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Orange adds Wildfire virtual PA to mobiles

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Cellular company Orange has launched a cyber secretary that can call your contacts, hold a conversation and prioritise incoming messages. Wildfire, a voice-activated PA, will store contact details and even interrupt your conversations if you have a call waiting. The voice only comes in female form, and according to Orange will organise your life by responding to voice commands. By ordering Wildfire to "Call John", the female voice will ask you "Where? At home, work or on his mobile?" How it responds to "For god's sake woman, just find him, OK?" isn't clear. Wildfire can also put incoming messages into order or priority, leaving users free to pick them up and return them without having to hang up or redial. The service is available for a one-off £10 fee to Orange customers, and was designed by US company Wildfire Communications. Orange is the first network to offer the Wildfire service. Users pay normal Orange tariffs, but voicemail charges are paid to Wildfire. Costs vary between 7.5 pence and 8.5 pence to pick up voicemail -- cheaper than most Orange rates. "Orange believes that many services will be operated by spoken commands, and keypad entry will seem old-fashioned and cumbersome," said Bob Fuller, Orange COO. Fuller said the device pushed technology further towards a single speech-activated interface for voice telephony, voicemail, fax and data services. ®

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