Ford has given us a preview of its future in-car connectivity technology with the unveiling today of the Lincoln C concept at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. The new concept features a sophisticated human machine interface (HMI) and a number of connectivity technologies that are expected to filter across Ford’s lineup in the coming years.

The key to the new interface is to enable information to be offered in a simple, intelligent format that keeps a driver informed – but not distracted. This is done with a simplistic approach to how and where information is displayed.

All car-related information, for example, appears to the left of the speedometer, including fuel economy, trip information and vehicle diagnostics. Passenger-related functions, such as audio, climate, navigation and phone, appear to the right of the instrument cluster. At the driver’s control are steering wheel switches, touch screens and voice-activation software.

Some of the connectivity features include the latest in terms of SYNC-enabled technologies, providing hands-free, voice-activated cell phone, text messaging, and digital media player integration as well as security and personalized convenience features such as 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Reports.

In addition, the in-vehicle communications system is expanded to include a plug-and-play network that can use a Bluetooth-enabled phone to access Internet-based services such as traffic reports, turn-by-turn navigation, a 14-million-plus business directory listing, weather forecasts, the latest sports scores and more.

Also featured is an in-car companion. This is essentially a computer-generated personality, in this case nicknamed ‘EVA’, who responds to conversational speech and manages and initiates all vehicle and SYNC-enabled functions and information to the driver. EVA can even sense a driver’s mood through voice and drive style and respond appropriately with, for example, a favorite song suggestion from a SYNC-connected MP3 music library.

This unique system on the Lincoln C concept also offers in-car Internet access, allowing EVA to surf the web for the driver and read the morning’s online news headlines or latest restaurant reviews, check e-mail, or access a friend’s Facebook page. The system will even advise the driver when and where to refuel based on fuel level, driving habits, fuel station locations and current prices.