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Methodology and System for User Specification of Voice Mail Expiration Disclosure Number: IPCOM000016248D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Sep-24
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21

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Busy professionals continue to rely upon voice mail services, and in particular, the message taking capabilities of voice mail when not available to take a call directly. It is not at all uncommon that a business person receive in the ten's of voice mail messages in a single day. Often, throughout the day, an individual may check phone mail as opportunity arises, and save those messages which need to be reviewed again, or acted upon later. As a result of this scenario repeating over days, and weeks, it can become quite cumbersome sifting through the many saved messages which might be present in the "old messages" queue at any given time, many of them being no longer relevant. Most messages also have a specific useful lifetime, after which it is no longer necessary to maintain them. As an example, a user may get a message from his manager informing him that there is a meeting tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 in room 3B21. The user, of course, saves this message both as a reminder, and as a way to go back and verify time and location. This message, however, no longer serves a useful purpose after 3:00 tomorrow. Unless the user specifically enters the voice messaging system and deletes the message after the meeting, it is likely to remain in the old messages queue, taking up space, for an extended period of time, (along with all of the other similar messages which have not been deleted). A method for alleviating this problem would be to allow the user, when saving the message, to specify how long to retain the message in the "old messages" queue before having the system automatically delete the message. In the example above, after listening to the meeting invitation message, the user could be prompted not to just save the message, but rather to "save this message with a specific expiration date". Upon selecting this option, the user would then be prompted to "enter the number of days, or hours, desired to retain this message before automatic deletion by the voice mail system", In the example above, the user could safely select the option for 2 days, and have the message automatically deleted after the meeting has already occurred, and the message no longer has any relevance. The key advantages of the idea within this publication are that the user, upon hearing a message, can determine the useful life of the message, save it with that value, and not ever have to go back to the message unless it is needed during its useful period. Additionally, this will result in most voice mail users having fewer saved messages at any given time, saving valuable and expensive storage space. An added benefit, if a user does have to go back and refer to a saved message, is that there will be fewer messages in the queue for the user to scroll through. The general flow associated with this innovation would be as follows: