Ford plans live operator service for Focus

A new ‘Operator Assist’ service will mean users of Ford’s SYNC system, which debuted in the new 2011 Ford Focus, will be able to contact a live operator if the voice recognition software does not work after three attempts.

The operator can answer any questions the driver has and even send directions directly to the vehicle if needed.

Ford will test the system in the US with a view to rolling it out to all Ford SYNC users in future, it has confirmed.

It initially plans to offer the service for free to all SYNC users, but after three years an annual subscription fee will be introduced.

The system, says Ford, does not need any new hardware and is available to users of cars with the SYNC service system.

Ford has designed the technology to provide a more comprehensive service for its SYNC system and in the event of the voice recognition failing to understand directions.

In the UK, Ford SYNC is available on the new 2011 Ford Focus. However, it is expected to appear in all new Ford models in future, starting with a production version of the Ford B-Max compact people carrier in 2012.

As well as offering voice activated satellite navigation, Ford’s SYNC system is capable of providing turn-by-turn directions, hands-free calling and traffic alerts.

It can also search and play music and read out text messages if required, as well as showing a ‘vehicle health report’ to identify any problems with the car.

Prices for the new 2011 Ford Focus start from £15,995 from Ford dealerships. Hatchback and estate versions of the small family car are both available.