Toyota explores integration of Ford’s SmartDeviceLink in its cars

by Autocar Pro News Desk Jun 03, 2015

The open-source version of Ford AppLink, called SmartDeviceLink or SDL, is being studied by Toyota Motor Corporation for future integration into vehicles for command and control of smartphone apps through dashboard buttons, display screens and voice recognition technology.

Toyota has reached an agreement with Ford to explore collaboration with Livio, a Ford subsidiary, for the implementation of SmartDeviceLink (SDL) technology in future Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Branded as AppLink, SDL technology is currently available on more than 5 million Ford vehicles in North America, South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. Three new markets are slated to come on board this year – Taiwan, New Zealand and Thailand.

"We continue to investigate new technologies that both enhance and safeguard the driving experience of Toyota and Lexus owners," said Shigeki Terashi, senior managing officer, Toyota Motor Corporation. "The in-car app market is quickly evolving. Developing robust, flexible, safe and user-friendly connected services is a priority for us, and one that we believe is shared by Ford, Livio and other contributors to SDL technology."

“Dashboard interface design and smartphone connectivity are key elements for product differentiation within the industry,” said Don Butler, executive director, Ford Connected Vehicle and Services. “At Ford, we view all aspects of time behind the wheel as core to the experience we provide customers. We’re pleased other members of the industry feel the same way, and look forward to working together to drive even more support for the SDL developer community.”

SDL is an open source platform created to facilitate smartphone applications including entertainment, traffic, parking and other data from the internet for use in in-car infotainment systems; and those apps can be easily accessed using voice recognition, display screens, and dashboard controls. Besides its seamless ease of operation, the benefits of SDL technology include the ability for developers to design an app only one time, yet have it work across multiple infotainment systems. This saves development time and allows apps to be introduced more quickly to a wider audience.

SDL aims to provide a myriad of capabilities for automakers and developers:

- Customisation of the overall look and feel of the connectivity and navigation system user experience and connected services to support appropriate brand attributes while leveraging the standardized SDL protocol for command and control of smartphone apps.

- Broad device and platform compatibility, since SDL is agnostic and communicates with the smartphone apps. This means consumers are not limited to having the latest devices, operating system software versions or platforms.

- Globally accessible, limited only by app availability in each market.

- Works with vehicle-embedded voice recognition technology, and so not limited by cellular connections or available bandwidth for functionality.

- Facilitates scale and speed to market for developers since apps only need to be integrated once to work across multiple automotive platforms.

- Empowers consumers by providing technology that clearly communicates and requests permission for sharing of personal and vehicle data to apps that enhance customer experience.

In August 2011, Toyota and Ford agreed to collaborate on development of next generation standards for in-car telematics to enable a safer, more secure and more convenient driving experience. Today's announcement builds on that earlier collaboration.


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