US20010005412A1 - Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network - Google Patents

Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network Download PDF

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Publication number
US20010005412A1
US20010005412A1 US09759107 US75910701A US2001005412A1 US 20010005412 A1 US20010005412 A1 US 20010005412A1 US 09759107 US09759107 US 09759107 US 75910701 A US75910701 A US 75910701A US 2001005412 A1 US2001005412 A1 US 2001005412A1
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telephone
status
party
called
network
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US20050243976A9 (en )
US7088802B2 (en )
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Elliott Light
Jon Roberts
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Light Elliott D.
Roberts Jon L.
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/22Supervisory, monitoring, management, i.e. operation, administration, maintenance or testing arrangements
    • H04M3/2272Subscriber line supervision circuits, e.g. call detection circuits
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M11/00Telephonic communication systems adapted for combination with other electrical systems
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M11/00Telephonic communication systems adapted for combination with other electrical systems
    • H04M11/06Simultaneous speech and telegraphic or other data transmission over the same conductors
    • H04M11/066Telephone sets adapted for data transmision
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/42365Presence services providing information on the willingness to communicate or the ability to communicate in terms of media capability or network connectivity
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/42382Text-based messaging services in telephone networks such as PSTN/ISDN, e.g. User-to-User Signalling or Short Message Service for fixed networks
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q11/00Selecting arrangements for multiplex systems
    • H04Q11/04Selecting arrangements for multiplex systems for time-division multiplexing
    • H04Q11/0421Circuit arrangements therefor
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/247Telephone sets including user guidance or features selection means facilitating their use; Fixed telephone terminals for accessing a variety of communication services via the PSTN network
    • H04M1/2473Telephone terminals interfacing a personal computer, e.g. using an API (Application Programming Interface)
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2203/00Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M2203/45Aspects of automatic or semi-automatic exchanges related to voicemail messaging
    • H04M2203/4536Voicemail combined with text-based messaging
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/42025Calling or Called party identification service
    • H04M3/42085Called party identification service
    • H04M3/42093Notifying the calling party of information on the called or connected party
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/50Centralised arrangements for answering calls; Centralised arrangements for recording messages for absent or busy subscribers ; Centralised arrangements for recording messages
    • H04M3/53Centralised arrangements for recording incoming messages, i.e. mailbox systems
    • H04M3/5307Centralised arrangements for recording incoming messages, i.e. mailbox systems for recording messages comprising any combination of audio and non-audio components
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/50Centralised arrangements for answering calls; Centralised arrangements for recording messages for absent or busy subscribers ; Centralised arrangements for recording messages
    • H04M3/53Centralised arrangements for recording incoming messages, i.e. mailbox systems
    • H04M3/533Voice mail systems
    • H04M3/53333Message receiving aspects
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M3/00Automatic or semi-automatic exchanges
    • H04M3/42Systems providing special services or facilities to subscribers
    • H04M3/50Centralised arrangements for answering calls; Centralised arrangements for recording messages for absent or busy subscribers ; Centralised arrangements for recording messages
    • H04M3/53Centralised arrangements for recording incoming messages, i.e. mailbox systems
    • H04M3/537Arrangements for indicating the presence of a recorded message, whereby the presence information might include a preview or summary of the message
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M7/00Interconnection arrangements between switching centres
    • H04M7/0012Details of application programming interfaces [API] for telephone networks; Arrangements which combine a telephonic communication equipment and a computer, i.e. computer telephony integration [CPI] arrangements
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M7/00Interconnection arrangements between switching centres
    • H04M7/0024Services and arrangements where telephone services are combined with data services
    • H04M7/0036Services and arrangements where telephone services are combined with data services where the data service is an information service
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M7/00Interconnection arrangements between switching centres
    • H04M7/12Interconnection arrangements between switching centres for working between exchanges having different types of switching equipment, e.g. power-driven and step by step, decimal and non-decimal, circuit-switched and packet-switched, i.e. gateway arrangements
    • H04M7/1205Interconnection arrangements between switching centres for working between exchanges having different types of switching equipment, e.g. power-driven and step by step, decimal and non-decimal, circuit-switched and packet-switched, i.e. gateway arrangements where the types of switching equipement comprises PSTN/ISDN equipment and switching equipment of networks other than PSTN/ISDN, e.g. Internet Protocol networks
    • H04M7/121Details of network access arrangements or protocols
    • H04M7/1215Details of network access arrangements or protocols where a cable TV network is used as an access to the PSTN/ISDN
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M7/00Interconnection arrangements between switching centres
    • H04M7/12Interconnection arrangements between switching centres for working between exchanges having different types of switching equipment, e.g. power-driven and step by step, decimal and non-decimal, circuit-switched and packet-switched, i.e. gateway arrangements
    • H04M7/1205Interconnection arrangements between switching centres for working between exchanges having different types of switching equipment, e.g. power-driven and step by step, decimal and non-decimal, circuit-switched and packet-switched, i.e. gateway arrangements where the types of switching equipement comprises PSTN/ISDN equipment and switching equipment of networks other than PSTN/ISDN, e.g. Internet Protocol networks
    • H04M7/1225Details of core network interconnection arrangements
    • H04M7/1235Details of core network interconnection arrangements where one of the core networks is a wireless network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/1307Call setup
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13093Personal computer, PC
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13152Callback
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13173Busy signals
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/1318Ringing
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/1322PBX
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13274Call rejection, call barring
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13282Call forward, follow-me, call diversion
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13374Paging
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13375Electronic mail
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13377Recorded announcement
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04QSELECTING
    • H04Q2213/00Indexing scheme relating to selecting arrangements in general and for multiplex systems
    • H04Q2213/13389LAN, internet

Abstract

A system and method for determining telephone status over a network. The system and method provides for off hook status to be determined by a switch or other monitor that then provides that information to a telephone status file. The telephone status file is accessible over the Internet by computer so that a calling party can first determine if the called party is on the telephone. Thus wasted time in making calls that cannot be completed is avoided. The system operates over normal PSTN's, over cable systems, and over the Internet.

Description

    CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application is a continuation in part of application Ser. No. 08/963,373 filed Nov. 3, 1997, now pending. The Ser. No. 08/963,373 application is incorporated herein by reference, in its entirety, for all purposes.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    This invention relates generally to electronically determining the status of a telephone over a network. More specifically, the present invention provides a method and apparatus for obtaining the status of a telephone (whether on-hook or off-hook) over a network in order to maximize the probability of reaching a desired party. It also provides a method and apparatus for sending an e-mail to the desired party for storage as a voice mail message.
  • [0003]
    Literally millions of times per day, parties attempt to contact one another, only to find that the party initiating the telephone call receives a busy signal or is put into the phone mail of the receiving telephone when that telephone is off-hook. Not only is this experience frustrating for the caller, but also can result in lost business or social opportunities on the part of the receiving party who is on the line speaking with someone else. In addition, receiving busy signals and the inability to complete telephone calls results in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue both from the time expended by the caller in trying to reach the desired party, as well as lost opportunities for commerce or other social contact.
  • [0004]
    Telephone line activity monitoring has been the subject of invention in the past. A form of line activity monitoring has been proposed for the purpose of obtaining information regarding statistics of line usage. This proposed system detects the usage of the line, but does not transmit status information to others in any current fashion. For further details, refer to U.S. Pat. No. 4,559,416 to Theis et al.
  • [0005]
    Another monitoring system has been described whose purpose is to notify an operator that a telephone line is open so that a desired message can be delivered by the operator to a receiving party. This system comprises an automatic dialer that attempts to reach individuals on a repetitive basis until a connection is made. Again, status of the telephone at any given point of time is not provided. For further details, refer to U.S. Pat. No. 3,989,899 to Norwich.
  • [0006]
    An integrated calling directory has been described that utilizes a personal computer that stores information about the numbers being called. It does not address the problem associated with the called party telephone being in an off-hook condition. This condition is not reported in any fashion to the initiator of the telephone call. For further details, refer to U.S. Pat. No. 4,734,931 to Bourg et al.
  • [0007]
    A communication system has been proposed that uses a voice message system for storing and retrieving voice messages and faxed data and for converting text into voice messages. This proposed system does not deal with the issue of how to contact the party receiving the phone call but only leaves a message for that party in the event that the phone is in an off-hook condition. For further details, refer to U.S. Pat. No. 5,530,740 to Irribarren et al.
  • [0008]
    Another information processing system has been described as having a telephone and an informational processing device. This system does not address the issue of whether a called party telephone is in an on-hook or off-hook condition. For further details, refer to U.S. Pat. No. 5,500,893 to Onosaka.
  • [0009]
    A system for synchronization of mail boxes over a network has been proposed. This system is designed to ensure that information in electronic mail is complete in a series of different mailboxes. The issue of providing information to a caller regarding the status of a called party's telephone is not dealt with. For further details, refer to U.S. Pat. No. 5,647,002 to Brunson.
  • [0010]
    What is desired is a system whereby a calling party can pre-determine the status of a called party's telephone (on-hook or off-hook) so as to maximize the opportunity for completing a telephone call to the desired party.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0011]
    It is therefore an object of the present invention to maximize the probability that a calling party will actually contact a called party when a telephone call is made.
  • [0012]
    It is a further objective of the present invention to provide a status of the called party's telephone (on-hook or off-hook) before the calling party makes the telephone call to the called party.
  • [0013]
    It is a further objective of the present invention to provide telephone status information over a network.
  • [0014]
    It is a further objection of the present invention to continually monitor the status of a telephone in order to provide the telephone in order to provide the telephone status information desired.
  • [0015]
    It is a further objective of the present invention to store telephone line status in a file that can be accessed by others.
  • [0016]
    It is a further objective of the present invention to constantly update the telephone line status file so that callers accessing the file can have an up-to-date record of the status of a telephone to be called.
  • [0017]
    It is a further objective of the present invention to obtain the status of a called party's telephone over cable systems connected to public switched telephone networks.
  • [0018]
    It is yet another objection to obtain the status of a called party's telephone when both the called party and the calling party are connected to cable systems.
  • [0019]
    It is a further objective of the present invention to obtain the status of a called party's telephone when the called party is connected to a cable system but the calling party is not.
  • [0020]
    It is yet another objective of the present invention to generally provide information concerning home and office equipment and functions to a file that can be accessed by networks external to the home, such as the Internet.
  • [0021]
    These and other objectives of the present invention will become apparent from a review of the general and detailed descriptions that follow. The present invention provides a method for a calling party to receive constantly updated information concerning the status of a telephone (on-hook or off-hook) to be called. For purposes of this specification this status will generally be called the “telephone status.” The present invention also provides a way for a calling party to leave e-mail and voice mail to the called party as part of the determination of telephone status.
  • [0022]
    The present invention comprises a monitoring system that can constantly poll a series of telephones, and stores information concerning the telephone status in a telephone status file. Alternatively, the system switch simply records the off-hook status of a telephone of the system and provides a notation to a file that is accessible to others. Thus, a telephone is presumed to be on-hook unless it is determined to be off-hook. That file is one that, in a preferred embodiment, can be accessed over the Internet. When a calling party desires to maximize its probability of actually being connected with a called party, the calling party accesses the telephone's status file over the Internet and receives a determination of whether the called telephone is on-hook or off-hook. When an off-hook condition is noted, the calling party will not attempt to place the telephone call. In addition, the calling party may elect to alert the called party that a call was attempted, to send an e-mail and have the e-mail delivered as a voice mail message, or to be signaled when the called party's phone is on-hook. When the telephone status is noted as on-hook, the calling party can then make the telephone call with some reasonable assurance of reaching the telephone of the called party.
  • [0023]
    This system differs from existing private branch exchanges (PBX) in that a current PBX can have a “camp on” feature that allows a use to place a phone call to a telephone on the PBX, note that the called telephone is off-hook and “camp on” to the called party's telephone line so that when an on-hook condition is noted, the PBX can automatically connect the calling party to the called party. The difficulty with such camp on systems is that they cannot be used by people outside the PBX. In addition, when using the camp on feature, the call is “camped” only after is placed. The caller still has invested both time and money in exchange for a busy signal. In contrast to existing PBX camp on systems, the system and method of the present invention allows a user to be advised of the status of a telephone via network external to the location of the telephone to maximize the probability of actually making the desired connection.
  • [0024]
    An alternative embodiment of the present invention is to connect the calling party's telephone to the computer at the calling party's location. Thereafter, upon a determination by the calling party's telephone is such that a call can be made, the user's computer will then dial the user's telephone prompting the user to pick that telephone up and thereafter dial the called party's telephone thereby completing the telephone call in an automated fashion.
  • [0025]
    A further embodiment of the present invention is to use a telecommunications device (wireless or otherwise, e.g., a computer, a telephone, or a personal digital assistant) to send the called party an e-mail and then have the e-mail delivered to the called party's voice mail box. The called party retrieves the e-mail-converted-to-voice message from the voice mail box using any of a number of devices (e.g., a computer, a telephone, or a personal digital assistant).
  • [0026]
    It is also the case the telephone companies are seeking to expand their markets for both long distance and local services. This expansion has caused certain long distance to acquire cable companies in order to provide local service to customers. This cable-borne telephone is yet another way for long distance carriers to reach local users by virtue of the cable system infrastructure already in place. Where such cable infrastructure exists, it is also possible to obtain the telephone status of users telephones over the cable system.
  • [0027]
    Obtaining telephone status over the cable network occurs in a similar fashion to that already noted above. In a first embodiment, a called party's telephone is either plugged into a set-top box or other interface through which telephone services are offered. Alternatively, the called party's telephone is connected to a computer system which is in turn connected to a set-top box ore other telephone and/or data interface for those cable operations that offer Internet-over-cable service. The off-hook status of the telephone at the called party's location is determined via a switch at the telephone company (telco). That off-hook status is provided to a file that is accessible over the Internet.
  • [0028]
    Thus, a calling party, desiring to obtain the status of the telephone at a location having cable service would again access the Internet and obtain information from the telephone status file which is constantly updated by the telco switch. Conversely, information concerning telephone status file over the cable network. In this manner, any user can obtain the telephone status via a computer system linked to the Internet via a cable operator. In addition, telephone status can be provided to a telephone status file over the Internet for those telephones that can use local cable operator infrastructure to connect to the public switched telephone network.
  • [0029]
    As noted above, a calling party at the cable location can also obtain the telephone status of the called party telephone by simply using the computer that is plugged into the set-top box or other telephony/data interface provided to go over the Internet to the telephone status file. This additional cable network thereby allows updating of the telephone status file and allows telephone status to be obtained in yet another fashion.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0030]
    Additional objects and advantages of the present invention will be apparent in the following detailed description read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing figures.
  • [0031]
    [0031]FIG. 1 illustrates the basic architecture of a telephone status monitor according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0032]
    [0032]FIG. 2 illustrates a telephone status monitor according to an alternate embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0033]
    [0033]FIG. 3 illustrates an operational process of a telephone status monitor according to the present invention.
  • [0034]
    [0034]FIG. 4 illustrates an operational process of a telephone status monitor according to an alternate embodiment.
  • [0035]
    [0035]FIG. 5 illustrates a telephone status monitor system embodiment using wireless network components.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0036]
    The present invention is a system and method for obtaining the telephone status (on-hook/off-hook) of a called party's telephone over a network external to the location of the called party's telephone, such as the Internet.
  • [0037]
    Referring to FIG. 1, the general architecture of the telephone status monitor is described. Using a personal computer or other similar type of processor 12 a user accesses a network, in this case the Internet 10, although this is not meant as a limitation. Any network that can be connected to a calling party and a called party can also be used. The calling party accesses the telephone status file 8 which is continually updated by a telephone status monitor 6 which constantly monitors a series of telephones 2, 4. It should be noted that it is anticipated that many thousands of telephones will be monitored in this fashion. Eventually it is anticipated that millions of phones will be so monitored. The monitoring function can be accomplished by special equipment for that purpose or is simply the output of a switch that recognizes when a particular telephone is off-hook on the network.
  • [0038]
    The status file 8 is continually updated by monitor 6 with the on-hook or off-hook status of telephones that are monitored. Thus, the calling party communicating with a PC 12 can receive “real time” status (as determined by the sampling rate of the monitor) of a telephone being called by simply monitoring the telephone status file that is accessible over the Internet.
  • [0039]
    Since the status file is anticipated to contain many thousands of numbers it is anticipated as past of the present invention that when a calling party using its PC 12 requests the status of a particular telephone that only the status of that telephone will subsequently be displayed on the user PC. Alternatively, the user PC 12 may create a list of numbers to monitor and have the data “pushed” over the Internet 10 to the calling party's PC 12.
  • [0040]
    Referring to FIG. 2, an alternate embodiment of the present invention is shown. In this case, calling party's PC 20 accesses the telephone status file 22 over the Internet 30. Again, the telephone status file 22 is continually updated by a telephone status monitor 24 which monitors telephones 26 and 28 (again these are representative of a plurality of telephones fully monitored by the system). In this case, however, the calling party has a telephone 32 that is connected to the calling party's PC 20. When the calling party's PC 20 monitors the status of a called party via the status file 22 as soon as the called party status indicates an on-hook condition, the PC 20 will then place a telephone call to the called party. This makes the entire connection process an automated one. This embodiment finds particular utility in a private branch exchange (PBX) where a telco switch is ordinarily not monitoring individual telephones.
  • [0041]
    Although the invention may be embodied so as to monitor status any type of telephone, it has particular value for monitoring the status of ordinary telephones on the plain old telephone system (i.e., POTS telephones). That is because the POTS does not have the sort of telephone status monitoring features that may be included in newer generations of telephone networks.
  • [0042]
    Referring again to FIG. 2, the calling party may also send an e-mail to the called party's PC 34. The e-mail is converted from text to digital voice at converter 36 and routed to the voice mail box 36 and routed to the voice mail box 36 of the called party.
  • [0043]
    Referring to FIG. 3, the flow of the method of the present invention is shown. A calling party having a PC inputs a telephone number to be called (the called party) 101. Thereafter, the calling party's PC connects to the Internet 103 subsequently accesses the telephone status file 105. The status of the called party s telephone number is then determined 107 and that status is provided back to the calling party's PC 109 noting that status of the called party's telephone line.
  • [0044]
    Upon receipt of the called party's status, that information is displayed for the calling party 111 and thereafter, if the called party's telephone line status is in an on-hook condition, the user can then dial the called party 113.
  • [0045]
    Referring to FIG. 4, an alternate embodiment of the present invention is shown. All of the steps of the access to the status of the called party's telephone line is the same is noted previously in FIG. 3. However, instead of the user making the telephone call, the PC continually monitors the telephone status file. Upon noting that the called party's telephone status is in an on-hook condition, the calling party's PC dials the called party's telephone 115. The calling party's PC then waits to receive an on-hook signal from the called party's telephone 117, thereby signaling that the calling party is on the telephone ready to make the telephone call. The calling party's PC then places the telephone call to the called party's telephone 119, thereby completing the telephone call. It should be noted that at the present time it is possible to place a telephone call over the Internet. Therefore, the calling party's PC can place the call over the Internet to a called party's telephone or, in the alternative, the calling party's PC can simply place a call over the public switch telephone network to the called party's telephone.
  • [0046]
    Referring to FIG. 5, an alternative embodiment of the present invention is illustrated. While it is important for long-distance callers to be able to ascertain whether the party is online or not, this is also particularly important when one is dealing with wireless communications. For example, and as described earlier, personal computer 20 can connect to, for example, the Internet 102 to ascertain the status of wireless telephones 112, 114, and 118. The query concerning the telephone status then proceeds through a wireless application protocol (WAP) interface 106 to wireless network 108. The request then flows to the wireless network manager 110 which records which wireless phones are currently available on the network and, of key importance, which of those telephones is engaged in an active telephone call. Thus network manager knows that wireless telephones 112 and 114 are available for telephone calls or in the alternative that, for example, wireless telephone 114 is engaged in an active phone call. This information is then sent by network manager 110 over wireless network 108 through WAP interface 106 through Internet 102 to PC 20. At that point the user can decide to make a telephone call using conventional telephone 32 over the public switch telephone network 104 through the WAP interface 106 over wireless network 108 to the wireless telephones 112, 114. Alternatively, telephone 32 can place its call through PC 20 via Internet telephony over the Internet 102 to the wireless telephones 112, 114.
  • [0047]
    This knowledge of the status of telephones in a wireless system is particularly important, since certain trends exist to charge only the caller for calls that are to be made to or from a wireless network. This is consistent with the current method of charging for telephone calls over a public switch telephone network. Thus, in a situation where a caller is charged for all telephone calls made, it will be particularly important to the caller that it not get charged for leaving a message over a wireless network which tends to be particularly expensive.
  • [0048]
    The expense in dealing with a wireless network is all the more apparent when one considers that a telephone may be in a “roaming” mode where the telephone is in a network which is not the home network for the wireless telephone. Thus, in the case where wireless telephone 118 is roaming in a second wireless network 116, a telephone call that is not completed or wherein a message is simply left, becomes all the more expensive since roaming charges will be charged to the caller as well.
  • [0049]
    It is also important to note that an entire generation of video phones 100 are becoming available. The video phone in certain instances will take the place of personal computer 20 for interacting with the Internet and making telephone calls. Such a telephone is the I phone® model 2050, for example, whose functionality, technical aspects, and capabilities are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. Such a video phone 100 can also interact with Internet 102 through WAP interface 106 to ascertain the status of wireless telephones 112, 114 over wireless network 108. When information is subsequently displayed on video phone 100 regarding the availability of wireless telephones 112, 114, a call can be placed either over the Internet 102 or over public switch telephone network 104 through the wireless network to the wireless telephones desired.
  • [0050]
    A telephone line status monitoring system and method has been described herein. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that minor modifications to the present invention could be made without departing from the scope of the invention as disclosed. For example, it is also possible with the system of the present invention to monitor temperature of the home. In this instance, the system has a thermostat in place of the telephone system. The thermostat places its readings into a file over the Internet which can be read by a user when the user is at a remote location. In this manner the user can monitor home temperature during absences.
  • [0051]
    Monitoring of temperature is also useful for refrigerators, freezers, and commercial HVAC systems. The present invention allows for problems in such thermal systems to be monitored remotely, spotted early, and corrected before any serious economic consequences occur.
  • [0052]
    Similarly, just as messages can be transmitted to the user of the telephone, so can instructions to raise or lower temperature in the home be transmitted to the thermostat over the Internet.
  • [0053]
    Alarm monitoring can also be accomplished using the system and method of the present invention. In this instance, when an alarm goes off, the alarm company can be notified in the normal fashion. However, the alarm could also be noted in a file to be reviewed by a user when the user is away from the premises. In this case the user will know an alarm has gone off and can contact the alarm company to ascertain the meaning of the alarm.
  • [0054]
    An additional embodiment of the alarm concept of the present invention is for a formatted email to be sent to the owner of the premises so that the owner can have more specific notification of the meaning of any alarm that goes off.
  • [0055]
    A telephone status monitoring system and method has now been shown. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that other equipment in the home of office may be monitored as well using the system of the present invention without departing from the scope of the invention as disclosed.
  • [0056]
    The present invention has been described in terms of preferred embodiments, however, it will be appreciated that various modifications and improvements may be made to the described embodiments without departing from the scope of the invention. The present invention is limited only by the appended claims.

Claims (51)

    What is claimed is:
  1. 1. A system for communicating status of a plurality of plain old telephone system (POTS) telephones over a network to an inquiring computer, the system comprising:
    a telephone status monitor connected so as to monitor a telephone status of the plurality of POTS telephones; and
    a telephone status file connected to the telephone status monitor for receiving the telephone status of the plurality of POTS telephones, the telephone status file being accessible by the inquiring computer via the network.
  2. 2. The system for communicating status over a network of
    claim 1
    , wherein the telephone status comprises on-hook and off-hook condition of the telephone.
  3. 3. The system for communicating status over a network of
    claim 1
    , wherein the telephone status comprises the status of consumer options for telephone service.
  4. 4. The system for communicating status over a network of
    claim 1
    , the system further comprising:
    a calling party telephone; and
    logic enabling the calling party telephone to place a telephone call to one of the plurality of POTS telephones when that one of the plurality of POTS telephones is in an on-hook status.
  5. 5. The system for communicating status over a network of
    claim 1
    , the system further comprising:
    a voice mail converter connected to receive an alpha numeric message via the network and convert the alpha numeric message into a voice mail message;
    the converter further connected so as to allow a called party to access the voice mail message; and
    whereby the inquiring computer can create an alphanumeric message to be sent to the voice mail converter over the network for subsequent conversion into voice mail by the voice mail converter.
  6. 6. The system for providing telephone status of
    claim 5
    , wherein system further comprises:
    a called party processor connected to the network, wherein the voice mail converter is connected to receive the alpha numeric message from the network via the called party processor.
  7. 7. A process for a calling party to determine telephone status of a called party telephone over a network, the process comprising:
    inputting a telephone number corresponding to the called party's plain old telephone system (POTS) telephone to a telephone status monitor over the network via a calling party processor; and
    accessing a called party telephone status file over the network, wherein status of the called party's POTS telephone is made available via the called party telephone status file by the telephone status monitor.
  8. 8. The process for a calling party to determine telephone status of
    claim 7
    , the process further comprising:
    the calling party processor dialing the telephone number of the called party's POTS telephone when an on-hook status is detected; and
    establishing a telephone call between the calling party and the called party via a telephone connected to the calling party processor.
  9. 9. The process for a calling party to determine telephone status of
    claim 7
    , the process further comprising:
    creating an alpha numeric message; and
    sending the alpha numeric message over the network to a voice mail converter for conversion into a voice mail message, wherein the voice mail message is accessible for retrieval by the called party.
  10. 10. The process for a calling party to determine telephone status of
    claim 9
    , wherein the alpha numeric message is received at the voice mail converter via a called party processor connected between the network and the voice mail converter.
  11. 11. A process for determining telephone status comprising:
    accessing a telephone status file over a network; and
    monitoring the status of a plurality of plain old telephone system (POTS) telephones and providing that telephone status to the telephone status file.
  12. 12. The process for determining telephone status of
    claim 11
    , wherein the monitoring of telephone status is accomplished by a telephone status monitor monitoring the on-hook and off-hook status of a plurality of telephones.
  13. 13. The process for determining telephone status of
    claim 12
    , wherein the telephone status monitor periodically updates the status of telephones being monitored.
  14. 14. The process for determining telephone status of
    claim 11
    , wherein the accessing a telephone status over a network comprises:
    receiving a number to be called, input by a calling party; and
    reviewing the telephone status of the number to be called in the telephone status file.
  15. 15. The process for determining telephone status of
    claim 14
    , the process further comprising:
    periodically updating the telephone status file with the status of telephones being monitored.
  16. 16. The process for determining telephone status of
    claim 15
    , the process further comprising:
    notifying a calling party by beeper that a called party telephone is in an on-hook condition.
  17. 17. A system for communicating over a network, the system comprising:
    a voice mail converter connected to receive an alpha numeric message via the network and convert the alpha numeric message into a voice mail message;
    the converter further connected so as to allow a called party to access the voice mail message; and
    whereby a message creation device creates an alphanumeric message to be sent to the voice mail converter over the network for subsequent conversion into voice mail by the voice mail converter.
  18. 18. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 17
    , wherein the network is a wireless network and the message creation device comprises a wireless communication device.
  19. 19. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 18
    , wherein the creation device comprises a telephone.
  20. 20. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 18
    , wherein the creation device comprises a computer.
  21. 21. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 17
    , wherein the network is a wireless network and the called party accesses the voice mail message using a wireless communication device.
  22. 22. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 21
    , wherein the wireless communication device comprises a telephone.
  23. 23. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 21
    , wherein the wireless communication device comprises a computer.
  24. 24. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 21
    , wherein the wireless communication device comprises a personal digital assistant having voice capability.
  25. 25. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 17
    , wherein the creation device comprises a telephone.
  26. 26. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 17
    , wherein the creation device comprises a computer.
  27. 27. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 17
    , wherein the called party accesses the voice mail message using a telephone.
  28. 28. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 17
    , wherein the called party accesses the voice mail message using a computer.
  29. 29. The system for communicating over a network of
    claim 17
    , wherein the called party accesses the voice mail message using a personal digital assistant having voice capability.
  30. 30. A system for providing status of a plurality of telephones over a network to an inquiring computer, the system comprising:
    a telephone status monitor connected so as to monitor a telephone status of the plurality of telephones; and
    a telephone status file connected to the telephone status monitor for receiving the telephone status of the plurality of telephones, the telephone status file being accessible by the inquiring computer via the network;
    wherein the telephone status is a consumer option selected from the group consisting of: number of rings to voicemail and call waiting.
  31. 31. A system for providing telephone status over a network to a calling party computer connected to that network, the system comprising:
    a telephone status monitor connected so as to monitor a telephone status of a telephone;
    a telephone status file connected to the telephone status monitor for receiving the telephone status of the telephone, the telephone status file being accessible by the calling computer via the network; and
    a voice mail converter connected to receive an alpha numeric message via the network and convert the alpha numeric message into a voice mail message; and
    the converter being further connected so as to allow a called party to access the voice mail message;
    whereby the calling party computer can create an alphanumeric message to be sent to the voice mail converter via the network for subsequent conversion into voice mail by the voice mail converter.
  32. 32. The system for providing telephone status of
    claim 31
    , wherein system further comprises:
    a called party processor connected to the network, wherein the voice mail converter is connected to receive the alpha numeric message from the network via the called party processor.
  33. 33. A process for a calling party to determine telephone status of a called party telephone over a network, the process comprising:
    inputting a called party's telephone number to a telephone status monitor over the network via a calling party processor;
    accessing a called party telephone status file over the network, wherein status of the called party telephone is made available via the called party status file by the telephone status monitor;
    creating an alpha numeric message; and
    sending the alpha numeric message over the network to a voice mail converter for conversion into a voice mail message, wherein the voice mail message is accessible for retrieval by the called party.
  34. 34. The process for a calling party to determine telephone status of
    claim 33
    , wherein the alpha numeric message is received at the voice mail converter via a called party processor connected between the network and the voice mail converter.
  35. 35. A process for determining telephone status, the process comprising:
    accessing a telephone status file over a network, the telephone status file representing telephone status of one or more telephones that are being monitored;
    reviewing periodic updates to the telephone status file with respect to a called party telephone selected from the one or more telephones monitored for the telephone status file; and
    notifying a calling party by beeper that the called party telephone is in an on-hook condition.
  36. 36. A system for communicating thermal status via one or more telephones over a network to an inquiring computer, the system comprising:
    a telephone status monitor connected so as to monitor a telephone status of the one or more telephones; and
    a telephone status file connected to the telephone status monitor for receiving the telephone status of the one or more telephones, the telephone status file being accessible by the inquiring computer via the network;
    wherein the telephone status comprises a temperature condition of a thermal system reporting to the telephone.
  37. 37. The system for communicating thermal status of
    claim 36
    , wherein the thermal system reporting a temperature condition is selected from the group consisting of: a household heating system, a household cooling system, a household central air system, a commercial heating-ventilation-air-conditioning system, a refrigerator, and a freezer.
  38. 38. A process for a calling party to determine thermal status via a called party telephone over a network, the process comprising:
    inputting a telephone number corresponding to the called party's telephone to a telephone status monitor over the network via a calling party processor; and
    accessing a called party telephone status file over the network, wherein telephone status of the called party's telephone is made available via the called party telephone status file by the telephone status monitor;
    wherein the telephone status comprises a temperature condition of a thermal system reporting to the telephone.
  39. 39. The process for a calling party to determine thermal status of
    claim 38
    , wherein the thermal system reporting a temperature condition is selected from the group consisting of: a household heating system, a household cooling system, a household central air system, a commercial heating-ventilation-air-conditioning system, a refrigerator, and a freezer.
  40. 40. A process for determining temperature status via telephone, the process comprising:
    accessing a telephone status file over a network; and
    monitoring the temperature status corresponding to a plurality of telephones and providing that temperature status to the telephone status file.
  41. 41. The process for determining temperature status via telephone of
    claim 40
    ,
    wherein the temperature status corresponding to each of the plurality of telephones comprises a temperature condition reported by a thermal system, wherein the thermal system is selected from the group consisting of: a household heating system, a household cooling system, a household central air system, a commercial heating-ventilation-air-conditioning system, a refrigerator, and a freezer.
  42. 42. A system for communicating status of a plurality of telephones over a network to a videophone, the system comprising:
    a telephone status monitor connected so as to monitor a telephone status of the plurality of telephones; and
    a telephone status file connected to the telephone status monitor for receiving the telephone status of the plurality of telephones, the telephone status file being accessible by the videophone via the network.
  43. 43. A process for a calling party to determine telephone status of a called party telephone over a network, the process comprising:
    inputting a telephone number corresponding to the called party's telephone to a telephone status monitor over the network via a videophone; and
    accessing a called party telephone status file with the videophone over the network, wherein status of the called party's telephone is made available via the called party telephone status file by the telephone status monitor.
  44. 44. A process for determining telephone status comprising:
    accessing a telephone status file over a network using a videophone; and
    monitoring the status of a plurality of telephones and providing that telephone status to the telephone status file for viewing via the videophone.
  45. 45. A system for communicating status of a plurality of wireless telecommunication devices over a network to an inquiring computer, the system comprising:
    a telephone status monitor connected so as to monitor a telephone status of the plurality of wireless telecommunication devices; and
    a telephone status file connected to the telephone status monitor for receiving the telephone status of the plurality of wireless telecommunication devices, the telephone status file being accessible by the inquiring computer via the network.
  46. 46. The system for communicating status over a network of
    claim 45
    , the system further comprising:
    a voice mail converter connected to receive an alpha numeric message via the network and convert the alpha numeric message into a voice mail message;
    the converter further connected so as to allow a called party to access the voice mail message via one or more of the plurality of wireless telecommunication devices; and
    whereby the inquiring computer can create an alphanumeric message to be sent to the voice mail converter via the network for subsequent conversion into voice mail by the voice mail converter.
  47. 47. A process for a calling party to determine device status of a called party wireless telecommunication device over a network, the process comprising:
    inputting a telephone number corresponding to the called party's wireless telecommunication device to a device status monitor over the network via a calling party processor; and
    accessing a called party device status file over a network, wherein status of the called party's wireless telecommunication devices is made available via the called party device status file by the device status monitor.
  48. 48. The process for a calling party to determine device status of
    claim 47
    , the process further comprising:
    creating an alpha numeric message; and
    sending the alpha numeric message over the network to a voice mail converter for conversion into a voice mail message, wherein the voice mail message is accessible for retrieval by the called party via the called party's wireless telecommunication device.
  49. 49. The process for a calling party to determine device status of
    claim 47
    , the process further comprising:
    notifying the calling party by beeper that the called party's wireless telecommunication device is in an on-hook condition.
  50. 50. A process for determining wireless telecommunication device status comprising:
    accessing a device status file over a network; and
    monitoring the status of a plurality of wireless telecommunication devices and providing that device status to the device status file.
  51. 51. The process for determining wireless telecommunication device status of
    claim 50
    , the process further comprising:
    notifying a calling party by beeper that a called party wireless telecommunication device is in an on-hook condition.
US09759107 1997-11-03 2001-01-12 Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network Active 2019-10-30 US7088802B2 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US08963373 US6175616B1 (en) 1997-11-03 1997-11-03 Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network
US09265656 US6483900B1 (en) 1997-11-03 1999-03-02 Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network
US09759107 US7088802B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2001-01-12 Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network

Applications Claiming Priority (10)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US09759107 US7088802B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2001-01-12 Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network
US11123490 US7280642B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2005-05-06 Status monitoring system utilizing an RFID monitoring system
US11182674 US7356128B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2005-07-15 Method and apparatus for obtaining status of monitoring devices over a network
US11280497 US7499527B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2005-11-16 System and method for determining the status of a telephone in a packet switched network
US11280506 US8464359B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2005-11-16 System and method for obtaining a status of an authorization device over a network
US11344750 US7460859B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2006-02-01 System and method for obtaining a status of an authorization device over a network for administration of theatrical performances
US11413887 US7734018B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2006-04-28 System and method for establishing a call between a calling party and a called party over a wired network
US11413888 US7529350B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2006-04-28 System and method for obtaining equipment status data over a network
US11517663 US7688952B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2006-09-08 System and method for obtaining equipment status data over a network
US12031989 US7986770B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2008-02-15 Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network

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US08963373 Continuation-In-Part US6175616B1 (en) 1997-11-03 1997-11-03 Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network

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US11123490 Continuation-In-Part US7280642B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2005-05-06 Status monitoring system utilizing an RFID monitoring system

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US20010005412A1 true true US20010005412A1 (en) 2001-06-28
US20050243976A9 true US20050243976A9 (en) 2005-11-03
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US11182674 Expired - Fee Related US7356128B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2005-07-15 Method and apparatus for obtaining status of monitoring devices over a network
US12031989 Active 2019-09-28 US7986770B2 (en) 1997-11-03 2008-02-15 Method and apparatus for obtaining telephone status over a network

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