Ford Motor Company officially unveiled its Waterloo innovation centre on Wednesday, since the facility began quietly operating in March 2017.

The newly-renovated facility, which is located in a former Blackberry building next to the University of Waterloo campus, is one of three Ontario-based software development centres that work with Ford’s engineering team in Michigan.

The Waterloo centre is said to help develop connectivity and infotainment software for Ford’s SYNC technology.
 

The Waterloo centre is said to help develop connectivity and infotainment software for Ford’s SYNC technology, an in-vehicle system that allows users to perform tasks by voice command. Ford’s team in Waterloo is said to be working on analytics and diagnostics, wireless and voice recognition technologies, Bluetooth applications and unified interface technologies incorporating new Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and voice technologies.

According to The Record, Gary Jablonski, chief engineer of SYNC technologies for Ford, called the technology projects being taken on at the innovation hub critically important to Ford’s business. Jablonski stated his belief that the work being down across Ford’s Ontario centres is “is changing the footprint of Ford for forever.”

The Waterloo centre currently employs 150 people, half of whom previously worked for Blackberry, said Rob Maurice, the innovation centre’s site lead, told AutoFile. Ford has also been working with the University of Waterloo’s engineering school on recruiting co-op students. Ford also has plans to grow the number of employees in its Waterloo innovation hub through to 2020.

One of the labs in the Waterloo site is connected to Ford’s other facilities, including one in Ottawa and one in Oakville’s Ford headquarters building. Ford’s Canadian facilities received more than $100 million in federal and provincial funding, with Ford Canada investing $500-million overall, in innovation and manufacturing.

At the Waterloo innovation hub, Ford developed a new software with an easy-to-use interface on touch screen display for the 2020 Ford Explorer and Escape, The Record reported. The larger display is said to show graphics and animation to accompany text explanations of different vehicle options. Features, including hands-free phone calls, can be accessed by voice-activated technology and controls on the steering wheel.

Ford noted that consumers can expect to see these new technologies over the next two years, with the latest version of Sync 3 is set to come with all 2020 Ford and Lincoln models.

StartUp HERE Toronto is a publishing partner of Betakit and this article was originally published on their site.