Sorting out the mail

If you’re the kind of guy who, like Mr Monty Hoyt, `head of intelligent devices PR’ at AT&T’s New Jersey headquarters, gets home from work every night and finds he has 28 fax messages to wade through, 17 answerphone messages and a computer bulging with e-mail, then his company is developing just the thing. AT&T’s Project Sage is a series of products to be launched in the next few years, designed to bring under one interface all the different media and messaging services entering the home. The first product, launched in Las Vegas recently, is the AT&T TV Information Centre: a sophisticated answerphone (not before time) with some added extras. It takes messages and when you switch on the TV, displays a menu of your calls, numbers and names. Using a remote control, you can listen back to them in whatever order you want. The device also offers local information, news, stock market reports and banking services. The ultimate aim, says Hoyt, is to produce a universal interactive mailbox that allows the user to sift through faxes, e-mail and voice messages through a single screen.

Coming up more immediately are products to add an address book database to your videophone, and a PC Phone which works much like the TV Information Centre.

It could be a while before anyone here needs one.

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