Connect with Your Teens writer Jennifer Wagner went on assignment for Role Mommy at Ford Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, where she got the inside scoop on all the amazing innovations headed our way from Ford…
ford 081.JPGRecently, I attended a two-day event, hosted by Ford, in which bloggers, journalists and other trend-spotters were brought together with Ford’s designers, scientists and product specialists to discuss trends and issues facing consumers. It was fascinating and enlightening and I walked away with more knowledge of automobiles than I ever thought I would have.


Forward with Ford 2011 was held in Dearborn, Michigan, the home of Ford’s World Headquarters. We had the chance to actually tour several areas, preview designs in the making and test drive cars. However, as fun as all of that was, the most important parts of the conference were the sessions in which we learned what Ford is doing about issues such as safety, the environment, aging,  and emerging technologies.

Safety
Some of the efforts Ford is initiating in the safety area:
ford 074.JPGIndustry first technologies available in the Ford Explorer 2011 (will be added to others soon)
Rear inflatable seat belts (combines seat belt and air bag) – additional protection for rear seat passengers who are often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to injury
Curve Control – designed to help drivers maintain control when they take on a curve too quickly
MyKey for Teens – Parents can program the car with top speed and music volume limits. The car can also be programmed not to drive if the seat belts aren’t buckled.
Car Seat Safety – Ford has made major efforts to teach parents to properly install car seats.
Ford has recently introduced a new warning system to help drivers avoid rear-end accidents. The technology uses radar to detect moving vehicles ahead and warns the driver of danger with an alarm and warning light. The system also automatically pre-charges brakes and engages an electronic brake assist system to help drivers stop more quickly.
The Environment
KGT_8500e.jpgEd Begley Jr., actor and green advocate, was brought in to discuss eco-friendly lifestyles. Ford has made great strides is this area. The environmentally friendly Ford Focus Electric is green in ways beyond zero-emissions. All the materials that go into the car are eco-friendly as well.

New Technologies
Americans want access to their smartphones all the time. Ford is constantly working on ways to give provide consumers with access to a wireless world, but in a smarter safer way. With SYNC you can control your music, phone calls, texts, GPS and more through voice commands. You do not have to take your hands off the wheel or your eyes off the road. SYNC AppLink allows you to control your favorite smartphone apps with voice commands. In fact, Pandora, my favorite Internet radio, will work by voice commands through SYNC AppLink, even though it can’t be controlled by voice anywhere else. Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora, and speaker at Forward with Ford 2011, was amazed at this concept.


Aging Population

Ford has been working on many technologies to help seniors and aging baby boomers including multi-contour seats and bolder fonts on the dashboard. A big help to engineers designing improvements is the third-age suit. This suit allows younger engineers wearing it to feel like an elderly person. (There is also an empathy belly for working on designs for pregnant women). Ford is also working on various Health and Wellness apps that can be added to SYNC and remind drivers to take their medicine and more. Some will have medical devices connected via Bluetooth and can actually monitor your health.


I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the genius of the amazing keynote speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, the great time at the Fillmore Detroit with a concert by a new band from Seattle, The Head and the Heart and the friendliness and generosity from everyone at Ford. Thank you Ford, I was very impressed by what you are doing with safety and technology and with you.
Disclosure: Ford Motor Company covered all travel expenses (airfare and hotel accommodations) in conjunction with the conference.