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Ford Transit Connect: the Family One Concept

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Not far back, the idea of a family hauler with the ability to steer its headlights, start without a key or navigate a route was a far-fetched idea. Now, technologies like these are everywhere-- and engineers and designers are continually finding new ways to push the envelope.

Safety is often the most extensively pursued pillar of today's crossover, minivan or wagon. It's great stuff, but it's not very exciting- so Ford has developed a vehicle to demonstrate what's possible when existing technologies are used in the name of family-oriented convenience, entertainment, and utility.

Enter the Ford Transit Connect Family One. Built on the platform of the commercial Transit Connect utility van, this concept would almost definitely be the high-tech envy of the soccer field or day-care parking lot.

Forgotten schoolbags and family outing supplies will become a thing of the past, thanks to the Family One's high-tech Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system. Derived from the technology that empowers Ford WorkSolutions, the system scans for the presence of small, integrated 'tags' on various items as they're loaded into the car.

If a given musical instrument, sports-bag or pack-sack is forgotten, the system alerts the driver before they leave. The RFID tags, which can be attached to numerous items, self-energize in the presence of the vehicle and don't require their own batteries.

Interestingly, the RFID inventory system can be synchronized with a smart phone, allowing for complete integration with the lifestyle of today's digitally enabled parents.

Once families have their gear electronically organized, a turn-by-turn navigation system leads drivers to the location of their choice while a SmartGauge instrument cluster coaches and grades fuel-efficient driving with a simple graphic interface to help maximize mileage.

On longer trips, rear-seat occupants take in a movie or cartoon, and there's even a web-based homework assistant available on the go. Display duty is handled by an integrated projection system that can even support 3D gaming. Your kids may never want to get out.

There's even a child-seat installation monitor, which can wirelessly communicate with the driver if the seat isn't installed correctly. By alerting drivers that the attaching tether is improperly tensioned, a potentially dangerous safety situation can be averted. In fact, authorities say that some 40 percent of child seats aren't hooked up properly.

It gets better, still. If automatic gear detection, in-car internet and homework assistants don't sell you on the Family One concept, how about a pair of built-in scooters, integrated hand santitzer dispensers and a set of rechargeable walkie talkies?

"The Transit Connect Family One concept showcases futuristic technologies that can help keep busy, active families in the right place, at the right time, with the right stuff," said Andrew Georgescu, product marketing manager. "Parents will appreciate Family One for helping them manage their busy lifestyles, while children consider the vehicle a place of their own."

This could be the ultimate proverbial busload of stuff you never knew your family needed!