Ford and Livio to Further In-Car Tech Advancements

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Ferndale-based Livio just merged into the fast lane after Ford Motor Co. announced its plans to acquire the company this week. Now, with access to each other’s engineers and intellectual properties, the two companies will work together to create an industry standard for smartphone-to-vehicle communications.

“With the additional expertise Livio provides us, Ford intends to continue to lead the next generation of in-car connectivity with technology advancements that give consumers more options to access their devices on the go,” Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president of Ford Research and Innovation, said in a statement.

Livio’s products and software tools, which support smartphone/car connectivity, are compatible with several commonly used apps and works with all major smartphone devices.

This partnership comes in the midst of a growing trend in smartphone-to-vehicle communications. Last year, more than 1.9 million vehicles were designed with smartphone integration solutions. That number is expected to reach 21 million vehicles by 2018, according to a June report from London-based GSM Association and data from SBD, a London automotive technology-consulting firm.

This isn’t Ford’s first interaction with in-car connectivity. The automaker launched Ford Sync, a function that allows drivers to control the radio and make phone calls with voice commands, in 2007, in partnership with Microsoft. By 2015, more than 14 million vehicles worldwide will be equipped with Ford Sync, and 7 million will have Sync AppLink, which allows drivers to control mobile apps with their voice.

As part of the acquisition, Livio will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Global Technologies, which manages all aspects of intellectual property for the automaker. It will function as a separate department within Ford Electrical/Electronic Systems Engineering, and it will be integrated into Ford’s overall connectivity operations.

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