Don't worry - it's intended to be a good thing.
Every once in a while, something really obvious slides across the desk at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). By obvious, we mean something that's so clever and so "right there" that someone has to have thought of it before. This is one of those times, and Ford thought it up. By now, we're all pretty familiar with voice control in cars.
Some folks make pretty liberal use of this handy (and hands-free, ha!) feature to take calls, answer texts, and dictate directions to their cars. It's pretty safe to say that in-car voice control has changed automotive UX forever. But what about out-of-car voice control?
As first reported by Autoevolution, Ford filed a patent for an in-windscreen microphone several years back, but it's just now being made publicly available. Here's how the whole thing works. Inside the windscreen of a vehicle like a Ford Mustang Mach-E, for example, will live something called a piezoelectric transducer that translates vibrations into patterns a computer can recognize. Those vibrations are, of course, created by your voice.
Obviously, the potential applications for this are pretty much limitless, both inside and outside the car. Imagine being able to walk up to your F-150 Lightning, which recognizes the sound of your voice, and telling it to open the frunk because your hands are full. Ford's potential ideas also include being able to tap a pin or pattern into the glass to unlock the car without a key, or you could use your voice to do the same.
Ford's patent centers largely around the applications for voice recognition, but it's the commands angle that really gets us excited because it suggests we're getting closer and closer to having KITT from Knight Rider in our driveways. Ford also stated in the patent that multiple users could be added, giving your friends access to the vehicle even when you're not there.
However, given it is only a patent filing, we imagine it'll be some time before the idea is fully realized in a production car. That said, Ford has some incredible turnaround on projects it cares about. Our only concern is security. There isn't any indication in the document about how Ford intends to prevent recordings of your voice from tricking the system.