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September, 1998
Volume 8, Issue 1

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Casio Answering Device Handles E-Mail Too

Use Your Microwave To Cook, Shop, E-mail And Bank

New Twists on Media Convergence — Will They Fly?

We’ve all heard about fax to e-mail and vice versa, but e-mail to answering machines or by microwave? These new areas of convergence defy ordinary imagination and are models of "out-of-the-box" product design.

Casio Answering Device Handles E-Mail Too

Casio PhoneMate, Inc., has started shipping the IT-380 E-Mail Link, a telephone answering machine that also lets users check their electronic-mail. The device is available now in North America for $149.95, a spokesman for the company said.

Besides working like a conventional answering machine, the IT-380 has a three-line, 18-character liquid-crystal display that can show the header information for as many as 40 messages, including the sender, subject line, and date and time received. It can be set to retrieve e-mail when the user presses a button or at pre-set intervals.

While the IT-380 cannot display the full content of an e-mail message, Casio is offering it in a bundle with Mail Call, a text-to-speech remote e-mail service from Mail Call, Inc., that allows subscribers to retrieve their e-mail with a phone call. Mail Call also lets the recipient of a message send one of three pre-programmed e-mail responses to the sender automatically, or enter a phone number to which a pre-programmed voice response will be sent or use the phone to record an individual message.

Casio said the IT-380 works with all Internet service providers (ISPs) that support the POP-3 standard for e-mail, and does not have to be connected to a computer.

(Contact: Ken Greenberg, Edge Communications for Casio PhoneMate, 818-591-1173, e-mail edgepress@mindspring.com)

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Use Your Microwave To Cook, Shop, E-mail And Bank

Stuck for what to cook for dinner? Use the kitchen microwave’s touch screen door to hunt up recipes on the Internet and maybe do some banking during the same session. This is not science fiction. NCR Corp.’s London, England-based Knowledge Lab has developed an all-in-one, microwave-operated appliance for users who want to shop, cook and bank from their kitchen.

The firm says its Microwave Bank, now in prototype, will become available in the next couple of years and will cost about the same as a normal, high-end microwave oven.

A spokesperson said, "This appliance is now being tested in England. It uses microwaves to send and receive signals by modem. It melds together a common kitchen appliance with LCD (liquid crystal display) display that is touch- and voice-activated. The appliance door is the screen. The device needs no keyboard."

He said, "The appliance includes a Web-enabled modem linked to the Internet so that you can bank, shop or send and receive e-mail as you would on a PC."

The spokesperson said NCR plans to include several additional features in the device. A touch screen display can access pre-programmed recipe suggestions for stymied cooks or those with special dietary needs. A user can speak to the system to order groceries for the week while washing dishes or cooking. Users who want to check a bank balance or a bill can touch a symbol on the screen to get the balance, transfer money between accounts, and pay bills.

Potential security problems are covered by including biometric security which may include voice recognition, iris scanning or fingerprint identification, plus password protection.

A planned bar code reader will let users keep track of the pantry. Swipe an empty container across the reader to add the item to a shopping list. When the shopping list is complete, the device will search the Internet for the best price and arrange to have the product delivered.

People with special dietary needs, or who just want to lose weight, can use an included "intelligent agent" with information about each person’s lifestyle, food preferences and other culinary particulars.

Stephen Emmott, director of the Knowledge Lab, said, "If you’re one of the 70 percent of the population who have never used a PC and keyboard in your life, or if you’d rather watch ‘Frasier’ than bank, the microwave’s ideal. It combines a host of Internet services in one unit — so you can shop and bank from your kitchen, as well as e-mail your kids."

NCR has a site on the World Wide Web at http://www.ncr.com.

(Contact: Mark McCall, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, 312-240-2640, e-mail Mmccall@edelman.com)

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