Computer Games Technology Comes To Autos

- May 30, 2012

The New Ford Escape Will Offer A Feature That Will Test Driver’s Wii Skills

Much of the new tech­nol­o­gy being intro­duced in today’s vehi­cles is being adopt­ed from smart­phones. Automak­ers are adding fea­tures to allow dri­vers to be more con­nect­ed with the out­side world. The 2013-mod­el year Ford Escape, how­ev­er, is adapt­ing game con­sole tech­nol­o­gy to make the oper­a­tion of the rear lift gate eas­i­er to use.

Own­ers of the new Escape will be able to open their lift­gate with a motion of the leg. This is very sim­i­lar to the tech­nol­o­gy deployed by Nin­ten­do for its Wii con­sole games, and video games on the Xbox Kinect. The sys­tem relies on two sen­sors mount­ed between the Escape’s tailpipes to cre­ate an elec­tron­ic field. The dri­ver makes a kick­ing motion to break the plane of the elec­tron­ic field. The sen­sors detect first a human shin and then a foot. When the shin and foot are retract­ed in an oppo­site motion, the lift­gate will open.

While this oper­a­tion sounds sim­ple, Ford engi­neers and soft­ware design­ers need­ed to devel­op a sys­tem that would not open at inap­pro­pri­ate times. They also need­ed to take into account the var­i­ous heights of the dri­ver, with men gen­er­al­ly being taller than women.

The hands free pow­er lift­gate is avail­able on the 2013 Ford Escape SEL as part of Equip­ment Group 302A; MSRP of the option pack­age is $2,360. Ford has declined to dis­close if this tech­nol­o­gy will be adapt­ed to oth­er mod­els. A lot will depend on the option’s reli­a­bil­i­ty and how it is embraced by the cus­tomer.

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