Ford is turning its EVs into video conference rooms with help from Cisco – TechCrunch

With its newly minted bi-directional charging capabilities, the Ford F-150 Lightning can now serve as a backup home power supply in a pinch. Soon, the automaker hopes it might do the same for your office space thanks to a new partnership with Cisco, makers of Webex conference software.

Ford CEO Jim Farley announced on Tuesday, “We’re going all in, creating separate but complementary businesses that give us start-up speed and unbridled innovation.” So far that effort has seen the company announce in recent months plans to separate its EV and ICE businesses, produce in excess of 600,000 EVs annually by in 2023, and introduce seven new EV models to the European market in the next few years.

And what better way for Ford to fully capture the hearts and minds of the American driving public than to outfit their electric vehicles with the internet’s most popular pastime since March 2020, online conference calling? “We’re looking at ways to bring the human connection in,” Darren Palmer, Vice President, Ford Electric Vehicle Programs, said in a press statement. “We don’t see why people wouldn’t be using their vehicles as a fantastic quality office, to be able to collaborate together.”  

To that end, Ford and Cisco have partnered to “unlock the browser experience on SYNC4A,” the automaker’s infotainment system, and are currently developing a WebEx app capable of running natively on the HTML 5-centric OS. “Ford is excited to be collaborating with Webex by Cisco for next-gen experiences in our electric vehicles,” Palmer continued. “We see Webex as providing a secure and immersive collaboration experience.”

Your cat jumping in front of the webcam can be quite cute when you’re conference calling from home. Your kids loudly melting down in the back seat about who may or may not be touching whom is decidedly less adorable. To help prevent those high-decibel interruptions, future Ford EVs will be outfitted with Webex’s Optimize for My Voice feature which automatically mutes out everybody in the cabin who isn’t part of the meeting. To further minimize distractions to the driver, “We’ll make sure that any collaboration like Webex is deployed only when the vehicle is stationary, or audio-only when driving,” Palmer said. The companies did not disclose a timeline for the application’s eventual release.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Engadget.

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