"Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel ..." the old Doors song goes. ATX Technologies, Inc. (ATX), a leading telematics service provider to the automotive and wireless markets, announced today that it will make that possible by collaborating with IBM (NYSE: IBM).

ATX (www.atxtechnologies.com) will use IBM's Direct Talk voice processing platform and ViaVoice(TM) speech recognition technology to deliver ATX's telematics services such as location-based routing assistance and, eventually, position-based commerce (p-commerce(TM)) transactions. The resulting voice- operated interface will enhance the motorist's telematics experience, adding convenience and greater safety through hands-free, voice-driven access to services.

ATX will work with IBM (www.ibm.com/software/voice) to deliver an interface to the IBM Direct Talk voice processing platform that is operated by the user with natural voice commands, with most information delivered in a voice format. Whether the driver wants directions, traffic information or e-mail, voice response can deliver the information quickly, efficiently and safely without the driver having to operate console buttons. If users cannot get the information they need from automated response, their telematics systems will also allow them to talk directly with an operator.

Steve Millstein, president, ATX Technologies, Inc., says the voice interface and the modular nature of the new platform will enable new automated text-to-voice information services and other non-emergency, location-based telematics services to be compatible with today's generation of telematics hardware.

"For automakers, this means a variety of information services can be added without them having to make a sizable investment in new hardware inside the vehicle for storing and displaying information for the driver," explained Millstein. "It also means forward and backward compatibility. The automaker can add a service tomorrow to a car made yesterday." ATX expects the appeal of the new services and low costs to speed telematics penetration of the automotive market.

"The new interface will be more convenient, faster and safer for the user," said Millstein. "IBM has 30 years of experience in voice recognition technology and, with the ViaVoice product, we will bring customers the accuracy, reliability and convenience they expect from us."

"IBM's goal is to make conversational computing a reality from anywhere at anytime," said W.S. "Ozzie" Osborne, general manager of IBM Voice Systems. "By working with innovative companies such as ATX to provide ViaVoice-enabled and hands-free telematics solutions, we are accelerating the acceptance of voice technology as the future human-to-computer interface."

The Strategis Group, a research firm based in Washington, D.C. that tracks the telematics industry, forecasts the market for vehicular telematics to dramatically expand over the next several years, with at least 45 percent of cars and 25 percent of wireless phones having access by 2008.

That expansion is dependent on the ability of telematics service providers to deliver high-value services to low-cost telematics hardware, with the key being a combination of voice response, voice recognition, and text-to-voice technology in telematics response centers. Millstein made those points at the 2000 SAE International Congress in Detroit during a panel discussion entitled The Future of Telematics.

"Voice technologies allow us to deliver services such as navigation, e-mail and the Internet with less investment in new hardware for the car," said Millstein. "We will continue to support live operator response to handle critical situations requiring human judgment and contact-emergencies, accidents and the like."

"More sophisticated equipment in the car will appear in the next few years with greater market penetration," Millstein added. "But new services are the key now, not new hardware. This solution should help us reach motorists 18-25 who want higher-tech products and services."

ATX Technologies, Inc. is headquartered in San Antonio with offices in Dallas, and Detroit. ATX provides leading-edge telematics services for mobile applications including automatic collision notification, location-based emergency response and roadside assistance, stolen vehicle tracking, navigation and other location-based information services. The company pioneered in-vehicle and automotive after market applications of telematics beginning in 1995 and in 1999 introduced telematics services in handheld wireless devices. ATX customers include Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Nissan Motor Corporation's Infiniti division, Jaguar, Lincoln-Mercury, and Alpine Electronics of America. For more information, visit www.atxtechnologies.com.

With more than 30 years in research and development, 150 patents and 250 researchers, IBM is a leader in speech recognition technology. With more than 10 million users, IBM is the only company to offer its speech recognition technology on all of the most popular desktop operating platforms -- Windows, Linux and Macintosh. Using voice as an interface will dramatically improve the way people interact with computers and drive the evolution of transparent computing -- making the human-to-machine interaction easier and more natural. For more information about IBM Voice Systems, visit www.ibm.com/software/voice.