As Ford, Lincoln and Mercury roll out their 2009 models, customers who opt for Ford's advanced GPS get six months of Sirius Travel Link service. Larry Pesce, senior VP of media services for Sirius (seen above) demonstrated Travel Link for us at CES on Monday night. We got to see how the system provides drivers and passengers with information about traffic, weather, entertainment, fuel prices and sports.
It's a slick system, that, at least in the demo we saw, responds quickly to touches of the screen and was impressive with how smoothly it worked.
Follow the jump to read more about how each feature of Travel Link works, as well as the company's official press release.
First, drivers can get real-time traffic reports using the vehicle's LCD screen. Pesce says they offer the best traffic info available due to their use of several data sources and not just one. One of those is cell probe data, which, as we understand it, monitors cell phone signals in vehicles on the road to estimate congestion. One day, Pesce says, expanded use of such data will allow more accurate re-routing of drivers around clogged roads.
Next, Pesce showed us what we were most impressed with: real-time weather radar images. At the touch of a button, Travel Link customers will be able see weather patterns across the U.S. right there on their dashboards. The image can be zoomed in to within 15 meters. We can imagine this being a huge benefit on long trips or even while away on vacation. The system also can give five-day forecasts.
The next exciting tidbit to us was Travel Link's ability to offer real-time sports scores. Using the touch screen you can find the games you want to monitor and the scores on your list will update automatically. Or, even better, tell the system what your favorite teams are, and it will alert you when they're about to begin play. At the touch of a button you can either begin to monitor the scores, or even tune in to the game broadcast.
Travel Link can also give movie times and, using GPS, addresses of theaters closest to you. Another touch connects you to the theater itself via your Bluetooth phone. Pesce says one day, perhaps soon, you might even be able to buy tickets on the screen from your car.
Lastly, the Travel Link system has the ability to list gas prices near you. Again, using GPS, your car can tell you what gas is costing near you and will give directions to the station of your choice, even the one with the cheapest gas. Pesce predicts this feature will allow your car to recognize when it's close to empty and then not only alert you to this, but suggest a nearby gas station that it knows you frequent.
SIRIUS Travel Link, when combined with Ford's next-generation navigation system, will provide users with a unique, information-rich in-car experience. SIRIUS Travel Link is a suite of data services with features that include:
Traffic: SIRIUS Travel Link combines real-time traffic speed and flow data with accident and incident information to allow the user to navigate around congested areas.
Weather: SIRIUS Travel Link shows coast-to-coast weather data, current conditions and 5-day forecasts, detailed storm cell information, hurricane and tropical storm tracking, local wind speeds, and even ski resort conditions.
Fuel Prices: Drawing on information from over 120,000 gas stations, SIRIUS Travel Link sorts fuel options by price, distance, alphabetically, or by favorites. If requested, the navigation system can route users to the gasoline station with the lowest fuel price.
Sports: No matter your passion – NFL, NBA, NCAA Football and Basketball, NHL, MLB, Golf, or NASCAR – SIRIUS Travel Link provides scores and schedules and can be personalized for the user's selected teams.
Movies: With listings from over 4,500 movie theaters, SIRIUS Travel Link helps consumers plan ahead by providing movie times, theater addresses, movie synopses, ratings, starring actors, and run lengths. Using the Ford navigation system, the data can be sorted by distance or favorites. If requested, the navigation system can route users to the selected movie theater.
"The SIRIUS Travel Link service provides consumers with valuable driving and entertainment information," said Jim Buczkowski, director of Electrical Systems Engineering at Ford. "Whether understanding the current traffic conditions on a daily commute, reviewing a five day weather forecast or seeing how your favorite sports teams performed, SIRIUS Travel Link combined with our next-generation navigation system provides up-to-the-minute information that will certainly enhance our customer's ownership experience."
"SIRIUS is proud to partner with Ford on this first-to-market feature on their 2009 Model Year vehicles, said Doug Wilsterman, Senior Vice President and General Manager for SIRIUS's OEM business. "With the introduction of their new navigation system, Ford's engineers have created a product that seamlessly integrates the capabilities of our SIRIUS Travel Link data service into a valuable, easy to use feature that will be of great benefit to the drivers and passengers in these vehicles."
When launched next summer, the 2009 Lincoln MKS will be the first vehicle in its class to offer SIRIUS Travel Link ™ services integrated into a voice-activated navigation system. In addition to the Lincoln MKS, the SIRIUS Travel Link service will be launching on multiple Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles in 2008.
Data content provided by SIRIUS Travel Link is broadcast through SIRIUS's existing satellite and repeater infrastructure, offering uninterrupted, coast-to-coast coverage. The data is accessed and managed in the vehicle using a new high-mounted, 8-inch touch-screen menu.
The six-month introductory subscription to the SIRIUS Travel Link service combined with the SIRIUS Satellite Radio audio service will be included in every Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicle equipped with Ford's next-generation navigation system.