Ford Media Center

Your Vehicle's Unspoken Language: Ford's Vehicle Harmony Group Creates Chimes That Communicate Intuitively

  • In a world that bombards people with text message pings, email alerts and alarm clock buzzers, the group at Ford responsible for vehicle harmony ensures the really important chimes break through the clutter and get noticed
  • From casual reminders to more jarring alerts, audible chimes allow Ford vehicles to communicate with drivers
  • Consistency in chimes across the Ford vehicle lineup helps drivers intuitively understand what their vehicle is saying to them

Your vehicle is speaking to you. Are you listening? The group at Ford Motor Company charged with ensuring vehicle harmony is working to make sure the messages are getting through to you – even if you don’t realize it.

As recently as last summer, the group was a four-person division known as Interior Harmony, part of Ford’s Electrical Division. The group used a components-based approach to adding sound chimes to various parts of a vehicle.

Since then, the group has moved to Ford’s larger Vehicle Engineering Division, changed its name to Vehicle Harmony, and now considers a vehicle in its entirety when working on such aspects as illumination, haptic feel and sound. With its changing role, the Dearborn-based team continues to grow, and works with global counterparts in facilities in Germany, Asia-Pacific and South America.

The group’s work on vehicle sounds is an ever-evolving world of pings and chimes, influenced by the constant addition of new technologies, such as lane-keep assist and collision alerts, as well as by a surrounding world in which audio alerts are more and more common.

Belt Minder chime (right-click to download or use Downloads button)

Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) chime (right-click to download or use Downloads button)

Collision Warning chime (right-click to download  or use Downloads button)

Cross Traffic Alert chime (right-click to download  or use Downloads button)

SYNC 3 chime (right-click to download  or use Downloads button)

The science behind vehicle chimes creates an unspoken language between driver and vehicle. Jennifer Prescott, an engineer with the group, is on the team that creates the sounds that enable Ford vehicles to let the customer know when a door is ajar, lights are left on, or a safety belt isn’t fastened.

But in a world that bombards motorists with text message pings, email alerts and alarm clock buzzers, are the chimes drowning themselves out?

Prescott says they are, which is why it’s important that every sound a Ford vehicle makes is designed to break through the clutter and get noticed. This is a mandate for the group, even as it’s pressed to create more chimes to keep pace with an expanding portfolio of features that warrant an audio alert.

“Our inclination has been to add more sounds for more alerts, but people are getting chimed out,” Prescott said. “Because of that, our audio alerts must be intuitive – instantly recognized by drivers.”

The right balance of frequency, volume, cadence and tone helps differentiate between high-importance alerts, such as a collision warning, and gentle reminders, such as the tick-tock of a turn-signal indicator. Ford vehicle sounds – there are about 30 that make up the pallet of audible chimes – are designed to have their own characteristics, each created based on the urgency of the message being conveyed. 

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan, committed to helping build a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams.  The company’s Ford+ plan for growth and value creation combines existing strengths, new capabilities and always-on relationships with customers to enrich experiences for customers and deepen their loyalty.  Ford develops and delivers innovative, must-have Ford trucks, sport utility vehicles, commercial vans and cars and Lincoln luxury vehicles, along with connected services.  The company does that through three customer-centered business segments:  Ford Blue, engineering iconic gas-powered and hybrid vehicles; Ford Model e, inventing breakthrough EVs along with embedded software that defines exceptional digital experiences for all customers; and Ford Pro, helping commercial customers transform and expand their businesses with vehicles and services tailored to their needs.  Additionally, Ford provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.  Ford employs about 176,000 people worldwide.  More information about the company and its products and services is available at corporate.ford.com.

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