After Speaking At NMX in Vegas about Google Plus, Immediately after attending CES in Vegas.. I was then flown to Detroit to attend the Detroit International Auto Show with Ford. ( #FORDNAIAS ) I was fully exhausted after 3 back to back conferences as you can imagine… and was finishing the end of the flu from Vegas… But I had no idea the amazing experience I was in for. Ford had planned and organized every single details of the trip. Every moment was taken care of and very well. Snacks and food were always available. There was never a “lost time, what are we doing now moment” that tends to happen at so many of these conferences. And they did all this for hundreds of bloggers from around the world. I met some amazing Canadian bloggers on this trip. Some I knew from the Toronto area. Others came from Vancouver, Montreal and all over Canada. Our little group of Canadians in America bonded like no tommorrow. The group was always together, laughing, brain storming and supporting each other. Long after the other “ford teams” had gone to bed, Canada was still up, talking social media and cars. I can’t stress enough how awesome this was. Too often at conferences you go, learn some things, leave with promises of staying in touch to have them deminish in a few days. 2 weeks later I am still in touch with the ENTIRE team, even convincing them to get into Google Hangouts to keep up the momentum. Pure Awesomesauce. Anyway, back to the Show!
First of all I’ll start at the end. I was able to drive a Ford Escape through Detroit for about 1/2 hour. If you haven’t been to Detroit lately, its a really depressing city. Many abandon buildings and houses. I even saw a totally empty hospital. Very sad.
The Escape though, was an SUV of awesome. I really enjoyed the side notification for lane switching. Basically a little light blinks to let you know if someone is in your blind spot. This was awesome for me as I drive a tiny sports cars and wasn’t use to the “size” of the SUV. I imediately felt safer driving. I also immediately synced up my adnroid in about 1 minute and started streaming music. This is by far the fasted systems i’ve seen/used in a car. The Sync was seemless, quick and painless. Awesome Job Ford. I was impressed with the SUV. What else did I get up to? Where do I start? There were so many awesome things at the show. Ford did an amazing presentation with a stage I’ve never seen matched before. It had interactive cut out sections, live speakers and cars driving across the stage. The projector on the stage set up was really magical. They changed the perspective of what we were seeing many times, by projecting different themes on to the cut outs. It was an amazing use of tech. At the launch of the Ford 150 Trucks, they actually drove through the back of the set, Kool aid Man style! It was quite the product launch, and seamlessly put together.
At one point in the show Ford drove us to the head office and allows us to experience various break out sessions. I chose the tech ones. I got to tour Ford’s virtual reality studio. In this “top secret area” they do early prototyping without making a single part and allow designers to expereince what it’s like to be a part of the car. I got to try it out myself and It was seriously impressive technology. It even included a Flashlight that allows you to “highlight” items in the heads on display and get a “lite up” look. You can see some screen shots of the detail below. It seriously felt like I was “in the car”.
Another really cool part of the show was Ford’s use of 3D printing. I’m familiar with and seen many uses of the plastic “gimp” wire melting type printers, but this was the first time I had seen “powder” printers that create items from melting the powders into new forms. The future looks promising folks.
Another of the panels I attended was a Trends session by Sheryl Connelly. She talked a lot about social media, and various other “future parts” of Ford. She also talked about women in business with some shocking numbers. As a female business owner, I found these stats kinda horrific. I seriously hope that women continue to excel, especially in areas of Tech. I was happy to see many women at this event, that once upon a time would be “guy dominated”. Sheryl’s talk was fabulous and informative on many future technologies and concepts. Definitely a highlight for me at the show. And awesomely its available for you to view online so you can see what I mean – Ford 2014 Trend Report – Pdf At the very impressive Ford booth in the autoshow, were many awesome interactive ways to deal with the brand. You got a ‘blue oval card’, and went around to the various locations. Pictures were taken and games were played. Even a large gaming, strapped in racing device that fully spun around. I found it a fun way to interact with the brand, and then bam. All of it was emailed to me to experience when I got home. Check out the picture from one of the areas for example, where me and some Canadian bloggers were photographed and edited via a green screen. There was also a fair amount on the new mustang at the show…. Including an appearance by Barbie 🙂
All in all, the experience at the auto show was pretty incredible. I have to admit before I went on this trip, I did not think of Ford as “the most innovative of brands” in my tech brain. I can honestly say after this experience that Ford impressed me in all ways and especially with the many tech things that other car companies have failed or not done well with. From the easy syncing of my Android phone, to 3d printing to Virtual Reality and Trends, Ford is looking to the future and paving the way to be a leader in Technology and Innovation for the Automotive Industry. Disclosure: Ford Motor Company paid for my transportation, accommodations and food. I was not compensated for my time. I was not asked to write blog posts or promote NAIAS or the experience on social media. My opinions posted here, as always, are my own.