"Alexa, is there a cold beer in the refrigerator?"

"Alexa, is there a cold beer in the refrigerator?"

Ford is close to market introduction of a SYNC innovation that will link its in-car system to home automation devices (or 'smart speakers') such as Amazon Echo. It would allow drivers to control lights, thermostats and other home systems from their car and interact with their vehicle, including starting and unlocking it, from their home.

Reuters reports that - by the end of this year - Ford models including the Focus Electric, Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi, will be able to communicate with smart home devices using Alexa by pressing a voice recognition button on the steering wheel.

Ford says there are more than 15 million SYNC-equipped vehicles on roads around the world today and 43 million expected by 2020. Amazon Echo and Wink connectivity innovations are part of Ford Smart Mobility, the "plan to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics".

SYNC Connect and Amazon Echo

Ford is looking to use new SYNC Connect technology to link vehicles with the Amazon cloud-based voice service Alexa, which would allow customers to access their vehicle from inside their home. Using Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker and voice command device that interfaces with Alexa, Ford owners could request assistance with various functions of their car including:

  • Start/stop the vehicle
  • Lock/unlock
  • State range and charge status of their electric vehicle
  • Check fuel level/miles-to-empty
  • State vehicle mileage summary
  • Provide vehicle location with street name and driving time/mileage home

While at home, a Ford owner would experience an interaction such as this:

Owner: "Alexa, ask my Ford for my scheduled car start time."

Alexa: "Here is the list of your current go times. You have a start time set for Monday at 7 a.m., with a cabin temperature set to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Tuesday at 5:45 a.m., with a cabin temperature set to 75 degrees Fahrenheit."

Owner: "Alexa, ask my Ford for my car's driving range."

Alexa: "You have an available range of 56 miles."

Alexa also provides a link to a variety of Internet-enabled smart devices, such as lights, home security systems, automatic garage doors and more.

From inside the vehicle, a driver would access Alexa through the steering wheel-mounted voice recognition button, allowing the driver to make requests of connected smart devices or functions of Alexa, including weather reports, music, shopping lists and more.

On the move, a driver could ask and receive answers to the following:

"Alexa, is my garage door closed?"

"Alexa, turn my porch lights on."

"Alexa, when is my next appointment?"

The Amazon Echo has been an unexpectedly strong seller for Amazon. Google is expected to unveil a home smart speaker later today.