Issue: Jul 2009


In-Vehicle Text-by-Voice Application Introduced by ATX to Automotive Market



Hands-free Texting Latest Innovation ATX Brings to Connected Vehicle Services

by Nick Palmen

As text messaging rapidly continues to be adopted as a mainstream communication method among all ages of consumers, concerns are also growing about instances of users using handheld devices to text while driving and the potential of this practice to cause distraction and accidents. In consideration of these issues, ATX Group has leveraged its experience in off-board speech recognition technology to introduce in-vehicle, hands-free text messaging via voice.

ATX, one of the leading providers of connected vehicle (telematics) services to global automobile manufacturers, is currently demonstrating its innovative, speech-enabled texting service that keeps driver interaction with the system brief and easy to use, thereby minimizing the risk of distracting the driver away from focusing on the safe operation of the vehicle.

"Although playback of text messages using text-to-speech applications is available in certain vehicle models, outbound texting to date has been limited only to pre-scripted messages," said Dr. Tom Schalk, ATX vice president of voice technology. "This service is unique in the market because it allows drivers to create and send completely customized text messages exclusively by voice, while on the go."

ATX text-by-voice applications will soon be available on select vehicle models and augment the introduction of similar natural speech applications that enable hands-free, in-vehicle Web browsing, as well as search-and-send information downloaded to the vehicle (for voice-based replay or integration with the vehicle's navigation screen.)

"The primary advantage of the application is that it keeps the driver connected safely while leveraging the experience they are accustomed to when outside their vehicle. As technology introduces new opportunities to enhance the in-vehicle connected experience, we have to integrate them with consideration for unique vehicle safety and security requirements," explained Julie Gilmour, ATX vice president of marketing and product development. "The demand for this is clear, with research showing that 60% of drivers claim they would use 'text-by-voice' functionality."

The key to the human machine interface ATX has developed is simplicity, according to Dr. Schalk, which is achieved by accessing an off-board speech system through a hands-free audio system acoustically optimized for the driving environment.

Recent studies show that one in four drivers admit to texting while driving.

ATX Group (www.atxg.com) is one of the world's leading providers of customized, connected vehicle services to global automobile manufacturers. ATX pioneered connected vehicle services in 1996, and today provides innovative safety, security, communication, navigation and information services to vehicle owners through many of world's most distinguished automotive brands, including Toyota, Lexus, BMW, Peugeot, Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

ATX also customizes services to help automobile manufacturers and their affiliated dealerships use telematics data and multiple customer contact channels to reduce costs, enhance vehicle servicing, and more closely manage customer relationships and contacts with the vehicle through its lifetime. ATX operates from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, and Dusseldorf, Germany.

ATX is a division of Cross Country Automotive Services (www.crosscountry-auto.com), a leading provider of mobile assistance services to motorists and enhanced claims management services to automobile insurance carriers.


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