runs on the Pythagorean theorem, so math plays a very key factor.

Ford is using something Hollywood and video games are known to use for improving certain visual aspects. In Ford cars and trucks this is known as Mo Cap (Motion Capture); take data on how people drive, get in their cars, and use of their mannerisms. The data is then used and re-created by working with different sized people to find a good feel to use towards the consumer.

Another department we had the pleasure of visiting is the micro-cellular injection molding. This uses new technology for existing products, and in turn runs on a vacuum and air pressure to create parts that already exist. Sounds complicated, and alien-like but it is really fascinating. By injecting it with air to expand the components making less use of resources, but creating a very similar sturdy item; it’s awesome! A similar test using chocolate melted down, and adding CO2 to the mixture, made it fill out the mold by using less chocolate but still equaled the same amount as a full mold. While this sounds like you were losing out on some, in actuality it was the same mass just now small air bubbles filled throughout the area.

Lastly we entered the smell factory. In it, the team tries to find acceptable smells in various situations and locations on many of Ford car products ranging from seats, floor mats and so on. The goal while impossible to eliminate all orders just to make it something one can deal with to enjoy their car.

Safety For All Ages

As time passes so does technology. Not only does technology get older, and exponentially newer at the same time, humans on the other hand only get older. Safety for all ages brings those concerns to lite and how current technology can change that not only for us, but future generations to come. For young children seats are still key item to protecting them. Bones, muscles and organs are developing so car seats can do more damage than good. New tests are being run by simulating a pregnant women and a new prototype of a child’s sternum to get better results for future tests.

For Teenagers a new item called MYKEY was showcased allowing parents to control certain abilities in Ford cars. Using different keys with a smart chip parents can chose the maximum speed a car can achieve ranging from 45-80 mph, making sure kids put their seatbelts on if they want to have the radio turned on, and even how loud the radio can go. This allows parents to have more trust in their children since some rules are placed, but it had to be asked….not all parents are tech savvy, and while the controls to the MYKEY are very easy to set, what would stop any kid from changing settings without being caught outside of the normal gauges. Well every time a key is used the mileage is auto logged regardless, along with the settings. So unless parents really don’t pay attention it won’t be that easy to bypass, as tempting as it sounds.

For adults and the elderly a few new ideas are being implemented such as the showcased inflatable seatbelt.  The seatbelts reach full expansion in roughly 3 milliseconds in a crash, but instead of that happening to me the test dummy at the time, it happened in a matter of about 2 seconds. It was very comfortable and kept me in place. New tools that help navigation are motion detectors to allow drivers to know about objects in their blind spots by using noises to alert the drivers. One that I think is very revolutionary is a wifi enabled tracker that when all cars are equipped with share the drivers current data and information allowing to help prevent crashes. So if a car is about to run a red light, other drivers cars will receive the info that car A is driving too fast and will warn all other drivers.

Global Convergence of Design

The global convergence of design panel was dedicated in showcasing the efforts that take three departments of Ford to create a car. Focusing on color choosing, trend setting, and technology driven features is what Ford faces now with creating that next production vehicle. It was surprising for us to find out that it takes Ford anywhere between five and seven years for a car to get introduced as an idea to finally hit the road in production. Color design plays a huge role, and amazingly is something that is taken very seriously.

In today’s global market, colors vary in taste and wants. Ford takes each color and goes through a staging process depending on the demand of it. The United States just so happens to enjoy the color white among all others. Ford is going through a re-defining process encouraging its graphic designers to bring out the earth tones in their cars.

Another important aspect is trends and how they are interrelated with where that specific Ford vehicle will end up. The process of the car can see its ups and downs. It is up to experts like Barbara Bylenga, featured bellow, to follow the youth trends in allowing the successful launching of a new vehicle.

I found it quite interesting to know that so much went into a cars creation. It was not simply just a previous model outfitted with hood scoops, not that any car manufacturer does that, but in the creation sense that there is much more than meets the eye. From fashion models, to architecture, nature, and sports magazines. Every little type of genre placed idiom is taking into account when Ford moves forward in each creation phase. I think that the next section with technology at the steering wheel is the driving force behind Fords “forward” concept. It is by far the most absorbed by the companies resources, and the consumers wants.

 

Emerging Technologies

This session consisted of all the cool toys (tech) that Ford is introducing in most, if not all, there vehicle lines. Like I said before, it takes them up to seven years to have a car that was imagined on a sketch of paper, then to end up on the road. So one could imagine the issues that are brought up when dealing with technology – most notably, Moore’s law. Moore’s law essentially states that technology is growing exponentially. History has only seen this happen on a few occasions. The invention of the light bulb, paper, and train transportation are some more notable ones to mention. Technology falls right into place. What does Ford do when it takes them that long knowing that a piece of technology first imagined will be no doubtedly out of date by the time it hits the road? They team up with Gracenote, Pandora, HD-Radio, SONY, Nuance, Telenac, and Microsoft’s SYNC to build a powerhouse that will keep them from falling behind.

Ford has created such a partnership that it will bring any interface that you may have, be it smartphone, mp3 player, laptop, navigation, USB drive, and much more, to be able to sync and simply be a part of your vehicles tech driven experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall Ford is really impressing the next generation consumer buyers. Knowing that a person can’t buy a new car as quick as they can with tech, they have come up with ideas to what some computer builders call “future proofing” their investment. Ford realizes the trend, and has actively responded to it rather than sitting in the backseat enjoying the joyride of another company.

Stay tuned for day two coverage!

Facebook Comments

About author

Steve Ahmad
Steve Ahmad 308 posts

Steve Ahmad is a writer dedicated in bringing you every angle of every story in the most transparent way . <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a></a>