GB2313925A - Control and display panel for office equipment - Google Patents

Control and display panel for office equipment Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2313925A
GB2313925A GB9711376A GB9711376A GB2313925A GB 2313925 A GB2313925 A GB 2313925A GB 9711376 A GB9711376 A GB 9711376A GB 9711376 A GB9711376 A GB 9711376A GB 2313925 A GB2313925 A GB 2313925A
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GB
United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
machine
control panel
data
panel
display
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
GB9711376A
Other versions
GB9711376D0 (en
Inventor
Paul Leslie Weston
Brian Rodney Malyon
Mark Graeme Malyon
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
SELECT TECHNOLOGY Ltd
Original Assignee
SELECT TECHNOLOGY Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GBGB9611575.3A priority Critical patent/GB9611575D0/en
Priority to GBGB9618041.9A priority patent/GB9618041D0/en
Priority to GBGB9624953.7A priority patent/GB9624953D0/en
Application filed by SELECT TECHNOLOGY Ltd filed Critical SELECT TECHNOLOGY Ltd
Publication of GB9711376D0 publication Critical patent/GB9711376D0/en
Publication of GB2313925A publication Critical patent/GB2313925A/en
Withdrawn legal-status Critical Current

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F7/00Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus
    • G07F7/08Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus by coded identity card or credit card or other personal identification means
    • G07F7/10Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus by coded identity card or credit card or other personal identification means together with a coded signal, e.g. in the form of personal identification information, like personal identification number [PIN] or biometric data
    • G07F7/1008Active credit-cards provided with means to personalise their use, e.g. with PIN-introduction/comparison system
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03GELECTROGRAPHY; ELECTROPHOTOGRAPHY; MAGNETOGRAPHY
    • G03G15/00Apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern
    • G03G15/50Machine control of apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern, e.g. regulating differents parts of the machine, multimode copiers, microprocessor control
    • G03G15/5016User-machine interface; Display panels; Control console
    • G03G15/502User-machine interface; Display panels; Control console relating to the structure of the control menu, e.g. pop-up menus, help screens
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03GELECTROGRAPHY; ELECTROPHOTOGRAPHY; MAGNETOGRAPHY
    • G03G15/00Apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern
    • G03G15/50Machine control of apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern, e.g. regulating differents parts of the machine, multimode copiers, microprocessor control
    • G03G15/5066Machine control of apparatus for electrographic processes using a charge pattern, e.g. regulating differents parts of the machine, multimode copiers, microprocessor control by using information from an external support, e.g. magnetic card
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/30Payment architectures, schemes or protocols characterised by the use of specific devices or networks
    • G06Q20/34Payment architectures, schemes or protocols characterised by the use of specific devices or networks using cards, e.g. integrated circuit [IC] cards or magnetic cards
    • G06Q20/346Cards serving only as information carrier of service
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03GELECTROGRAPHY; ELECTROPHOTOGRAPHY; MAGNETOGRAPHY
    • G03G2215/00Apparatus for electrophotographic processes
    • G03G2215/00025Machine control, e.g. regulating different parts of the machine
    • G03G2215/00088Machine control, e.g. regulating different parts of the machine by using information from an external support
    • G03G2215/00092Machine control, e.g. regulating different parts of the machine by using information from an external support the support being an IC card
    • GPHYSICS
    • G03PHOTOGRAPHY; CINEMATOGRAPHY; ANALOGOUS TECHNIQUES USING WAVES OTHER THAN OPTICAL WAVES; ELECTROGRAPHY; HOLOGRAPHY
    • G03GELECTROGRAPHY; ELECTROPHOTOGRAPHY; MAGNETOGRAPHY
    • G03G2215/00Apparatus for electrophotographic processes
    • G03G2215/00025Machine control, e.g. regulating different parts of the machine
    • G03G2215/00088Machine control, e.g. regulating different parts of the machine by using information from an external support
    • G03G2215/00105Machine control, e.g. regulating different parts of the machine by using information from an external support the support being a payment means, e.g. a coin

Abstract

A programmable display 30 indicating available machine functions is associated with a programmable touch responsive switch panel whereby touching a region of the switch panel relating to a particular function initiates that function of the machine. Programming of the switch panel and display to provide users with access to a subset of the available functions is by external means such as a card with a bar-code, coded magnetic swipe or micro-chip which can be inserted in slot 32 or other data receptor. Different levels of functionality can be therefore be provided according to the user's requirements. The display may be an LCD or CRT; alternatively the external card may be printed with the display which is projected onto the display window. The assembly 28 may be used to replace the more complex full function control panel on a standard machine. On cards with microchips, charges for use of the machine may be transferred back to the card. A learning mode where the user identifies the functions required and updates the card is described.

Description

Title: Improvements in and relating to office machines Field of invention This invention concerns office machines such as photocopiers, facsimile machines, printers such are used with computers, and multi-function machines combining photocopy and/or fax and/or print functions.

Backaround to the invention As the technology associated with office machines develops and with the incorporation of cheap programmable processors for controlling their functionality, more and more facilities have become common place on suck. machines. The controls for such machines, for example photocopiers, have become more complex as a consequence. iri an attempt to reduce the number of different models and thereby keep the unit price to the minimum, photocopier manufacturers in particular have incorporated into each model as many features as possible for the price, so that only two or three models can now satisfy all of the expected market. Features which hitherto tended only to be incorporated in the more expensive machines, or were only obtainable on payment of a premium, are now commonplace, and even though many customers only require for example a simple copier to make size for size copies on A4 paper, a typical basic machine will still have zoom facilities for enlargement and/or reduction, two or more trays so that different paper or other media can be selected and quite advanced exposure controls may be available so as to control the density of the copy image and increase or reduce the copier half tone sensitivity.

Likewise many facsimile machines now tend to include resident memory for telephone numbers, a memory into which incoming fax transmissions and/or outgoing data obtained by scanning documents can be loaded, and automatic dialling facilities, as well as selection of paper from different trays and cassettes.

Similarly laser printers, inkjet printers and the like for use with computers will often provide for a large number of adjustments to enable different printing modes, duplex printing, selection of different media from different cassettes and trays, resolution adjustment and enhancement, and the like.

Multi-function machines can be even more complex, offering for example the choice of a range of features for each of the multiple functions which the machine is able to carry out.

In order to assist the user, most of the machines include default settings and so-called "automatic" modes of operation (particularly with regard to exposure and resolution), so that the making of copies, or sending of facsimiles, or printing of documents from word processors and the like, can be simplified.

Nevertheless the existence of all the additional controls on such machines can still confuse the user unless the latter has been trained carefully in the use of the machine, and where such machines are to be made available to a variety of different users, each having different requirements as "standard", problems inevitably arise as a machine is left in a mode by one user which is unsuitable for use by the next, perhaps from a different department or organisation having different requirements. This can become even more of a problem where such machines are to be used for public access on a pay as you use basis. In such an environment, it is very important to ensure that having paid for a copy, the user gets what he expects, and does not have to make numerous experimental copies first, nor spend time resetting a machine from some complex setting to a more standard arrangement of functions.

With this in mind it is an object of the present invention to provide a control system and control panel facility for office machines which can be readily adjusted to reduce the number of facilities which are available on such a machine for use by certain users or classes of user, but can still make available to appropriate users, service engineers, and the like, all of the facilities available on the machine, and where appropriate even further facilities which may for example be required to be added as extra features over and above those provided by the original manufacturer.

It is an object of the invention to provide such a facility as a retrofit for standard office machines.

It is a further object of the invention to provide an improved control panel for office machines, adjustable as aforesaid, which additionally includes facilities for charging for the use of the machine, by debiting prepaid credit, and/or accumulating charges for subsequent billing to different individuals or organisations or departments.

Summary of the invention Control Panel According to one aspect of the invention, a control panel for an office machine comprises: (1) a programmable touch responsive switch panel; (2) a programmable display for indicating the machine function associated with a region of the switch panel; (3) circuit means associated with the switch panel and programmed to generate a control to initiate a function of the machine in response to touching a region of the switch panel which is identified in the display as being appropriate for that function, and (4) externally controllable programming means for programming the switch and the display.

Preferably the switch overlays the display panel.

External control of the programming means may be achieved by transferring data from a data carrier which is temporarily connected to the control panel for that purpose.

In one embodiment a control panel as aforesaid comprises: (1) a programmable touch sensitive switch panel, which when pressed will initiate a machine function; (2) a programmable display for indicating the machine function which will be initiated by pressure on a region of the switch panel; (3) externally controllable programming means for programming the switch panel and the display; (4) a data carrier receptor for cooperation with an external data carrier, for receiving programming data from the carrier; (5) first circuit means linking the data carrier receptor to a control centre which contains inter alia a memory for storing transferred data and the said programming means; (6) second circuit means linking the control centre to the programmable display to cause at least one machine function to be displayed in a region of the display, in accordance with the transferred data; (7) third circuit means linking the control centre to the programmable switch means to programme the latter in response to the transferred data, so that a control signal capable of initiating the displayed machine function is generated if the appropriate region oç the touch sensitive pad designated by the display Ls touched; and (8) fourth circuit means extending from the control panel for connection to the machine, to convey thereto the control signals generated by touching the programmable switch means, to initiate the selected function.

Typically, each different region of the programmed display appears as a push button or a key of d keypad.

Advantageously, each region in the display is labelled by legend, icons, letters and/or numerals to indicate the function associated therewith.

The panel may also include a programmable visual display device such as an LCD panel, CRT display or the like, for displaying messages, and further circuit means is provided for driving the display to form therein legends, letters, numerals and the like to indicate to the user either the machine status, a function performed by the machine, the satisfactory operation of the machine after a function has been performed, and/or error messages or instructional messages.

In one arrangement the programmable display is devoid of keyboard or push button defining information until after data has been transferred from a data carrier.

In such an arrangement, a basic keypad or push button array may be displayed in the programmable display as a default condition allowing at least one basic machine function to be performed, and insertion of data from a data carrier causes an alteration of the programmable display so as to correspond to the machine functions to be permitted by that particular data carrier.

The generation or transmission of a control signal to initiate a machine function may be inhibited until a PIN number or other code has been entered.

In such an arrangement the display may include a plurality of regions indicative of a keypad for entering a PIN number and the programmable switch panel may be programmed with resident data to set up the appropriate regions in the switch panel to allow numerical information entered via the keypad to be available for cancelling the said inhibition.

A dedicated keypad, separate from the programmable display and touch sensitive switch panel may be provided, for entry of a PIN number or other code.

In a control panel as aforesaid each displayed key or button region may possess a double strike characteristic in which a first touch of the displayed region indicates a function which the displayed region will cause the machine to perform, and a second touch of the same region whilst the related functionality is displayed instigates the machine function or a sequence of functions.

Alternately touching a displayed key or button may cause an indication of the associated function to be displayed, and a further switch with associated key or button is provided which if touched after any one of the displayed keys or buttons has been touched will cause the identified function to be performed.

The said further switch may be part of the programmable switch panel and an appropriate region in the programmable display identifies the part of the switch panel which is to be touched so as to instigate the function which has been selected and identified by touching one of the other display "keys".

Alternately the said further switch is separate from the programmable switch panel and comprises a conventional push button switch or the like.

Data carrier The data carrier receptor may be a device into which a data carrier can be inserted.

Alternately the data carrier may be a machine readable card.

The data carrier receptor may be a card reader and withdrawal (or ejection) of a card may be inhibited until a PIN number has been entered.

The data carrier may comprise an encapsulated microchip memory device which can be read or written to by making touching contact with a cooperating contact device, which forms the data carrier receptor, or a part thereof.

Advantageously an encapsulated microchip memory may be encrypted with ID data as well as function determining programming data. The ID data may be unique to the particular memory so that if touched a second time, the machine will recognise the memory as being the same as was touched a first time.

Touch sensitive switch The touch sensitive switch panel may be an analogue device or include X Y infra-red beams, or comprise a cross bar switch made up of two or more planes of conductors defining X and Y coordinates which are brought into contact by point pressure on a flexible membrane forming, or forming part of, the panel.

Credit related machine functions The data carrier may include additionally stored credit information which is transferred as additional data to the control centre in the machine.

Advantageously the data carrier can be written to by reverse transfer of data from the machine to the data carrier and the control panel includes means for generating data to be written back to the data carrier to comprise a new credit amount, after the machine has been operated.

Any credit held within the data carrier may be transferred to a machine control centre memory on a first contact of the data carrier with the receptor and any credit remaining after a machine function has been selected and the machine has performed the selected function is transferred back to the data carrier via the receptor upon touching the receptor a second time by the data carrier, after the machine function has been performed.

The data carrier may be in the form of a card or other device which is inserted for the duration of the use of the machine and the credit contained therein may be debited and re-written in response to each machine function instructed whilst the data carrier is in place, so that the new credit level is written to the data carrier before it is removed.

When using credit related data carriers which are debited in use, means may be provided by which a PIN number and further credit information can be entered and transferred as data to the data carrier, to allow the carrier to be re-used.

Programmable functionality The data transferred from the data carrier to the control centre memory may be such as to cause a succession of two or more separate machine functions to be initiated in a prearranged sequence, when the switch panel region corresponding to a key or button in the display is touched.

Machine modification A control panel as aforesaid may be adapted to be fitted to a machine in place of a standard control panel normally fitted thereto.

According to another aspect of the invention therefore, a control panel for replacing a conventional control panel in an office machine, comprises a data receptor, a display within which a keyboard representation appears upon transferring data from a data carrier via the data receptor, wherein each key is labelled with a machine function, a touch responsive switch panel associated with the display whereby finger pressure applied to a region of the panel results in a control signal being generated, an electrical signal connector means for conveying the control signal to a component part of a machine for initiating the machine function (or a sequence of functions of which the machine is capable), corresponding to the label of the key associated with the touched region.

According to another aspect of the invention, a replacement control panel for use with an office machine which includes a master control unit therewithin for instigating different functions which the machine is capable of performing, which master unit is normally connected to a central control unit in the original suppliers control panel by a flexible multiway cable with at least one multiway connector between the master unit and the control unit in the panel and to at least one part of which the cable is connected, constructed as aforesaid, and includes an appropriate multiway connector part whereby the replacement control panel can be electrically connected to the machine by disconnecting the multiway connector part associated with the individual panel, and connecting in place the multiway connector part associated with the replacement panel.

The multiway connector part associated with the replacement control panel may be connected thereto by way of a multiway cable.

Insertable data carrier with visible markings According to a rather different approach a control panel for an office machine includes a slot to receive a data carrier, a window through which visible data printed or embossed or otherwise carried by the data carrier is visible as a keyboard or keypad when the data carrier is inserted in the slot, pressure sensitive membrane switch means in registry with the window and therefore the keyboard or keypad visible therein, electrical circuit means adapted by information derived from the data carrier to set up signal paths in the membrane switch means to define at least one electrical switch which is closed by touching or pressing on a designated area in the visible keyboard or keypad to produce a control signal for supply to circuit means within the machine to produce one of the functions of which the machine is capable.

A data carrier as aforesaid may includes machine readable information for programming the electric circuit means associated with the membrane switch means, in which event a reader is associated with the data carrier receiving slot, for deriving information from the data carrier for setting up the membrane switch means in accordance with the keyboard or keypad represented on the data carrier.

The visible data may be printed on a card or other planar device device to be visible in the window when the data carrier is inserted in the slot, and may appear as a visual representation of push buttons or keys of a keyboard or keypad.

Each push button of key representation may include printed data labelling the key concerned.

A control panel as aforesaid further include means for illuminating a data carrier bearing visible data, either from above or below or along one or more of its edges, so as to cause printing or embossing thereon to be visible.

In a control panel adapted to receive a visible data bearing carrier, a programmable visual display unit may also be provided such as an LCD panel, CRT display or the like for displaying messages and additional circuit means is provided for driving the display to form therein legends, letters, numerals and the like so as to indicate to the user the status of the machine, a function which can be performed by the machine, satisfactory operation of the machine after a function has been performed and/or error messages and instructions messages to the user.

Transport means may be provided to receive a data carrier after it has been partially inserted into the receiving slot to move the data carrier into the correct position in the machine in registry with the window and the membrane switch means.

A projection system and a screen on which printed or photographically formed information on the data carrier can be projected may be provided, and the membrane switch means may be located in close proximity to the screen.

The screen and membrane switch panel may be adjacent and the membrane panel is marked with visual markings indicating regions corresponding te regions which will be numerically or otherwise identified in the display on the screen indicating the function which will be performed if the corresponding region in the touch sensitive membrane is pressed by the user.

Alternately the touch sensitive membrane may be located in registry with the screen and when a projected image of the data carrier is formed thereon, appropriate regions of the membrane are identified as outline buttons or keys and suitably identified with letters or numerals or both to indicate the function which will be performed if that region of the membrane is pressed by the user.

A data carrier bearing visible data, may comprise a cardboard or thin plastics card having printed on one face information indicative of the key or keys which are to appear in the window and on the reverse side, machine readable data such as bar codes or the like which are read by a card reader, associated with the slot, upon insertion of the card into the machine, whereby the machine functions are limited to those indicated on the key or keys which appear in the window.

Alternately The data carrier may comprise a cardboard or thin plastics card having a photographically printed transparency region through which light can be projected to form an image of the printing of the transparency on a screen or other image forming device associated with the membrane switch means for denoting the machine functions and the areas of the membrane device which are to be pressed in order to instigate the identified function or functions.

The data carrier may also include payment or credit data stored thereon related to the machine function or functions which are to be permitted when the data carrier is inserted, and data carrier piercing or shredding means may be provided for rendering useless or actually destroying the data carrier after it has been used and the payment or credit data stored thereon has been exhausted.

Alternatively the panel may include means for storing intact, in a reservoir, in the machine, all data carriers inserted therein n respect of which all credit data has been exhausted.

Office machine The invention also lies in an office machine when fitted with any control panel as aforesaid.

The invention also lies in an office machine having a removable standard control panel having a keypad associated therewith for selecting any of a large number of machine functions, in which the standard control panel has been disconnected from the main control centre of the machine and removed and replaced with a replacement non-standard control panel having a reduced number of machine function permitting keys, which has means for connecting it to the main machine control centre.

The invention also lies in an office machine when fitted with selected control panels 2S aforesaid in combination with a plurality of different data carriers each in the form of an encapsulated microchIp memory device, whereby touching the memory device to the data entry contact results in a different keyboard or keypad to be displayed in the display and the related machine functions to be available upon touching or pressing the associated regions of the pressure sensitive switch panel.

The invention also lies in a method of adapting an office machine having an original manufacturers control panel offering a plurality of functions, selectable and initiated by operating user operated switch means thereon so as to convey signals or establish electrical signal paths to a conventional master control unit in the machine, to a machine have only one or a lesser number of functions, involving the steps of replacing the original manufacturers control panel with a replacement control panel which contains switch means and circuit means restricted to one or said lesser number of functions, and wherein control signals or electrical paths are generated when the replacement panel switch means is operated, which are sufficient only to instigate the said one or a selected one of the lesser number of functions, and conductor means connect the replacement panel switch means and circuit means to the said conventional master control unit.

The invention also lies in a method of customising a complex office machine which is capable of performing N different functions and which includes a removable control panel and electrical connections between it and a computer based controller, which thereby provides operator controlled switches for selecting by means of the controller from the N different functions available, comprising the steps of removing the control panel, breaking the electrical connection between it and the computer based controller, and fitting to the machine a replacement control panel having a programmable switch array by which only n of the N optional functions are made available to the user, (where n is greater than or equal to 1 but is less than N).

In such a method the replacement control panel may include electronic means for progrAmming the switch array, and an electrical data signal input device, and the method typically further comprises the steps of entering data from a memory device into the electronic programming means to determine the functions to be available in the switch array.

A first memory device may be used to enter data permitting a basic set of machine functions and other memory devices containing other data may be employed to enter said other data to programme the electronic means to provide different and/or additional operator controllable switches in the said switch array, thereby to provide to the user different and/or additional functions from those available within the machine.

A first memory device may be connected to a first data input device and subsequent memory devices may be connected to a second data input device.

Additional circuit means may be provided for sensing if a subsequent different memory device is connected, said circuit means generating signals to override the display generating control signals provided from data from a first memory device, to substitute therefor display generating signals derived from the subsequent memory device, whereby the displayed keyboard will be upgraded or downgraded to whatever level is dictated by the last memory device to be employed.

Learn mode machines The invention also provides a method of setting up an office machine when fitted with selected control panels as aforesaid, comprising the steps of placing the machine in a learn mode in which machine functions instigated by pressing on appropriate regions of the display will be stored in a further memory, comprising the steps of pressing in sequence each of two or more different displayed key or push button regions, allocating the stored sequence of functions to a displayed function key, connecting a portable memory device to the machine and transferring a stored sequence of data from the memory to the portable memory device, disconnecting the portable memory device and allocating the now programmed portable memory device to a user so that when the user wishes to use the machine to perform the programmed sequence of functions, it is only necessary for the user to connect the portable memory device to the machine and press the appropriate function key in the display.

In such a method the data stored in the portable device may also include data for generating legends or other information in the display in conjunction with the display button or key so that the future user is aware of the programmed sequence of commands associated therewith.

In such a method a keyboard may also be provided in the machine, or as part of the control panel, or as a separate item which is adapted to be plugged into the control panel or the machine, to permit the entry of data.

The learn mode may be adapted so that it can only be entered after a PIN number or other code has been entered, either by way of a keyboard or by using one or more of the displayed keys or push buttons.

In a learn mode method adaptation, at least one of the displayed keys may comprise the programmable function key, and provision may be made for displaying in words or legends the programmed functionality of a function key after it is programmed, either in the display associated with the touch sensitive membrane switch panel, or in a separate dispay.

The invention will now be described by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Figure 1 is an illustration of a control panel as supplied with a multifunction photocopier. The 23 different function keys 1-23 are'labelled in the drawing.

Figure 2 shows one form of a simplified control panel in accordance with the invention for fitting in place of the complex panel of Figure 1.

Figures 3 to 7 show various simplified control button arrays which can be displayed in the window in the panel of Figure 2.

Figures 8 and 9 illustrate different control panel displays such as can be obtained using a programmable display such as described in relation to later figures; Figures 10, 11 and 12 show the steps involved in converting a standard copier with complex control panel to a programmable copier in accordance with the invention; Figure 13A illustrates an alternative control panel which includes a programmable display in registry with a programmable touch panel switch; Figure 13B illustrates by way of an exploded perspective view the underside of the control panel shown in Figure 13A which to facilitate the exploded view has been rotated through 180 from the position shown in Figure 13A; Figure 14 is a block schematic diagram of the essential components of a new keyboard shown in Figure 13 and which can be fitted to an existing machine of the type shown in Figure 10; and Figure 1 is a flow diagram showing the function steps initiated following power-on and subsequent entry of programming data from a programming device in accordance with the invention.

Figure 1 illustrates the complex control panel typical of many modern photocopiers. There are 23 different function keys labelled in the drawing and the machine can be difficult if not confusing to use. Certainly with all the optional functionalities associated with the machine it is certainly inappropriate for use in a public access situation such as in a public library or ln 2 University or College where users perhaps pay to make one or more copies and need to be able to use the machine quickly and reliably and know in advance that when the copy button is pressed, they will obtain exactly the copy they expect and/or the number of copies.

Figure 2 shows a first form of simplified control panel 28 in accordance with one of the features of the invention which can be fitted in place of the complex panel of Figure 1.

In Figure 2 the panel 28 includes a window 30 and an adjoining slot 32 into which a printed data carrier or card can be inserted so as to be visible in the window 30. Illumination means (r.ct shown) may be provided so as to light up the card which to this end is translucent or semi-transparent and the printed material becomes visible corresponding to one or more buttons or keys together with appropriate indicia indicating either by way of a code the functions that they keys perform or by way of actual word the function description associated therewith. An LCD display 34 provides a device for displaying messages and/or fault inserted. After being set up in this way, pressing an appropriately marked region in the window, transmits force to the touch sensitive panel switch below and initiates a switching function which in turn generates a control signal or open or closes a circuit so as to transmit to one or more components within the overall machine information to cause the machine to perform one or more functions to complete the task indicated by the key or button in the display.

In accordance with the invention the window 30 may be replaced by a programmable display such as a programmable LCD panel but whichever device is used, different arrays of buttons and keys may be displayed such as is shown in Figures 3 to 7 which merely give examples of how very simple through to slightly more complex machine functions can be made available depending on the card that is inserted into the slot 32 or the programming information entered into the machine so as to cause the display to produce the relevant information in the display.

Thus Figure 3 illustrates a single button which converts the machine to the simplest possible mode, ie size for size copying in the case of a photocopier.

Figure 4 shows a two-button array allowing selection between two different sizes of paper, for example A3 or A4.

Figure 5 shows a slightly more complex panel allowing size for size copying onto A3 or A4 (as in Figure 4), or A3 to A4 reduction, or A4 to A3 enlargement, with a central press to copy" button to be touched after the appropriate function has been selected by touching the appropriate region.

Figure 6 shows a more complex panel with different functional capabilities now being made available to the user as indicated by the buttons.

Figure 7 shows how 36 buttons can be displayed In a square panel display giving sufficient buttons in a single array to allow for the 23 functions detailed in Figure 1 to be called up. Typically the 36 buttons are numbered 1 to 36, and a lookup table is provided on a control panel adjacent the display such as shown in dotted outline in Figure 2 at 36, to allow the user to select the appropriate button. In this way the buttons merely need to be numbered.

Where the button display is produced by a programmable LCD, two or more screens may be generated, a first screen as shown in Figure 8 which is produced when programming data is first entered into the machine and a second screen which can either replace or scroll into place when the machine is instructed to do so. As shown in Figure 8, the display 40 includes a next screen button 42, which if pressed causes the second screen 44 shown in Figure 9 to replace that shown in Figure 8 as by scrolling into position. Although not shown a "next screen button may be provided in the second screen 2 or reversion to the first screen can be arranged to occur after a predetermined period of time or after a particular code has been entered for example pressing one of the buttons such as "cancel", twice.

An appropriate instruction indicating how to go from one screen to another where this is not obvious from the screen menu, may be provided by way of additional information on the panel in the form of printed material.

An advantage of a programmable LCD panel is the ability to scale the graphical display so that fewer of the available buttons in each of the screens shown in Figures 8 and 9 are visible in the window, but those that are shown are represented to a larger scale to make them more clearly visible to a short sighted or poorly sighted person. A scroll control such as a button which can always remain in view or a separate control button provided on the panel (not shown) may be provided to enable the user to view different parts of the display to the enlarged scale in succession, thereby to reveal all of the buttons to the enlarged scale, one baton or group of buttons after another.

Two or more screens may be made available using a programmable LCD panel and depending on the data entered into the machine by the user (in a manner to be described), so one, some, or all of the screens may be available to the user depending on the status of the device used by the user to programme the machine.

Thus a service engineer would have a facility of calling up all of the screens to enable all of the functionality of the machine to be checked for servicing purposes. Ordinary users may be able to call up only one or two of the screens and certain users such as a manager may have the facility of calling up more of the screens, but not perhaps one or more service engineer screens which should only be made available to engineers or key personnel from the supplier who may wish to alter the set-up of the machine using the displays concerned or simply check the machine functionality.

A preferred construction of the display panel is an LCD protected by a toughened touch screen. Thus the touch screen may overlay the LCD or a flexible LCD may overlay a touch screen panel, whichever is more appropriate.

Where a complex machine is to be simplified, a machine such as shown in Figure 10 having a copying platen covered by a lid 50 with sheet feeding device 52 is provided with a complex control panel such as 54. The machine body generally designated 56 as shown comprises 2 table-top model. Drawers containing paper and openable flaps to allow for servicing, toner replacement and the like are provided all as known per se. However these details are not show.

Modification of the machine shown in Figure 10 is achieved by removing the control panel 54 so as to leave the opening 58 in the inclined front of the casing 56 and a multiway cable and multiway connector 62 is left, the other joining part of the connector 62 and the flexible cable attaching to the complex keyboard 54 having been removed.

A simpler keyboard such as shown at 64 in Figure 12 can then be positioned in place of the removed keyboard 54 after first connecting to the multiway cable 60 a multiway cable from the new keyboard 64 which terminates in a similar connector for connection to the multiway connector 62 in place of the original one.

As shown, the keyboard or control panel 64 includes a display 66 which is overlaid by a programmable touch screen panel 68 and an optional second display 70 within which an LED or LCD display can be viewed for presenting information such as fault conditions etc to the user if it is preferred to use this mode of communication rather than delivering additional data via the display 66.

A data receptor 72 is provided on the panel although it is to be understood that this may be mounted on the machine side as shown in dotted outline at 74.

As shown in Figure 12B, a data carrier such as an encapsulated microchip memory device as sold by Dallas Semiconductor Inc is shown at 76 being held by the user ready to be touched against the receptor 72 so that data within the memory device 76 can be transferred to the programming device within the control panel 64.

A power lead 78 connects the copier via a suitable plug 80 to a mains electricity supply in known manner.

Operation of the machine is effected by pressing one or another of the display button regions such as 82 shown in the display panel 66 using for example the thumb or forefinger.

Figure 13A shows a preferred form of simplified panel comprising a metal fabrication 82 apertured at 84 to reveal a touch screen 86 which is mounted immediately therebelow.

Although not shown, below the screen is mounted an LCD panel display and both the touch screen panel and the display panel are programmable so as to produce in the LCD panel visible outlines of buttons or keys corresponding to programmed regions of the touch panel which if then pressed, will produce an appropriate machine function by way of control signals or the establishment of an appropriate electrical path to effect the functionality required.

Figure 13B reveals the various parts of the control panel which are mounted below the fabrication 82. Thus the touch screen is shown at 86, a screen clamp and surround is shown at 88 which fits over the screen 86 and secures it in place immediately below the opening 84. The clamp 88 includes an integral mounting for an LCD panel 90 which is secured thereto in any convenient manner.

Electrical connections to the touch screen 86 and the LCD panel 90 are effected by means of edge connectors (not shown) and flat multiway cables (not shown) which in turn make connection with appropriate edge connectors or the like on a printed circuit board 92. A circular aperture 94 in the side wall of the metal fabrication 82 allows a CAT reader 96 to protrude therethrough and the reader is itself mounted on a small fabrication 98 for attachment to the wall 100 as by riveting or screws or adhesive. A cable 102 and plug 104 extending from the reader 96 allow the latter to be connected to an appropriate connector on the printed circuit board 92.

Also extending from the printed circuit board is a multiway cable terminating in an appropriate multiple connector similar to that shown at 60 and 62 in Figure 11, to enable the new control panel to be connected to the connector 62 of Figure 11.

To this end the connector associated with the new control panel is of the appropriate gender to allow the two parts to be joined together.

The printed circuit board contains the control electronics and the essential ingredients of the circuitry are shown in Figure 14.

The heart of the circuit is a central processor such as an Intel-type N80C196KC-20. This processor includes an ADC and resident memory so that analogue signals from a touch screen panel 86 can be connected to an analogue input of the processor. The CPU bus can be connected to the LCD panel 90 by way of an appropriate bus extension 106 and backlighting signals are conveyed via a data highway 108 to the backlight element 110 associated with the LCD panel 90. To simplify the construction, an integral panel such as that produced by Hitachi Type No. LMG7401PLBC may be employed which includes an integral backlight unit and interface allowing direct connections to be made between the processor and the panel.

Contrast may be achieved by way of a variable resistor 110 in accordance with the manufacturer's technical data sheet.

A DC power supply 112 provides appropriate power along 114 to the LCD panel assemblv and via 116 to the CPU.

In addition to the on-board RAM, external RAM is provided by way of a memory chip 118 which is connected to the CPU bus via data highway 120. In addition an external ROM 122 is connected via a data highway 124 to the CPU and a non-volatile memory chip 126 is connected to the CPU via data highway 128.

A CAT port for entering and retrieving data such as illustrated at 96 in Figure 13B is connected via a data highway, typically a simple serial link such as 130. A touch memory device such as produced by Dallas Semiconductors is noted by reference numeral 76 as illustrated also in Figure 12B.

A preferred encapsulated memory chip from Dallas is Type DS 1995-F5 and an appropriate reader comprises device DS 9092.

The touch screen device 86 is an analogue device and eight bit parallel latch (not shown) is employed to transfer parallel data from the CPU.

Data for updating the CPU about the machine to which the control panel is connected can be derived from the host copier via data highway 132 and a copier panel input/output interface which typically includes a multiple way two-part connector. The interface is generally designated 134. Typically serial information is derived from the host copier such as clock signals, latches and the like, and these are supplied to the CPU by the interface 134 and data highway 136. Since the original keyboard will have included LED's and a large number of switches, the serial information from the host copier will include information indicating which of the LED's would have been illuminated in the original panel indicating that the function which has been selected and/or is now operational and the CPU is programmed (in a manner to be described) so as to interpret such information passing thereto along 132 and 136 so as to update the display in the LCD panel 90 as appropriate.

The CPU in turn delivers data in the opposite direction along the highway 136 and 132 to the host copier in the form of simulated operating commands to cause the copier to perform the desired function or functions initiated by pressing the appropriate region of the touch screen 86.

Operation of the CPU is dictated initially by the contents of the ROM 122. Thus on power-on the contents of the ROM is transferred to the CPU RAM which may include part of the RAM 118 and the CPU is caused to perform the usual initiating checks on the processor itself, the resident RAM and the external RAM 118, and the various ports to the CPU. When initial checking and initiation process has been completed, a ready signal causes the CPU to read the data contained in the non-volatile store 126 and load the data therefrom into the RAM 118 and/or installed memory within the processor causing the processor to display a default screen in the LCD panel 90 and to programme the touch screen 86 accordingly.

In a simple arrangement, the default screen merely contains the words "Touch data receptor with CAT to initiate".

The touch screen 86 is not programmed so as to be responsive to any touch and the machine will sit in this quiescent condition until the receptor 72 is touched by an appropriate CAT 76.

It is a character of the Dallas memory devices that ID data can be permanently stored therein and the CPU is programmed by the instructions form the non-volatile store 126 to read the ID data first and compare it with a look-up table to determine if the CAT is valid. If it is, the data from the CAT is then transferred to the RAM 118 and the NV instruction set from 126 then causes the CPU to write the appropriate display in the LCD panel 90 and instruct the appropriate programming to the touch screen 86 so as to correspond therewith. The machine is now ready to be operated by the user touching the appropriate identified region of the touch screen as indicated in Figure 12 so that the CPU can transfer appropriate instructions contained in the NV store instruction set via the data highway 136 and 132 to the host copier to perform the function.

The CAT port and CPU act as a double touch response circuit so that if the same CAT 76 is touched to the receptor 72 (96) the CPU removes the data stored in the RAM 118 and reinstates the NV storage default instruction set to write the default message to the LCD panel and deprogramme the touch screen 86.

In an alternative arrangement, the default screen produced by the resident non-volatile instructions set produces a simple display of perhaps one or two buttons in the panel 90 and appropriate programming of the touch screen 86 and associated switch matrix so that the default mode of the machine is one in which one or two simple copying functions can be performed without the need to enter data from a CAT such as 76. However the resident instruction set recognises if a touch memory device 76 contacts the receptor 72 and if it is recognised as a valid CAT for use with the machine, data from the memory device 76 is transferred via the CPU to the RAM to replace the data previously stored in the RAM or enlarge the date stored therein so as to produce a more complex display in the pane 90 and appropriately more complex switching matrix associated with the touch screen panel 86. In this way entering data from a carrier 76 enables the default basic functionality machine to be upgraded, for example to permit enlargement or reduction as well as size for size copying. By making the CAT port 96 double-acting, touching the same memory device 76 against the receptor 72 causes the RAM 118 to be cleared and the basic default information from the non-volatile store 126 to be entered in the RAM 118 once again and the default screen and switching matrix to be set up once again.

Additional ports on the Intel CPU allow data input and data output to be supplied to or derived from the processor such as a coin freed mechanism so that the CPU is inhibited until an appropriate coin or token has been inserted in a slot (not shown). In an alternative arrangement a card reader (not shown) is provided into which a card having credit information stored thereon can be inserted and which can be read and transferred via the input port to the CPU and the RAM, and after decoding, the CPU can be rendered operational thereby enabling the touch screen 86 to be responsive and allow the user to perform operations using the machine within the limits of the credit read from the card. If at the end of the exercise a credit remains within the RAM 118, the CPU transfers the credit and decodes it for appropriate writing back to the card via the output port.

It will be appreciated that the input and output ports can be used for other functions as well and the coin free mechanism or card reader examples are merely given by way of example.

In practice the microcon (Trade Mark) encapsulated memory chips as supplied by Dallas Semiconductor can be attached .or example to a keyring for convenient use by the user and the devices can be manufactured as a coded activator tag (CAT) so that the user can configure the keyboard of the copier to his or her own specific requirements using for example as set of instructions to programme the CAT himself, or using a CAT programming aid separate from the machine. In accordance with the invention it is envisaged that coded activator tags such as described may be programmed by way of data supplied from the CPU via the CAT port 96 during a so-called learn mode, and to this end the nonvolatile storage includes an instruction set for enabling the processor to recognise a sequence of functions and transfer these into the RAM and from the RAM to the CAT port and the memory device 76 when touched thereon at the end of the socalled learn mode. During the learn mode, the user simply selects rom the display screen the function required to be associated with the CAT and having indicated the desired function, presses a transfer button in the display (which to this end is preferably a special learn mode display panel) to cause the function creating data to be transferred to the memory device 76. If the CAT is to include a number of different functionalities then the appropriate display screen is either called up or created by the user from a menu and after pressing the transfer button the data associated with that display panel is transferred to the memory device 76 so that when the machine is out of its learn mode, touching the receptor 72 with the programmed device will transfer the stored data bac into the machine and cause the appropriate display panel and switching matrix to be established in accordance with the pre-programmed information in the touch memory device.

A number of similar touch memory devices may be programmed in a similar way so that a group of users can all acquire the same configuration on the machine.

The Dallas Semiconductor devices include unique ID information stored in the device during manufacture and which it is impossible to alter or change without destroying the device.

By arranging that this information can be read by the CPU and entered into a suitable look-up table in the non-volatile store 126, so the machine can be instructed to recognise the memory device concerned. If a memory device which has not been "shown" to the machine in its appropriate mode is presented to the machine, the machine will not recognise the ID and data will not be transferred from the memory device.

Preferably the mode in which memory devices can be entered as valid devices for the machine is a mode which can only be entered by an appropriate person with appropriate authority and information using for example PIN numbers and/or other keys to ensure that unauthorised users cannot enter the ID of their CAT into the machine.

Key operators may be issued with a coded activator tag which enables them to select a more complex keyboard merely by pressing their CAT on the data receptor 72. After a copying activity has been completed the user returns the keyboard to its default or dormant setting by simply touching the CAT against the receptor 72 once again.

It will be appreciated that since the ID can be stored in any number cf copiers or other machines, the one CAT can be rendered acceptable to two or more copiers or other machines or in the reverse, a machine may be encrypted so as to be unresponsive to certain CAT ID's, or rendered capable of only operating when CAT ID s are presented to it which are already stored within its non-volatile store so that specific CAT's may be used on specific machines and not on others.

By using the ID encryption feature of the Dallas devices, a single copier can be used for two or more completely different functions such as below: 1. Public Access - A copier in a library is fitted with a coin/card system and configured for self-help use. The default keyboard is, for example, set to take single copies with just three buttons (A4, A3 and Reduction to A4) thus making it very easy for members of the public to operate. A key operator can, at any time, apply a CAT to the CAT reader, which automatically overrides the coin/card system and reveals a more complex keyboard allowing, perhaps, multiple copies, a number of reductions and enragements, zoom etc. On completion of his copying task, the operator touches the CAT reader again with his CAT, the coin/card system becomes operational and the default public access keyboard (A4, A3 and Reduction to A4) is again revealed.

2. Office copying - k copier is placed in an office and each member of staff issued with a programmed CAT allowing them to create a keyboard which is relevant to their particular job function. Some individuals might only need to copy A4 size for size, others might need to carry out more complex tasks. A partially sighted person could call up a keyboard with larger buttons which are easier to see. Normally complex keyboards can be made easier because functions that might ordinarily require 3 or 4 buttons to be pressed in sequence could be actioned by pressing only a single button.

A preferred copier to which the system is applied is compact with front loading cassettes (up to 5 containing a total of 2500 sheets). Substantial reductions can be made in ozone emissions and noise levels, major plastics parts marked for recycling and toner recycled internally, obviating the need for waste toner containers.

Particularly relevant for public access is the fact that the control panel may be made of steel so as to be extremely hardwearing. It is also mounted at an angle to the platen so that the controls are more easily accessible to wheelchair users. An optional security cabinet may be available which affords protection to the machine body and secures all the paper trays and other opening panels.

Another option is a conversion which creates a localised rightangle between the glass platen and the sloping control panel (allowing improved copying into the gutter of tightly bound books) and adds a trailing-edge delete feature which whites-out the end of the copy and switches off the scanning lamp when it has cleared the end of the book.

Seauence of operations As shown in Figure 15, following Power-ON, instructions from ROM 122 are downloaded to the CPU and the INITIATION sequence is performed, resetting latches checking memory, self checking the CPU: checking all ports and checking power supply potentials. After completion of the INITIATION sequence, the CPU is instructed to retrieve data and selected instruction sets stored in the non-volatile memory 126, to compare the data with data in the ROM to verify machine ID, control panel ID etc and to transfer the selected instruction sets to the RAM 118.

The control panel is now in a condition to generate and display the start-up screen in the LCD and upon completion of the data transfer to the RAM from 126, the default screen is drawn in the LCD panel 90 and suitable backlighting commands are derived from the RAM data associated with the default screen.

The default screen in this example contains at least one button representation for making eg same size copies onto A4 portrait paper in the case of a copier machine.

Logic 136 determines when the display and switch panel 86 is touched and the analogue signals from the touch screen matrix are digitised and decoded by the CPU, causing the CPU to release a command via 134 to the host copier to effect a same size copy of what is on the copying platen, onto A4 paper drawn from the "portrait" tray.

Secondary logic 138 responds to contact with the CAT PORT 94 by a CAT 96. A detected touch requests the CPU to read tha CAT ID and other resident data to compare with data stored in the NON-VOLATILE (NV) memory 126. If the comparison is favourable, the logic circuit 140 triggers the CPU to download data from the CAT to the RAM 118 to replace the default screen data stored therein from NV Store 126.

As the RAM is addressed by the CPU the new data is used to redraw the LCD display screen to define the buttons for the functions provided by the CAT concerned.

The CPU additionally reprogra.=mes the touch screen 86 or a look-up memory with the CPU, so as to redefine the switching functions of the different area of the touch screen to correspond with the new function buttons in the LCD display screen.

Subsequent touching of a region of the touch screen 86 results in an appropriate instruction being generated by the CPU using data stored in the RAM, to convey to the host copier 133 the signals to trigger the relevant functional component(s) within the host copier to perform the requested function.

Tertiary logic 142 responds to a second touch by the same CAT on the port 94, by comparing the CAT ID with the last CAT ID and if satisfied the logic clears the RAM and reinstates the default screen data in the RAM for the NV Store 126, causing the Display 90 to present the default screen (or a look-up memory within the CPU) so as to revert the touch screen to the default mode condition once again.

Claims (60)

1. A control panel for an office machine comprising: (1) a programmable touch responsive switch panel; (2) a programmable display for indicating the machine function associated with a region of the switch panel; (3) circuit means associated with the switch panel and programmed to generate a control to initiate a function of the machine in response to touching a region of the switch panel which is identified in the display as being appropriate for that function, and (4) externally controllable programming means for programming the switch and the display.
2. A control panel as claimed in claim 1 wherein the switch panel overlays the switch panel.
3. A control panel as claimed in claim 1 cr 2, wherein external control of the programming means is achieved by transferring data from a data carrier which is temporarily connected to the control panel for that purpose.
4. A control panel as claimed in claim 1, 2 or 3 comprising: (1) a programmable touch sensitive switch panel, which when pressed will initiate a machine function; (2) a programmable display for indicating the machine function which will be initiated by pressure on a region of the switch panel; (3) externally controllable programming means for programming the switch panel and the display; (4) a data carrier receptor for cooperation with an external data carrier, for receiving programming data from the carrier; (5) first circuit means linking the data carrier receptor to a control centre which contains inter alia a memory for storing transferred data and the said programming means; (6) second circuit means linking the control centre to the programmable display to cause at least one machine function to be displayed in a region of the display, in accordance with the transferred data; (7) third circuit means linking the control centre to the programmable switch means to programme the latter in response to the transferred data, so that a control signal capable of initiating the displayed machine function is generated if the appropriate region of the touch sensitive pad designated by the display is touched; and (8) fourth circuit means extending from the control panel for connection to the machine, to convey thereto the control signals generated by touching the programmable switch means, to initiate the selected function.
5. A control panel as claimed in any of the preceding claims, in which each different region of the programmed display appears as a push button or a key of a keypad.
6. A control panel for a machine as claimed in any of claims 1 to 5, wherein each region in the display is labelled by legend, icons, letters and/or numerals to indicate the function associated therewith
7. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 1 to 6, which also includes a programmable visual display device such as an LCD panel, CRT display or the like, for displaying messages, and further circuit means is provided for driving the display to form therein legends, letters, numerals and the like to indicate to the user either the machine status, a function performed by the machine, the satisfactory operation of the machine after a function has been performed, and/or error messages or instructional messages.
8. A control panel as indicated in any of claims 1 to 7, wherein the programmable display is devoid of keyboard or push button defining information until after data has been transferred from a data carrier.
9. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 1 to 8, wherein a basic keypad or push button array is displayed in the programmable display as a default condition allowing at least one basic machine function to be performed and insertion of data from a data carrier causes an alteration of the programmable display so as to correspond to the machine functions to be permitted by that particular data carrier.
10. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 1 to 9, wherein the generation or transmission of a control signal to initiate a machine function is inhibited until a PIN number or other code has been entered.
11. A control panel as claimed in claim 10, wherein the display includes a plurality of regions indicative of a keypad for entering a PIN number and the programmable switch panel is programmed with resident data to set up the appropriate regions in the switch panel te allow numerical information entered via the keypad to be available for cancelling the said inhibition.
12. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 1 to 11, which includes a dedicated keypad, separate from the programmable display and touch sensitive switch panel, for entry of a PIN number or other code.
13. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 1 to 12, wherein each displayed key or button region possesses a double strike characteristic in which a first touch of the displayed region indicates a function which the displayed region will cause the machine to perform, and a second touch of the same region whilst the related functionality is displayed instigates the machine function or a sequence of functions.
14. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 1 to 12, wherein touching a displayed key or button causes an indication of the associated function to be displayed, and a further switch with associated key or button is provided which if touched after any one of the displayed keys or buttons has been touched will cause the identified function to be performed.
15. A control panel as claimed in claim 14, wherein the further switch is part of the programmable switch panel and an appropriate region in the programmable display identifies the part of the switch panel which is to be touched so as to instigate the function which has been selected and identified by touching one of the other display "keys.
16. A control panel as claimed in claim 14, wherein the further switch is separate from the programmable switch panel and comprises a conventional push button switch or the like.
17. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 4 to 16, wherein the data carrier receptor is a device into which a data carrier can be inserted.
18. A control panel as claimed any of claims 4 to 17, wherein the data carrier is a machine readable card.
19. A control panel as claimed in claim 18, in which the data carrier receptor is a card reader and withdrawal (or ejection) of a card is inhibited until a PIN number has been entered.
20. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 4 to 16, wherein the data carrier comprises an encapsulated microchip memory device which can be read or written to by making touching contact with a cooperating contact device, which forms the data carrier receptor, or a part thereof.
21. A control panel as claimed in claim 20, wherein the encapsulated microchip memory is encrypted with ID data and function determining programming data.
22. A control panel as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein the touch sensitive switch panel is an analogue device or includes X Y infra-red beams or a cross bar switch made up of two or more planes of conductors defining X and Y coordinates and which are brought into contact by point pressure on a flexible membrane forming or forming part of the panel.
23. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 4 to 22, wherein the data carrier includes additional data storage means in which credit information is stored and which is transferred as additional data to the control centre in the machine.
24. A control panel as claimed in claim 23, wherein the data carrier can be written to by reverse transfer of data from the machine to the data carrier and the control panel includes means for generating data to be written back to the data carrier to comprise a new credit amount, after the machine has been operated.
25. A control panel as claimed In claim 24, wherein any credit held within the data carrier is transferred to a machine control centre memory on a first contact of the data carrier with the receptor and any credit remaining after a machine function has been selected and the machine has performed the selected function is transferred back to the data carrier via the receptor upon touching the receptor a second time by the data carrier, after the machine function has been performed.
26. A control panel as claimed in claim 24 wherein the data carrier is in the form of a card or other device which is inserted for the duration of the use of the machine and the credit contained therein is debited and re-written in response to each machine function instructed whilst the data carrier is in place, so that the new credit level is written to the data carrier before it is removed.
27. A control panel as claimed in claim 26, wherein means is provided by which a PIN number and further credit information can be entered and transferred as data to the data carrier, to allow the carrier to be re-used.
28. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 4 to 27, wherein the data transferred from the data carrier to the control centre memory is such as to cause a succession of two or more separate machine functions to be initiated in a prearranged sequence, when the switch panel region corresponding to a key or button in the display is touched.
29. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 1 to 28, which is adapted to be fitted to a machine in place of a standard control panel normally fitted thereto.
30. A control panel for replacing a conventional control panel in an office machine, comprising a data receptor, a display within which a keyboard representation appears upon transferring data from a data carrier via the data receptor, wherein each key is labelled with a machine function, a touch responsive switch panel associated with the display whereby finger pressure applied to a region of the panel results in a control signal being generated, an electrical signal connector means for conveying the control signal to a component part of a machine for initiating the machine function (or a sequence of functions of which the machine is capable), corresponding to the label of the key associated with the touched region.
31. A replacement control panel for use with an office machine which includes a master control unit therewithin for instigating different functions which the machine is capable of performing, which master unit is normally connected to a central control unit in the original suppliers control panel by a flexible multiway cable with at least one multiway connector between the master unit and the control unit in the panel and to at least one part of which the cable is connected, wherein the replacement control panel is constructed as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 28, and includes an appropriate multiway connector part whereby the replacement control panel can be electrically connected to the machine by disconnecting the multiway connector part associated with the individual panel, and connecting in place the multiway connector part associated with the replacement panel.
32. A replacement control panel as claimed in claim 31, wherein the multiway connector part associated with the replacement control panel is connected thereto by way of a multiwav cable.
33. A control panel for an office machine which includes a slot to receive a data carrier, a window through which visible data printed or embossed or otherwise carried by the data carrier is visible as a keyboard or keypad when the data carrier is inserted in the slot, pressure sensitive membrane switch means in registry with the window and therefore the keyboard or keypad visible therein, electrical circuit means adapted by information derived from the data carrier to set up signal paths in the membrane switch means to define at least one electrical switch which is zlosed by touching or pressing on a designated area in the visible keyboard or keypad to produce a control signal for supply to circuit means within the machine to produce one of the functions of which the machine is capable.
34. A control panel as claimed in claim 33, wherein the data carrier Includes machine readable information for programming the electric circuit means asscciated with the membrane switch means and associated with the data carrier receiving slot is a reading means for deriving information from the data carrier for setting up the membrane switch means in accordance with the keyboard or keypad represented on the data carrier.
35. A control panel as claimed in claim 33 or 34, wherein the visible data is printed on a card or other planar device to be visible in the window when the data carrier is inserted in the slot and appears as a visual representation of push buttons or keys of a keyboard or keypad.
36. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 35, wherein each push button of key representation includes printed data labelling the key concerned.
37. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 36, further including means for illuminating the data carrier either from above or below or along one or more of its edges so as to cause printing or embossing thereon to be visible.
38. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 37, which further includes a programmable visual display unit such as an LCD panel, CRT display or the like for displaying messages and additional circuit means is provided for driving the display to form therein legends, letters, numerals and the like so as to indicate to the user the status of the machine, a function which can be performed by the machine, satisfactory operation of the machine after a function has been performed and/or error messages and instructions messages to the user.
39. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 38, wherein transport means is provided to receive a data carrier after it has been partially inserted into the receiving slot to move the data carrier in to the correct position in the machine in registry with the window and the membrane switch means.
40. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 39, which further includes a projection system and a screen on which printed or photographically formed information on the data carrier can be projected, and the membrane switch means is located in close proximity to the screen.
41. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 39, wherein the screen and membrane switch panel are adjacent and the membrane panel is marked with visual markings indicating regions corresponding to regions which will be numerically or otherwise identified in the display on the screen indicating the function which will be performed if the corresponding region in the touch sensitive membrane is pressed by the user.
42. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 39, wherein the touch sensitive membrane is located in registry with the screen and when a projected image of the data carrier is formed thereon, appropriate regions of the membrane are identified as outline buttons or keys and suitably identified with letters or numerals or both to indicate the function which will be performed if that region of the membrane is pressed by the user.
43. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 42, wherein the data carrier comprises a cardboard or thin plastics card having printed cn one face information indicative of the key or keys which are to appear in the window and on the reverse side, machine readable data such as bar codes or the like which are read by a card reader associated with the slot upon insertion of the card into the machine, whereby the machine functions are limited to those indicated on the key or keys which appear in the window.
44. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 42, wherein the data carrier comprises a cardboard or thin plastics card having a photographically printed transparency region through which light can be projected to form an image of the printing of the transparency on a screen or other image forming device associated with the membrane switch means for denoting the machine functions and the areas of the membrane device which are to be pressed in order to instigate the identified function or functions.
45. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 44, wherein the data carrier includes payment or credit data stored thereon related to the machine function or functions which are to be permitted when the data carrier is inserted, and data carrier piercing or shredding means is provided for rendering useless or actually destroying the data carrier after it has been used and the payment or credit data stored thereon has been exhausted.
46. A control panel as claimed in any of claims 33 to 44, which includes means for storing intact in a reservoir in the machine all data carriers inserted therein and in respect of which all credit data has been exhausted.
47. An office machine when fitted with a control panel as claimed i any of the preceding claims 1 to 46.
48. An office machine having a removable standard control panel having a keypad associated therewith for selecting any of a large number of machine functions, in which the standard control panel has been disconnected from the main control centre of the machine and removed and replaced with a replacement non-standard control panel having a reduced number of machine function permitting keys, which has means for connecting it to the main machine control centre.
49. An office machine when fitted with a control panel as claimed in any of claims 1 to 32 in combination with a plurality of different data carriers each in the form of an encapsulated microchip memory device whereby touching the memory device to the data entry contact results in a different keyboard or keypad to be displayed in the display and the related machine functions to be available upon touching or pressing the associated regions of the pressure sensitive switch panel.
50. A method of adapting an office machine having an original manufacturers control panel offering a plurality of functions, selectable and initiated by operating user operated switch means thereon so as to convey signals or establish electrical signal paths to a conventional master control unit in the machine, to a machine have only one or a lesser number of functions, involving the steps of replacing the original manufacturers control panel with a replacement control panel which contains switch means and circuit means restricted to one or said lesser number of functions, and wherein control signals or electrical paths are generated when the replacement panel switch means is operated, which are sufficient only to instigate the said one or a selected one of the lesser number of functions, and conductor means connect the replacement panel switch means and circuit means to the said conventional master control unit.
51. A method of customising a complex office machine which is capable of performing N different functions and which includes a removable control panel and electrical connections between it and a computer based controller, which thereby provides operator controlled switches for selecting by means of the controller from the N different functions available, comprising the steps of removing the control panel, breaking the electrical connection between it and the computer based controller, and fitting to the machine a replacement control panel having a programmable switch array by which only n of the N optional functions are made available to the user, (where n is greater than or equal to 1 but is less than N).
52. A method as claimed in claim 51, wherein the replacement control panel includes electronic means for programming the switch array and an electrical data signal input device, and the method further comprises the steps of entering data from a memory device into the electronic programming means to determine the functions to be available in the switch array.
53. A method as claimed in claim 52, wherein a first memory device is used to enter data permitting a basic set of machine functions and other memory devices containing other data are employed to enter said other data to programme the electronic means to provide different and/or additional operator controllable switches in the said switch array, thereby to provide to the user different and/or additional functions from those available within the machine.
54. A method as claimed in claim 53, wherein a first memory device is connected to a first data input device and subsequent memory devices are connected to a second data input device.
55. A method as claimed in claim 54, wherein additional circuit means is provided for sensing if a subsequent different memory device is connected, said circuit means generating signals to override the display generating control signals provided from data from a first memory device, to substitute therefor display generating signals derived from the subsequent memory device, whereby the displayed keyboard will be upgraded or downgraded to whatever level is dictated by the last memory device to be employed.
56. A method of setting up an office machine when fitted with a control panel as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 32, comprising the steps of placing the machine in a learn mode in which machine functions instigated by pressing on appropriate regions of the display will be stored in a further memory, comprising the steps of pressing in sequence each of two or more different displayed key or push button regions, allocating the stored sequence of functions to a displayed function key, connecting a portable memory device to the machine and transferring a stored sequence of data from the memory to the portable memory device, disconnecting the portable memory device and allocating the now programmed portable memory device to a user so that when the user wishes to use the machine to perform the programmed sequence of functions, it is only necessary for the user te connect the portable memory device to the machine and press the appropriate function key in the display.
57. A method as claimed in claim 56, wherein the data stored in the portable device also includes data for generating legends or other information in the display in conjunction with the display button or key so that the future user is aware of the programmed sequence of commands associated therewith.
58. A method as claimed in claim 56 or 57, wherein a keyboard is provided in the machine, or as part of the control panel, or as a separate item which is adapted to be plugged into the control panel or the machine, to permit the entry of data.
59. A method as claimed in any of claims 56 to 58, wherein the learn mode can only be entered after a PIN number or other code has been entered, either by way of a keyboard or by using one or more of the displayed keys or push buttons.
60. A method as claimed In any of claims 56 to 59 wherein at least one of the displayed keys comprises the programmable function key and provision is made for displaying in words or legends the programmed functionality of a function key after it is programmed, either in the display associated with the touch sensitive membrane switch panel, or in a separate dispay.
GB9711376A 1996-06-04 1997-06-03 Control and display panel for office equipment Withdrawn GB2313925A (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GBGB9611575.3A GB9611575D0 (en) 1996-06-04 1996-06-04 Improvements in and relating to office machines
GBGB9618041.9A GB9618041D0 (en) 1996-08-29 1996-08-29 Improvements in and relating to office machines
GBGB9624953.7A GB9624953D0 (en) 1996-11-29 1996-11-29 Improvements in and relating to office machines

Publications (2)

Publication Number Publication Date
GB9711376D0 GB9711376D0 (en) 1997-07-30
GB2313925A true GB2313925A (en) 1997-12-10

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EP (1) EP0902916A1 (en)
AU (1) AU2972897A (en)
GB (1) GB2313925A (en)
WO (1) WO1997046917A1 (en)

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Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
WO1997046917A1 (en) 1997-12-11
EP0902916A1 (en) 1999-03-24
AU2972897A (en) 1998-01-05
GB9711376D0 (en) 1997-07-30

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