US20170163823A1 - Image forming apparatus, image printing method, external device, recording medium and communication system - Google Patents

Image forming apparatus, image printing method, external device, recording medium and communication system Download PDF

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Publication number
US20170163823A1
US20170163823A1 US15/440,172 US201715440172A US2017163823A1 US 20170163823 A1 US20170163823 A1 US 20170163823A1 US 201715440172 A US201715440172 A US 201715440172A US 2017163823 A1 US2017163823 A1 US 2017163823A1
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United States
Prior art keywords
image
external device
data
forming apparatus
image forming
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Pending
Application number
US15/440,172
Inventor
Masafumi Okigami
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Sharp Corp
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Sharp Corp
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Publication date
Priority to JP2009-017209 priority Critical
Priority to JP2009017209A priority patent/JP4981826B2/en
Priority to US12/655,997 priority patent/US20100188695A1/en
Priority to US13/865,667 priority patent/US20130229691A1/en
Priority to US13/952,549 priority patent/US20130308164A1/en
Application filed by Sharp Corp filed Critical Sharp Corp
Priority to US15/440,172 priority patent/US20170163823A1/en
Publication of US20170163823A1 publication Critical patent/US20170163823A1/en
Application status is Pending legal-status Critical

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    • H04N1/00307Connection or combination of a still picture apparatus with another apparatus, e.g. for storage, processing or transmission of still picture signals or of information associated with a still picture with a telecommunication apparatus, e.g. a switched network of teleprinters for the distribution of text-based information, a selective call terminal with a mobile telephone apparatus
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    • H04N1/32101Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title
    • H04N1/32106Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title separate from the image data, e.g. in a different computer file
    • H04N1/32122Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title separate from the image data, e.g. in a different computer file in a separate device, e.g. in a memory or on a display separate from image data
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    • H04N2201/3204Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title of data relating to a user, sender, addressee, machine or electronic recording medium
    • H04N2201/3207Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title of data relating to a user, sender, addressee, machine or electronic recording medium of an address
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    • H04N2201/3212Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title of data relating to a job, e.g. communication, capture or filing of an image
    • H04N2201/3219Display, printing, storage or transmission of additional information, e.g. ID code, date and time or title of data relating to a job, e.g. communication, capture or filing of an image of a job status, e.g. successful execution

Abstract

An image forming apparatus receives image data by a receiver from an external device and forms an image based on the received image data. The image forming apparatus transmits an address of the receiver to the external device. The image forming apparatus receives image data transmitted with the address by the external device. The communication between the external device and the image forming apparatus is performed wirelessly. The image forming apparatus prints image data in accordance with an accepted printing condition.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 13/952,549, filed on Jul. 26, 2013, which is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 13/865,667, filed on Apr. 18, 2013, which is a divisional of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/655,997 filed on Jan. 12, 2010 which claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(a) on Patent Application No. 2009-017209 filed in Japan on Jan. 28, 2009, the entire contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
  • BACKGROUND
  • 1. Technical Field
  • The present invention relates to an image forming apparatus and an image printing method that receives image data and forms an image, an external device that transmits image data, a recording medium that records a program executed by the external device, and a communication system that includes the image forming apparatus and the external device.
  • 2. Description of Related art
  • Mobile phones with camera function have lately become very popular and one can easily shoot a digital photo any time and anywhere. Also, the mobile phones have come to carry a large-capacity memory, which encourages the use of the mobile phone as a personal storage device for storing therein data such as the digital photos and business letters. Moreover, with the reduction in size and thickness of the mobile phone, so-called a card-type memory of a fingertip size, or even smaller, has come to be widely employed.
  • Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2007-267370 (hereinafter, publicly known literature 1) discloses a wireless communication method arranged such that when a user brings his/her non-contact ID card (or a wireless communication device incorporated therein with the non-contact ID card) close to a card reader-writer unit of an image processor, an IC chip in the non-contact ID card receives weak radio wave bearing the terminal ID indicating the ID of the image processor, being constantly outputted from the card reader-writer unit, to thereby acquire the terminal ID, and transmits the user ID of the non-contact ID card to the image processor utilizing the terminal ID.
  • Likewise, Japanese Patent Application Laid-Open No. 2003-32176 (hereinafter, publicly known literature 2) discloses a communication system in which a mobile phone includes a non-contact IC card that communicates with a reader-writer of a personal computer via electromagnetic wave, and when a user brings the mobile phone close to the personal computer so that the non-contact IC card receives the electromagnetic wave radiated from the reader-writer, the mobile phone notifies the card ID specified in the non-contact IC card to the personal computer, and the personal computer identifies the mobile phone based on the card ID thus notified, and recognizes the mobile phone as the communication counterpart.
  • SUMMARY
  • Meanwhile, methods whereby the user prints data stored in the memory of the mobile phone, such as a digital photo and a business letter, include connecting the memory of the mobile phone to a reading unit of an image forming apparatus for transmitting thereto the data to be printed, and wirelessly transmitting the data to be printed to an image Banning apparatus capable of executing wireless data transmission/reception with the mobile phone.
  • In the case of directly connecting the memory of the mobile phone to the reading unit of the image forming apparatus, the user has to take out the card-type memory from the mobile phone and insert it into the memory card reader of the image forming apparatus. Besides, when the printing is completed the user has to insert the card-type memory back into the mobile phone. Thus, troublesome procedures have to be performed and the card-type memory may be left unremoved from the memory card reader of the image forming apparatus after the printing.
  • For the wireless transmission of the data to be printed to the image forming apparatus, for example Bluetooth® technology or RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) system may be employed, and alternatively infrared communication may be performed between the mobile phone and the image forming apparatus.
  • When executing the wireless communication based on the Bluetooth® technology, it is necessary to set the both devices mutually communicatable (certification). For example, in the case where the mobile phone and the image forming apparatus are both Bluetooth®-compatible and the wireless communication based on the Bluetooth® technology is to be performed, it is necessary to execute a setting operation so-called pairing (or bonding), to allow the respective devices to identify the counterpart and to make mutual communication.
  • However, the pairing requires complicated and troublesome procedures. For example, when the user wants to print image data in the memory of the mobile phone with the image forming apparatus, the user has to retrieve through the mobile phone those image forming apparatus capable of performing the wireless communication in a predetermined radius (for instance, 100 mm), and distinguish the Bluetooth address of the image forming apparatus among the Bluetooth addresses of the plurality of image forming apparatuses listed on the display unit of the mobile phone as a result of the retrieval, however such distinction is very difficult. Besides, the distinction process still has to be followed by finely specified procedures to set the both devices mutually communicable. In addition, in the case where the image forming apparatus is a leased one installed in a convenience store, most of the users are new to the device and therefore the pairing has to be performed each time to thereby newly start up the wireless communication.
  • In the case of the infrared communication between the mobile phone and the image forming apparatus, the user has to carry out such troublesome operation as holding the mobile phone for a predetermined time, with the infrared port of the mobile phone and that of the image forming apparatus being set to oppose each other, while the data to be printed is wirelessly transmitted.
  • Further, in the case of the wireless communication based on the RFID system such as Felica® or Edy®, since the communication speed is slow, the mobile phone has to be held up over the image forming apparatus for a predetermined time, for wirelessly transmitting the data to be printed.
  • The wireless communication method according to the publicly known literature 1 and the communication system according to the publicly known literature 2 are known as the method for simplifying the foregoing operation. More specifically, the wireless communication method according to the publicly known literature 1, and the communication system according to the publicly known literature 2 both employ what is known as the RFID system, so that the user ID in the non-contact ID card (card ID of the non-contact IC card) is automatically transmitted to the image processor (personal computer), when the non-contact ID card (non-contact IC card) is brought close to the card reader-writer unit of the image processor (reader-writer of the personal computer). The wireless communication method according to the publicly known literature 1 and the communication system according to the publicly known literature 2, however, have a drawback in terms of security. For example, the RFID system is widely employed in the daily life circumstances such as electronic payment at a station entrance and a convenience store, and personal ID certification, and hence in the case where the non-contact ID card according to the publicly known literature 1 (non-contact IC card according to the publicly known literature 2) is brought close to a reader-writer prepared for a different purpose, the user ID in the non-contact ID card (card ID of the non-contact IC card) may be automatically transmitted to the reader-writer irrespective of the user's intention and confidential information may leak, which may even provoke an illegal access utilizing the user ID (card ID) that has leaked.
  • The present invention has been accomplished in view of the foregoing situation, with an object to provide an image forming apparatus, an image printing method, an external device, a recording medium and a communication system that allow skipping troublesome operation for set-up (certification) such as the pairing, and is capable of preventing leakage of confidential information from an electronic apparatus.
  • The present invention provides an image forming apparatus that has a receiver for receiving image data from an external device and forms an image based on the received image data, comprising a transmitter that transmits an address of the receiver to the external device, wherein the receiver receives image data transmitted with the address by the external device, a communication between the external device and the image forming apparatus is performed wirelessly, and image data is printed in accordance with an accepted printing condition.
  • The present invention provides an image forming apparatus that has a receiver for receiving contents data from an external device and forms an image based on the received image data, comprising a transmitter that transmits an address of the receiver to the external device, wherein the receiver receives contents data transmitted with the address by the external device, a communication between the external device and the image forming apparatus is performed wirelessly, and contents data is printed in accordance with an accepted printing condition.
  • The present invention provides a recording medium recording a program executed by an external device that wirelessly communicates with an image forming apparatus which has a receiver for receiving contents data from the external device and a transmitter for transmitting an address of the receiver to the external device, makes the receiver receive contents data transmitted with the address by the external device, and forms an image based on the received contents data, wherein the external device is controlled to perform processing of: reading out contents data stored in a storage unit; and transmitting the read out contents data to the image forming apparatus with the address transmitted by the transmitter of the image forming apparatus.
  • The present invention provides image printing method with an image forming apparatus that has a receiver for receiving image data from an external device and forms an image based on the received image data, comprising steps of: making the image forming apparatus utilize a transmitter to transmit an address of the receiver to the external device; making the image forming apparatus utilize the receiver to receive image data transmitted with the address by the external device; performing a wireless communication between the external device and the image forming apparatus; and making the image forming apparatus print the received image data.
  • The present invention provides a communication system comprising an external device and an image forming apparatus that has a receiver for receiving image data from the external device and forms an image based on the received image data, wherein the image forming apparatus comprises a transmitter that transmits an address of the receiver to the external device, the image forming apparatus utilizes the receiver to receive image data transmitted with the address by the external device, a communication between the external device and the image forming apparatus is performed wirelessly, and the image forming apparatus further comprises a printing unit that prints the image data received by the receiver.
  • The present invention provides an external device wirelessly communicating with an image forming apparatus that has a receiver for receiving image data from the external device and a transmitter for transmitting an address of the receiver to the external device, makes the receiver receive image data transmitted with the address by the external device, and forms an image based on the received image data, comprising a reading out unit that reads out image data stored in a storage unit; and an image data transmitter that transmits the read out image data to the image forming apparatus with the address transmitted by the transmitter of the image forming apparatus.
  • The present invention provides a recording medium recording a program executed by an external device that wirelessly communicates with an image forming apparatus which has a receiver for receiving image data from the external device and a transmitter for transmitting an address of the receiver to the external device, makes the receiver receive image data transmitted with the address by the external device, and forms an image based on the received image data, wherein the external device is controlled to perform processing of: reading out image data stored in a storage unit; and transmitting the read out image data to the image forming apparatus with the address transmitted by the transmitter of the image forming apparatus.
  • The above and further objects and features of the invention will more fully be apparent from the following detailed description with accompanying drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a drawing illustrating a concept of a communication system and an information processing system according to a first embodiment;
  • FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing an essential structure of the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment;
  • FIG. 3 is a flowchart showing a procedure to be executed by a CPU of a control unit of an image forming apparatus, in the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment;
  • FIG. 4 is the flowchart showing a procedure to be executed by the CPU of the control unit of the image forming apparatus, in the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment;
  • FIG. 5 is a flowchart showing a procedure to be executed by a CPU of a control unit of a mobile phone, in the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment;
  • FIG. 6 is a block diagram for explaining a structure of a flash memory of the mobile phone, in the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment;
  • FIG. 7 is a drawing illustrating a list screen of file names displayed on a display unit of the image forming apparatus;
  • FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing a procedure to be executed by a CPU of a control unit of an image forming apparatus, in a communication system and an information processing system according to a second embodiment;
  • FIG. 9 is a flowchart showing a procedure to be executed by a CPU of a control unit of a mobile phone, in the communication system and the information processing system according to the second embodiment; and
  • FIG. 10 is a front view of the mobile phone for explaining an operation for selecting a file to be printed.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • Hereunder, a first embodiment of the present invention will be described in details referring to the drawings, based on the case where the image forming apparatus (electronic apparatus) is exemplified by a digital multifunction machine with copying, printing and other functions, and where the communication system and the information processing system according to the present invention includes the digital multifunction machine and a mobile phone (communication device, external device) as constituents.
  • First Embodiment
  • FIG. 1 is a drawing illustrating a concept of the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment according to the present invention, and FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing an essential structure of the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment. The communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment include an image forming apparatus 1 and a mobile phone 2.
  • The image forming apparatus 1 includes hardware devices such as a control unit 11, an image input unit 17, an image processor 18, an image output unit 19, a storage unit 14, a wireless communication unit 16, a reader-writer 15, and an operation panel 12, and constitutes a digital multifunction machine as a whole.
  • The control unit 11 includes a CPU that controls those hardware devices, and a RAM that temporarily stores therein such data that are necessary for controlling. The storage unit 14 is, for example, a non-volatile semiconductor memory, and stores therein image data for image processing, control programs for controlling the respective hardware devices, a program for displaying a file list screen which will be described later, image data received through the wireless communication unit 16, and so forth. In the storage unit 14, a plurality of passkeys are stored in advance, so that in the case where the CPU of the control unit 11 receives the passkey through operation panels 28, 12, the CPU compares the received passkey with the passkey stored in advance in the storage unit 14.
  • Also, the control unit 11 loads the control program from the storage unit 14 when necessary, and executes the loaded control program to thereby activate the overall apparatus as the image forming apparatus according to the present invention.
  • The operation panel 12 includes various buttons for inputting instructions of the user, an enter key for validating the instruction, ten-keys, and so on. The operation panel 12 also includes a display unit 13 constituted of an LCD for example, to thereby display a list of file names (contents data) of images, compositions and so on stored in the mobile phone 2. Here, the display unit 13 is provided with a touch panel function.
  • The image input unit 17 is a reading unit that optically reads an image of a source document, and includes a light source that emits light to the document to be read, an image sensor such as a charge-coupled device (CCD), and so forth. The image input unit 17 forms an image on the image sensor from the reflected light image of the document set at a predetermined position, and outputs analog electrical signals representing the RGB colors (Red, Green, Blue). The analog electrical signals outputted by the image input unit 17 are inputted to the image processor 18.
  • The image output unit 19 forms an image on a sheet such as paper, an OHP film, based on the image data outputted from the image processor 18. To do so, the image output unit 19 includes a photoconductive drum, a charger that charges the photoconductive drum to a predetermined potential, a laser writer that emits a laser beam based on the image data received from outside so as to form a static latent image on the photoconductive drum, a developing device that supplies a toner to the static latent image formed on the photoconductive drum surface, to thereby visualize the image, and a transfer unit that transfers the toner image formed on the photoconductive drum surface to a paper (not shown), and employs an electronic photography process to form the image required by the user on the sheet. Here, the image formation may be performed through an inkjet process, a thermal transfer process, or a sublimation process, instead of the electronic photography utilizing the laser writer.
  • The image processor 18 generates digital image data based on an analog electrical signal inputted through the image input unit 17, and generates the image data for outputting after processing according to the type of the image. The image data thus generated is outputted to the image output unit 19 or the wireless communication unit 16.
  • The wireless communication unit 16 is compatible with the Bluetooth® technology for example, and achieves wireless connection with another Bluetooth-compatible device (for example, wireless communication unit 27 to be described later) located within a predetermined short range (for instance, 100 mm). To be more detailed, the Bluetooth-compatible device has its exclusive Bluetooth address (identification data), and executes an identification process (certification), called pairing, with a connection counterpart based on the Bluetooth address of each other through a short-range ad hoc network called piconet, to thereby enable wireless connection and communication with the counterpart Bluetooth-compatible device. The piconet is dynamically and automatically built up and cancelled, each time that the counterpart Bluetooth-compatible device enters the predetermined range and goes out of that range. The wireless communication unit 16 may also be a device compatible with IEEE802.11, instead of the Bluetooth-compatible device. In this case, however, the wireless communication unit 27 to be subsequently described, which acts as the counterpart of the wireless communication unit 16, also has to be compatible with IEEE802.11.
  • The reader-writer 15 transmits and receives data to and from a contact/non-contact IC card 26 to be subsequently described, with or without mutual contact, based on what is known as a non-contact communication system (Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system). Hereunder, explanation will be given on the non-contact communication system between the reader-writer 15 and the contact/non-contact IC card 26. The reader-writer 15 constantly emits an activation signal (electromagnetic wave), so that when the contact/non-contact IC card 26 and the reader-writer 15 come close enough to each other to make communication, the contact/non-contact IC card 26 receives the electromagnetic wave emitted by the reader-writer 15. The contact/non-contact IC card 26 rectifies, upon receipt of the electromagnetic wave, the carrier wave of the electromagnetic wave to thereby generate a DC power source, which is utilized for driving an internal circuit. The contact/non-contact IC card 26 then modulates the amplitude and transmits a response signal corresponding to the activation signal. A RFID system such as Felica®, or Edy® may be employed. The reader-writer 15 transmits the exclusive Bluetooth address (identification data) of the wireless communication unit 16 to the contact/non-contact IC card 26.
  • The mobile phone 2 includes a control unit 21 including a CPU that controls the entire device, a ROM that stores therein programs and various data, and a RAM that accepts high-speed writing and reading, and a large-capacity flash memory 24 for storing therein phone numbers, image data and so forth. The flash memory 24 also stores therein data such as a list (contents data) of images and documents in the mobile phone 2, thumbnails of the images and so on.
  • The mobile phone 2 also includes a base station communication unit 25 with a communication interface for communicating with a base station, an operation panel 28 including press buttons for accepting user's operation, a camera for acquiring an image by photoshooting, an input unit 23 including a microphone for receiving an input of a sound, and an output unit 22 such as an LCD monitor on which an image is outputted or a speaker that outputs a sound.
  • The mobile phone 2 further includes the contact/non-contact IC card 26 and the wireless communication unit 27. The contact/non-contact IC card 26 serves to transmit and receive data to and from the reader-writer 15 with or without mutual contact, based on what is known as the non-contact communication process. In this case also, Felica® or Edy® system may be adopted. The wireless communication unit 27 is, as stated earlier, compatible with, for example, the Bluetooth® technology, and executes wireless connection and communication with another Bluetooth-compatible device (for example, wireless communication unit 16) when such another Bluetooth-compatible device is within the predetermined short range (for instance, 100 mm).
  • Hereunder, description will be given on the communication process and the image formation process, to be executed by the image forming apparatus 1 and the mobile phone 2 based on the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment of the present invention. The following description represents the case where a digital multifunction machine, which exemplifies the image forming apparatus 1 according to the present invention, is employed to print an image based on the image data stored in the user's mobile phone 2.
  • FIG. 3 and FIG. 4 are flowcharts showing a procedure to be executed by the CPU of the control unit 11 of the image forming apparatus 1, and FIG. 5 is a flowchart showing a procedure to be executed by the CPU of the control unit 21 of the mobile phone 2. As already stated, the image forming apparatus 1 and the mobile phone 2 are both Bluetooth-compatible devices, in the communication system and the information processing system according to the first embodiment of the present invention.
  • The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 decides whether the mobile phone 2 is close within the predetermined range (step S101). As stated earlier, the image forming apparatus 1 includes the reader-writer 15, and the mobile phone 2 includes the contact/non-contact IC card 26. The reader-writer 15 of the image forming apparatus 1 constantly emits the activation signal (electromagnetic wave), so that, for example, when the user holds up the mobile phone 2 over the reader-writer 15 of the image forming apparatus 1, contact/non-contact IC card 26 of the mobile phone 2 emits the response signal corresponding to the activation signal to the reader-writer 15, through the foregoing process. The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 decides that the mobile phone 2 is close within the predetermined range upon receipt of the response signal.
  • In the case where the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 decides that the mobile phone 2 is not located within the predetermined range (step S101: NO), the CPU waits until the mobile phone 2 enters the predetermined range. Upon deciding that the mobile phone 2 is close within the predetermined range (step S101: YES), the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 reads out the Bluetooth address of the wireless communication unit 16 (hereinafter, image forming apparatus-side address) and transmits the address to the reader-writer 15, and the reader-writer 15 transmits the image forming apparatus-side address (identification data) to the contact/non-contact IC card 26 of the mobile phone 2 (step S102).
  • Meanwhile, the CPU of the mobile phone 2 monitors the contact/non-contact IC card 26, to thereby decide whether the image forming apparatus-side address has been received (step S201). In the case where the CPU of the mobile phone 2 decides that the image forming apparatus-side address has not been received (step S201: NO), the CPU waits until the image forming apparatus-side address is received. Upon deciding that the image forming apparatus-side address has been received (step S201: YES), the CPU of the mobile phone 2 stores the received image forming apparatus-side address in a memory region of the contact/non-contact IC card 26.
  • FIG. 6 is a block diagram for explaining a configuration of the flash memory 24. The memory region of the contact/non-contact IC card 26 includes a common region 26B and a private region 26A (free area). The received image forming apparatus-side address (identification data) is written in the private region 26A of the contact/non-contact IC card 26. The private region 26A is a region that a service provider can freely utilize. Utilizing the private region 26A enables the writing with a higher degree of freedom. Although the data can also be written in the common region, in this case a remote publishing system of the card networks has to be utilized, which leads to the drawback that the degree of freedom in writing is reduced.
  • The CPU of the mobile phone 2 then requests the pairing to the image forming apparatus 1 (step S202). To make the pairing request, the wireless communication unit 27 of the mobile phone 2 transmits the Bluetooth address of the wireless communication unit 27 (hereinafter, mobile phone-side address) and data to the effect of requesting the pairing, to the wireless communication unit 16 of the image forming apparatus 1, utilizing the image forming apparatus-side address.
  • Meanwhile, the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 monitors the wireless communication unit 16, to thereby decide whether the pairing request has been received from the mobile phone 2 (step S103). In the case where the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 decides that the pairing request has not been received (step S103: NO), the CPU waits until the pairing request is received from the mobile phone 2. The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 displays, upon deciding that the pairing request has been received (step S103: YES), a passkey input screen on the display unit 13 of the operation panel 12, thus requesting the user to input the passkey through the mobile phone 2 (step S104).
  • The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 accepts the passkey inputted by the user through the operation panel 28 (or the touch panel of the display unit 13), and compares the passkey with a passkey stored in advance in the storage unit 14, so that the communication is established upon deciding that the passkey is correct. In other words, at this stage the pairing is completed, and the image forming apparatus 1 and the mobile phone 2 are made communicatable with each other. Then the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 transmits data to the effect of requesting a list of file names of images, compositions and so on in the mobile phone 2, to the mobile phone 2 through the wireless communication unit 16 (step S105).
  • Once the wireless communication unit 27 receives the data to the effect of requesting the list of file names from the image forming apparatus 1, the CPU of the mobile phone 2 reads out the list of file names of images, compositions and so on stored in the flash memory 24, and transmits the list to the image forming apparatus 1 through the wireless communication unit 27 (step S203).
  • The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 acquires the data of list of file names transmitted from the mobile phone 2 by receiving through the wireless communication unit 16 (step S106), and stores the data in the storage unit 14. The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 then displays the file list screen on the display unit 13 for user's selection of the file to be printed, based on the file list data stored in the storage unit 14 (step S107).
  • FIG. 7 illustrates an example of the list screen of file names displayed on the display unit 13 of the image forming apparatus 1. The list screen of file names displays in a scrollable manner a plurality of file names based on the data of list of file names, as well as a thumbnail of the file selected by the user by manipulating the operation panel 12 or the display unit 13 (touch panel). The list screen of file names also displays soft keys such as “number of copies” and “magnification”, to thereby accept the user's instruction on the number of copies to be printed and level of magnification. After selecting the file to be printed and inputting the printing instructions, the user presses the soft key of “print”, thus instructing to start printing. In this case, since the operation is performed on the larger display unit 13 of the image forming apparatus 1 instead of the small LCD monitor screen of the mobile phone 2, the image reference and the key manipulation can be easily done.
  • The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 monitors the operation panel 12 and the touch panel of the display unit 13, to thereby decide whether the user's file selection has been received (step S108). In the case where the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 decides that the file selection has not been received (step S108: NO), the CPU waits until the file selection is received from the user. The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 then decides, upon deciding that the user's file selection has been received (step S108: YES), whether the printing instruction has been received from the user (step S109). Such decision is made through monitoring the operation panel 12 and the touch panel of the display unit 13, by the CPU.
  • In the case where the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 decides that the printing instruction has not been received (step S109: NO), the CPU waits until the printing instruction is received from the user. Upon deciding that the printing instruction has been received from the user (step S109: YES), the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 requests the mobile phone 2 to provide the image data corresponding to the selected file (step S110). Such request is made through transmitting data to the effect of requesting the transmission of the image data of the selected file, to the mobile phone 2 through the wireless communication unit 16.
  • Meanwhile, the CPU of the mobile phone 2 monitors the wireless communication unit 27, to thereby decide whether the transmission request of the image data of the selected file has been received from the image forming apparatus 1 (step S204). In the case where the CPU of the mobile phone 2 decides that the transmission request of the image data of the selected file has not been received (step S204: NO), the CPU waits until the transmission request of the image data of the selected file is received. Then upon deciding that the transmission request of the image data of the selected file has been received (step 5204: YES), the CPU of the mobile phone 2 reads out the image data of the selected file from the flash memory 24, and transmits the image data to the image forming apparatus 1 through the wireless communication unit 27 (step S205).
  • Once the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 receives the image data of the selected file from the mobile phone 2 through the wireless communication unit 16 (step S111), the CPU stores the image data in the storage unit 14. The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 then transmits the image data stored in the storage unit 14 to the image output unit 19 and instructs the image output unit 19 to print the image based on the image data, thereby printing the image based on the image data (step S112). Through the printing process, the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 transmits data to the effect of notifying the printing result, such that the printing has been normally completed, or that an abnormality has arisen, to the mobile phone 2 through the wireless communication unit 16 (step S113).
  • The CPU of the mobile phone 2 acquires the data to the effect of notifying the printing result from the image forming apparatus 1, through the wireless communication unit 27 (step S206), and stores the data in the flash memory 24. The CPU of the mobile phone 2 then outputs the data to the effect of notifying the printing result stored in the flash memory 24, through the output unit 22 (step S207). Such outputting may be performed, for example, by displaying a text notifying the printing result on the LCD monitor of the mobile phone 2, or by outputting a voice or an alarm notifying the printing result through the speaker of the mobile phone 2.
  • As described throughout the foregoing passages, the communication system and the information processing system according to the present invention are designed such that the image forming apparatus-side address is received from the image forming apparatus 1 and the user utilizes the image forming apparatus-side address to transmit the data to the image forming apparatus 1, and therefore can prevent leakage of confidential information relevant to the mobile phone 2 such as the address and passkey, unintended by the user.
  • The first embodiment exemplifies the case where the user manually inputs the passkey for assured accuracy in setting the passkey, however in the case where simplicity in operation is a prior factor the delivery of the passkey may be performed through the reader-writer 15 of the image forming apparatus 1 and the contact/non-contact IC card 26 of the mobile phone 2.
  • Here, in the case of those devices not designed for inputting the passkey (mouse, headset, and the like), the passkey may be set as a fixed value, or the system may exclude the need to input the passkey. For the device not designed for inputting the passkey; for example a passkey of simple digits such as “0000” may be set as a default value.
  • Second Embodiment
  • Hereunder, description will be given on a communication process and an image formation process of the image forming apparatus 1 and the mobile phone 2 to be performed by the communication system and the information processing system according to a second embodiment of the present invention. The following description represents the case where a digital multifunction machine, which exemplifies the image forming apparatus 1 according to the present invention, is employed to print an image based on the image data stored in the user's mobile phone 2. In the communication system and the information processing system according to the second embodiment of the present invention, the delivery of the passkey is performed through the reader-writer 15 of the image forming apparatus 1 and the contact/non-contact IC card 26 of the mobile phone 2. FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing a procedure to be executed by the CPU of the control unit 11 of the image forming apparatus 1, and FIG. 9 is a flowchart showing a procedure to be executed by the CPU of the control unit 21 of the mobile phone 2.
  • First, the user of the mobile phone 2 manipulates the mobile phone 2 so as to select a file to be printed (step S401). FIG. 10 is a front view of the mobile phone 2 for explaining an operation for selecting the file to be printed. On the LCD monitor (output unit 22) of the mobile phone 2, thumbnails of image data stored in the flash memory 24 are displayed, for selection of one of the thumbnails by operating a key (operation panel 28 including press buttons and so on) thereby moving a cursor. Upon selecting a desired thumbnail, the name of the file represented by the selected thumbnail (hereinafter, selected file) and a larger image than the thumbnail are displayed on the output unit 22. Then the user holds up the mobile phone 2, on which the file to be printed has been selected, over the reader-writer 15 of the image forming apparatus 1.
  • Meanwhile, the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 decides whether the mobile phone 2 is close within the predetermined range, by the method described earlier (step S301). In the case where the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 decides that the mobile phone 2 is not located within the predetermined range (step S301: NO), the CPU waits until the mobile phone 2 enters the predetermined range. The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 reads out, upon deciding that the mobile phone 2 is close within the predetermined range (step S301: YES), the Bluetooth address of the wireless communication unit 16 (hereinafter, image forming apparatus-side address) and the passkey, and transmits the address and the passkey to the reader-writer 15, and the reader-writer 15 transmits the image forming apparatus-side address to the contact/non-contact IC card 26 of the mobile phone 2 (step S302).
  • The CPU of the mobile phone 2 monitors the contact/non-contact IC card 26, to thereby decide whether the image forming apparatus-side address and the passkey have been received (step S402). In the case where the CPU of the mobile phone 2 decides that the image forming apparatus-side address and the passkey have not been received (step S402: NO), the CPU waits until the image forming apparatus-side address and the passkey are received. Upon deciding that the image forming apparatus-side address and the passkey have been received (step S402: YES), the CPU of the mobile phone 2 stores the received image forming apparatus-side address and the passkey in the flash memory 24. Then the CPU of the mobile phone 2 reads out the image data of the selected file from the flash memory 24, and transmits the data to the image forming apparatus 1 through the wireless communication unit 27, utilizing the image forming apparatus-side address and the passkey (step S403).
  • Once the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 receives the image data of the selected file from the mobile phone 2 through the wireless communication unit 16 (step S303), the CPU stores the image data in the storage unit 14. The CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 then transmits the image data stored in the storage unit 14 to the image output unit 19, and instructs the image output unit 19 to print the image based on the image data (step S304). Through the printing process, the CPU of the image forming apparatus 1 transmits data to the effect of notifying the printing result, such that the printing has been normally completed, or that an abnormality has arisen, to the mobile phone 2 through the wireless communication unit 16 (step S305).
  • The CPU of the mobile phone 2 acquires the data to the effect of notifying the printing result from the image forming apparatus 1, through the wireless communication unit 27 (step S404), and stores the data in the flash memory 24. The CPU of the mobile phone 2 then outputs the data to the effect of notifying the printing result stored in the flash memory 24, through the output unit 22 (step S405).
  • The foregoing configuration of the communication system and the information processing system according to the second embodiment allows immediately printing the image simply by bringing the mobile phone 2, on which the file to be printed has been selected, close to the image forming apparatus 1, thus significantly simplifying the printing process.
  • The same constituents as those of the first embodiment are given the same numerals and detailed description thereof will not be repeated.
  • Although the communication system, the information processing system, the image forming apparatus and the portable information terminal device according to the present invention have been described referring to the digital multifunction machine (image forming apparatus 1) and the mobile phone 2 as examples, the present invention is not limited to such combination. For example, the mobile phone may be replaced with a digital camera with a communication function, or instead a mobile computer or a portable terminal called PDA. Also, instead of transmitting the data from the mobile phone, image data read out by a scanner of the digital multifunction machine may be transmitted to the mobile phone. The present invention may further be applied to transmission of facsimile image data or electronic data stored in the storage device of the digital multifunction machine to the mobile phone. Further, between devices each including two or more communication units for mutual communication, for example as the reader-writer 15 and the wireless communication unit 16 of the digital multifunction machine (image forming apparatus 1), and as the contact/non-contact IC card 26 and the wireless communication unit 27 of the mobile phone 2, the advantages of the present invention can equally be achieved.
  • As this invention may be embodied in several forms without departing from the spirit of essential characteristics thereof, the present embodiment is therefore illustrative and not restrictive, since the scope of the invention is defined by the appended claims rather than by the description preceding them, and all changes that fall within metes and bounds of the claims, or equivalence of such metes and bounds thereof are therefore intended to be embraced by the claims.

Claims (6)

What is claimed is:
1. An image forming apparatus that receives data from an external device and forms an image based on the received data, comprising:
a wireless communication unit that receives data sent from the external device,
wherein when a thumbnail associated with data of an image is selected by a user of the external device, the selected data of the image is displayed at the external device for recognition, the selected data of the image is sent from the external device, and the wireless communication unit receives the selected data of the image, and
wherein after the thumbnail is selected, the selected data of the image is sent to the wireless communication unit in a state of the selected data of the image being displayed larger than the thumbnail displayed prior to the selection.
2. A communication system that has an external device and has an image forming apparatus which comprises a wireless communication unit receiving data from the external device and which forms an image based on the received data,
wherein the external device comprises:
a display that displays a thumbnail associated with data of an image to be selected by a user of the external device; and
a wireless communication unit that sends the selected data of the image to the image forming apparatus,
wherein the image forming apparatus receives the selected data of the image through the wireless communication unit when the selected data of the image is sent from the external device, and
wherein after the thumbnail is selected, the selected data of the image is sent to the wireless communication unit in a state of the selected data of the image being displayed larger than the thumbnail displayed prior to the selection.
3. A communication method with an external device and with an image forming apparatus that includes a wireless communication unit receiving data from the external device and forms an image based on the received data,
wherein when a thumbnail associated with data of an image is selected by a user of the external device, the selected data of the image is displayed at the external device for recognition, the selected data of the image is sent from the external device, the wireless communication unit receives the selected data of the image, and
wherein after the thumbnail is selected, the selected data of the image is sent to the wireless communication unit in a state of the selected data of the image being displayed larger than the thumbnail displayed prior to the selection.
4. An external device that communicates wirelessly to an image forming apparatus which comprises a wireless communication unit receiving data from the external device, which makes the wireless communication unit receive data sent from the external device, and which forms an image based on the received data, comprising:
a display that displays a thumbnail associated with data of an image to be selected by a user of the external device; and
a wireless communication unit that sends the selected data of the image to the image forming apparatus,
wherein after the thumbnail is selected, the selected data of the image is sent to the wireless communication unit in a state of the selected data of the image being displayed larger than the thumbnail displayed prior to the selection.
5. The external device according to claim 4,
wherein the external device is a mobile phone.
6. A non-transitory recording medium recording a program executed by an external device that communicates wirelessly to an image forming apparatus which comprises a wireless communication unit receiving data from the external device, which makes the wireless communication unit receive data sent from the external device, and which forms an image based on the received data,
wherein the program causes the external device to execute displaying a thumbnail associated with data of an image stored in a storage to be selected by a user of the external device,
wherein the program causes the external device to execute sending the selected data of the image to the image forming apparatus, and
wherein after the thumbnail is selected, the selected data of the image is sent to the wireless communication unit in a state of the selected data of the image being displayed larger than the thumbnail displayed prior to the selection.
US15/440,172 2009-01-28 2017-02-23 Image forming apparatus, image printing method, external device, recording medium and communication system Pending US20170163823A1 (en)

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JP2009017209A JP4981826B2 (en) 2009-01-28 2009-01-28 Communication system, image forming apparatus, and portable information terminal device
US12/655,997 US20100188695A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2010-01-12 Communication system, information processing system, image forming apparatus and portable information terminal device
US13/865,667 US20130229691A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2013-04-18 Communication system, information processing system, image forming apparatus and portable information terminal device
US13/952,549 US20130308164A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2013-07-26 Image forming apparatus, image printing method, external device, recording medium and communication system
US15/440,172 US20170163823A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2017-02-23 Image forming apparatus, image printing method, external device, recording medium and communication system

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US13/952,549 Abandoned US20130308164A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2013-07-26 Image forming apparatus, image printing method, external device, recording medium and communication system
US13/952,548 Abandoned US20130308163A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2013-07-26 Image forming apparatus, communication system and communication method
US14/271,157 Abandoned US20140240781A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2014-05-06 Communication system, information processing system, image forming apparatus and portable information terminal device
US14/271,094 Abandoned US20140240780A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2014-05-06 Communication system, information processing system, image forming apparatus and portable information terminal device
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US14/280,497 Abandoned US20140253950A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2014-05-16 Communication system, information processing system, image forming apparatus and portable information terminal device
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US13/952,549 Abandoned US20130308164A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2013-07-26 Image forming apparatus, image printing method, external device, recording medium and communication system
US13/952,548 Abandoned US20130308163A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2013-07-26 Image forming apparatus, communication system and communication method
US14/271,157 Abandoned US20140240781A1 (en) 2009-01-28 2014-05-06 Communication system, information processing system, image forming apparatus and portable information terminal device
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