Nanjing’s Ford R&D Teaches Mustang to Read Chinese

China’s top-selling sports coupe is now trained to recognized Chinese Handwriting through its SYNC 3 in-car media and navigation system.


Ford Motor Co. reports in a Tuesday, March 7 news release that engineers from its research center in Nanjing to “help Chinese drivers get to their destination faster.” Before this technology, Chinese Mustang drivers would have to type using phonetic spellings of Chinese words using the alphabet, Ford reports.

Other vehicles to include the handwriting feature include the Focus, limited Taurus, Edge, Kuga and Explorers.

“Even with predictive technology, this process can be slow and less intuitive for the driver, and doesn’t suit people – usually older Chinese – who have difficulties using pinyin (the phonetic spelling),” the Dearborn-based automaker writes in the release.

To use the “multi-modal” handwriting system, users can hand-scribble characters which is then recognized by SYNC 3 as it is “traced and turned” into typeface.

“The Chinese version of SYNC 3 is far more than just a translation of a global technology,” Fisher Xu, SYNC Supervisor for Ford Asia Pacific, said in the release. “It’s really been localized to respond to a Chinese driver’s needs with a local point of view, from the voice commands that understand our accents and our habits, to the way we structure our statements.

“For instance, when you talk to a friend in China and they ask where you are, they’re really looking for a building name or a point of interest, not a street number. That’s probably different to other parts of the world, and SYNC 3 is smart enough to know this local preference, seamlessly.”

The system is programmed to recognize more than 2,500 characters with a varying range of styles and habits.

In January, the automaker reports it set sales records in China for its Mustang and Edge SUV models with more than 88,000 sold across Ford “and its joint ventures.” Ford reports in an email it has already shipped 3,600 Mustangs to China in 2017.

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