Next year's Ford Focus is a LAN party on wheels

Adam Oxford at

focus

What better way to kill the time on a long drive than an impromptu game of StarCraft II using backseat broadband? That's obviously the first thing we thought of when Ford told us that next year's Focus will have a built in WiFi router capable of setting up a mobile LAN in the back seat.To our US readers, there may be nothing novel in the idea of a vehicle which can talk to your electronic devices, but over on this side of the pond our in-car tech is the equivalent of a two stroke engine with a handcranking starter.

The 2012 Focus, however, will debut Ford's SYNC technology on this side of the Atlantic. SYNC, co-desgned by Microsoft, is a collection of tools which currently use Bluetooth to connect a car to your phone. So you can stream back music, place calls and use GPS from the phone via a dashboard control panel.

When it launches in Europe, however, SYNC will also include a WiFi hotspot with support for up to five wireless devices. That's a fairly decent sized LAN you could set up for a SupCom match on the motorway.

More interestingly, SYNC will also be able to share one phone's modem across the network. Last time we looked at gaming via 3G (PCG 201), we got Left4Dead up and running comfortably enough to play a few rounds of zombie shooting without too much interference from bad ping times. While it's unlikely you'll be able to game online in a Focus while the car is moving, it seems entirely reasonable that you'll be able to run a quick WoW heroic when you're parked up and stationary. What's more, by the time SYNC launches over here, there's a good chance we'll have an LTE service of some sort we can connect to for proper low latency games.

Of course, you could do something similar now with a beat up old mini and a battery operated mobile hotspot like 3's MiFi, but that would be too easy, wouldn't it?