US20100138581A1 - Universal Docking System - Google Patents

Universal Docking System Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100138581A1
US20100138581A1 US12/467,959 US46795909A US2010138581A1 US 20100138581 A1 US20100138581 A1 US 20100138581A1 US 46795909 A US46795909 A US 46795909A US 2010138581 A1 US2010138581 A1 US 2010138581A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
media player
docking
plurality
docking station
configured
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Abandoned
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US12/467,959
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Randall Bird
Kevin Cote
Rodney Farley
Joseph Renton
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Systems and Software Enterprises LLC
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Randall Bird
Kevin Cote
Rodney Farley
Joseph Renton
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Priority to US11913208P priority Critical
Application filed by Randall Bird, Kevin Cote, Rodney Farley, Joseph Renton filed Critical Randall Bird
Priority to US12/467,959 priority patent/US20100138581A1/en
Publication of US20100138581A1 publication Critical patent/US20100138581A1/en
Assigned to SYSTEMS AND SOFTWARE ENTERPRISES, LLC reassignment SYSTEMS AND SOFTWARE ENTERPRISES, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: BIRD, RANDALL, COTE, KEVIN, FARLEY, RODNEY, RENTON, JOSEPH
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/60Media handling, encoding, streaming or conversion
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F13/00Interconnection of, or transfer of information or other signals between, memories, input/output devices or central processing units
    • G06F13/38Information transfer, e.g. on bus
    • G06F13/40Bus structure
    • G06F13/4063Device-to-bus coupling
    • G06F13/4068Electrical coupling
    • G06F13/4081Live connection to bus, e.g. hot-plugging
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04HBROADCAST COMMUNICATION
    • H04H20/00Arrangements for broadcast or for distribution combined with broadcast
    • H04H20/53Arrangements specially adapted for specific applications, e.g. for traffic information or for mobile receivers
    • H04H20/61Arrangements specially adapted for specific applications, e.g. for traffic information or for mobile receivers for local area broadcast, e.g. instore broadcast
    • H04H20/62Arrangements specially adapted for specific applications, e.g. for traffic information or for mobile receivers for local area broadcast, e.g. instore broadcast for transportation systems, e.g. in vehicles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60RVEHICLES, VEHICLE FITTINGS, OR VEHICLE PARTS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B60R11/00Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for
    • B60R2011/0001Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for characterised by position
    • B60R2011/0003Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for characterised by position inside the vehicle
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60RVEHICLES, VEHICLE FITTINGS, OR VEHICLE PARTS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B60R11/00Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for
    • B60R2011/0042Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for characterised by mounting means
    • B60R2011/0049Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for characterised by mounting means for non integrated articles
    • B60R2011/0078Quick-disconnect two-parts mounting means
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60RVEHICLES, VEHICLE FITTINGS, OR VEHICLE PARTS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B60R11/00Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for
    • B60R2011/0096Theft prevention of articles
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B60VEHICLES IN GENERAL
    • B60RVEHICLES, VEHICLE FITTINGS, OR VEHICLE PARTS, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • B60R11/00Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for
    • B60R11/02Arrangements for holding or mounting articles, not otherwise provided for for radio sets, television sets, telephones, or the like; Arrangement of controls thereof
    • B60R2011/0294Apparatus with multi-functionalities, e.g. radio and telephone

Abstract

A docking system is presented for an ecosystem where multiple media players provide functionality according to the location of corresponding docking stations. The docking stations have locally encoded media player persona information that depends on the location where the docking station is installed. Once a media player is docked with the docking station, the media player obtains the persona information and configures itself to provide the functionality required for the location. The media player can restrict content as necessary based on the obtained persona information. Other features also can be incorporated within the docking station and media player assemblies to provide for proper airflow, isolation from vibration, or installation by unskilled individuals. A preferred ecosystem employing the disclosed techniques includes an aircraft in-flight entertainment system.

Description

  • This application claims the benefit of priority to U.S. provisional application having Ser. No. 61/119,132 filed on Dec. 2, 2008. This and all other extrinsic materials discussed herein are incorporated by reference in their entirety. Where a definition or use of a term in an incorporated reference is inconsistent or contrary to the definition of that term provided herein, the definition of that term provided herein applies and the definition of that term in the reference does not apply.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The field of the invention is docking technologies for electronic devices.
  • BACKGROUND
  • Various entertainment providing systems represent quite complex ecosystems of electronic devices, especially those employed in aircraft. For example, in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems can comprise hundreds of media players connected to content distribution servers, system managers, or even via one or more on-board networks. Known IFE networks require installed media players to coordinate their functionality with a central head unit IFE server. Unfortunately media players are often bolted or otherwise rigidly attached to an aircraft at installation locations within an aircraft including overhead locations, seatbacks, armrests, bulkheads, or other locations. The media players are installed at the locations in a manner that requires a skilled technician to install or to remove the media players. For example, should a media player fail during a flight, the media player can not be replaced until the flight lands and a trained service person replaces the player. Furthermore, aircraft also employ other dedicated displays located throughout the aircraft; possibly providing user interfaces for a crew compartment, communication interfaces, or other types of functions. Ideally, an aircraft ecosystem should support swappable elements that would essentially allow media players to also be configured to operate as a display or interface to reduce the number of specialized devices in an IFE system, or other control system, and to ease maintenance by allowing untrained individuals such as flight attendants to replace faulty displays or players.
  • In a system where media players are located around a cabin of an aircraft, it has yet to be appreciated that media players can take on functional roles or responsibilities based on where the media player is installed. For example, a media player could be installed in a crew compartment within an aircraft to provide an interface to control a kitchen area, or to control a public address system. The same type of media player, or even the exact same media player, could be installed in a seatback to provide entertainment to passengers. When installed in a seatback in an exit row, the media player could be configured to present additional instructions or content pertaining to the responsibilities of helping evacuate an aircraft. Alternatively, a media player installed in an overhead position might be configured to present a navigation map during a flight. In essence a single type (e.g., a make, model, etc.) of a media player could be used in an ecosystem where one player from a first location could be swapped with another player at a different location. Players should adopt their roles or responsibilities based on at least their specific location, preferably without requiring communication with a head unit, or other remote device or server. Unfortunately, the airline industry has largely failed to develop systems, methods, or configurations for IFE systems to allow a media player to operate dynamically in such a varied ecosystem.
  • Some effort has been directed to easing maintenance of installing media players for use as an entertainment device. For example, U.S. patent application publication 2008/0040756 to Perlman et al. titled “User Interface Device and Method for Presenting Viewing Content” (February 2008) discusses a system where individual media players can be removed from their mounting systems; in seatbacks or armrests for example. However, Perlman fails to recognize that players can take on different roles or responsibilities based on a location on where a media player is installed.
  • Some additional effort has been put forth toward allowing a docking station and a docked electronic device to cooperate to improve functionality of the combined assembly. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,826,043 to Smith et al. titled “Docking Station with Serially Accessed Memory that is Powered by a Portable Computer for Identifying the Docking Station” (October 1998) discloses a laptop computer docking station can store configuration information relating to the configuration of the docking station. Once the configuration information is communicated to a docked laptop, the laptop can use the information to allocate resources of the docking station for its own use. However, Smith, as well as others, merely contemplates a one-to-one relationship between docking stations and devices as opposed to a dynamic ecosystem, for example an aircraft IFE ecosystem, having locations at which a device can be deployed, and where the locations require a different functional role.
  • Another example includes U.S. Pat. No. 6,993,615 to Falcon titled “Portable Computing Device-Integrated Appliance” (January 2006). Falcon contemplates that a computing device can determine a type of appliance to which it is connected, and can provide a user interface for the appliance. Although Falcon discusses that device could be docked with different appliances, Falcon also fails to appreciate that an ecosystem could have different location dependent functional roles, and fails to appreciate that such an environment has a many-to-many relationship among docking stations and devices.
  • Yet another example includes U.S. patent application publication 2009/0091422 to Minoo et al. titled “Device Identification via Serial Communication Link” (April 2009). Minoo discusses that a device can discover and identify an accessory connected to the device via a dock. Upon discovery the device can determine whether preferences or functionalities should be set or enabled. As with the previous examples, Minoo also fails to appreciate that an ecosystem can have location dependent functional roles and where any one of a set of media players can fulfill the functional roles. Although Minoo, Flacon, and Smith provide suitable solutions for their intended purposes, they all fail to recognize issues associated with an ecosystem of devices that work together to form a coherent, functional ecosystem, especially as in an IFE system of an aircraft where any media player could be installed at any location, and where there can be a many-to-many relationship among players and docking station with respect to the functional roles required at each location.
  • Interestingly, it has yet to be appreciated that media players, or other types of devices, can have location dependent functionality within a complex ecosystem where device persona information can be stored within a docking station. For example, all media players could store the exact same content (e.g., applications, video data, audio data, games, passenger surveys, etc.). Docking stations can be encoded with media player persona information that can instruct a media player docked with the docking station of the persona that the media player should have at that specific location. Once a docked media player obtains the persona information, the player can operation according to the functional requirements at the location. Such an approach provides for nearly zero configurations when swapping, replacing, moving, or otherwise shifting media players from one location to another.
  • Unless the context dictates the contrary, all ranges set forth herein should be interpreted as being inclusive of their endpoints and open-ended ranges should be interpreted to include only commercially practical values. Similarly, all lists of values should be considered as inclusive of intermediate values unless the context indicates the contrary.
  • Thus, there is still a need for docking systems that provide an indication to an electronic device of its roles or responsibilities.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The inventive subject matter provides apparatus, systems and methods in which media players can be installed in a one of a number of different docking stations located around a structure to provide a solid, coherent operating ecosystem; an in-flight entertain (IFE) system for example. Preferably docking stations are encoded with information dependent on the docking station's location within the structure, where the information can be used to instruct a media player to take on a functional role or persona at the location. The docking station can be encoded with the media player persona information in various ways including storing the information in a computer readable media, physically encoding the information, optically encoding the information, or using other forms of encoding. Once a media player is installed or docked with a docking station, the docked media player can obtain the persona information from the docking station, and use the information to configure the player with one or more functional roles required for the location. In a preferred embodiment, media players are swappable with each other, and are fungible with respect to the various functional roles to allow any one media player to replace another media player with nearly zero user configuration, or without requiring media players to swap or to update content. For example, an installed media player docked within a docking station in a crew cabin of an aircraft might display content that controls a public address system, while the same physical media player docked in a seatback docking station would restrict access to the PA controls and only allow entertainment content to be played (e.g., video, audio, broadcasts, navigation maps, games, etc.).
  • Although a preferred embodiment of the disclosed universal docking system forms an IFE ecosystem in a cabin of an aircraft, the inventive subject matter can also be applied to other structures beyond aircraft including other vehicles (e.g., cars vans, buses, boats, etc.), buildings, off shore platforms, public address systems, or other ecosystems requiring different functional roles at various locations in the environments.
  • Preferred docking stations are configured to receive a media player in a manner where unskilled individuals can install or remove the media player with ease, and preferably without use of a tool. In a preferred embodiment, the docking stations are configured with one or more guiding surfaces that compliment one or more guiding surfaces of the media player. As an individual installs a media player, the cooperation of the guiding surfaces guide the media player into a proper fit. Contemplated guiding surfaces preferably include one or more beveled surfaces that can also act as ducting surfaces. The ducting surfaces of the docking stations or the media player can provide for a passive cooling airflow to cool a docked media player.
  • In some embodiments, the media players can mate with the docking station via a floating connector to aid in vibrationally isolating the surfaces of the media player from the surfaces of the docking station to reduce stresses on the connector in a vibrationally harsh environment as typically found in an aircraft. In a preferred embodiment, the connectors lack an intervening cable to reduce requirements for having a skilled technician install or remove the player. Additionally, the connection can float within a constrained region within the docking station or the media player to provide some play within the assembly to allow some vibration without causing damage to the devices.
  • Various objects, features, aspects and advantages of the inventive subject matter will become more apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, along with the accompanying drawing figures in which like numerals represent like components.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a schematic of a universal docking system where docking stations are deployed at various locations within a structure (e.g., an interior of an aircraft).
  • FIG. 2 is a schematic of a possible embodiment of a docking station.
  • FIG. 3 is a schematic of a possible persona module encoded with media player persona information.
  • FIG. 4 is a schematic of a media player that can be docked with a docking station.
  • FIG. 5 is a diagram showing an embodiment where a media player is about to be installed within a docking station, and where the player and docking station have guiding surfaces.
  • FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating an embodiment where a plenum is formed by the surfaces of a docking station and a media player, where the plenum provides a passive cooling airflow.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • The following description is provided within the context of an ecosystem operating as an aircraft IFE system. The term “ecosystem” is used to represent a system with multiple, distinct elements that function together to provide an overarching, coherent application. A preferred ecosystem includes an aircraft IFE system where media players can be members of an on-board network. One should appreciate that the inventive subject matter can be adapted to other environments having multiple media players, or having other electronic devices for that matter, that can be deployed at locations that dictate a media player's functional roles. Other contemplated environments having ecosystems include buildings with information kiosks, building security systems, offices video conferencing systems, vehicles with entertainment players and navigation systems, multi-player gaming systems, or other ecosystems.
  • IFE systems are extensively discussed elsewhere including the following:
      • a. U.S. patent application publication 2008/0040756 to Perlman et al. titled “User Interface Device and Method for Presenting Viewing Content” (February 2008)
      • b. U.S. patent application publication 2006/0107295 to Margis et al. titled “Portable Media Device and Method for Presenting Viewing Content During Travel” (May 2006)
      • c. U.S. Pat. No. 7,114,171 to Brady et al. titled “Method for Controlling an In-Flight Entertainment System” (September 2006)
  • One suitable IEF ecosystem that can be easily adapted to employ the inventive subject matter includes those designed, developed, or sold by The IMS Company of Brea, Calif. (http://www.imsco-us.com/).
  • The term “media player” is used to represent one of many possible classes of electronic devices. Preferred media players include devices specifically configured to present entertainment content to one or more individuals, and configured to support presenting both video and audio content. Although the inventive subject matter is directed to media players, the inventive subject matter can be applied to other classes of electronic devices including general computing devices, portable telephony devices, game consoles, or other types of electronic devices.
  • Overview
  • In FIG. 1, docking system 100 represents a universal docking system of a plurality of media player docking stations 110, each configured to receive any one media player from a plurality of plurality swappable of media players 120. Docking stations 110 are preferably installed as various docking station locations within an interior portion of a structure 150, for example, a cabin of an aircraft as shown.
  • Docking stations 110 are preferably fungible with respect to receiving any one of media players 120. Such an approach provides for removing one of media players 120 from a docking station 110 at one location, compartment 155A for example, and docked with a docking station 110 at another location, compartment 155C for example. In this sense, media players 120 are swappable with each other, or with spare media players 120, possibly stored within structure 150.
  • In a preferred embodiment, each location within structure 150 has a different functional requirement for media players 120. For example, as illustrated in FIG. 1 an aircraft having coach compartment 155A requires media players 120 to display basic entertainment content to passengers. Coach media players 120 can be docked with docking stations 110 that are installed in seatbacks, in armrests, in overhead positions, or at other locations about coach compartment 155A. Media players 120 placed in first class compartment 155B can be configured to offer first class passengers the basic entertainment content as well as premium content only available to the first class. Furthermore, media players 120 docked with docking stations 110 installed in crew compartment 155C can be configured to offer crew-based applications or content, or can operate as an interface to the aircraft's control systems to control the galley, PA system, or other aircraft features.
  • A functional role requirement can be conveyed from docking station 110 to media player 120 via location dependent persona information locally encoded in or on docking station 110 as discussed in greater detail below. Once media player 120 is docked with docking station 110, player 120 can obtain the persona information and use the persona information to configure its functional role for the location, or derived from content stored on media player 120.
  • As used herein “content” is used euphemistically to represent digital information stored on a computer readable medium that can be conveyed to a user of media player 120. Content can be passive where the information is merely played back to a user as in a video file, audio file, or other presentation that does not require the user's interaction. Alternatively, content can be interactive where the user is required to interact with the player. Examples of interactive content include applications running on the player, user interfaces, video games, intercoms, or other applications with which the user can interact.
  • Within a preferred embodiment, it is specifically contemplated that media players 120 restricts access to content based on the location where in the media player is docked. To continue the previous example, a media player 120 installed in compartments 155B and 155A would restrict access to crew related applications that would be made available at compartment 155C. In additional, a media player 120 installed in compartment 155A would restrict access to premium content that would be available to first class passengers in compartment 155B. It is also contemplated, that a coach media player 120 would enable content that is capable of providing a purchasing interface on the player through which a coach passenger could purchase premium content, or other items or services.
  • Media players 120 can restrict content based on various granularities of location information. The content could be restricted based on geographical location of structure 150 (e.g., country, state, province, postal code, area code, municipality, address, etc.), compartment within the structure (e.g., room, cabin, etc.), docking station installation location (e.g., overhead, seatback, armrest, wall, bulkhead, etc.), or even based on a position within a compartment (e.g., seat assignment, overhead positions, exit rows, etc.).
  • It is also contemplated that content can be restricted based on the type or class of location where a docking station is installed. For example, a media player 120 docked with a docking station in an exit row of an aircraft can provide content relating to aiding others through the exit, while the exact same media player 120 installed in a non-exit row can restrict access to such content. Example types of locations, possibly arranged as a hierarchical class structure of metadata stored within media player 120, includes building, vehicle, marketplace, office space, aircraft, wheeled ground vehicle, water vehicle, or others. In such an approach, content restriction can be inherited from a parent location type. For an IFE, the class structure might have the hierarchical class, from broadest to most narrow: (aircraft, coach compartment, exit row). Permissions for content can be inherited based on the location class structure, for example, the parent class location of “aircraft” permits access to some content on the media player, class location “coach compartment” inherits permissions from its “aircraft” parent and also grants permission to additional content on the media player 120, and finally the class location “exit row” inherits permissions from both of its parents and provides for the media player 120 to play content relevant to the exit row as well as any other non-restricted content.
  • The previous example is presented within the context of an aircraft IFE ecosystem. However, a location class structure can also be applied to other types of ecosystems as well (e.g., building security, car entertainment and navigation system, PA systems, etc.). A class structure can also have any number of levels as opposed to having just three as in the example, or can use any desirable meta-tags to describe each level. The meta-tags can be used as a descriptor to describe the type or class of location (e.g., “aircraft”, “seatback”, etc.), or can be a name of the location (e.g., “Flight 0062”, “Seat 32J”, etc.). Furthermore, the class structure does not necessarily have to be a taxonomic hierarchy, but could also include other classification schemes. Other acceptable classification schemes include an ontology, a pre-define keyword associations possibly based on attribute value pairs, a data-model having a many-to-many relationship among meta-tags, or other known classifications.
  • Docking Systems Issues
  • Numerous issues arise within a universal docking ecosystem of docking stations 110 capable of mating with a plurality of media players 120, especially in an aircraft IFE system. In such ecosystems, docking stations 110 and media players 120 should be robust to withstand various stresses encountered while in use. Docking stations 110 or media players 120 are preferably capable of handling the following issues, each discussed in greater detail below.
  • Docking system 100 preferably can withstand vibrations. Vibration stresses can cause a docked media player 120 to shake apart from it docking station 1 10. Traditional mounting systems rigidly attach a media player to a mounting bracket via heavy bolts or other means in an attempt reduce the risk of damage caused by media player 120 shaking against its mounting system. However, in an ecosystem where media players 120 can be swapped easily among different docking station 110 such traditional approaches are anathema to the desired goals. Media players 120 preferably dock with docking stations 110 in a manner that withstands the vibrations while also supporting easy removal.
  • Docking system 100 preferably allows untrained individuals to remove, replace, swap, or otherwise switch out media player 120 with others of media players 120 or even spare units. In traditional IFE systems, media players connect to an IFE system network directly via a cable attachment. When a media player requires replacement, the media player can only be replaced by a service technician due to cabling issues and regulations when an aircraft is on the ground. Such approaches are undesirable in the contemplated docking system 100 where media players 120 can be easily swapped with a spare unit during a flight. Furthermore, the replacement operation should not require the use of tool. Still, a key would be useful to ensure only authorized personnel can conduct a replacement operation.
  • Docking system 100 preferably provides for cooling of media player 120 while reducing a need for additional power to provide cooling (e.g., via a fan, a blower, or other air mover), and reducing the effective volume of the docking station-media player assembly. Cooling of media player 120 can be a significant issue especially when docking station 110 is in an enclosed space, a seatback, for example, and substantially covers the surfaces of media player 120. When installed in a seatback or other similar location, media player 120 likely has only one exposed surface; the display.
  • Docking system 100 preferably ensures that docking station 110 and docked media players 120 are robust against significant impacts. This is especially true in a vehicular or building ecosystems where impacts can cause debris to litter an emergency escape route (e.g., due to an aircraft impact, or an earthquake). In a preferred embodiment, docking station 110 securely attaches to media player 120 where media player 120 remains attached to the docking station 110 after an impact of at least 10 Gs. More information regarding standards for impact can be found in DO-160, Section 7, and Title 14 CFR 25.562.
  • The above requirements, as well as others, are preferably balanced with each other to provide an effective docking system 100 as discussed below. One should note that the inventive subject matter departs from known, traditional techniques, especially for aircraft IFE ecosystems. Given the departure from the traditional approaches, adjusting the various parameters for the disclosed elements to achieve a balance that is both an acceptable solution and meets required standards is well outside scope of mere design choice. Rather, one skilled in the art would not look toward the disclosed solutions as they are generally counter to established protocols.
  • Docking Stations
  • In FIG. 2, docking station 210 represents a block diagram schematic of a possible embodiment of a docking station, with which media player 220 can dock. In a preferred embodiment, docking station 210 provides connectivity to distal server 260, possibly a head unit for an IFE system within an aircraft, over network 250. Docking station 210 can also comprise components that enhance the capabilities of media player 220 including processor 216, memory 212, persona module 214. Docking station 210 can connect to network 250 via connector 218 and can connect to media player 220 via connector 215. Media player 220 can also have a connector 225 that is complementary to connector 215. Docking station 210 is preferably configured to transfer locally encoded persona information to an installed or docked media player.
  • As used herein “docking station” is used to mean a device that directly enhances a functional capability of a docked device (e.g., a device that is mated with the docking station) as opposed to merely providing connectivity. For example, docking station 210 could provide access to additional local resources, information, memory, processing, or other capabilities that are directly provided by docking station 210. A mounting system that merely provides a connection to network 250 or power connection would not be a docking station because the mounting system does not enhance the functional capabilities of a mounted device. Additionally, a connected cable is not a docking station because it merely provides connectivity to a remote resource as pass-through connection and does not provide enhanced capabilities. Examples of docking stations 210 could include a station that provides speakers as audio output, one or more displays as image output, one or more control interfaces, or other enhancements.
  • Docking station 210 can be sized and dimensioned as necessary to receive media player 220. Preferably a plurality of docking stations 210 within the contemplated ecosystem can be installed at any docking station location within the structure where the ecosystem is deployed. Additionally, preferred docking stations 210 have a common means, possibly a receptacle, for receiving docked media players 220. In some embodiments, docking stations 210 are fungible with respect to their locations, to within limits of the functional requirements of a location. However, it is also contemplated that docking stations 210 could have different physical structures depending on their deployed locations. For example, an arm rest docking station 210 in an aircraft IFE system would likely mount in a different manner that the same docking station 210 would mount in a crew cabin docking station location in a bulk head, while both would still be able to receive the same media player 220.
  • In some embodiments, server 260 operates as a computing device that coordinates activities of an ecosystem. For example, in an IFE ecosystem server 260 can operate as a head unit server that monitors, manages, or otherwise maintains the health of the system. Other operations that can be supported by server 260 include conducting firmware updates on media players 220 or docking station 210, content updates on media players 220, intercom communications among players, or other functions. In other embodiments, server 260 can simply be another remote media player 220 docked with a different docking station 210.
  • Network 250 preferably comprises a packet switched network of networked elements (e.g., switches, routers, hubs, other docking stations, etc.). Network 250 can be wired or wireless and can employ various protocols to exchange communications among the networked elements. Suitable protocols that can be used alone or in any combination include WiMAX, UWB, 802.11, RS-232, RS-485, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Z-Wave, CAN, Ethernet, TPv4, TPv6, UDP, TCP, HTTP, or other networking or communication protocols.
  • Connector 218 can comprise any type of suitable docking station port capable for providing connectivity to other devices, including those that compose network 250. Example connectors 210 include wired connectors, or wireless connectors. Connector 218 can include one or more physical ports capable of transferring data (e.g., an RJ-45 jack) or providing power.
  • Connector 215 provides connectivity to media player 220 and can also be wired or wireless as with connector 218. In a preferred embodiment, connector 215 physically connects with connector 225 of media player 220, and is a cable-less connector when there is no intervening cable between player connector 225 and docking station connector 215. Although connector 215 is shown as being distinct from connector 218, one should note that connector 215 could be implemented as connector 218 as well. In such can embodiment, the combined connector serves the purposes of connecting to media player 220, providing remote connectivity, or interfacing to the electrical components of docking station 21 0.
  • In some embodiments docking station 210 comprises processor 216 capable of executing software instructions stored on computer readable memory 212. In such embodiments, docking station 210 can provide enhanced functionality or resources to media player 220. In addition, docking station 210 can exchange management data, or other information, with distal server 260 as necessary. For example, distal server 260 could push a media player firmware update to docking station 210 when media player 220 is not docked, the firmware of media player 220 can be updated. The firmware update could be stored in memory 212 until media player 220 is docked and can be updated. Examples of memory 212 include RAM, Flash, ROM, EEPROM, a hard disk drive, a solid state drive, or other forms of computer readable memory.
  • In a preferred embodiment docking station 210 is locally encoded with media player persona information that dictates or instructs media player 220 of its functional roles or responsibilities while docked with docking station 210. “Locally encoded” is used herein to mean that the persona information is persistently stored local in, on, or within docking station 210 as opposed to being stored remotely, say on distal server 260. Once the persona information is locally encoded with docking station 210, the information remains with docking station 210 across power cycles without requiring updates, unless updates are desired and performed. It is contemplated that in some embodiments, server 260 could initially send persona information to docking station 210 when docking station 210 is installed at its location, or update the persona information. Once received, docking station 210 can store the personal information in memory 212, or within persona module 214 as discussed in more detail below. One should note that docking station 210 does not have locally encoded persona information when docking station 210 temporality stores the persona information in a communications buffer as the information is forwarded from distal server 260 to media player 220 because the persona information is not persistently stored. Locally encoding persona information within docking station 210 reduces communication overhead on network 250, and enhances the swappable nature of media players 220 from one docking station location to other locations with no user configuration steps required.
  • In preferred embodiment, persona information is location dependent. Each of docking station 210 is installed at one of a plurality of docking station locations (see FIG. 1) spread through a structure where the ecosystem is deployed. The persona information that is locally encoded in docking station 210 depends on the docking station's location to ensure that docked media player 220 provides the proper functionality at the specific location, or restricts access to content stored on media player 220 based on the specific location.
  • Persona Module
  • In FIG. 3, persona module 300 represents a block diagram schematic of a possible persona module storing encoded location dependent media player persona information that can be deployed within a docking station. Persona module 300 preferably carries the media player persona information for a docking station's location by comprising one or more encodings representing the media player persona information.
  • In some embodiments, persona module 300 comprises computer readable memory 310 that electronically stores the persona information. The persona information can be written or can be read via interface 320 that can connect to a bus of the docking station or can possibly directly connect to a connector of a docked media player. Interface 320 can also be a wired or wireless interface. In such embodiment persona module 300 could comprise RAM, flash, hard disk drive, solid state drive, or other forms of computer readable memory. It is also contemplated that persona module 300 could be a replaceable flash memory device including a memory stick, secure digital card, multi-media card, USB thumb driver, or other flash device.
  • In other embodiments, persona module 300 includes physical encodings 330 that represent the persona information. For example, persona module 300 could include a series of one or more physical protrusions (e.g., molded plastics, pins, wires, etc.) or even detents (e.g., holes, depressions, etc.). Physical encodings 330 could be arranged as a linear series, an array, or other arrangement that can be read by a docked media player, where width, length, size, presence, absence, depth or other physical characteristics are used to encode the information. Furthermore, in some embodiments, characteristics of physical encodings 330 could be adjusted mechanically or electronically to update the persona information. The arrangement of physical encodings 330 can carry the location based persona information as a code or other representation that can used by the media player to configure its functionality for the location.
  • Other encoding schemes can also be employed to locally encode the persona information with module 300 including optical encodings (e.g., bar codes, OCR, etc.), magnetic encodings using one or more magnetic elements, or RFID tags. Yet other encoding schemes can include the use of one or more jumpers, a DIP switch, selectively populated components on a PCB, or other PCB configuration schemes.
  • In some embodiments, persona information can be encoded in an encrypted format as opposed to encoding the persona information in clear text format. The persona information can be encrypted using any suitable encryption scheme including DES, 3DES, AES, RSA, PGP, or other known or yet to be invented scheme. Once properly authenticated, possibly by a key exchange or other protocol, a media player can access the persona information.
  • In similar vein, persona module 300 could store additional secure information in memory 310 that could also be encrypted, where the secure information could be included in personal information, or treated as separate information. In such embodiments, the secure information can comprise various keys including a key to unlock content (e.g., digital rights management), a docking station's private cipher key, a key for decrypting content stored on a media player, or other types of keys. It is also contemplated that persona module 300 could comply with one or more Federal Information Processing Standards including AES FIP-197, or FIPS-140 or its variants.
  • It is specifically contemplated that persona module 300 is swappable or otherwise replaceable to further enhance the flexibility of the contemplated universal docking system. For example, a docking station could be physically replaced at a docking station location. Persona module 300 could be unplugged from the old docking station, and plugged into the new docking station to enable the new docking station to inform a docked media player of its functional roles. It is also contemplated the persona module 300 could lack a power connection while still being able to transfer the persona information to a media player, possibly through physical encodings 330 or even an RFID tag where a docked media player has an RFID reader. Furthermore, one should note that persona module 300 can lack an electrical or communications connection to other to other components of the docking station, while still being able to communicate with a docked media player.
  • Media Player Persona Information
  • Persona information can be stored using any suitable digital scheme. The persona information could be stored as a file in a file system, a raw binary encoding, a GUID, an XML file, programmatic instructions, or other encodings. The persona information simply instructs a media player of which functional role it should take on at a location. As discussed previously, preferably the persona information depends on a docking station's location.
  • Actual persona information data encoded with a docking station preferably represents location information of the docking station, and is does not required to encode any content configuration information. As previously discussed the location information could identify the location by type, possibly through location class structure, or by one or more named tags. Example location information for an aircraft IFE system could include a flight number, an aircraft tail number, a seat number, a docking station location identifier, a cockpit, a crew rest area, a galley, a passenger's name assigned to a seat, or other information that could indicate the functional roles of a player for its installed location, especially if the roles are different than merely playing media for a passenger. Once a media player is docked and obtains the location information, the media player can derive its functional role based on the location information and based on the player's locally stored content. In such an approach, functional role of the docked media player can depend on static location information that does not change (e.g., seat number, aircraft tail number, vehicle identification number, building address etc.), or dynamic location information that can change (e.g., flight number, geographical position possibly determined through GPS or supplied by a distal server, passenger name, etc.).
  • One acceptable method that a docked media player can determine its function role from persona information is to use a look up table. The table can be indexed by the location information, where the look up table provides a persona configuration based on the location information.
  • Although a preferred embodiment represents an aircraft IFE ecosystem, one should appreciate that the persona information could be applied to other ecosystem and could include other attributes beyond location on which a media player's functional role depends. Additional attributes include geographic location, weather conditions, news events, state of the structure at moment in time, current local time or universal time, or other attributes.
  • Media Players
  • In FIG. 4, media player 400 represents a block diagram schematic of a possible media player that can be used within the contemplated ecosystems. A preferred media player 400 includes connector 425, persona reader 410, memory 420, processor 427, and bus 450 providing a communication channel among the electrical components of player 400. Also, a preferred media player 400 includes at least one of display 430 for presentation of image or video content, audio 435 output for presentation of sound data, or controls 445 to allow a user to interface with player 400. Controls 445 could include a mouse, keyboard, touch display, game controller, remote, or other types of control I/O. Additionally, in a preferred embodiment media player 400 comprises content 440 representing digital data or information that can presented to a user (e.g., movies, music, customer surveys, games, etc.).
  • In a preferred embodiment, media players 400 are fungible with respect to their location based functional roles. This can be achieved by each of media players 400 storing all necessary content 440 required for all locations in the ecosystem. For example, in an aircraft IFE ecosystem having hundreds of media players 400, each would store the same content 440. Media players 400 installed in a crew compartment of an aircraft would provide access to crew related application or information, while media players 400 installed in seatbacks would provide passengers access to entertainment data and would restrict access to the crew related applications.
  • The fungibility of the media players 400 with respect to their functional roles can also depend on the structure in which the players 400 are installed. For example, media players 400 could be fungible with respect to a type of structure (e.g., can be used in a 747, 727, 737, etc.), or even across different types of ecosystems (e.g., can be used in aircraft IFE system and in a car navigation system). Of course, the larger the extent of fungibility across ecosystems required in media player 400 likely increases the amount of content 440 required to achieve the fungibility.
  • Processor 427 is preferably configured to execute software instructions stored in computer readable memory 420 to provide media player functionality. Once media player 400 obtains its location based persona information, processor 472 can begin executing the necessary software instructions to enable the media player's functional roles at the location.
  • In a preferred embodiment, functional roles include at least playing entertainment content for a user of media player 400. However, the number of functional roles can vary greatly. Contemplated functional roles include playing content, providing interactive content (e.g., a game application), providing a user interface into an application (e.g., command, control, management, etc.) relevant to the ecosystem, intercommunication among other players, or other functional roles. As discussed previously the permitted or restricted functional roles are determined by the location of media player 400 within the ecosystem.
  • Content 440 can be stored on any suitable computer readable media, possibly even within memory 420. Suitable computer readable media can include flash drives, memory cards, hard drives, solid state drives, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray disks, or other types of media that is known or yet to be invented. Preferably media storing content 440 has a capacity of at least 100 Gigabytes, and more preferably at least 1000 Gigabytes, and yet more preferably at least 2000 Gigabytes. In this instance, and where other upper limits are not expressly stated, the reader should infer a reasonable upper limit. One example media that is suitable for use in a media player 400 is the Nitro Series 1 Terabyte (e.g., 1024 Gigabyte) SSD available from pureSilicon Inc. (http://www.puresi.com/) capable of providing content at over 200 Megabytes per second.
  • Media player 400 can include multiple, different types of I/O in support of its functional roles. Display 430 can present image data, audio 435 can include speakers or audio jacks to provide audio output, and controls 445 can provide an interface to media player 400 functionality. Controls 445 can include one or more buttons, switches, knobs, joysticks, game controllers, or other types of controls. It is specifically contemplated that controls 445 could also include a touch sensitive display capable of providing an interface to users via display 430.
  • Media player 400 preferably includes persona reader 410 configured to obtain persona information from a docking station. Although persona reader 410 is illustrated as a distinct module, one should appreciate that persona reader 410 could be implemented as programmatic instructions stored in memory 420 and executed by processor 427 to communicate over connector 425. In a preferred embodiment persona reader 410 complements the means used to store persona information in a docking station. Persona reader 410 can comprise a wired or wireless interface, mechanical pins that interface to physical encodings on the docking station, an optical sensor to read optical encodings, a magnetic sensor, an RFID reader, or other types of sensors.
  • Connector 425 provides one or more wired, or wireless, ports capable for providing a communication connection with a docking station. In a preferred embodiment connector 425 mates with a complementary connector on the docking station without the use of a cable. A cable-less connector allows an unskilled individual to dock media player 400 with a docking station. Furthermore, vibration stress of the connectors can be reduced by allowing connector 425 to float freely within constrained region 418. Constrained region 418 could be a cavity provided a housing of media player 400, one or more tabs that loosely hold connector in roughly the same position, or other from of restraint. Allowing connector 425 to float ensures that the docking station and media player have some play relative to each other. Such an approach is desirable in ecosystems where vibration can be an issue, including an aircraft IFE system, or other vehicles. In a preferred embodiment, connector 425 is constrained to float freely only in two dimensions, for example connector 425 can move laterally according movement 460 in an X and a Y direction.
  • Installation or Docking
  • FIG. 5 presents a side view of an embodiment where media player 520 is being installed within a receiving area of docking station 510. As media player 520 is moved toward docking station 510 approximately in the direction indicated by arrow 501 at an installation angle 0, one or more of guiding surfaces 517 (e.g., concave surfaces) on docking station 510 and complementary guiding surfaces 527 (e.g., convex surfaces) on media player 520 guide movement of player 520 into a proper fit. Once docked, media play 520 mates with docking station 510 via connectors 525 and 515. Cable 563 can provide power, communications, or other resources to player 520 from remote devices via a docking station.
  • In a preferred embodiment, guiding surfaces 527 comprise one or more beveled surfaces to ease docking of media player 520 into docking station 510. For example, in an aircraft IFE system embodiment where media player 520 is docked in a seatback, beveled surfaces 527 allow flexibility with respect to the initial angle θ at which player 520 is installed. Previous docking systems required direct installation at an angle of essentially zero degrees where all surfaces must align a prior before actual installation. Providing for a wide variation in installation angle θ ensures that media player 520 can docked easily, especial in environments where space is limited. For example, in an aircraft environment a flight attendant can easily remove a media player 520 and install a new media player 520 by sliding or tilting the player into the receptacle provided by docking station 510 at a range of accessible angles θ from zero to a maximum receiving angle even while a passenger is seated at the docking station location. In a preferred embodiment a maximum receiving installation angle θ can be as much as 10 degrees, more preferably as much as 20 degrees, and yet more preferably as much as 30 degrees. One should note that angle θ can be measured in the X or Y direction, thereby defining a cone of tolerance for installing media player 520.
  • Guiding surfaces 517 and 527 ensure that player 520 correctly docks with docking station 510. It is also contemplated connector 525 and connector 515 can be configured with guiding surfaces to ensure that they mate correctly without requiring a tool, or requiring significant time aligning the connectors. The guiding surfaces of connectors 525 and 515 are preferably sized and dimensioned to allow the connectors to mate without undue lateral movement, especially in embodiments where one or both connectors are allowed to float freely in a constrained region. For example, in the example shown connector 515 can flow freely as indicated by movement 560 within constrained region 518 provided by docking station 510. It is thought that the amount of movement 560 is small relative to the size connector's guiding surfaces, for example the maximum movement 560 allowed is preferably less than 50% of the minimum width of a connector's guiding surface.
  • Guiding surfaces 517 and 527 are illustrated as planar surfaces. However, it is also contemplated that surfaces 517 and 527 could comprise curved surfaces, interlocking surfaces, or other surfaces. It is also contemplated that surfaces 517 and 527 can comprises rails and tracks, rollers, or other means for guiding player 520 into proper docked position within docking station 510.
  • In a preferred embodiment docking station 510 or media player 520 also includes media player lock 513. Lock 513 shown in an unlocked position and as part of docking station 510. However, lock 513 could also be part of media player 520. Once player 520 is docked, lock 513 can be locked to securely attach player 520 to docking station 510 by threading lock 513 through lock slots 523, possibly embedded in the chassis of player 520. Lock 513 advantageously holds player 520 in position during an impact to prevent player 520 from falling to a floor during an emergency. Preferably, when lock 513 is locked onto player 520, lock 513 retains player 520 local to docking station 510 under impacts as great as 10 Gs, more preferably at least 15 Gs, yet more preferably at least 17 Gs, and yet more probably at least 20 Gs. Such an approach is especially advantageous in aircraft. Preferably media player 520 is held local to docking station 510 after impact within one meter, more preferably within 50 centimeters and yet more preferably within 10 centimeters. In some embodiments lock 513 is simply a metal rod or ring that attaches to the housing or frame of player 520, or station 510. However, other locks could also be used to retain player 520 local to docking station 510 after an impact including a tether, bolts, hooks, latches, screws, or other locking means that keeps player from falling to the floor during or after an impact.
  • In a preferred embodiment, lock 513 can be operated by a key. The key can be mechanical as is typically used. It is also contemplated that the key can be a non-mechanical key, possibly a wireless key. Example non-mechanical keys include a magnetic key, RFID based key, key fob, a wireless protocol key (e.g., Bluetooth, Wireless USB, Zigbee, Wibree, Z-Wave, UWB), or even a remote key operated by a distal server in a crew compartment. It is also contemplated that docking station 510 can provide key authentication or authorization via communication with a distal server. For example, when a non-mechanical key is within proximity of docking station 510, docking station 510 can read a key-ID from the key, via Bluetooth or RFID for example. The key-ID can be sent to a head unit server for verification that the key is authorized to unlock lock 513. Authorization can restricted to location, time, or other desirable parameters.
  • Lock 513 could be hidden from view to prevent unauthorized access. For example, a mechanical lock opening could be provided through a vent in an exposed surface of player 520. Alternatively, if a wireless key is used, lock 513 could simply be embedded within player 520 or docking station 510 out of view.
  • In some embodiments, the key is only required to unlock player 520 from a docked position. Once unlocked, the player can be safely removed. When a new player is docked, lock 513 can re-engage the newly docked player automatically without requiring the use of the key to lock the player. This approach further reduces the steps necessary to install a player 520, for example during a flight.
  • Docked Players
  • In FIG. 6, docking system 600 illustrates an embodiment where media player 620 is installed or docked with docking station 610. The arrangement shown is suitable for use in a seatback of an aircraft IFE ecosystem, a bulkhead, a car navigation interface, or other docking station location that substantially encloses player 620. The guiding surfaces of player 620 and docking station 610 operate as ducting surfaces 627 and 617, respectively. Ducting surfaces 627 and 617 cooperate to form plenum 650, which in turn provides for passive cooling airflow 655. In a preferred embodiment, airflow 655 originates at cool air vent 665 located near the bottom of exposed surface 621. Airflow 655 circulates through plenum 650 providing cooling to player 620 and exits plenum 650 via hot air vent 663 near the top of exposed surface 621.
  • It is specifically contemplated that exposed surface 621 could comprise one or more bezels extending from player 620 and overlapping adjacent external surfaces (e.g., a bulkhead, seatback, etc.). The bezels can also include one or more vent openings to allow airflow through vents 663 and 665.
  • Providing a passive cooling airflow via properly configured ducting surfaces 617 and 627 reduces requirements for active cooling elements. It is also contemplated that media player 620 could include one or more heat sinks that extend into plenum 650 to enhance player cooling, if desired. Fans or other powered cooling assemblies are no longer required, which reduces weight and reduces power consumption, both of which are desirable in vehicular or even building ecosystems.
  • In ecosystems where vibration stresses wear on player 620 or docking station 610, for example in an aircraft IFE ecosystem, docking stations 610 or players 620 can be fitted with cushioned pads 670 that hold player 620 in an installed position and that vibrationally isolate surfaces of media player 620. Pads 670 can be formed from any suitable material, preferably a silicone rubber, which has some elasticity to absorb or distribute vibrations through out the assembly. Pads 670 are preferably sized and dimensioned to allow for airflow 655 to flow substantially freely. Additionally pads 670 could be inserts that insert into receiving areas molded or formed into the housings of docking station 610 or player 620.
  • It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that many more modifications besides those already described are possible without departing from the inventive concepts herein. The inventive subject matter, therefore, is not to be restricted except in the spirit of the appended claims. Moreover, in interpreting both the specification and the claims, all terms should be interpreted in the broadest possible manner consistent with the context. In particular, the terms “comprises” and “comprising” should be interpreted as referring to elements, components, or steps in a non-exclusive manner, indicating that the referenced elements, components, or steps may be present, or utilized, or combined with other elements, components, or steps that are not expressly referenced. Where the specification claims refers to at least one of something selected from the group consisting of A, B, C . . . and N, the text should be interpreted as requiring only one element from the group, not A plus N, or B plus N, etc.

Claims (22)

1. A universal docking system, comprising:
a plurality of media player docking stations each configured to receive any one media player from a plurality of swappable media players;
a structure having an interior portion in which the docking stations are installed at a plurality of docking station locations, where at least some of the docking stations are locally encoded with media player persona information that depends on the docking stations' locations; and
wherein the at least some of the docking stations are configured to transfer the persona information to installed media players, where the persona information instructs the installed media players of their functional role at a receiving docking station's location.
2. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of media players are fungible with respect to their functional roles.
3. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the interior portion of the structure comprises a cabin of a vehicle.
4. The universal docking system of claim 3, wherein the vehicle comprises an aircraft.
5. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the persona information is used to restrict content from being played on docked media players at a receiving docking station's location.
6. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of docking stations are configured to receive the one media player via guiding surfaces of the plurality of docking stations and guiding surfaces of the one media player.
7. The universal docking system of claim 6, wherein the guiding surfaces of the one media player comprise beveled surfaces that approximately complement beveled guiding surfaces of the plurality of docking stations.
8. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of docking stations are configured to mate with the one media player via a cable-less connector.
9. The universal docking system of claim 8, wherein the cable-less connector is configured to float within a constrained region.
10. The universal docking system of claim 9, wherein the plurality of docking stations provide the constrained region.
11. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of docking stations are configured to retain the one media player under an impact of at least 15 Gs.
12. The universal docking system of claim 11, wherein the plurality of docking stations each comprise a mechanical lock that couples to a housing of the one media player and is capable of holding the media player local to the docking stations after the impact.
13. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of docking stations each comprise a first ducting surface that is configured to form a plenum with a second ducting surface of the one media player where the plenum provides a passive airflow to cool the one media player when only one surface of the one media player is exposed.
14. The universal docking system of claim 13, wherein the plenum is configured to vent hot air via a vent through the exposed surface.
15. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the at least some of the docking stations comprise a swappable media player persona module storing the persona information in a computer readable memory.
16. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the at least some of the docking stations are physically encoded with the persona information.
17. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of docking stations are configured to vibrationally isolate surfaces of the one media player from adjacent surfaces of the docking stations.
18. The universal docking system of claim 1, wherein the plurality of docking stations are configured to receive and to lock the one media player in a docked position without requiring use of a tool to dock and to lock the one media player.
19. The universal docking system of claim 18, wherein the docking stations comprise a media player lock configured to releasably lock the one media player in the installed position, and configured to release the one media player through the use a key.
20. The universal docking system of claim 19, wherein the key comprises a non-mechanical key selected from the group consisting of a magnetic key, an RFID key, and a wireless protocol key.
21. A universal docking system, comprising:
a plurality of media player docking stations each configured to receive any one media player from a plurality of swappable media players;
a structure having an interior portion in which the docking stations are installed at a plurality of docking station locations; and
wherein at least some of the docking stations comprise a first ducting surface configured to form a plenum with a second ducting surface of the one media player where the plenum provides a passive airflow to cool the one media player when only one surface of the one media player is exposed.
22. A universal docking system, comprising:
a plurality of media player docking stations each configured to receive any one media player from a plurality of swappable media players;
a structure having an interior portion in which the docking stations are installed at a plurality of docking station locations; and
wherein at least some of the docking stations are configured to mate with the one media player via a cable-less connector adapted to float within a constrained region provided by at least one of the one media player and a receiving docking station.
US12/467,959 2008-12-02 2009-05-18 Universal Docking System Abandoned US20100138581A1 (en)

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US12/467,959 US20100138581A1 (en) 2008-12-02 2009-05-18 Universal Docking System
EP20090797226 EP2356764A2 (en) 2008-12-02 2009-12-02 Universal docking system
PCT/US2009/066439 WO2010065657A2 (en) 2008-12-02 2009-12-02 Universal docking system

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US12/467,959 Abandoned US20100138581A1 (en) 2008-12-02 2009-05-18 Universal Docking System
US12/610,908 Active 2030-09-13 US8484686B2 (en) 2008-12-02 2009-11-02 Entertainment system with looped daisy-chained network of docking stations
US12/629,695 Active 2031-05-17 US8667544B2 (en) 2008-12-02 2009-12-02 Entertainment systems utilizing field replaceable storage units
US13/936,973 Active US8782714B2 (en) 2008-12-02 2013-07-08 Entertainment system with network of docking stations
US14/066,430 Active US9015776B2 (en) 2008-12-02 2013-10-29 Entertainment systems utilizing field replaceable storage units

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US12/610,908 Active 2030-09-13 US8484686B2 (en) 2008-12-02 2009-11-02 Entertainment system with looped daisy-chained network of docking stations
US12/629,695 Active 2031-05-17 US8667544B2 (en) 2008-12-02 2009-12-02 Entertainment systems utilizing field replaceable storage units
US13/936,973 Active US8782714B2 (en) 2008-12-02 2013-07-08 Entertainment system with network of docking stations
US14/066,430 Active US9015776B2 (en) 2008-12-02 2013-10-29 Entertainment systems utilizing field replaceable storage units

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Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:BIRD, RANDALL;COTE, KEVIN;FARLEY, RODNEY;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:029267/0375

Effective date: 20121108

STCB Information on status: application discontinuation

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