As if in-car navigation systems haven't hurt the makers of printed maps enough, here comes another news item that might make cartographers everywhere nervous. Ford is about to release a new application for its Sync multimedia system that might make the printed map less necessary than ever.
Drivers will be able to download an application that allows them to send a destination--searched on Google Maps, Mapquest, or a similar Web site--to the car through a wireless cell phone link, where it will then be translated into turn-by-turn directions and delivered by audio and visual means. This system launches later this month, and it will be available on 2010-2011 models that have Sync's Traffic, Directions and Information (TDI) feature.
The Google Maps app will be available on 2010 and 2011 models that have already been sold, providing the owner has registered with TDI. Ford says that no hardware or software downloads are required, and there will be no extra cost.
The system uses cloud computing, which is what will allow Ford to avoid hardware and software upgrades. It's also why customers won't need to pay any extra cost.
All a driver has to do is look up the destination online, press "send to Sync" instead of "print," and then head to the car. Once the car is up and running, the driver will use the voice-activated "services" command, the cloud will send the destination to the car, and the route will be calculated. The motorist will then follow audio and visual directions to the destination.
So much for those two-dollar maps you can buy at the gas station.