Ford has unveiled new technology that could allow drivers to use Twitter, stream online radio and search the web from behind the wheel.
Called MyFord Touch, the system is powered by Ford's SYNC technology and has been designed with Microsoft. It was revealed yesterday by Ford's chief executive Alan Mulally at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Mulally said: 'We are bringing the internet to the car. All the applications you can get on mobile phones, we'll bring in the car. It will all be absolutely hands-free and voice activated keeping the driver focused on the road'
Some of the applications promised by Mulally include Wi-Fi connectivity for up to five users in the car, text messages or tweets read aloud to drivers, and the ability to stream internet radio.
Voice recognition could also allow drivers to compose and upload tweets, although safety concerns rule this out on early models.
As well as the entertainment and phone controls, drivers will be able to operate the car's temperature systems and sat-nav through the MyFord Touch system.
How does it work?
MyFord aims to mirror the way people use other devices, so employs touch-sensitive buttons and screens, thumb-wheel controls and voice recognition are all involved.
The traditional layout inside the car is retained, but drivers will be able to personalise the way they see the visual information on two 4.2-inch full-colour LCD screens either side of the speedometer and a larger screen at the top of the centre console.
That means either a child's photo can act as screensaver, or drivers can view a combination of music, climate and traffic information. USB and SD card slots will allow drivers to input media.
US Road Safety organisation the AAA expressed concerns about the new system. 'The more things that are going on in a vehicle, the more things can distract a driver,' a spokeswoman said. 'You have only so much attention to give, and we really want everyone to keep it fully on the road for safety reasons.'