GB2524098A - A communications system - Google Patents

A communications system Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2524098A
GB2524098A GB1404644.5A GB201404644A GB2524098A GB 2524098 A GB2524098 A GB 2524098A GB 201404644 A GB201404644 A GB 201404644A GB 2524098 A GB2524098 A GB 2524098A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
device
user
change
surface
physical sensation
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GB1404644.5A
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GB201404644D0 (en
Inventor
Kaveh Memari
Ian Murison
Adrian Bennett
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Product Works Ltd
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Product Works Ltd
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Priority to GB1404644.5A priority Critical patent/GB2524098A/en
Publication of GB201404644D0 publication Critical patent/GB201404644D0/en
Publication of GB2524098A publication Critical patent/GB2524098A/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B6/00Tactile signalling systems, e.g. personal calling systems
    • GPHYSICS
    • G08SIGNALLING
    • G08BSIGNALLING OR CALLING SYSTEMS; ORDER TELEGRAPHS; ALARM SYSTEMS
    • G08B3/00Audible signalling systems; Audible personal calling systems
    • G08B3/10Audible signalling systems; Audible personal calling systems using electric transmission; using electromagnetic transmission

Abstract

A first device 10 has a touch sensitive surface 12 adapted to sense an input gesture provided by a user, and a transmitter for sending a signal indicative of the sensed input gesture. A second wearable device 20 comprises a receiver responsive to receiving a signal indicative of an input gesture provided by a user of the first device; and a physical sensation imparting surface 23 adapted to impart a physical sensation to a user of the second wearable device. The physical sensation imparting surface changes state based on the input gesture provided by a user of the first device. A change of state may comprise: a change in temperature, a simulated change in surface texture, a movement that causes a change in position of a part of the physical sensation imparting surface relative to another part of the physical sensation imparting surface, and a change in electrical charge. The system thus provides an alternative means of communication in which a user can relay a particular motion or action to another user without using text or audible communications.

Description

Intellectual Property Office Application No. GB1404644.5 RTTVT Date:3 September 2014 The following terms are registered trade marks and should be read as such wherever they occur in this document: Bluetooth Intellectual Property Office is an operating name of the Patent Office www.ipo.govuk

A COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM

Field of Invention

The present invention relates to a communications system, preferably a wireless communications system.

Backciround to the Invention There are a number of ways for people to communicate through wireless communications, for example. Over short distances, short-range radio devices can be used, and over longer distances, cellular telephones, pagers or, increasingly, communication via the internet using smartphones, for example.

Each of these examples typically involves one person sending a written or audio message to the other person using a communications device. In the case of a mobile phone, pager, or short-range radio a user will carry the device on their person.

These methods generally rely on sound, visual display or vibration to notify the user that a communication has been received. In some cases, the nature of the sound or vibration will depend on the nature of the communication or message. For example, receiving a text-based message may result in a particular arrangement of audible, visual or vibratory alerts, whereas a telephone call may result in a different arrangement. Other examples include devices that are provided for a limited purpose, such as pagers provided in restaurants for patrons waiting for tables; such pagers may only vibrate, visually alert or provide an audible alert to inform the user that a

table is ready.

Summary of the invention

The present invention provides a communications system, a wearable device and method as defined in the independent claims.

According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a communications system comprising a first device comprising a touch sensitive surface adapted to sense an input gesture provided by a user of the first device, and a transmitter adapted to transmit a signal indicative of the sensed input gesture. The system further comprises a second wearable device comprising a receiver responsive to receiving a signal indicative of an input gesture provided by a user of the first device, and a physical sensation imparting surface adapted to impart a physical sensation to a user of the second wearable device, physical sensation imparting surface comprises an arrangement for changing a state of the physical sensation imparting surface based on the input gesture provided by a user of the first device, a change of state comprising least one of: a change in temperature; a simulated change in surface texture; a movement that causes a change in position of a part of the physical sensation imparting surface relative to another part of the physical sensation imparting surface; and a change in electrical charge.

Embodiments therefore provide a system in which a first device capable of detecting an input gesture can be used to communicate with a second wearable device, the second device being capable of relaying the communication to the user through a change in the state of a surface capable of imparting a physical sensation to a user based on the input gesture detected by the first device. This provides a system in which alternative means of presenting a communication can be used and in which a user can relay a particular motion or action to another user without using text or audible communications. The physical sensation imparting surface can relay the communication via providing the user with a perceived or real change in temperature of the surface; by simulating a change in the texture of the surface and/or by moving a part of the physical sensation imparting surface.

The present invention utilizes a process referred to here as "state adaptation," by which a group of two or more devices use wireless networks to adopt a closely related or common changed state. A person with one device can make a change to their own, which in turn causes a change in other devices in the group. Groups of two or more devices thus affect, and are affected by, one or more of the other devices in the group, regardless of separation distance. This state adaptation is preferably accomplished over a wireless communications network. In some embodiments, this may be achieved through a combination of short-and long-range communications means, such as a combination of shod-range communication means, such as Bluetooth, and long-range communications, such as a cellular network. For instance, in an embodiment a device may be connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone, the smartphone being connected to a cellular network or Gestures are ways to invoke an action, similar to clicking a toolbar button or typing a keyboard shortcut. Gestures may be performed with a pointing device (including but not limited to a mouse, stylus, hand and/or finger). A gesture typically has a shape, pose or movement associated with it and may comprise a unique physical touch across a touch surface. Such a gesture may be as simple as a stationary pose or a straight line movement or as complicated as a series of movements or poses. Computer systems may comprise touch-sensitive sensors such as a touch screen or a touch-sensitive surface for detecting user inputs and/or gestures. Such sensors can be arranged to continuously capture signals from the surrounding environment.

Robust detection of user inputs and/or gestures is therefore a factor that can influence a user's interaction experience with a system.

By based on the input gesture it is meant that the nature and parameters of the input gesture define the nature of the communication received. In other words, in some examples, the second wearable communications device may mimic the gesture provided on the first device.

For example, if a user were to gesture a particular shape, the second wearable device would provide an output that imitates the gesture or provides an effect that is similar to the effect of the gesture. Further examples include imparted sensations such as if a user were to hold the first device tightly, the second wearable device would warm and/or if the user were to tap the first device, a portion of the second device would relay a tapping sensation to the user of the second device. In other words, imparted sensations may be stimuli feelings that the device causes the user to experience and that do not involve audible or visual stimuli. For example, sensations imparted on a user by a wearable device may include a (perceived) change in temperature, a simulated change in surface texture, or a feeling of movement against the skin.

Thus, based on the input gesture means that the second wearable device will have a change in physical state that reflects the nature of the original input gesture or a predetermined output based on the type of gesture.

In an embodiment, the change in the physical state of the second wearable device may be in a manner that is representative of the input gesture provided by a user of the first device.

By wearable it is meant that the device can be worn on a user's body (on or under clothing). In other words, the device is adapted such that it is carried on a user's body.

Embodiments of the invention may therefore provide an alternative means of relaying communications and provide an alternative way in which persons can relay their thoughts, emotions or communications without resorting to text or voice based messages. Embodiments may also provide a communications means that is conveniently worn by a user. Embodiments may also provide a means of communication that can be used to subtly and/or secretly relay communications without a requirement to view a screen or have an audible output. In particular, as the communications hardware may be embedded within the unit, the data passed between two units may not have to be manually composed by the user and thus the use of microphones, speakers, or general purpose displays and keypads (i.e., alphanumeric or other complex input and readout display) may not be required.

In an embodiment, the input gesture comprises at least one of a drawn shape, a drag, a pinch, a stroke, a tap, a grasp, a rub, a kiss, a hold, and a tickle. Thus, multiple types of gesture can be used to communicate with the second wearable device and the second wearable device will have a change in physical state.

In another embodiment, the transmitter transmits to the second device via a wireless communication network. Thus, the communication between the first device and the second wearable device may be achieved across long or short distances.

In another embodiment, the change in state is non-textual and inaudible. In this embodiment, the invention may provide a means of relaying a communication in a non-standard fashion. By inaudible it is meant that the device is not adapted to provide an audible sound. However, this may not exclude unintentional sounds, for example, which result from a mechanical movement of parts of the device.

In another embodiment, the first device is wearable. This may provide a system in which two wearable devices can communicate and an input provided on the first wearable device can be relayed and replicated on the second wearable device, for instance.

In another embodiment, at least one of the first device and second wearable device is a bracelet.

In another embodiment, the first and second devices are mated with each other such that the signal that is transmitted from the first device goes to the second device and not to other devices of a similar or different type. This may provide a secure communications network In another embodiment, the second wearable device is devoid of user controllable buttons or other user input interfaces.

In another embodiment, the second wearable device further comprises a touch sensitive surface and transmitter substantially similar to those of the first device, and the first device further comprises a receiver and physical sensation imparting surface substantially similar to those of the second device, such that the second wearable device can transmit to the first device a signal indicative of an input gesture provided by a user of the second wearable device. This may provide a two-way communications arrangement in which an input gesture received on either the first or second device can be relayed to the other device.

In another embodiment, the second device is devoid of a touch sensitive surface and transmitter, and thus the transmission of a signal indicative of indicative of the sensed input gesture can only go one way from the first device to the second wearable device.

In another embodiment, the physical sensation imparting surface comprises at least one of an array of off-centre cams, an array of pistons, a driven member driven in two-dimensions by a drive shaft, a driven member driven in two-dimensions by a drive shaft having a movable portion movable in a third-dimension, a rotatable platform having protrusions located thereon, an array of movable pins, a resistive element, and an ultrasonic surface resistance modifier.

The invention in a second aspect provides a wearable device comprising a receiver responsive to receiving a signal indicative of an input gesture provided by a user of a further device, and a physical sensation imparting surface adapted to impart a physical sensation to a user of the second wearable device, wherein the physical sensation imparting surface comprises an arrangement for changing a state of the physical sensation imparting surface based on the input gesture provided by a user of the first device, a change of state comprising at least one of: a change in temperature; a simulated change in surface texture; a movement that causes a change in position of a part of the physical sensation imparting surface relative to another part of the physical sensation imparting surface; and a change in electrical charge.

In an embodiment, the wearable device is devoid of user controllable buttons or other user input interfaces.

In another embodiment, the wearable device of claim may further comprise a touch sensitive surface adapted to sense an input gesture provided by a user of the wearable device and a transmitter adapted to transmit a signal indicative of the sensed input gesture.

In a third aspect of the invention, there is provided a method comprising sensing, via a touch sensitive surface of a first device, an input gesture by a user of the first device; transmitting, from the first device, a signal indicative of the sensed input gesture; receiving, at a second wearable device, the signal indicative of the sensed input gesture; and changing the state of a physical sensation imparting surface of the second wearable device in a manner that is based on the sensed input gesture; wherein the change in state of the physical sensation imparting surface of the second wearable device includes at least one of: change in temperature; a simulated change in surface texture; a movement that causes a change in position of a part of the physical sensation imparting surface relative to another part of the physical sensation imparting surface; and a change in electrical charge.

In an embodiment, an input gesture comprises at least one of: a drawn shape; a drag; a pinch;a stroke; a tap; a grasp; a rub; a kiss; a hold; and a tickle.

In another embodiment, the signal indicative of the sensed input gesture is transmitted via a wireless communication network.

In another embodiment, the change in state is non-textual and inaudible.

In another embodiment, the first device is wearable. In another embodiment, at least one of the first device and second wearable device is a bracelet.

In another embodiment, the first and second devices are mated with each other such that the signal transmitted from the first device goes to the second wearable device and not to other devices of a similar or different type.

In another embodiment, the second wearable device is devoid of user controllable buttons or other user input interfaces.

Brief description of the drawings

An example of the invention will now be described with reference to the accompanying diagrams, in which: FIG. 1A shows perspective views of wearable embodiments of the invention; FIG. 1 B shows a plan view of an embodiment of the invention; FIG. 2 shows an embodiment of the invention being worn by a user; FIG. 3 shows communication between embodiments of the invention; FIG. 4 shows communication between embodiments of the invention; FIG. 5 shows an embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in accordance with the invention; FIG. 6 shows an embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in accordance with the invention; FIG. 7A shows an embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in accordance with the invention; FIG. 7B shows an embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in accordance with the invention; FIG. BA shows an embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in accordance with the invention; FIG. 8B shows an embodiment of the invention; FIG. 9 shows an embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in accordance with the invention; FIG. 10 shows an embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in accordance with the invention; FIG. 11 shows an embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in accordance with the invention; FIG. 12 shows communication between embodiments of the invention; FIG. 13 shows communication between embodiments of the invention; FIG. 14 shows a perspective view of another wearable embodiment of the invention; and FIG. 15 shows a front view of another wearable embodiment of the invention.

Detailed description

FIG. 1A illustrates an example of a pair of communication devices according to the present invention. The devices in this embodiment are a first bracelet 10 and a second bracelet 20. The bracelets 10, 20 are of a similar size to a typical wrist watch and, in some embodiments, the bracelets may have a simple, low-tech appearance or alternatively may be styled with a more styled or branded appearance. The bracelets 10, 20 are provided with no visible writing, or buttons when worn. In this embodiment, the bracelets 10, each have a touch-sensitive surface 12, 22 that covers at least a portion of the outer surfaces of the bracelets 12, 22. It will be appreciated that in further embodiments the touch-sensitive surfaces 12, 22 may cover the entire outward facing surface of the bracelets 10, 20. In this embodiment, the touch-sensitive surface is a. touch-pad 12, 22 having a tactile sensor. However, it will be appreciated that in other embodiments, other surfaces may be utilized, such as a touchscreen.

The bracelets 10, 20 further comprise a processor, a transmitter and a receiver (not shown) and an attachment means (not shown). An example of an attachment means is shown as buckle 16 in FIG. 2. The processor, transmitter and receiver are hidden within the bracelets 10, 20 and are thus not visible. These components are all standard and known components and therefore it will be appreciated that any known communication means may be employed and a processor may be any suitable processing means known in the art. Thus, a transmitter and receiver may be a single component and the processor may be part of the transmitter and/or receiver.

On the inner surface of the bracelets 10, 20 is also provided a physical sensation imparting surface 13, 23. In this embodiment, the physical sensation imparting surfaces 13, 23 are radially aligned. However, in alternative embodiments, the size of the touch-sensitive surfaces 12, 22 are completely unrelated to size the physical sensation imparting surfaces 13, 23.

As shown in FIG. 1B, the physical sensation imparting surface 23 of the second bracelet 20 comprises a movable portion 24 on its inner surface, the movable portion 24 being movable in all directions along the physical sensation imparting surface, including, for example, the direction indicated by the double-headed arrow A. A movable portion is also provided on the physical sensation imparting surface 13 of the first bracelet 10 (not shown).

The physical sensation imparting surfaces 13, 23 of the bracelets 10, are intended to change state such that a sensation is imparted on the user.

In this embodiment, the change of state is the movement of moveable portion 24. This is in response to a communication being received by the receiver of the second bracelet 20 from the first bracelet 10 and the movement of the moveable portion 24 is based on the signal received from the first bracelet 10.

As shown in FIG. 2, in use the bracelets 10, 20 are designed to be worn on the wrist of a user and secured by attachment means 16. The touch-sensitive surfaces 12, 22 are adapted such that they can detect a gesture and various parameters associated therewith, including the direction, velocity and pressure of the gesture. Thus, when a gesture is detected by the touch-sensitive surfaces 12 of the first bracelet 10 (see FIG. 3), the processor of the first bracelet 10 can encode a signal containing information regarding the nature and parameters of the gesture and transmit a signal encoding the gesture data to the second bracelet 20.

In this embodiment, the bracelets 10, 20 are mated such that only the mated device receive the signal, even if there are a number of types of devices in the vicinity that are not so mated. This transmission can be provided by conventional, digital, radio frequency communication technology, such as that used in paging, cellular, PCS, or satellite communications networks, including, for instance, Bluetooth.

FIG. 3 illustrates a communications system in accordance with the present invention. FIG. 3 depicts a user rubbing the touch-sensitive surface 12 of the first communication device (bracelet 10) using a forwards and backwards motion, as indicated by double-headed arrow B. The processor of the first bracelet 10 then determines the motion of the gesture and transmits the data via the transmitter to the second bracelet 20, to which it is mated.

Accordingly, once a gesture has been detected by a touch-sensitive surface 12, it can be encoded by the processor and transmitted to the other bracelet is 20.

Transfer of the signal relating to the gesture is transferred over a wireless communication network (C"). In this embodiment, the wireless communication is achieved via a combination of networks. In particular, bracelets 10, 20 may each be connected to a different mobile telephone/smartphone via Bluetooth, for instance. Thus, if the bracelets 10, are out of range and cannot connect to one another via Bluetooth, the transmission range may be increased by utilizing the cellular network of the mobile phones, or via a wireless internet connection, for example, via GPRS.

The transmitter of the bracelets 10, 20 may therefore use a low-power communications means for sending and receiving signals to and from the mobile phone/smartphone, which then performs the higher-power transmission to the network. Such a design would reduce the cost of manufacture, weight and the design constraints. Alternatively, the transmitter of the first bracelet 10 may communicate directly with the second bracelet 20 using a long-range communications means such as via a cellular network. In another embodiment, the device may comprise both shod-range and long-range communication means. Thus, in scenarios where the bracelets are located close to each other, the use of a wireless network to route signals may be unnecessary and thus the short-range connection may be utilized. In this case, the devices bypasses a long-range wireless communication network and transmits signals to any mated devices directly. As the communications hardware is embedded within the unit, the data passed between two units is not manually composed by the user and thus the use of microphones, speakers, or general purpose displays and keypads (i.e., alphanumeric or other complex input and readout display) are not necessary.

The receiver in the second bracelet 20 thus receives the encoded signal, which can be subsequently decoded by the processor to determine the nature and parameters of the gesture. In this example, as the gesture was a stroking back and forth, the physical sensation imparting surface 23 relays a corresponding motion that relates to the gesture input on the touch-sensitive surface 12 of the first bracelet 10, via moveable portion 24. Thus, the moveable portion 24 moves in a way so as to mimic the movement of the user's finger on touch-sensitive surface 12, providing a physical, tactile sensation. The bracelets 10, 20 thus provide a communications system in which a change an input on one device affects the states of at least one other device. While in this embodiment the output of the physical sensation imparting surface 23 of the second bracelet 20 is based on that of the input received by the touch-sensitive screen 12 of the first bracelet 10, the second bracelet 20 may repeat the output until the user responds or may repeat the output for a certain number of iterations.

FIG. 4 shows a communications system in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. As shown, an alternative gesture used in conjunction with the present invention may be a tap and hold gesture (Arrow "D") or simply a tap (or repeated tap) gesture (Arrow "E"). In this example, the moveable portion 24 of the second bracelet 20 may tap the wearer in a similar fashion to the gesture provided on the first bracelet 10. In this embodiment, the communications between the bracelets 10, 20 are provided via direct peer-to-peer connection ("C").

As will be appreciated, with a touch sensitive surface 12, other input gestures can be detected and communicated to the second bracelet 20. For example, additional gestures include a drawn shape, a drag, a pinch, a stroke, a grasp, a rub, a kiss, a tickle. Thus, the touch-sensitive surface can use touch parameters, such as duration of gesture, surface area covered, movement (direction, acceleration, distance, speed), shape, number of contact points and other parameters to determine the nature and type of the gesture.

In further embodiments, so as to prolong the battery life of the first and second devices, the bracelets 10 and 20 may remain in a low-power "standby mode" in which they await an input from either the touch sensitive surface or from the receiver. Activation of the bracelets 10, 20 therefore occurs when an incoming communication is received or when the user provides an input gesture. In some embodiments, a user may provide a wake up tap" or gesture and subsequently provide the input gesture. Alternatively, there may be an additional switch that may activate the devices.

Many variations on the communication systems of FIG. 1A to 4 are possible by substituting or supplementing the above system with different variations on the physical sensation imparting surfaces 13, 23.

In one embodiment of a communications device shown in FIG. 5, the physical sensation imparting surface 43 of the device comprises an array of off-centre cams 40 driven by a motor (not shown) located beneath (i.e. on the opposite side to the surface the user will contact) a deformable surface 42.

Thus, as an off-centre cam 40 is rotated, the distance between the deformable surface 42 and an axis 41 about which the cam 40 rotates is increased due to the shape of the cam 40. As the axis 41 is fixed, the deformable surface 42 is deformed such that it rises (indicated for example by arrows G) and sinks as it follows the movement of the cam 40, resulting in a feeling or sensation of movement on the physical sensation imparting surface 43. Therefore, when the device receives a signal, the physical sensation imparting surface 43 imparts a sensation to the user by rotating the off-centre cams 40 against the deformable surface 42. While only a cross-section is shown in FIG. 5, it will be appreciated that the cams 40 may be arranged in an array comprising numerous rows of independently moveable cams 40 such that the effect of movement can be imparted across three-dimensions of the physical sensation imparting surface 43. This raising and lowering effect may be provided on one portion of the physical sensation imparting surface 43 at a time, or may be provided on multiple portions of the physical sensation imparting surface 43 simultaneously.

In another embodiment, a communications device shown in FIG. 6 has a physical sensation imparting surface 53 comprising an array of pistons 50 located beneath a deformable outer surface 52. In order for the physical sensation imparting surface 53 to impart a sensation of movement on a user, the pistons 50 may be driven by a motor outwardly and inwardly so as to deform and move the deforrnable outer surface 52, to provide a similar effect to the off-centre cam embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5. The dimensions of the pistons 50 (and the cams in the embodiment of FIG. 5) can be altered depending on the level of responsiveness and accuracy of movement required in the device. Accordingly, a highly responsive physical sensation imparting surface 53 with a fluid movement imparting mechanism can be provided by using pistons 50 or cams 40 of a smaller dimension. However, unlike the cams, using a smaller piston 50 does not limit the displacement or deformation of the deformable surface 42, 52 that can occur, since the height of the pistons 50 can be adjusted without alternating the number of pistons 50 contacting the deformable surface 50.

In further embodiments depicted in FIG. 7A and 7B, the sensation of movement may be provided by a driven member or shaped object 60, 70 which is driven by a drive shaft 61, 71, the shaped object 60, 70 being located below a deformable surface 62, 72 and shaped such that the object deforms the deformable surface 62, 72 when pressed against the deformable surface 62, 72. In the embodiment of FIG. 7A, the shaped object 60 has a bulbous shape and is mounted on a drive shaft 61 such that can move in two-dimensions across the deformable surface 62 (in other words, it can move in any direction parallel to the surface 62 but cannot move in a direction perpendicular to the surface 62). The two-dimensional aspect may be achieved by rotating the drive shaft 61, as illustrated by the arrow H'. The shaped object 60 is sized such that when mounted on the drive member 61, the object 60 is already deforming the deformable surface 62 and therefore, in this embodiment, there will always be a portion of the deformable surface 62 that is being deformed. When a signal is received by the communications device, the shaped object 60 is moved (for example in the direction "H") by the drive shaft across the deformable surface 62, thereby imparting the sensation of movement (for example, in direction "H") on the user as the user touches the physical sensation imparting surface 63.

In the embodiment of FIG. 7B, the means by which a physical sensation is imparted by the physical sensation imparting surface 73 is similar to that of the embodiment of FIG. 7A, with the exception that shaped object 70 (which, in this embodiment, has a cuboidal shape) comprises a movable portion 74, that can be moved in an upwards (e.g. direction "I") or downwards direction by an actuator (not shown). This enables the shaped object 70, and thus the physical sensation imparting surface 73, to provide a three-dimensional movement of the deformable surface 72. The actuator may be any actuating means known in the art, such as a piston, a shape memory alloy, a piezo electric actuator or any other means. Thus, when the communications device of this embodiment receives a communication, the shaped object 70 moves along a two-dimensional arrangement under the influence of the drive shaft 71 and the movable portion 74 moves under the influence of the actuator so as to deform the surface and provide the sensation of movement for the user.

Another embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface is shown in FIGs. BA and SB. Here, the physical sensation imparting surface 83 comprises an array of off-centre cams 80 that are arranged along a drive shaft 81. In this embodiment, the off-centre cams 80 are arranged in a wave-like arrangement, such that the deformable surface 82 has a wave like structure.

This is achieved by having the off-centre cams 80 arranged along the drive shaft in a non-uniform fashion, as can be seen in FIG. 8A. Thus, when the drive shaft 81 rotates, the cams move the deformable surface 82 in the directions represented by arrows G and G'. It will therefore be appreciated that this will result in movement of the deformable surface 82 across the length of the drive shaft.

FIG. 9 depicts another embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface in which a circular disc 90 having a raised portion 91 is provided beneath a deformable surface 92. The disc 90 may rotate about a pivot 94, which moves the position of the raised portion 91. Thus, as the disc 90 is rotated in the direction J, the raised portion 91 moves under the deformable surface 92 deforming the deformable surface 92 outwardly at different positions. In certain embodiments, there may be only a single disc 90 or, alternatively, there may be multiple discs 90 in the physical sensation imparting surface 93.

FIG. 10 depicts a physical sensation imparting surface 98 having a matrix of holes 99 in a substrate 95. In this embodiment, the substrate 95 forms the outer surface of a communications device, which a user will come into contact with. However, in another embodiment, there may be a deformable surface covering the substrate 95. Each of the holes 99 has a pin 96 located therein (or located directly beneath). Thus, when a signal is received by the communications device, each of the pins 96 can be moved outwardly of each of the holes 99 to create a raised effect. As will be appreciated, since each pin 99 may be moved independently, this may be used to provide a surface that accurately reflects the input gesture and can provide a raised effect over a large or very small area of the substrate 95.

The pins 96 may be raised and lowered by any means known in the art, for example, the pins 96 may be a piston arrangement, or may be attached to a shape memory alloy, a piezo electric actuator or any other means.

FIG. 11 depicts another embodiment of a physical sensation imparting surface 123 in which there is provided a grid 121 comprising a number of pixels. An electrical current can be applied to each of the pixels independently such that a user touching the pixel will feel an electrical shock or sensation. To this end, each of the pixels can comprise a positive and negative electrode or terminal. Additionally, a varying charge can be applied to each of the pixels. In this embodiment, a controller may be present to control the charging of the pictures. Therefore, when a signal is received, the relevant pixels have current applied to them, which, when the user contacts the pixels, is applied to the user, thus providing an electrical stimulus. The pixel grid enables the physical sensation imparting surface 123 to apply a further sensation in that the sensation may "move" across the physical sensation imparting surface 123 through the charging of various pixels. For example, pixel 122 is represented as having the maximum allowed current running through it. If desired, some neighboring pixels may also have current running through them (either to the same or a lower degree). The controller may then move change the pixel with the highest current in to a neighboring pixel across the grid 121 (represented by arrows K) such that the effect of the charge moving is imparted. In an alternative embodiment, the entire physical sensation imparting surface may be comprised of one pixel.

While a number of embodiments of providing a movement sensation using a physical sensation imparting surface have been described, it will be appreciated that any other suitable means of providing the sensation of movement known in the art could be employed.

Another embodiment of a sensation that the physical sensation imparting surface may provide is a simulated change in surface texture. This may be achieved by using, for example, an outer surface of the physical sensation imparting surface that uses varying frequency ultrasonic vibrations to give the user the sensation that the surface texture has changed.

is Controlled ultrasonic vibrations can provide a temporary change in the level of resistance experience by the user, which provides the user with sensations such as a rough surface, a smooth surface, resistance or a change in depth. The ultrasonic vibrations are provided from a suitable source located beneath the surface in contact with a user. The ultrasonic vibrations create a uniform and thinly spread pocket of air that is located across the surface. When a user contacts the surface, the pocket of air creates an area that very lightly repels the implement or portion of the body the user is using to contact the surface, thus creating a "floating" sensation for the user. Thus, the user experiences less drag or resistance as they move across the surface.

Therefore, if the ultrasonic vibrations are provided uniformly across the entire surface (or a portion of the surface), there is a perceived change in texture across in the region in which the vibrations are provided. To a user, this may create the effect of a smooth or slippery surface.

A surface having a rough texture may be provided by using a matrix or arrangement wherein there are alternating portions of the surface covered by the pocket of air created by the ultrasonic vibrations. Thus, as the user traverses the surface, they contact numerous regions in which they have a sensation of low friction (where there are pockets of air caused by the ultrasonic vibrations) and high friction (which is simply where there are no pockets of air caused by the ultrasonic vibrations -in other words they are feeling the resistance that the surface normally imparts) and this contrast creates a sensation of roughness.

Further embodiments of the physical sensation imparting surface include a physical sensation imparting surface adapted to provide the user with the feeling of a change in temperature. This can be provided by using resistive elements located in the physical sensation imparting surface. Thus when a current is applied the resistive elements, the temperature of the physical sensation imparting surface will increase and imparting a warming sensation to the user. The physical sensation imparting surface may, in some embodiments, also use multiple resistive heating elements, such that varying temperatures across the physical sensation imparting surface can be provided. These effects may, of course, be achieved by any suitable heating means known in the art. In other embodiments, a cooling sensation may also be provided using cooling elements, such as thermoelectric cooling elements.

It will be appreciated that, although the above implementations of physical sensation imparting surfaces are described as individual embodiments, each of the implementations may be combined with other implementations to create a single physical sensation imparting surface.

For example, if the nature of the gesture was a tap, the output portion of the device that relays the change in state could be a solenoid/plunger configuration or other conventional electromechanical device or a vibration.

Similarly, certain gestures may be linked to particular changes in state such that a particular gesture causes an output/change of state is based on the gesture, but that is not simply a direct copy of the gesture output on the other device. For instance, the change of state may be a change in temperature when the device is held or a a plus (additional) sign may result in a change in temperature of the device.

Since embodiments of the invention provide an architecture and related computational infrastructure, the context of a detected use input may be determined and used to disambiguate or qualify the input. Embodiments may therefore be robust to noise conditions by rejecting spurious events and gesture activities. In this way, embodiments may identify user inputs accurately.

A further embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 12 comprises a portable computing device 100 having a touch screen 101 which functions both as an output of visual content and an input device for the device 100. A conventional touch screen interface enables a user to provide input to a graphical user interface ("GUI") lOla by manually touching the surface of the screen as a means of targeting and selecting displayed graphical elements. In general, simulated buttons, icons, sliders, and/or other displayed elements are engaged by a user by directly touching the screen area at the location of the displayed user interface element.

The computing device 100 further comprises a processing unit 102, user activity detection means 104a, 104b and data storage means 106. The data storage means 106 store one or more software programs for controlling the operation of the computing device. The software program includes routines for determining user activity such that an input provided by the user can be disambiguated or further defined by the determined user activity.

These routines may be implemented in hardware and/or software and may be implemented in a variety of ways. In general, the routines are configured to determine when a user provides an input and to determine an activity of a user when the input is provided. Thus, a user can provide an input gesture by touching the touch screen 101, which is subsequently transmitted via network ("C") to a bracelet 20 in accordance with the present invention. In this embodiment, network F defines any intermediary network such as a cellular network or through a LAN, WAN or internet based network. For example, computing device 100 may connect to a cellular tower and relay the communication via the tower to another computing device or a cellular phone.

The communication may then subsequently be transmitted from the other computing device/cellular phone to the bracelet 20 via a short range communication, such as Bluetooth. As before, once the gesture has been received by the bracelet 20, the moveable portion 24 provides an output that is based on the input gesture.

FIG. 13 illustrates an embodiment of the invention, wherein the communications system comprises more than one wearable device capable of receiving a communication from the first bracelet 10. In this embodiment, there are three bracelets 10, 20, 30 connected by a network C and all three bracelets 10, 20, 30 are capable of communicating with one (i.e. can transmit and receive communications). Thus, if a user rubs the touch-sensitive surface 12 of the first bracelet 10, the gesture can be transmitted to the second and third bracelets 20, 30 via the communications network C. The second and third bracelets 20, 30 will therefore both have a change in physical state based on the input gesture. In some embodiments, the user can decide which connected bracelet 10, 20, 30 to send the communication to. For instance, the bracelet may be programmed (by the user or preset) such that if the user taps the touch-sensitive surface 12 of the first bracelet 10 once before providing an input gesture, the communication will go to the second bracelet 20, and if the user taps the touch-sensitive surface 12 twice before providing an input gesture, the communication will go to the third bracelet 30.

In certain embodiments, the device on which a user is providing a gesture (in this example, the first bracelet 10) may provide a confirmatory output to the user such that the user knows the device the communication will be sent to.

For example, the bracelet 10 may vibrate twice to confirm that the communication is going to the third bracelet 20 (based on two taps being the third bracelet 20).

In other embodiments, the wearable devices may comprise, for instance, a watch 200 (see FIG. 14) ora necklace 300 (see FIG. 15). In these embodiments, the watch 200 or the necklace 300 may only receive and output communications, rather than having a surface capable of detecting an input gesture. Alternatively, they may additionally have a surface such as a touch sensitive watch face or necklace surface that enables them to transmit a communication to another device.

Other variations to the disclosed embodiments can be understood and effected by those skilled in the art in practicing the claimed invention, from a study of the drawings, the disclosure, and the appended claims. For example, in the examples above: while the wearable devices have been described in terms of bracelets, pendants and watches, the wearable devices may be any device adapted to be worn on a user's body (for example, on or under clothing) and capable of effecting a state adaptation change in response to an input gesture on another device such as a belt or ring or other items and the functionality of these devices could be incorporated in another wearable or easily portable device such as a pebble-shaped device; the input device for providing the input on the touch sensitive surfaces may be any part of the users body or the user may use an additional tool such as a stylus or a wand; the communications between the devices may occur using any known communications means and may involve direct communications between the devices or via networks; and the touch-sensitive surface may be any surface capable of detecting a touch such as a track-pad, a touch-pad, a touchscreen (for example, but not limited to, a capacitive touchscreen surface or a resistive touchscreen surface), or any other suitable touch-sensitive surface.

Claims (24)

  1. Claims 1. A communications system comprising: a first device comprising: a touch sensitive surface adapted to sense an input gesture provided by a user of the first device, and a transmitter adapted to transmit a signal indicative of the sensed input gesture; and a second wearable device comprising: a receiver responsive to receiving a signal indicative of an input gesture provided by a user of the first device, and a physical sensation imparting surface adapted to impart a physical sensation to a user of the second wearable device, wherein the physical sensation imparting surface comprises an arrangement for changing a state of the physical sensation imparting surface based on the input gesture provided by a user of the first device, a change of state comprising at least one of: a change in temperature; a simulated change in surface texture; a movement that causes a change in position of a part of the physical sensation imparting surface relative to another part of the physical sensation imparting surface; and a change in electrical charge.
  2. 2. The system of claim 1, wherein an input gesture comprises at least one of: a drawn shape; a drag; a pinch; a stroke; a tap; a grasp; a rub; a kiss; a hold; and a tickle.
  3. 3. The system of claim 1 or 2, wherein the transmitter transmits to the second device via a wireless communication network.
  4. 4. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the change in state is non-textual and inaudible.
  5. 5. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the first device is wearable.
  6. 6. The system of any preceding claim, wherein at least one of the first device and second wearable device is a bracelet.
  7. 7. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the first and second devices are mated with each other such that the signal that is transmitted from the first device goes to the second device and not to other devices of a similar or different type.
  8. 8. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the second wearable device is devoid of user controllable buttons or other user input interfaces.
  9. 9. The system of any of claims 1 to 7, wherein the second wearable device further comprises a touch sensitive surface and transmitter substantially similar to those of the first device, and wherein the first device further comprises a receiver and physical sensation imparting surface substantially similar to those of the second device, such that the second wearable device can transmit to the first device a signal indicative of an input gesture provided by a user of the second wearable device.
  10. 10. The system of any of claims 1 to 8, wherein the second device is devoid of a touch sensitive surface and transmitter, and thus the transmission of a signal indicative of indicative of the sensed input gesture can only go one way from the first device to the second wearable device.
  11. 11. The system of any preceding claim, wherein the physical sensation imparting surface comprises at least one of: an array of off-centre cams; an array of pistons; a driven member driven in two-dimensions by a drive shaft; a driven member driven in two-dimensions by a drive shaft having a movable portion movable in a third-dimension; a rotatable platform having protrusions located thereon; an array of movable pins; a resistive element; and an ultrasonic surface resistance modifier.
  12. 12. Awearable device comprising: a receiver responsive to receiving a signal indicative of an input gesture provided by a user of a further device, and a physical sensation imparting surface adapted to impart a physical sensation to a user of the second wearable device, wherein the physical sensation imparting surface comprises an arrangement for changing a state of the physical sensation imparting surface based on the input gesture provided by a user of the first device, a change of state comprising at least one of: a change in temperature; a simulated change in surface texture; a movement that causes a change in position of a part of the physical sensation imparting surface relative to another part of the physical sensation imparting surface; and a change in electrical charge.
  13. 13. The wearable device of claim 12, wherein the wearable device is devoid of user controllable buttons or other user input interfaces.
  14. 14. The wearable device of claim 12, further comprising: a touch sensitive surface adapted to sense an input gesture provided by a user of the wearable device; and a transmitter adapted to transmit a signal indicative of the sensed input gesture.
  15. 15. A method comprising: sensing, via a touch sensitive surface of a first device, an input gesture by a user of the first device; transmitting, from the first device, a signal indicative of the sensed input gesture; receiving, at a second wearable device, the signal indicative of the sensed input gesture; and changing the state of a physical sensation imparting surface of the second wearable device in a manner that is based on of the sensed input gesture; wherein the change in state of the physical sensation imparting surface of the second wearable device includes at least one of: a change in temperature; a simulated change in surface texture; a movement that causes a change in position of a part of the physical sensation imparting surface relative to another part of the physical sensation imparting surface; and a change in electrical charge.
  16. 16. The method of claim 15, wherein an input gesture comprises at least one of: a drawn shape; a drag; a pinch; a stroke; a tap; a grasp; a rub; a kiss; a hold; and a tickle.
  17. 17. The method of claim 15 or 16, wherein the signal indicative of the sensed input gesture is transmitted via a wireless communication network.
  18. 18. The method of any of claims 15 to 17, wherein the change in state is non-textual and inaudible.
  19. 19. The method of any of claims 15 to 18, wherein the first device is wearable.
  20. 20. The method of any of claims 15 to 19, wherein at least one of the first device and second wearable device is a bracelet.
  21. 21. The method of any of claims 15 to 20, wherein the first and second devices are mated with each other such that the signal transmitted from the first device goes to the second wearable device and not to other devices of a similar or different type.
  22. 22. The method of any of claims 15 to 21, wherein the second wearable device is devoid of user controllable buttons or other user input interfaces.
  23. 23. A wearable device substantially as herein described above with reference to the accompanying figures.
  24. 24. A communications system substantially as herein described above with reference to the accompanying figures.
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US20130163390A1 (en) * 2011-10-26 2013-06-27 Richard Carl Gossweiler, III Smart-watch including flip up display
US8493354B1 (en) * 2012-08-23 2013-07-23 Immersion Corporation Interactivity model for shared feedback on mobile devices

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* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
BE896221A (en) * 1983-03-21 1983-07-18 Willeme Roger Personal alarm system using tactile signal - is provided by mechanical vibration or electrical pulses or provoking chemical reaction with skin surface
US6224254B1 (en) * 1998-12-23 2001-05-01 The Swatch Group Management Services Ag Radio telephone timepiece including a SIM card
KR20110131323A (en) * 2010-05-27 2011-12-07 한국과학기술원 Mobile device for delivery of emotion and communication method using the same
US20130163390A1 (en) * 2011-10-26 2013-06-27 Richard Carl Gossweiler, III Smart-watch including flip up display
US20130111342A1 (en) * 2011-11-02 2013-05-02 Motorola Mobility, Inc. Effective User Input Scheme on a Small Touch Screen Device
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CN202939420U (en) * 2012-11-30 2013-05-15 巫峡梦泉 Multifunctional intelligent wristwatch based on RFID technology

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