WO2000058804A2 - Medium independent electronic commerce system and method - Google Patents

Medium independent electronic commerce system and method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2000058804A2
WO2000058804A2 PCT/NZ2000/000042 NZ0000042W WO0058804A2 WO 2000058804 A2 WO2000058804 A2 WO 2000058804A2 NZ 0000042 W NZ0000042 W NZ 0000042W WO 0058804 A2 WO0058804 A2 WO 0058804A2
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
user
data code
selection
media
gateway
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/NZ2000/000042
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2000058804A3 (en
Inventor
Pita Witehira
Evan L. Bydder
Original Assignee
U-Clic Limited
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
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Publication date
Priority to NZ33498699 priority Critical
Priority to NZ334986 priority
Priority to NZ33502399 priority
Priority to NZ335023 priority
Priority to NZ335192 priority
Priority to NZ33519299 priority
Priority to NZ33519099 priority
Priority to NZ335191 priority
Priority to NZ33519199 priority
Priority to NZ335190 priority
Priority to NZ335933 priority
Priority to NZ335935 priority
Priority to NZ33593399 priority
Priority to NZ33593599 priority
Priority to NZ33696499 priority
Priority to NZ336964 priority
Priority to NZ50135599 priority
Priority to NZ501355 priority
Priority to NZ502291 priority
Priority to NZ50229100 priority
Priority to US09/538,603 priority
Priority to US53860300A priority
Application filed by U-Clic Limited filed Critical U-Clic Limited
Priority claimed from AU38463/00A external-priority patent/AU3846300A/en
Publication of WO2000058804A2 publication Critical patent/WO2000058804A2/en
Publication of WO2000058804A3 publication Critical patent/WO2000058804A3/en

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions

Abstract

The present invention resolves the problems associated with traditionally distinct media-based systems (100) by providing an integrated solution, which is medium independent and has the capability of interfacing with various types of communication systems (350). In particular, the present invention provides a simple interface via a selection transceiver (330) for the user to interact with traditional media (310, 320) as well as any new types of media (310, 320) that might later be developed. In addition, a gateway (340) provides an interface between the selection transceiver (330) and a communication network (350). Furthermore, the processing unit (360), which receives the data codes received by the selection transceiver (330) from the various mediums (310, 320), provides the user with a convenient mechanism to communicate via the communication network (350) with the source units (e.g., merchants) (310, 320) without interrupting the activities of the user. Lastly, the present invention provides the source units (310, 320) with a cost effective mechanism for disseminating information to users and obtaining potentially immediate responses back from the users as to their selections. This present invention, therefore, achieves a low cost, simple, secure, easy to use, integrated selection and distribution system (100) by eliminating the reliance on any one form of media (310, 320), any one form of communication (350) for the user to communicate selections to the source unit (310, 320) and eliminating the need for sophisticated encryption techniques.

Description

MEDIUM INDEPENDENT ELECTRONIC COMMERCE SYSTEM AND METHOD

TECHNICAL FIELD This invention generally relates to systems and methods for electronic commerce. More specifically, the present invention relates to an electronic selection system and process, which integrates a plurality of mediums into a single electronic system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

As the lifestyles of the communities around the world have evolved over the centuries, the industry of selling and paying for goods and services has had to adapt. With the advent of the automobile and telecommunications, the twentieth century has seen a more dramatic change in this industry. In particular, the predominance of commerce has shifted from local markets and stores to large national retailers, direct marketing through toll free numbers and catalogs and the Internet. The retailing and services market has become fiercely competitive on not only a national scale, but also on a global scale. Merchants and service providers, therefore, have been forced to focus even more on differentiating themselves from their competition through cost, quality, convenience and customization. To achieve this differentiation on a national and global scale, companies have had to adapt by more effectively relying upon traditional non-interactive forms of communications media (e.g. television, radio and print), incorporating convenient payment mechanisms (e.g., credit cards) into their operations and most recently reorienting their businesses around remote ordering paradigms such as centralized operation (e.g., call centers or electronic commerce on Internet world wide web sites) with decentralized distribution.

Such a specific media with a specific system in conjunction with telecommunication and data communication systems allows companies to increase the conveniences to the consumer by nearly eliminating the need to travel to the merchant to communicate with third-parties as well as purchase a service or product from a merchant. For example, traditionally, people have had to spend a significant amount of their time purchasing goods, including food, clothing and other items. Goods generally can be purchased by visiting the merchant. The disadvantages of visiting the seller include the time and cost involved, exposure to weather, hazards, uncertainty, parking problems and the like. However, with remote shopping, customers do not even have to leave their homes. A typical remote shopping scheme is based on the distribution of information about goods, products or services together with advice and details of how and who to contact to order the goods and to pay for them. A considerable amount of time can be saved and disadvantages avoided if remote shopping is used. Furthermore, the extensive use of remote shopping can reduce costs, reduce requirements for real estate and simplify commerce.

In principle, remote shopping is ordering goods from within one's home or other remote location and having those goods delivered to that location or other suitable delivery point. The remote purchase of goods generally requires the merchant to communicate with the buyer via a single form of media (e.g., television), which is encompassed within a system designed specifically to service that form of media, in order to convey information about the nature and price of available goods and services. The buyer then must contact the merchant via a certain communication mechanism and then rely upon a certain method of transferring money to the merchant in order to purchase the product and complete the transaction.

In particular, this procedure generally consists of the merchant publishing information about the goods or services offered for sale via a certain type of media. The media can be audio, visual, printed words or pictorial matter, or it can be displays of models or of the actual objects for sale. The information about the objects can be printed or broadcast as sound or images. Common methods of disseminating information about goods for sale include newspapers, magazines, catalogs, brochures and television and radio advertisements. Unfortunately, each of these types of media can at times be interactive, but typically are non-integratable with one another in a single convenient system.

For example, with regard to a potential buyer viewing a television broadcast, the potential buyer typically is saturated with promotions about products and services and rarely is able to remember the advertised products long enough for the advertisement to effectively influence their purchasing habits. In addition, once the potential buyer has decided upon an item to purchase, the potential buyer then must contact the merchant through some communication system that typically is not directly integrated with the television. If the potential buyer also is reading a product catalog, the potential buyer also will most likely will have to contact a merchant, which is different than the merchant advertising on the television and potentially via a different mechanism or at least a different procedure. As the potential buyer identifies products or services from more and more different forms of media from different sources (e.g., merchants), the potential buyer can become overwhelmed with numerous different mechanisms for ordering the product or service.

For example, a potential buyer, who identifies an item, which he wishes to purchase, the potential buyer must choose between various options: calling the merchant and waiting for an individual to accept the order for the item, utilizing an interactive television, such as WebTV of Mountain View, California to select and purchase the item or the purchaser must walk over to a separate computer, turn it on and attempt to navigate a potentially unfamiliar web site to also order the item. When the potential buyer also identifies an item from a different medium (e.g., product catalog), the potential buyer also may have to use one of the above options, which may be different than the first option for the first item. In any of the ordering mechanisms, the potential buyer tends to become discouraged from taking immediate action because of the inconvenience, which includes becoming distracted from the current activity, in which the buyer was currently involved as well as having to interact with numerous different mediums and communication mechanisms, which are not integrated into a single system.

If the potential buyers do not immediately purchase the item, it is likely that the potential buyer will fail to remember the advertisement when they latter are shopping for that item. This overwhelming of numerous types of media and numerous mechanisms for contacting the merchant not only influences the effectiveness of the advertisements, but also substantially increases the cost to the merchant in advertising these products and services. The merchant, therefore, cannot solely rely upon remote shopping as a mechanism for effectively selling its products and services. Rather, the merchant must rely upon various different forms of media, which are not integratable into a single system and which typically require different mechanisms to order the product or services. With regard to ordering goods via a centralized operation, such as a call center or Internet web site, there also is a need for payment of the goods. Common methods of remote paying are the use of credit card numbers, electronic fund transfer at point of sale ("EFTPOS") machines or mailing money or checks. Unfortunately, this manner of ordering requires the buyer to remember quite a few different pieces of information including the credit card number and the specific identification number for the item that the buyer wishes to purchase. In addition, the buyer typically also must wait in long telephone queues to order such items. The merchant also is at a disadvantage in this paradigm because large call centers with large staffing must be established to handle the volume. An alternative mechanism, which reduces these disadvantages, is the Internet, which can be used as a portal for allowing users to interact with the merchant. Unfortunately, even in this type of alternative system, the buyer does not always have access to the Internet or is not always familiar with how to operate a computer or as to how to navigate the specific web site associated with the merchant. In addition, such systems are not integrated with other forms of media. Therefore, the effectiveness of the more automated aspects of using the Internet are curtailed by the limitations of the technology. Once the payment has been received, the good or service then is delivered to the buyer.

This generally is carried out by the merchant or a third party, such as a courier, the postal system or specialist transportation groups. Often this aspect of the system also is not integrated with the call center.

To date there has not been a low cost, easy to use mechanism for integrating these diverse mechanism for communicating information to the user, for ordering and payment as well as for interacting with these diverse mediums of advertising. Rather, conventional solutions have included the use of mass remote ordering and payment schemes including: call centers and electronic commerce over the Internet, which rely upon credit cards for payment. These conventional systems, however, have several major drawbacks. For example, call centers are expensive to operate and can be quite frustrating for consumers to use. Due to such problems as predicting peak ordering staffing demands, consumers typically have to experience long wait times in telephone queues. In addition, call centers also require that the consumer record the appropriate phone number from the advertisement and then make a call. With regard to ordering catalogs where the telephone number is available, the potential buyer must make a phone call and experience the typical frustrations of queuing problems and lack of knowledge of the catalog representatives. Such cumbersome procedures for remotely ordering products and services has resulted in lost sales.

With regard to electronic commerce ("e-commerce") over the Internet, merchants and service providers have seized upon this transaction method as a more cost effective technique to resolve the problems of distribution through call centers and physical stores. However, as previously discussed, the issues relating to e-commerce, have become significant. For example, the Internet still only has approximately a 30% market penetration because personal computers ("PCs") are very expensive, thereby presenting a huge barrier to entry for consumers. Furthermore, the mass populace finds using PCs very difficult. Ongoing Internet charges further increase the cost to consumers to rely upon e-commerce. In addition, the time taken to complete an e-commerce order on the Internet is considerable and providing a secure environment on the Internet on the client side (e.g. the PC) still is difficult. It also is an expensive exercise for merchants and service providers to set up e-commerce site on the Internet. Furthermore, the systems that rely upon the Internet do not integrate well with other forms of media. The Internet also provides significant distribution conflicts for merchants as it alienates their current channels to market.

The use of the Internet for business, therefore, has presented merchants with a number of problems. First it is found that the Internet is overloaded, and it is often difficult to get access to popular sites. Second, the methods of ordering and paying for items have not been efficiently developed to optimize the use of the medium. Third, Internet shopping requires that the potential buyer have a computer and be reasonably computer literate. Fourth, the Internet does not integrate well with other forms of media. This type of system, therefore, excludes the majority of the population even in the most highly developed countries.

With regard to relying upon credit cards, the major form of payment in such remote purchasing situations, this payment scheme raises the issue of how a credit card number can be securely provided to a merchant to secure payment for the goods and services. In the case of over-the-phone transactions, listening devices, particularly with regard to wireless (e.g., analog and digital) mobile telephones, can be used to gain access to sensitive credit card information. Also, consumer must verbally provide such sensitive information to an unknown person on the other end of the telephone. Even in the case of purchases being made in a physical store, there are numerous examples of duplicate payment receipts being taken by an employee, who then utilizes the credit card information to commit fraud. In the case of the Internet, the information is being entered into the PC to be transmitted via the Internet. This Internet scheme, however, is dependent upon the merchant having a secure e-commerce website to ensure that such sensitive information is transmitted securely, and that there are no computer viruses, which have corrupted PCs and people have gained access to confidential information such as credit card information off the PC directly.

Ultimately, for everyone involved in such a system, the various means of physical stores, direct marketing, credit cards and electronic commerce over the Internet are all designed as separate systems, that do not work in an integrated manner. Therefore, what is needed is an integrated system and method which allows an individual to interact with multiple types of new and traditional media and to allow that individual select items and transact with other individuals or companies in a simple and efficient manner.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

The present invention resolves the problems associated with traditionally distinct media- based systems by providing an integrated solution, which is medium independent and has the capability of interfacing with various types of communication systems. In particular, the present invention provides a simple interface via a selection transceiver for the user to interact with traditional media as well as any new types of media that might later be developed. In addition, a gateway provides an interface between the selection transceiver and a communication network. Furthermore, the processing unit, which receives the data codes received by the selection transceiver from the various mediums, provides the user with a convenient mechanism to communicate via the communication network with the source units (e.g., merchants) without interrupting the activities of the user. Lastly, the present invention provides the source units with a cost effective mechanism for disseminating information to users and obtaining potentially immediate responses back from the users as to their selections. This present invention, therefore, achieves a low cost, simple, secure, easy to use, integrated selection and distribution system by eliminating the reliance on any one form of media, any one form of communication for the user to communicate selections to the source unit and eliminating the need for sophisticated encryption techniques.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES The accompanying drawings, that are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate various embodiments of the present invention and, together with the written description, serve to explain the principles of the present invention.

Figure 1 illustrates a high level view of a system of an embodiment of the present invention, which integrates various forms of media and communication, which typically do not interact with one another. Figure 2 illustrates a data packet of an embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 3 A illustrates a high level block diagram of a system of an embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 3B illustrates a high level block diagram of a system of an alternative embodiment of the present invention. Figure 4 illustrates a more detailed high level block diagram of a selection transceiver of an embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 5 illustrates a flow diagram of a detection method of the selection transceiver of an embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 6 illustrates a more detailed high level block diagram of a gateway, a communication network and a processing unit of an embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 7 illustrates a flow diagram of a method of a processing unit of an embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 8 illustrates a more detailed flow diagram of a security check method of an embodiment of the present invention. Figure 9 illustrates a more detailed flow diagram of a process selection method of an embodiment of the present invention.

Figure 10 illustrates a more detailed flow diagram of a process selection method of an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention are now described with reference to the figures where like reference numbers indicate identical or functionally similar elements. Also in the figures, the left most digits of each reference number corresponds to the figure in which the reference number is first used. Figure 1 illustrates a high level view of an embodiment of an electronic commerce system 100 of the present invention. This system 100 integrate with any type of media including television ("TV"), video (e.g., digital video disks or CD-ROM), radio, print (e.g., product catalog) and electronic transmissions (e.g., digital data) as well as any type of operating environment including in a physical location, telecommunication systems (e.g., public switch 5 telephone network) and data communication systems (e.g., the Internet). Previously, electronic media typically was only accessible via data communications, such as via the Internet. Therefore, even though such data communications is becoming more wide spread, there still were serious limitations with this operating environment as the sole vehicle for enabling electronic commerce.

10 The electronic commerce system 100, which will be discussed in more detail below, however, is able to integrate various forms of media with various data communication operating environments. In addition, the system 100 can operate with various operating environments, such as telecommunication and physical locations, with such mediums as electronic data, TV, video, radio and print. By providing a system 100, which is medium independent, the system

15 100 is able to incorporate multiple different mediums into a single system 100, thereby ensuring that the benefits of each medium are jointly enjoyed by the users (e.g., customers) and source units (e.g., merchants) of the system 100.

One embodiment of system 100 of the present invention can enable a user to remotely or locally order and pay for goods and services using a selection transceiver. Another embodiment 0 of the system 100 can be used for withdrawing, obtaining, transferring or converting funds, loans, mortgages or any other financial instruments. In yet another alternative embodiment, system 100 could be used for gambling, tendering, bidding, polling, reading utility meters or participating in surveys. In particular, such an alternative embodiment could be used by a user to interact with an information unit such as a television in order to participate in a television game show or other 5 audience participation program. Another embodiment of the system 100 could be used for booking, confirming details, or obtaining or purchasing items (e.g., plane tickets, theater tickets or restaurant reservations). One skilled in the art will recognize that still further embodiments exist, which relate to allowing a user to communicate the selection of an item.

Since all of the information associated with these services are managed by the same system 100, a large electronic commerce database can be created, which is able to facilitate value added information services, such as an electronic commerce portal world wide web site, a source of accurate marketing information and the ability to operate a medium independent integrated loyalty program. In particular, because items (e.g., goods and services) are being purchased electronically and passed through a processing unit (e.g., processing center), real time marketing information such as user profiles, the time and place of a specific selection (e.g., purchase) and the effectiveness of a specific advertisement can be captured and provided as a value-added service to source units (e.g., merchants) of the system 100. As to a medium independent integrated loyalty program, as a result of the capturing of the selection (e.g., purchase) transactions by users (e.g., consumers), the system 100 can provide additional value-added services to the source units (e.g., merchants) to encourage users (e.g., consumers) to behave in certain manners.

One skilled in the art will recognize that these services are merely examples, which illustrate the robustness of this system 100 due to the ability of the system 100 to incorporate transactions from various independent mediums and communication systems that are coupled to system 100.

Figure 3 A illustrates a high level block diagram of an embodiment of a system 100 of the present invention. The system 100 includes an information source unit 310, an information unit 320, a selection transceiver 330, a gateway 340, a communication network 350, a processing unit 360, a transaction unit 370 and a source unit 380. One skilled in the art will recognize that within the system 100 there can be a plurality of each component (e.g., selection transceivers 330 and source units 380) of the system 100.

The information source unit 310, which is coupled to the information unit 320, provides the information unit 320 with content (e.g., advertisements), which can include information provided by the source unit 380. Such a dissemination of information can include the dissemination, production, display, modeling, demonstration or use of any information, promotion, advice, instructions, suggestions or data pertaining to items with which the system 100 can provide a conduit for a user to select. In one embodiment of the present invention, the information source unit 310 can include a television station, a radio station or a distributor of content (e.g., video cassette distributor, digital video disks ("DVD") distributor, motion pictures distributor, public bill board providers or print publication distributors). One skilled in the art will recognize that this list of examples of information source units 310 are illustrative and merely intended to demonstrate that the system 100 is so adaptable that the information source unit 310 can be any type of distributor of information.

The information unit 320, which is coupled between the information source unit 310 and the selection transceiver 330, serves as a conduit for communicating such information to the user. In one embodiment of the present invention, the information unit 320 can be a consumer electronic device (e.g., a television or a radio), a public display (e.g., restaurant menu, bill board or flyer) or a publication (e.g., book, magazine or catalog). Such types of information units 320 are responsible for the dissemination of information from the source unit 380 to users. Such information can include advertisements, information about products and services or survey information. One skilled in the art will recognize that the information provided by the information source unit 310 and disseminated by the information unit 320 can be of any subject matter and any media type. The information merely needs to provide a user with the ability to interact with the information unit 320 via the selection transceiver 330. One skilled in the art also will recognize that the list of examples of information units 320 are illustrative and merely intended to demonstrate that the system 100 is so adaptable that the information unit 320 can be any type of disseminator of information to the user. As technology for facilitating information to users progresses, the information unit 320 is adaptable to incorporate this new technology.

The selection transceiver 330 typically is used as the interface between the information unit 320 and the processing unit 360. When a user is exposed to the information (e.g., hears or sees) with which the user wishes to interact, the user activates the selection transceiver 330 (e.g., presses a button on the selection transceiver 330). In an embodiment of the present invention, the activation of the selection transceiver 330 results in the initiation of a transactional event (e.g., interacting with the source unit 380 to purchase goods or services related to a data code) via the communication network 350. In particular, this transactional event can include the selection transceiver 330 extracting data codes from the information disseminated by the information unit 320, the transmission of those data codes along with identification information, which is associated with the user, to the processing unit 360 (e.g., processing center or processing and communication device) and the fulfillment by the source unit 380 of the user's selection of the item. Alternatively, the data code can have implied identification information, thereby avoiding the need for separate identification information. More specifics about the mechanics of this transactional event will be discussed in Figures 4-10. One skilled in the art will recognize that even though the various embodiments of the present invention for illustrative purposes may focus upon purchasing products or services, the present invention can be used by the user to interact with the information unit 320 in order to communicate any type of information (e.g., survey information) to the source unit 380.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the selection transceiver 330 can be a simple, key-ring size device with a single button for selecting information disseminated by the information unit 320. Such an embodiment of the selection transceiver 330 is an inexpensive, non-complex consumer device that is easy to manufacture and distribute to a large group of users as well as that is mobile for the user to carry anywhere. In yet an alternative embodiment, the selection transceiver 330 can be a hardware add-on, which attaches to, or emulated via software within a personal information device such as a Palm Pilot device by Palm, Inc. of Santa Clara, California or a mobile wireless (e.g., digital or analog) telephone. This alternative embodiment also is easy to manufacture and distribute to a large group of users, such as via the Internet or via other software distribution mechanism. One of the advantages of this embodiment of the selection transceiver is its simplicity. By placing very simple circuitry within the selection transceiver 330 and the bulk of the complexity of the system 100 within the processing unit 360, the system 100 can ensure that the selection transceiver 330 is a simple and inexpensive device for use by the user. The selection transceiver 330 will be described in more detail with regard to Figures 4 and 5.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the user selects an item by activating the selection transceiver 330 (e.g., pressing a button on the selection transceiver 330) in response to information, which is disseminated by the information unit 320. From this activation the selection transceiver 330 extracts data codes from the disseminated information from the information unit 320 and communicates those data codes with additional identification information (e.g., user and/or selection transceiver information) via a data packet 200 either directly over the communication network 350 to the processing unit 360 or indirectly via the gateway 340, which interfaces with the communication network 350, to the processing unit 360. The communication network 350 can be any type of conduit for transmitting data packets 200 from one point to another. In one embodiment of the present invention, the communication network 350 can be a public switch telephone network ("PSTN") or a data communication network (e.g., the Internet, local area network or wide area network).

Figure 2 illustrates one embodiment of the data packet 200, which includes an identification information field 210, a data code field 220 and a date/time field 230. The data code field 220 can include information associated with a specific item (e.g., product or service) or a specific channel (e.g., TV or radio channel). The date/time field 230 can be used to supplement the data code field 220 to allow the processing unit 360 to cross-reference the data code field 220 with the data code field 220 and determine (e.g., in the visual media context) that the item corresponds to a data code that was transmitted on a certain day and time via the information unit 320 (e.g., via a television broadcast signal). The identification information field 210 can include identification information about the user, the selection transceiver 330 and/or the gateway 340, which can be used for identification and security purposes. One skilled in the art will recognize that alternative embodiments of the data packet can include additional fields or the fields can include additional information, which can be processed by the processing unit 360. Such additional information can include the size, color or model of an item. In addition, the data packets can be transmitted to the processing unit 360 in various different forms including binary electronic signals, dual-tone multi-frequency ("DTMF") tones as well as such schemes as frequency shift keying (e.g., FSK) or quadrature phase shift keying ("QPSK"). When the selection transceiver 330 does not interface directly with the communication network 350, the gateway 340 can be used as an interface between the selection transceiver 330 and the communication network 350. Such an embodiment typically is used when the ability to transmit the data packets over the communication network 350 is not immediately available or not directly accessible by the selection transceiver 330. The gateway 340, therefore, not only can function as an interface with the communication network 350 for the selection transceiver 330, but also can serve as a temporary repository for the data codes that were extracted from information disseminated by the information unit 320. Once the user has confirmed that the data codes correspond to the selected information, the gateway 340 can transmit the data codes within the data packet 200 to the processing unit 360 either immediately or at a later date. One skilled in the art will recognize that in an alternative embodiment of the system 100 the functionality of the gateway 340 can be incorporated into the selection transceiver 330. Alternatively, the functionality of the selection transceiver 330 can be incorporated into the gateway 340 (e.g., a control unit), which can be coupled to the information unit 320 in order to directly receive the transmissions (e.g., broadcast signal) from the information unit and to extract the data codes for items selected by the user with the selection transceiver 330. In this alternative embodiment, the user selects an item with the selection transceiver 330 (e.g., by pressing a "mute" button on the selection transceiver 330) to activate the gateway 340 to directly extract the data codes from the information unit 320.

Once these data codes and relevant identification information is received by the processing unit 360 either directly or indirectly from the selection transceiver 330, the processing unit 360 associates the data codes and identification information with a corresponding response, which is related to a specific source unit 380. The processing unit 360, therefore, can enable the source units 380 to quickly fulfill selected items as well as the ability to capture market information, which otherwise would not be available to the source unit 380. By interfacing all media with the processing unit 360 of the system 100, user responses and selection patterns can be captured for every type of media that is used with the system 100. With such information, the processing unit 360 can mine the data and enable the source units 380 to have an even more cost efficient mechanisms for disseminating information to the users of the system 100. For users, the data mining also will avoid delays by allowing the system 100 to avoid disseminating information to the users that the users do not wish to receive. One skilled in the art will recognize that even though only one source unit 380 is discussed, the processing unit 360 can communicate with a plurality of source units 380.

As will be discussed in more detail below, in one embodiment of the system 100, the transaction unit 370, which is coupled to the processing unit 360 and the source unit 380, is an optional third-party service, which can provide additional functionality to the system 100. For example, the transaction unit 370 can serve to provide credit card verification (e.g., Visa, MasterCard or American Express), account verification or loyalty incentive program services. One skilled in the art will recognize that the functionality of the transaction unit 370 also can be incorporated into the processing unit 360 or the source unit 380. One skilled in the art also will recognize this system 100 can be either partially or completely bi-directional, thereby allowing the information source unit 310, the information unit 320, the selection transceiver 330, the gateway 340, the communication network 350, the processing unit 360, the transaction unit 370 and the source unit 380 all to communicate with one another as well as with the user.

Figure 3B illustrates an alternative embodiment of the present invention where the information unit 320 and the gateway 340 can be included within a computer 335. This alternative embodiment operates in an overall similar manner to the embodiments of the system 100 described within Figure 3 A. The main difference, however, is that the information unit 320 and the gateway 340 are integrated more closely with one another within the computer 335. In this embodiment, a user would operate the computer 335 by utilizing a software application, such as an Internet browser (e.g., Netscape Communicator or Microsoft Internet Explorer). The user would proceed to an Internet web site hosted by the source unit 380, which typically is resident on the information source unit 310. In this embodiment, the information source unit 310 can be a computer web server, with which the computer 325 communicates over the communication network 350. The computer 325, thereby, allows a user to use the computer 325 to allow the selection transceiver 330 to interface directly with a world- wide web page, which is displayed by the information unit 320. For example, a user can view information (e.g., a three-dimensional graphical display of an item) on the information unit 320 and select the item associated with that information, which the user is interested in (e.g., for purchasing). Upon selection of the item by activating the selection transceiver 330, the selection transceiver 330 interfaces with the gateway 340 and transmits a signal, which instructs the information unit 320 to perform a specific routine (e.g., transmit a data code and identification information to the processing unit 360). The gateway 340 then would transmit the data codes and identification information via transmission control protocol / Internet protocol ("TCP/IP") through the communication network 350 (e.g., Internet) to the processing unit 360. For added security, this transmission can be a secure - hypertext transfer protocol ("S-HTTP").

In addition to using the computer 325 to communicate with the processing unit 360 via the Internet for selection purposes, an alternative embodiment of the present invention can allow a user to use the selection transceiver 330 for identification purposes. In particular, by activating the selection transceiver 330, the user would be able to check the status of items previously selected by the user (e.g., purchase order) or to check the status of the user's personal account (e.g., bank account or credit card account). The selection transceiver 330 in this embodiment could be used to automatically input into the computer 325 via the gateway 340 user account information, identification information or a government identification number (e.g., social security number).

One skilled in the art will recognize that the functionality described within either Figures 3 A and 3B can be incorporated into additional combinations in alternative embodiments of the present invention. Furthermore, one skilled in the art will recognize that multiple components of each aspect of the system 100 can be used simultaneously in this system 100. In addition, each component of the system 100 also can have a bi-directional communication link to the other components within the system 100. For example, the selection transceiver 330 can have a bidirectional link with both the information unit 320 and the processing unit 360.

Figure 4 illustrates in a more detailed high level block diagram of the selection transceiver 330, which interfaces with the information unit 320 and either the gateway 340 or the communication network 350 of an embodiment of present invention. As previously discussed, the information unit 320 is a conduit for the dissemination of information to the user. Such information can be disseminated in various different mediums including print media 410, visual media 420, audible media 430 and wireless media 440.

In one embodiment of the present invention, print media 410 can include catalogs or newspapers. The visual media 420 can include transmissions (e.g., broadcast signals) from (cable) television, video home system ("VHS") cassettes, digital video disks ("DVD"), video compact disks ("VCD"), compact disk - read only memory ("CD-ROM"), motion picture films and video streaming over the Internet. The audible media 430 can include (broadcast signal) transmissions from the radio, audio associated with the visual media 420 or compact disks ("CDs"). The wireless media 440 can include radio frequency identification ("RFID"), bluetooth as well as HomeRF. One skilled in the art will recognize that these examples of different mediums are not exhaustive and that any medium or mechanism for disseminating information to the user can be implemented into this system 100.

To interact with the information unit 320 and directly or indirectly (via the gateway 340) with communication network 350, the selection transceiver 330 includes a media interface 450, a media decoder 460, a controller 480, a memory 470, a user interface 490, a remote gateway interface 493, a local gateway interface 497 and a power source (not shown). In one embodiment, the controller 480 can be a Philips 87LPC754 controller and the power source can be a 12 volt battery, such as a model R23 battery. In addition, in one embodiment of the present invention, the user interface 490 can be a single button, which the user can push in order to activate the selection transceiver 330 and select specific information disseminated by the information unit 320. In an alternative embodiment, the user interface 490 can include additional input interfaces, such as a keypad, keyboard, finger print scanner, voice recognition capability, trackball, mouse or joystick. An embodiment of the user interface 490 also can include output interfaces including a liquid crystal display ("LCD"), a voice synthesizer or a speaker, which emits tones. The user interface 490 (e.g., LCD) can be used to allow the user to selection different options or variations of the item selected. In addition, the user interface 490 can provide security features (e.g., finger print scanner or keypad for entering a PIN number). Furthermore, the user interface 490 can allow the user to select different payments options or to configure the selection transceiver 330 to have a default setting for certain actions (e.g., size of an item or payment mechanism to use). Furthermore, the user interface can include a credit card reader. One skilled in the art will recognize that any type of input or output interface can be incorporated into the user interface 490 in order to facilitate the user's interaction with the selection transceiver 330 and the rest of the system 100. In one embodiment of the present invention, the system 100 utilizes a transmission of a data code, which is associated with the information disseminated by the information unit 320 wherein the data code can provide specific information regarding the item within the information that is being selected by the user. For example, the data code can include information related to what options (e.g., quantity, size, color and model) are available for a selected item. In addition, the data code can include information regarding other information (e.g., television or radio channel upon which the information was disseminated or the specific advertisement displayed to which the user responded in selecting the item).

If, however, there are no options available within the data code for the item selected, then the selection transceiver 330 can prompt the user via the user interface 490 to select an option desired. In one embodiment, the options associated with each data code can be pre-programmed into the memory 470 of the selection transceiver 110 and the controller can cross-reference the data code with the corresponding options to assist the user with completing his selection of the items.

The media interface 450 in conjunction with the media decoder 460 are responsible for extracting these data codes from the information, which is disseminated by the information unit 320 that is in a specific media format. In particular, the media interface 450 is responsible for extracting 510 the data codes from the medium, which was disseminated by the information unit 320. These data codes typically correspond to specific encoding schemes that are used by certain types of media. In order to determine the type of media available to the selection transceiver 330, the media interface 450 can cycle through the various media interfaces (e.g., print media interface, visual media interface, audible media interface and wireless media interface) included within the media interface 450 and the controller 480 can determine, which media is currently available to the selection transceiver 330 for extraction of the data code. In one embodiment, this detection of the available media can be accomplished by the controller 480 expecting a unique header before the data code, which identifies the type of media, in which the data code is embedded. Alternatively, the user can manually identify via the user interface 490 the type of media, which is available to the selection transceiver 330.

For example, in one embodiment, the controller 480 can determine or the user can identify that the media available to the selection transceiver 330 is a certain type of media. The media interface 450 then can utilize an optical detector, such as a lens and an electronic driver, to detect such coding schemes as bar codes, two-dimensional matrices or character recognition or visual media. Bar codes are printed as a series of vertical or horizontal lines and spaces, which can be of varying widths or spacing. Examples of bar codes include Barcode 39 and UPC product codes. In one embodiment, a light emitting diode ("LED") or other form of light source within the media interface 450 illuminates the code underneath the aperture or lens within the media interface 450 and a light dependent resistor or other form of light sensing device receives reflections from the printed media 410. The output of this light sensing device is forwarded from the media interface 450 to the media decoder 460 in order to convert the data code into a digital format, which can be stored within the memory 470. An alternative embodiment of interpreting these codes is to use a linear charge-coupled device ("CCD") array. An aperture in the media interface 450 is placed and held over the printed bar code. The code is illuminated via LEDs or some other light source and a single line image is captured by the linear CCD array and the media decoder 460 decodes that information and stores the data code within memory 470.

Two dimensional matrices typically include black and white segments, which allow a higher density of information to be printed in a smaller space on the print media 410. Such a code then can be interpreted by swiping a linear CCD device, which is included within the media interface 450, over the printed two-dimensional matrix code. By obtaining successive single line images of the code as the CCD is swiped across the printed code, a two-dimensional image can be obtained by the media interface 450 and processed by the media decoder 460 to determine the data code. An alternative technique for interpreting the matrix includes using a two-dimensional CCD device, which can be included within the media interface 450. An aperture in the media interface 450 of the selection transceiver 330 is placed and held over the printed two-dimensional matrix code. The code is illuminated via LEDs or some other light source and a two-dimensional image is captured by the CCD sensor. This coded information then is processed to determine the appropriate information.

Yet another coding scheme for print media 410 is to use character recognition. A suitable sensor (e.g., linear or two-dimensional CCD) included within the media interface 450 could scan text, which then can be processed by optical character recognition ("OCR") software within the media decoder 460 to determine the data code. The media interface 450 also can extract data codes from visual media 420, such as CD-

ROM images or television images, which are displayed by an information unit 320, such as a television or video screen. In one embodiment, the television signals can be used to carry the data code associated with a specific item that can be selected. In this technique, frames, lines, segments of pixels or the entire visual display can be used as a vehicle for the data code. In such an embodiment, the media interface 450 can include an optical detector, which analyzes the images that are displayed on the information unit 320. In particular, the media interface 450 can detect the data codes by sensing radiation or fields emitted by the information unit 320, such as the line sweeps, frame sweeps or other pulses or changes in the transmission (e.g., broadcast signals) by the information unit 320. Alternatively, the media interface 450 can attempt to detect a block of one or more pixels (e.g., dynamic data code) in an identified area of the TV picture, which is detectable by a light detector placed upon or near that part of the TV screen or which is focused onto that part of the screen..

In various embodiments, these various types of coding can include data codes associated with the selected item as well as date information, time information and channel information regarding the television transmission. With this type of data code, source unit 380 not only can respond to the selected item (e.g., deliver a product or service to the user), but also can use this data code to determine as to what the user is responding when selecting the item associated with the data code (e.g., a specific advertisement on the television or to a specific product placement within a television program). One skilled in the art will recognize that the other mediums also can have this additional information associated with the data code to assist the processing unit 360 and the source unit 380 to obtain additional information regarding the user's behavior in selecting the item.

Visual encoding can be separated into two distinct coding techniques: perceptible and imperceptible. Perceptible data codes are visible to the user. Imperceptible data codes are not. Methods of acquiring the code from the visual medium 420 can include interception of video signals. Perceptible codes can include blanking, color codes, intensity modulation, or a combination of the three coding schemes. Blanking is achieved by using an image or part of the image, which goes blank (e.g., black) for a specified time corresponding to the code to be transmitted. With color codes, the image or part of the image shows a specified color for a specified time corresponding to the code to be transmitted. A sequence of colors is an image or part of an image, which displays a sequence of colors corresponding to the data code to be transmitted. Intensity (e.g., brightness) modulation of the image or part of the image is modulated in accordance with the code to be transmitted. A combination of blanking, color coding, color sequencing and intensity modulation may be used over the entire image or part of the image to transmit the code. Imperceptible data codes can also include introduction of data into the "blanking intervals" of the electrical video signal, which can be similar to the technique used for TeleText. In addition, scan lines can be modulated to allow a light detector determine the data code. Another alternative embodiment could rely upon modulating aspects of the video frames. One skilled in the art also will recognize that to communicate the availability of a data code within a visual media 420, such as television, a static or dynamic (e.g., animated) image can be displayed on the visual media 420 to alert the user that the data code is available for reception by the selection transceiver. For example, when a user watches a television program with a product placement evident on the screen, an animated icon can be illustrated at the lower right 5 hand corner of the screen to illustrate that the product is available for selection because data codes are currently being transmitted.

With regard to an embodiment where the visual media 420 is a CD-ROM, the CD-ROM can contain one or more complete catalogs of items including prices and appropriate information, which is offered by one or more sellers, such as a chain-store, a supermarket chain or other type

10 of vendor. There may be different CD-ROMs for different types of items or for different sellers or groups of sellers. The information placed on the CD-ROM may further include advertising, games, demonstrations of items, specification of items, prices of items, and other relevant information. Each item offered for sale on the CD-ROM is encoded with a data code, such as a unique number which can be represented by a conventional bar code (e.g., UPC). In an

15 alternative embodiment, this bar code scheme can be augmented by additional code numbers, letters or identifiers in order to specify additional information such as the source unit 380 associated with the item. This information is stored on the CD-ROM with directories and searching facilities in a manner that facilitates the searching by categories of various types and by identifications of various forms so that a searching process can quickly and efficiently locate any

20 desired item.

For audible media 430, the media interface 450 can include an audio receiver (e.g., a microphone), which detects data codes embedded within the audible media 430, such as a transmission that is part of a television or radio broadcast or a video or audio-video display. Similar to the visual media 420, it may be beneficial if an existing broadcast of the audible media

25 430 could be modified so that additional data can be conveyed over the carrier wave without interfering with the primary transmission of the original data, which was the purpose of the broadcasting system. In particular, data codes can be introduced into the audible media 430 in such a manner that the selection transceiver 330 can identify what audio track is being received. In addition, a number of parameters of the audio track can be analyzed generating a set of parameters for that particular audio track. This information then can be correlated with the appropriate data code in the processing unit 360.

Like visual encoding, audio encoding also can be separated into perceptible and imperceptible data coding schemes. Perceptible introduced audio data codes include DTMF where a sequence of standard DTMF tones corresponding to the code being transmitted are incorporated into the audio track. Alternatively, additional frequencies can be used for encoding the audio signals. Data codes also can be encoded using tone duration, sequence of tones, FSK space duration and the frequency (or range of frequencies) present within the tone or tones to encode data codes within the audible media 430. In addition, audio muting can be used where the audio track is muted for a period of time corresponding to the code being transmitted. Alternatively, a sequence of muted audio could transmit the desired data code.

One example of the encoding of data codes within the audible media 430 signal can rely upon the starting of a clock (not shown) at the commencement of the encoding at the information source unit 310 or the information unit 320, and which also can be used to start or synchronize a similar clock (not shown) at the corresponding position or time within the media decoder 460 of the selection transceiver 330, which is the decoding point. At each clock transition, the next positive peak of the waveform can be artificially increased in amplitude so that it exceeds a particular permanent or transient threshold for the purpose of generating a "1", or be reduced below another different threshold for generating a "0". Alternatively, irrespective of the original waveform, a short, narrow pulse can be inserted at a pre-set time after the clock transition to signal a "1". This pulse may be of, or above, a particular fixed threshold, or the threshold may be with respect to some average amplitude of the original signal. The absence of such a pulse is a "0". The termination of the data code can be signaled by standardizing the code length, by a particular data code symbol, or by the use of a different pattern above or below the respective thresholds. In an alternative embodiment of the encoding of the data code, the coding may consist of using a clock synchronized with respect to a particular starting point on the waveform to select points of the waveform which are precisely related to each transition of the clock. At each such point on the waveform, a pulse of specific amplitude and width is inserted such that the amplitude or the width of the inserted pulse has a specific meaning. For example, there may be five possible widths or amplitudes of each inserted pulse which can be inserted that correspond to the numbers "0" to "4". In an alternative embodiment of the present invention a single pulse of appropriately high amplitude may be inserted into the waveform at a variable time after each clock transition wherein the position of the pulse with respect to the clock transition represents a number, either binary number ("0" or "1") or within a set such as "0" to "4". By setting the clock period to be relatively long compared to the average period in the waveform, distortion of the original wave can be minimized and the effect of the addition of the data code would not be obvious to most users. The preferable length of the clock period is variable, depending on the implementation and the amount of distortion of the original data that is acceptable.

The primary signal can be encoded with more than one set of data codes by passing this primary signal through successive processes where different clocks of different periods are successively used to determine the position of appropriate waveform peaks and to either enhance or decrease their amplitude to create the desired selection of "0"s and "l"s, or of amplitudes, widths, or positions according to the method used. Correspondingly, decoding by the media decoder 460 may be achieved by the use of different clocks periods for each second data set. This may be used to enable different users, perhaps in different locations, to decode different sets of second data streams from the same broadcast signal.

One skilled in the art will recognize that, even though the remaining discussion of embodiments of the present invention discuss the encoding and decoding of data codes from signals, which are additional to existing signals transmitted by the information unit 320, other forms of dissemination of the data codes, which either exist or are developed in the future, can be used with the system 100 of the present invention.

Imperceptible introduced audio data codes also can be used to encode within the audible media 430. Imperceptible codes involve modulation of the audio signal that does not alter the sound heard by the human ear. Such techniques can include phase modulation, selective filtering or the introduction of audio components beyond the hearing range of the human ear. An additional technique is audio signal analysis, which involves identifying an audio track by measuring one or a number of parameters associated with a sound track. By carefully selecting these parameters and the audio tracks to be encoded, a set of unique parameters specific to particular sound tracks can be generated and detected by the selection transceiver 330 in order to communicate the data codes. These techniques may be applied to the entire audio track, a segment of the audio track or multiple segments of the audio track of the audible media 430. An additional technique for the audible media 430 is track duration where the duration of the track is measured by the media interface 450. To implement this technique, a start and stop tone may be needed within the audio track. Level detection is an alternative encoding scheme where the sound level of the audio track can be monitored and from this unique parameters generated. Implementation of these techniques can include analog detection, digital signal processing ("DSP") or a combination of these techniques.

An alternative embodiment of the detection technique is peak amplitude detection. In this method, the peak amplitude of the auditory signal of the audible media 430 is measured for a number ("n") of given time intervals ("t") following detection of a trigger signal. This will provide a set of n peak levels. An alternative encoding technique is average amplitude detection where the average amplitude of the audio signal is measured for a number ("n") of given time intervals ("t") following detection of a trigger signal. This will provide a set of n average levels. An alternative encoding scheme is multiple level detection where the amplitude of the audio signal is measured for a number ("n") of given intervals ("t") following the detection of a trigger signal, and determine the time for the interval t that a threshold or number of thresholds ("nT") were exceeded within that interval. An example of this would be a set of four thresholds; the average level ("1"), 2 x 1, 3 x 1 and 4 x 1. The detection algorithm would determine the percentage of time the audio level exceeded each of these thresholds within each of the given time intervals producing a 4 x n matrix of values.

With regard to frequency analysis, the frequency content of the audio track can be analyzed and from this a unique set of parameters generated corresponding to that audio track. In this method, the audio track would be passed through a number nF of audio 'notch' filters. This would essentially produce nF audio tracks with frequencies that are limited to the pass band of each of the filters. These frequency limited audio tracks can then be processed by appropriate level detection circuits producing a set of nτ level parameters for each time slot. An example of this, using the multiple level detection method, would produce a three-dimensional nF x T x matrix of values corresponding to audio track. By carefully choosing nF, nτ, n and t, a statistically unique matrix can be determined for specific audio tracks. Another alternative embodiment relates to the media decoder 460 including voice recognition capability in order to decode speech, which was within the audio track of the audible media 430 received by the media interface 450. The media decoder 460, therefore, will be able to produce a script of the track, or part of the track, which then can be used to determine the data code embedded within the audio track. A voice recognition system has the ability to interpret audible speech. The media decoder 460 would accept the audio signal from a microphone or line connection within the media interface 450 and process the signal using a digital signal controller ("DSP") system. From this signal, the DSP system would generate a word list corresponding to script of the audio signal. This word list or script could be used to cross-reference the specific advertisement or message, which triggered the user's response, thereby resulting in the identification of the data code.

For wireless media 440, a radio frequency identifier ("RFID") tag can be associated with the a signal that is transmitted by the information unit 320 and received by the media interface 450 of the selection transceiver 330. In this embodiment, the media interface 450 can be a transceiver, which receives radio frequency signals. The wireless media 440 can be used in many environments including within a movie theater, exhibit, show, stadium and other public venues. The wireless media 440 then could be transmitted throughout the environment and be received by the selection transceivers 330 that are activated by certain users.

Another wireless coding scheme is to rely upon a capacitively coupled RFID system (e.g., a 'BiStatix' ™ System by Motorola, Inc. of Schaumburg, Illinois) where the aerial of the system is printed on print media 410 using a conductive ink. A small silicon device is connected to this printed aerial, which stores the information including data codes and can transmit that information back to a BiStatix™ reader, which can be incorporated into the media interface 450.

One skilled in the art will recognize that in addition to the above referenced coding schemes, other types of schemes can be used with the various mediums including additional variations of amplitude modulation ("AM"), frequency modulation / pulse modulation

("FM/PM"), pulse width modulation ("PWM"), pulse amplitude modulation ("PAM"), and pulse position modulation ("PPM"). In addition, one skilled in the art will recognize that the above description of alternative embodiments of media interfaces 450 are merely intended as illustrative examples. One skilled in the art will recognize that the media interface 450 can be adapted to receive any type of medium, which is transmitted by the information unit 320.

Once the media interface 450 extracts 510 the data code from the media, the media decoder 460 converts 515 the data code into a digital format, which is stored in the memory 470. Depending upon the type of media from which the data code is extracted, the media decoder 460 may need to confirm 520 with the media interface 450 whether the entire data code has been fully retrieved. For example, if a portion of the data code has yet to be extracted from the media, the media interface 450 continues the extraction of the data code from the media. If the entire data code has been retrieved, the controller 480 analyzes 525 the extracted and converted data code to determine whether the data code is a valid data code for the system 100. If the controller 480 determines that the data code is invalid or corrupted, the user is notified 527 that the data code is not a valid data code for this system 100 or that the data code must be reextracted because of corruption problems. If the data code is valid, the data code is flagged and placed in a queue within the memory 470 to be transmitted either directly or indirectly via the gateway 340 to the processing unit 360. While the data code is within the queue, the user may have an opportunity to review a textual representation (e.g., product name) of the data code on the user interface 490, thereby allowing the user the opportunity to confirm 535 that this selection is the intended selection that the user wishes transmitted to the processing unit 360 and fulfilled by the source unit 380. When the data code is ready for transmission to the processing unit 360, the data code is encapsulated 540 into a data packet, which also includes additional identification information such as a user identifier, selection transceiver identifier or gateway identifier, which associates this selection with the user. In one embodiment, a rolling code manager also can be included within the memory 470, which is responsible for inserting a "quasi-random" sequence of numbers into the data packet, which is intended to be synchronized with the gateway 340 to ensure that each code associated with a specific transaction is different. In this manner, each time a successful transaction is passed between the selection transceiver 330, the gateway 340 and the processing unit 360, the next transaction code in the sequence will be used to verify that the same selection transceiver 330 is communicating with the same gateway 340 and processing unit 360. Thus, the chance of another selection transceiver 330 triggering a response by the gateway 340 or processing unit 360 is greatly minimized.

Upon completion of the encapsulation of this information into the data packet, the data packet is transmitted 545 to the processing unit 360 either directly via the communication network 350 or indirectly via the gateway 340, which then transmits the data packet to the processing unit 360 via the communication network 350. With regard to the mechanisms for communicating with the processing unit 360, the limitations as to the efficiency of the communication typically are related to the limitations associated with the communication scheme available to the selection transceiver 330. Therefore, the selection transceiver 330 can include either a remote gateway interface 493, a local gateway interface 497 or both.

The local gateway interface 497 enables the selection transceiver 330 to communicate with any type of communication network 350 by first interfacing with the gateway 340, which then communicates with the communication network 350. In particular, the gateway 340 serves as an interface between the selection transceiver 330 and the communication network 350 to allow the selection transceiver 330 to utilize any type of communication network 350. Otherwise, the selection transceiver 330 may be limited (e.g., in its mobility) due to the communication network 350 or may not even be able to access the communication network 350. For example, if the communication network 350 were a PSTN, in order for the selection transceiver 330 to be able to communicate with the communication network 350, the remote gateway interface 493 would have to include a modem and also be physically connected to the communication network 350 via a telephone line, which may limit the mobility of the selection transceiver 330. For certain embodiments of the present invention, the mobility of the selection transceiver 330 is a desirable feature, which cannot be limited by the availability of only certain types of communication networks 350.

Therefore, in one embodiment of the present invention, the local gateway interface 497 can include a wireless transceiver, such as an infrared data association ("IRDA") or radio frequency ("RF") transceiver, which encapsulates 540 and transmits 545 the extracted data codes and identification information in the form of a data packet to a corresponding wireless transceiver included within the gateway 340. The gateway 340 then would transmit the data codes and identification information onto the processing unit 360 via the communication network 350.

The remote gateway interface 493 can include the functionality of the gateway 340 to allow the selection transceiver 330 to directly communicate with any type of communication network 350 without the need for the gateway 340. For example, in one embodiment where the selection transceiver 330 communicates with a communication network 350, such as a wireless network (e.g., digital or cellular mobile telephone network or a radio communication network), the remote gateway interface 493 can include a wireless modem (e.g., digital, cellular or radio modem) to interface with the network 350. With this interface 493, the selection transceiver 330 would be able to directly communicate with the processing unit 360 via the communication network 350 and not be limited in its mobility.

The decision as to whether to utilize the remote gateway interface 493 for establishing a direct connection with the communication network 350 or the local gateway interface 497 for establishing an indirect connection with the communication network 350 via the gateway 340 relies upon utilizing a detection method to determine the types of communication networks 350 available to the selection transceiver 330. For example, if the communication network 350 includes a mobile telephone network or wireless radio network, the remote gateway interface 493 could attempt to negotiate a connection with the network. If the attempt fails, the selection transceiver 330 could default to relying upon the local gateway interface 497, which interfaces with the gateway 340.

Upon using either the local gateway interface 497 or the remote gateway interface 494, the selection transceiver 330 transmits 545 the data packet to the processing unit 360. Prior to removing the data code and any other associated information, which was encapsulated within the data packet, from the memory 470, the selection transceiver awaits an acknowledgement 555 either from the gateway 340 or the processing unit 360 that the data packet was successfully received either by the gateway 340 or the processing unit 360. If the acknowledgement is received, the controller 480 removes the data code from the memory 470. However, if the acknowledgement is not received after a certain amount of time 560 and a certain number of retries has not been reached 550, the data packet is retransmitted 545. However, if a failure signal 560 is received by the selection transceiver 330 or the selection transceiver 330 has attempted to retransmit the data packet a certain number of times 550, a notification (e.g., message or tone) is provided to the user via either the selection transceiver 330 or the gateway 340 that the selection was unsuccessful and that the user either needs to select the item again or select a different item. Once a data packet is received by the processing unit 360 via the communication network 350, the processing unit 360 de-encapsulates the data codes and identification information from the data packet and determines the appropriate routing for the information to the appropriate source unit 380 (e.g., merchant, supplier, dispatcher, courier and/or delivery service). This routing ensures that the selection by the user will be fulfilled as soon as possible. In addition to forwarding the information directly to a source unit 380, the processing unit 360 also can forward the data codes and identification information to the transaction unit 370. In this embodiment, upon completion of any needed transaction requests between the user and the source unit 380 and the fulfillment of the selection by the source unit 380, the processing unit 360 can transmit confirmation of the completion of the selection request to the user (e.g., via a written or electronic confirmation).

To further illustrate at a high level how various embodiments of the system 100 operate and the robustness of the system 100 as to its ability to be incorporated into any type of environment, the following examples relating to various embodiments of the system 100 with secure transactions and unsecure transactions now will be discuss. The premise behind the system 100 being used for secure transactions is that the items

(e.g., goods or services) are in the direct control of the source unit 380 (e.g., merchant) and not with the user. Such a paradigm can be illustrated by the following discussion of the use of the system 100 within the home and within the physical store or restaurant.

In the home context where the system 100 could be used to facilitate a user's selecting of items (e.g., purchasing of products or services) from a source unit 380 (e.g., merchant), the selection transceiver 330 could be used by the user to select an item, which is displayed on the information unit 320 (e.g., a television, radio, product catalog, flyer, menu, magazine or newspaper). The selection of an item results in a data code pertaining to the item being extracted from the media used by the information unit 320 and the desire to select the item confirmed by the user. If items are scanned from a particular print media 410, (e.g., advertisement or catalog), the data code identifies the source unit 380 so that data code is associated with a specific source unit 380. However, users can change their mind or delete or amend the list of selected items before further action is taken, or if (for example) they find an alternative supplier of similar items at a better price. One embodiment of the information unit 320 is that of a display device (e.g., television or monitor) or radio, which relies upon embedded data codes within the content (e.g., advertisements) to convey the data codes associated with the item to the selection transceiver 330. Such an embodiment allows the user to select items on impulse while the user is being entertained either during a broadcast of video images, television pictures or audio by simply activating the selection transceiver 330 (e.g., pressing the "mute" button), thereby triggering the extraction of the data codes from the transmission by either the selection transceiver 330 or the gateway 340. In an embodiment where the selection transceiver 330 triggers the gateway 340 to retrieve the data codes, the activation of the selection transceiver will result in the gateway 340 being triggered to extract whatever data code is currently being transmitted by the display device. In an alternative embodiment, a device (e.g., Teletext device) can be embedded within the display device to extract data code information from the blanking time or interval. These data codes then can be transmitted to the selection transceiver 330 and optionally onto the gateway 340.

Such an embodiment may include sound or video dubbing, which is incorporated into the television or radio broadcast or embedded within a video (e.g., VHS or DVD) transmission or onto video, audio or audio- visual storage media (e.g., CD-ROM or CD), wherein the dubbing includes data codes that may allow the selection transceiver 330 to detect and read the said data codes, when the user selects a specific item that either is being displayed or discussed. The dubbing may take the form of coding by means of altering certain pixels or blocks of pixels, scan lines or part of such lines, or frames or parts of such frames, or by dubbing sounds onto a sound track or information onto a carrier wave. When dubbing the audio signal, this may be at an inaudible frequency or amplitude or may be otherwise masked within the sound pattern. Video image dubbing can include symbols (such as words, letters or numbers) which can be detected by pattern recognition scanning or detection devices. Dubbing or encoding also may comprise the use of a repeated pattern, unique to the product, which can be detected and decoded in the first device. For example, this may be a pattern of sound, or of light, color, shapes or symbols. The extraction of the data codes also can be accomplished either directly by the selection transceiver 330 or by triggering the gateway 340 (e.g., control unit), which can be directly coupled to the information unit 320, to extract the data codes directly from the transmission upon receiving an activation signal (e.g., the double click of the "mute" button) of a selection transceiver 330.

In addition, the data codes can be designated as being available for receipt by the selection transceiver 330 by displaying a static or animated picture on the screen. This picture can represent the periods of time during a broadcast that the item is available for selection because the data codes are being broadcast within the signal. The typical frequency range of such 5 sound waves is of the order of 100 Hz to 20 kHz. An advantage of using such sound waves is that the coding scheme can be done on the sound prior to modulation, and therefore the encoding can be used on all types of sound broadcasts. Similarly, the decoding by the selection transceiver 330 can be achieved in the same manner by receiving a demodulated signal, which is independent of the method used to modulate and transmit the original data to the information unit

10 330. The clock frequency can be generated at the media decoder 460 of the selection transceiver 330 by an oscillator of the same frequency as that used at the information unit 320. The clock can be initiated or synchronized by a tone, combination of tones or set of pulses or pre-selected combination of second (e.g., coded) data which can periodically be transmitted with the original broadcast data to the information unit 320 and rebroadcasted to the selection transceiver 330. In

15 such a scheme, each value "1" is signaled by inserting a fixed amplitude and fixed width pulse a fixed time after the clock transition. The insertion can be by dubbing, but it would generally be preferable to interrupt the waveform and insert a fixed width pulse of appropriate amplitude to represent either "0" or "1" as required. When an audible media 430 is used, which has a bandwidth of 10 KHz, the pulse width typically would be of the order of 25 microseconds, while 0 the clock frequency could be of the order of 100 to 500 Hz. The amplitude of the pulse of "1" may be of the level of the maximum amplitude permitted in the system, with the original data of the audio system configured so that no other audio amplitude is greater than 95% of the maximum permitted amplitude. Decoding by the media decoder 460 can include a comparator, which is triggered by each transition of the receiver end clock and which includes the correct 5 delay to ensure that the comparator detects the center of the code pulse. The decoded pulses ("0" or "1") are stored in a buffer and processed as required to convert the binary coded data into intelligence as required by the particular application.

Once the items have been selected by the user, the list of data codes (e.g., in the form of a text list) can be reviewed by the user on either the selection transceiver 330 or the gateway 340 before the data codes and identification information is transmitted to the processing unit 360. In addition, a personal identification number ("PIN") can be inputted into either the user interface 490 or into an interface 613 on the gateway 340 to identify the user. Such a confirmation of identification will allow the selection transceiver 330 and or the gateway 340 to confirm or deny the user access to or selection of the items in accordance with pre-established criteria. If the identity of the user is confirmed and the user confirms the selection of the items, the data codes associated with the selected items and identification information is forwarded to the processing unit 360.

The processing unit 360 receives the transmission from either the selection transceiver 330 or the gateway 340 via the communication network 350. In one embodiment of the present invention, the processing unit 360 includes various ports, which allow the processing unit 360 to receive transmissions from various different types of communication networks 350. After the processing unit 360 receives the selection data 710, the processing unit 360 confirms the security 720 of the transmission. In addition the processing unit determines the corresponding source unit 380 to which the data codes are associated 730 as well as initiates a transaction process 740 to confirm that the user pays for the selected item (e.g., good or service) before the source unit 380 fulfills the selection (e.g., delivering the product or service to the user). The transaction process 740 either can be a third party payment scheme (e.g., credit card payment), which is achieved by the transaction unit 370 (e.g., VISA) or can be a process, which the processing unit 360 has the capability of completing (e.g., debiting a user's account). One skilled in the art will recognize that in alternative embodiments the transaction functionality provided by the transaction unit 370 can be implemented at any point within the system 100.

In processing the selected data by analyzing the data codes, the processing unit 360 is able to associate the unique data codes with the specific source units 380 associated with those data codes. Once the identification is made and the data code is converted into a specific code for a specific item for a specific source unit 380 (selection code), the selection code is transmitted to the specific source unit 380 for fulfillment. Details for the supply and delivery of the said items also can be included within the selection code. This selection code can be a code pre-designated by the source unit 380, which is stored within a database within the processing unit 360 and portrays as much or as little information about the selection as the source unit 380 desires. Alternatively, the data code is a code, which is matched with the pre-designated selection code that the processing unit 360 pre-designates as associated with an item as well as other information to allow the processing unit 360 to not only match the selection of an item with a specific source unit 380 and accompanying selection code, but also to obtain additional information such as time of the selection, type of media the selection was made from and any other potentially useful profile information that can be used at a later date to characterize the behavior of the user and the overall use of the system 100.

Once the selection code is transmitted to the appropriate source unit 380, the source unit 380 fulfills the selection based on the selection code and the user identification information, which the processing unit 360 has associated with that selection code. In addition, a confirmation (e.g., written or electronic) can be sent (e.g., transmitted) back to the user via the processing unit 360 at any time to alert the user that the selected item has been fulfilled by the source unit 380.

In an alternative illustrative embodiment, the information unit 320 can be included within a computer 325 with a screen that is coupled to a video source (e.g., DVD or CD-ROM player). The screen has the capability of displaying images and sounds of an interactive catalog of items that the user can select. In addition, the information unit 320 can provide games, prizes, coupons, draws and other mechanisms to attract users and to encourage or persuade users to select particular items. Different organizations can provide their own CD-ROMs or DVDs to users either via conventional mail or electronically via the Internet. As previously discussed, the images and sounds associated with this content also can contain the data codes that are used by the selection transceiver 330 to determine the specific item that the user selected. In this embodiment, the user could select the item either with a computer mouse, keyboard, pointing device and then activate the selection transceiver 330 to receive the corresponding data code associated with the selected item. Alternatively, the user could first activate the selection transceiver 330 and then scan an image (e.g., bar code), which may be displayed upon the screen in order to extract the data code associated with the selected item. An additional alternative can be to use audio encoding or IRDA.

The selection transceiver 330 also can include software that can provide additional information, options and controls for the user. For example, this software can allow the user to check the selected items against pre-programmed schedules, preferences or patterns to ensure that they are within the profile, and if not, carry out checks and interaction with the user for verification that the user intended to select that specific item. The software also can prepare cost, match the orders with account statements and select options for payment. The software further can provide the user the ability to search source units 380 (e.g., merchants) of selected items and find the cheapest, nearest, quickest or otherwise preferred source unit 380.

Once all of the items are selected, a list of the items, their cost, and the total cost of the selected items can be displayed on the screen. The user then can amend or confirm the list of selected items. When the user completes the confirmation, the user is given options for payment. These options can include pre-arranged accounts (with the option of selecting which), pre- arranged credit, or debit cards or credit cards. In the case of credit or debit cards or other similar cards being used to make or authorize for the payment of the selected items, the user can swipe a credit card through a swipe reader (on the gateway 340 or the selection transceiver 330), or if they are bar-coded scan them in with the selection transceiver 330. Alternatively, the credit card information could be pre-programmed into the selection transceiver 330 to allow the user to merely transmit the payment information to the processing unit 360 via the computer 325. In such an embodiment as can be implemented in other embodiments of the present invention, the selection transceiver 330 not only can be used as the interface between the information unit 320 and the processing unit 360, but also as an electronic identification and debit mechanism for the user to use for payment of the selected items. Once payment information is provided, the computer 325 allows the user to denote the urgency, delivery options and any other relevant information. When this is done, the user can confirm the user's decisions and indicate that the selection is complete and should be transmitted to the processing unit 360. The order then can be transmitted, processed and the items delivered to the user. The user typically would receive a confirmation message that the selection of the items was received, and later a confirmation that the source unit 380 has fulfilled the selection. One skilled in the art will recognize that such a system 100 can be used not only to order products or services from interactive catalogs, but also to select items from live television advertisements, booking of services, payment of taxes, selling of items, and any other type of transactions. In another embodiment, the information unit 320 can be a distributor of a print magazine or catalog. The user then typically can use the selection transceiver 330 to scan a bar code, which is associated with an item, which the user wishes to select, that is illustrated or discussed within the print media 410. The catalog typically illustrates items for sale with a corresponding bar code located near the item to allow the user to select that item and extract the data code associated with that item. The data code would include such information as price, color size and any other type of information, which is needed for the source unit 380 to fulfill the selection of that item. Other print media 410 that can be used to convey information about the items to users and to provide the user with a means for scanning a bar code associated with that item includes newspapers, brochures, books or invoices. In an alternative embodiment, the system 100 can be used outside the home in a commercial environment, such as a physical restaurant or store. In this environment, the information unit 320 can be a menu or a display. In the restaurant environment, a user could review a menu and determine what items he wishes to select for consumption. The user then would proceed to activate the selection transceiver 330 and scan a bar code corresponding to each item he wishes to select. In this paradigm, the user does not have to wait in line or for a table before selecting the items he wishes to eat. In the home environment, once the selection transceiver 330 was used to scan the items on the menu, the food (e.g., pizza) would be delivered to the home from a local restaurant. In the non-home environment, once the user reaches the front of the line or a table becomes available within the restaurant for the user, the selected items (e.g., food) would be ready for consumption by the user.

In the store environment, items secured by the store (e.g., pharmaceuticals) can be selected by a user scanning a bar code associated with the item desired. In this manner, the user's identity, desired item and whether that user is authorized to obtain that item are confirmed before the user even needs to speak with a store employee. For further security, the user then can be required to enter an additional PIN at the register when he is provided with the item to further confirm the identify of the user. In one embodiment, this mechanism can be used to maintain the security of items, such as alcohol or cigarettes, which are only intended for users, who are over a certain age.

In yet another embodiment, the selection transceiver 330 may be used as a payment vehicle. In this embodiment, goods or services are selected using conventional selection methods (e.g., bringing a product up to a check-out booth). Upon determining the total payment due, the user can activate the selection transceiver 330 to interact with the transaction unit 370 via the gateway 340 and processing unit 360. Another alternative embodiment of the system 100 is using the system for bill payment. Either a physical bill or an electronic statement is sent to the user. In the physical bill context, the user then would scan the bar code on the bill with the selection transceiver 330 and confirm with the selection transceiver 330 that payment of this bill should be made. Alternatively, the user could access that bill via a world wide web-based Internet inquiry system or via the receipt of an electronic bill (e.g., e-mail). Upon either receiving the electronic statement or upon logging into a world wide web Internet site, which stores the electronic statement, the user activates the selection transceiver 330 to confirm that payment should be made. The payment then will be made to the source unit 380 (e.g., gas or electric utility service) via whatever payment mechanisms the user has already identified to the processing unit 360 for that particular source unit 380. In the electronic paradigm, the user will use the selection transceiver 330 to interface with a computer, which will result in a secure transmission to be sent to the processing unit 360. In such embodiments, the communication from the computer 325 to the processing unit 360 can be secured by sending a secure text transfer protocol ("STTP") packet to the processing unit 360. The payment will be made to the source unit 380 via whatever payment mechanism the user has designated with the processing unit 360. In embodiments where the items are not secured from the user prior to purchase, the system 100 can be located within a source unit 380 (e.g., physical store) where displays illustrate the items that are available for purchase by the user. If a user wished to purchase an item on a shelf, the user would activate the selection transceiver 330, thereby resulting in the selection transceiver 330 interacting with the gateway 340 (e.g., intelligent product shelf). The data codes associated with the item are extracted (e.g., by scanning a bar code on the shelf) and then transmitted (e.g., via an infrared or radio frequency connection) to the gateway 340 within the store. When the user has finished selecting items for purchase, which the user also has placed into a shopping cart, the user then can go to a self-service check out booth where a store employee can confirm the selected products and determine any additional information, such as the weight of a product, to facilitate the processing unit 360 calculating the total cost of the selected items. The transaction unit 370 also can at the same time verify the credit card details of the user. To ensure the security of the transaction, a personal identification number ("PIN") also can be requested to be entered, thereby confirming the identity of the user. Upon completion of the transaction between the source unit 380 and the user, the user exits the source unit 380 (e.g., store). Alternatively, the bar codes on the actual items (e.g., box) also can be used to extract the data code associated with the item. When a user decides to select (e.g., purchase) an item (e.g., hammer), the user would retrieve the item desired to be selected, scans either the bar code associated with the item and brings that item to the front of the store. When the data code associated with the item is extracted from a bar code, the item will be displayed on a screen at the front of the store when the user approaches and provides the store staff with a user identifier that associates the user with the selections. The selected item then can be displayed for the user to confirm that this item is what was desired and also displayed for the store staff to ensure that only those items selected will be allowed to leave the store. Alternatively, the user could review this selection at a monitor within the store and confirm that the desired items were selected in the proper quantity. When the user reaches the front of the store, the staff member of the store merely needs to confirm that the items selected and purchased correspond to the items the user is leaving the store with.

With such a system 100, the advantages previously discussed with regard to the restaurant paradigm also exist in the store environment. Unlike the conventional paradigm of purchaing items from a store, the user, which uses this system 100, will be able to select items with the selection transceiver 330 as he carries the items to the front of the store and will have the transaction completed by the time he reaches a store staff member. The transaction can either be completed on the fly as each item is selected or the user can designate when he is finished selecting items and manually trigger the completion of the transaction. Once confirmation is given to the system 100 to complete the transaction, the system 100 immediately can, or at a later pre-selected time, automatically phone the processing unit 360 associated with the store and complete the transaction.

In another embodiment, a user within a source unit 380 (e.g., motion picture theater or opera house) could select an advertisement, which may be displayed either before the film or in a playbill, for a product or service. The selection by the user then could be transmitted to a gateway 340 within the source unit 380, which then forwards the selection to the processing unit 360 within the source unit 380.

One skilled in the art will recognize that the above referenced examples merely are intended to illustrate the robustness of system 100. For example, these embodiments of the system 100 can be combined in different manners to enable the user to extract data codes from different varieties of media in different physical environments. In addition, one skilled in the art will recognize that an additional embodiment can be for the selection transceiver 330 to have the additional functionality of a panic button to enable the selection transceiver 330 to have a security aspect to it. Furthermore, one skilled in the art also will recognize that the selection transceiver 330, like the rest of the system 100, can be partially or entirely bi-directional, thereby allowing the information source unit 310, the information unit 320, the computer 325, the selection unit 330, the gateway 340, the communication network 350, the processing unit 360, the transaction unit 370 and the source unit 380 to communicate with one another and with the user. Figure 6 illustrates a more detailed high level block diagram of an embodiment of a gateway 340, a communication network 350 and a processing unit 360 of the present invention. As previously discussed, upon activation of the selection transceiver 330, the selection transceiver 330 receives data codes, which then are transmitted with the identification information within a data packet 200 either directly to the processing unit 360 or indirectly to the processing unit 360 via the gateway 340, which interfaces with the communication network 350. The gateway 340 receives (e.g., via an infrared or wireless signal) the data codes and identification information from the local gateway interface 497 of the selection transceiver 330. The gateway 340 can be used to accept, control, process and edit selections made by a user with the selection transceiver 330. The gateway 340 can include a selection transceiver interface 610, a memory 611 , a clock

612, a user interface 613, a controller 616, a mobile telephony network interface 615, a PSTN interface 620 and a data network interface 625. The selection transceiver interface 610 can include an IRDA module 335 and a Radio Frequency ("RF") transceiver, which can interface with the local gateway interface 497. The rolling code manager, which, in the gateway 340, is within the memory 611, is responsible for synchronizing with the rolling code manager within the selection transceiver 330 to track a "quasi-random" sequence of numbers that represents a transaction code. As long as the transaction codes received from the selection transceiver 330 matches the transaction code currently calculated by the rolling code manager within the gateway 340, the gateway 340 can confirm that the same selection transceiver 330 is communicating with the gateway 340. In addition, the rolling code manager also can be used with the processing unit 360 to also authenticate transactions forwarded to the processing unit 360.

In an alternative embodiment, if the gateway 340, which receives the data codes and identification information from the local gateway interface 497 of the selection transceiver 330 cannot directly communicate with the communication network 350, either due to a malfunction with its interfaces 630, 635, 640 or due to the communication network 350 is not available for this specific gateway 340 (e.g., not near a PSTN telephone jack), the gateway 340 can utilize the selection transceiver interface 610 to communicate with another gateway 340 (e.g., physically connected to a PSTN telephone jack) within the system 100 in order to communicate with the communication network 350. The user interface 613 is similar to the user interface 490 discussed with regard to Figure

4. In particular, user interface 613 provides the user with an alternative point at which to confirm a selection before the data codes and identification information are transmitted within the data packet 200 to the processing unit 360 for processing and to the source unit 380 for fulfillment. In addition, to provide the user access to the information stored within the gateway 340, the user can be required to enter a personal identification number ("PIN") on a keypad within the user interface 613. The controller 616 compares the entered PIN with the PIN, which is stored within the memory 611. If the entered PIN matches the PIN stored within the memory, the user is provided access to the stored data codes and identification information (e.g., user identification number). In addition to the stored PPN number, the data codes and the identification information, the memory 61 1 also can store a simple operating system, which is used by the controller 616 to enhance the functionality of the gateway 611 (e.g,. the type of information displayed by the user interface 613). This operating system also can include such functionality as a timer and identification code for the gateway 340. Depending upon the desired operation of the gateway 340, the transmission to the processing unit 360 can be delayed by either a pre-determined amount of time or by an amount of time designated by the user. This delay can be used to allow the gateway 340 to transmit information to the processing unit 360 only during a specific period of the day, thereby not interrupting with other communications by the user that may use the same communication 5 network 350. In addition, this delay also can be used to avoid the gateway 340 overloading the communication network 350. This delay mechanism for spreading out the load, however, can be overridden for "instant" or "urgent" selections (e.g., ordering fast food).

Once the user has confirmed that each item selected is intended to be processed and the specific time for transmitting the information has been reached, one of the interfaces 615, 620,

10 625 is activated to communicate the data codes and identification information to the processing unit 360 via the communication network 350. When the mobile telephony network interface 615 is activated, the gateway 340 communicates with the processing unit 360 via a mobile telephony network 630. When the PSTN interface 620 is activated, the gateway 340 communicates via the PSTN 635 to the processing unit 360. Lastly, when the data network interface 625 is activated,

15 the gateway 340 communicates with the processing unit via the data network 640. In one embodiment, the mobile telephony network interface 615 is a mobile telephony (e.g., analog or digital) modem, the PSTN interface 620 is a data modem, which can range from 300 baud up to asynchronous digital subscriber line ("ADSL") transmission speeds and the data network interface 625 can either be a modem or a network card, such as an Ethernet network card that 0 transmits transmission control protocol / Internet protocol ("TCP/IP"). The decision as to which interface 615, 620, 625 to use to establish a connection with the processing unit 360 can be programmed with a priority as to which type of communication network 350 to attempt to use first.

One skilled in the art will recognize that the interfaces 615, 620, 625 are merely 5 illustrative and that other interfaces can be used to interface with other types of communication networks 350 (e.g., alternating current power network or cable network). In addition, one skilled in the art will recognize that the components discussed with regard to the selection transceiver 330 and the gateway 340 can all be incorporated into either the selection transceiver 330 or into the gateway 340. The processing unit 360 receives the data packet 710 with the data codes and identification information. In one embodiment, the processing unit 360 can include a database (not shown), which stores a user details table 1020, an item details table 1025 and a source unit details table 1027. The processing unit 360 also can include an access switch, such as an AS5300 access switch by Cisco Systems of San Jose, California, and an interactive voice response unit ("IVR"), and a Jolt Java-based operating system, such as Tuxedo by BEA Systems, Inc. of San Jose, California. The access switch can be coupled to a plurality of integrated services digital network ("ISDN") connections, which are part of the communication network 350, to receive digital transmission. In addition, the IVR can receive DTMF tones, which are transmitted via the communication network 350. The processing unit 360 is responsible for completing each transaction session by providing transactional integrity, load-balancing, prioritization and queuing of service requests to the database. The processing unit 360 can provide transaction management and services, which are used to process high-volume database requests. In particular, the processing unit 360 receives the data packets via the communication network 350 and analyzes 730 the information to match the data code within a selection transaction with a specific item. The identification information also is used 720 to ensure that the selection meets the current security profile of that user as well as to obtain the relevant user information to pass to the source unit 380. If the session established between the gateway 340 and the processing unit 360 does not contain such information about the user and the selected items, the selection is designated as a special selection type, which will be processed separately to confirm proper processing of selection and to confirm security integrity of the selection.

In the security check 820, the processing unit 360 will determine 810 whether roaming (e.g., the ability for the user to leave a central location such as the home with the selection transceiver 330) is on. If roaming is off, the gateway identifier is passed for a security check 820 to make sure that the selection transceiver and gateway identifiers match 830. If they do not match, and roaming is not enabled then this failure to match is a security breach and the transaction stops 840 with appropriate logging and notification performed to alert the user of the problem.

If the selection has been validated as corresponding to a specific user and the data code is identified 730 as corresponding to a specific item (e.g., product) corresponding to a specific source unit 380, the selection transaction then is transmitted 750 to the appropriate source unit 380 (e.g., as a selection code) via a secure mechanism, such as via a secure electronic mail transmission, an electronic data interface ("EDI"), a facsimile transmission, a telephone call, a text message. In addition, upon processing of the selection transactions, a selection log can be created by the processing unit 360, which results in an individual line entry on a daily log (e.g., invoice) for the source unit 380 associated with the selection transaction. A log summary then can be transferred to the source unit 380 on a daily or monthly basis, which will allow the source units 140 to utilize these details to track completion of the selection transactions received at the processing unit 360 for that source unit 380. In addition, other logs such as a bill record log can be created and forwarded to the source unit 380.

When the source unit 380 receives information (e.g., selection code) associated with a selection transaction, the source unit 380 can either fulfill the selection transaction (e.g., deliver the selected good or service) or can further process 740 (e.g., additional authentication of the user or debiting the user's account) the selection transaction before fulfilling the selection. In one embodiment of the present invention, the processing unit 360 can expect the data packet from the gateway 340 or the selection transceiver 330 to be in a certain format: [Header] [Transaction Data] [Footer]. The header field can include such information as the area code of the user, a selection transceiver identifier, a date that the selection was initiated, and the number of selections. The transaction data field can include the a string of times, data codes and other information (e.g., type of media extracted from) related to each data code (e.g.,

<Time><data code A><type> | <Time> <data code B><type> | <Time><data code C><type> | <Time><data code D><type> | ...). The footer field can include a cyclic redundancy check ("CRC") as well as an end of transmission character (e.g., <CR>).

To assist with the proper identification 730 of a specific selected item and other information associated with that selection, a variance is used to associate the data code values that will need to be identified within the item details table 1025. The table can store mean values for the features, but the values that are actually captured by the gateway 340 or the selection transceiver 330 may not match the stored values within the database item table 1025. This means that the search will have to be within some limits (e.g., select all products that match all feature values with +/- X variation). This of course may lead to multiple products being retrieved depending on the size of X. In such instances, it may be desirable to do a "best fit" calculation where by a least-squares calculation is performed. There still, however, may be margin for error that could translate to the wrong item being sent to the user. This margin, however, can be minimized by forwarding a final confirmation to the user as to the selection or can be based upon a margin, which is deemed tolerable to the user.

To improve the accuracy of determining the correct data code within the item details table 1025, one embodiment of the present invention can rely upon a time stamp and additional codes (e.g., advertisement schedule codes) for each selection to allow a further cross-reference between the data codes and the records stored within the item details table 1025 in order to determine whether the final matching of the data codes with an item associated with a specific source unit 380 is correct. In one embodiment, a table with advertisement schedule codes can be used to cross-reference 920 the date and time of the item was selected. Such information can identify a specific advertisement to which the user selected an item. In many instances, based upon matching 920 the selection to a specific advertisement, the selected item can be identified through implication.

Once the source unit details are available and the user details are processed by comparing 910 the user identifier 210 with the customer details table 1020, an e-mail 940 then can be generated 750 based upon the user order record 1030 and the billing record 1035 that have been retrieved by matching 920 the information with the tables 1020, 1025 and 1027 from the database, thereby allowing the processing unit 360 to notify 850 the source unit 380. For each selection transaction, a separate update logs, order status and billing procedure can be called in order to complete the transaction. However, if the data codes and/or the user identification information does not match the information stored within the database of the processing unit, the user is notified 950 that an improper selection has been made. The ability to satisfy the user's order status information requests allows the system 100 in one embodiment to avoid the need for an LCD display on the gateway 340 or the selection transceiver 330. Each download from the gateway 340 or selection transceiver 330 is a sequence of selections to one or more source units 380. A status is assigned to each of these selection transactions. While the present invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to various embodiments relating to the system 100, one skilled in the art will understand that various changes in form and details can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Such modifications include utilizing the system and methods describe in the various embodiments in a off-line context, such as via a telephone.

Claims

1. A device for transmitting a data code, the device comprising: a media interface adapted to receive the data code from one of a plurality of mediums; and a gateway interface, coupled to the media interface, adapted to transmit the data code over a communication network.
2. The device of claim 1 wherein the interface includes a remote gateway interface, adapted to communicate directly over the communication network.
3. The device of claim 1 wherein the gateway interface includes a local gateway interface adapted to communicate indirectly over the communication network by way of a gateway.
4. The device of claim 1 wherein the interface includes a modem adapted to communicate directly over the communication network.
5. The device of claim 4 wherein the communication network is a public switch telephone network.
6. The selection device of claim 1 further comprising a media decoder adapted to convert a received data code into a digital value.
7. The device of claim 1 further comprising a user interface, adapted to display information corresponding to the data code.
8. The device of claim 1 wherein one of the plurality of mediums is a visual media.
9. The device of claim 1 wherein one of the plurality of mediums is an audible media.
10. The device of claim 1 wherein one of the plurality of mediums is a print media.
11. The device of claim 1 wherein one of the plurality of mediums is a wireless media.
12. The device of claim 1 wherein the media interface includes a bar code scanner.
13. The device of claim 1 wherein the media interface includes a microphone.
14. The device of claim 1 wherein the media interface includes an optical detector.
15. A method for selecting an item comprising the steps of: receiving a data code corresponding to the selected item from one of a plurality of mediums; and transmitting the data code over a communication network.
16. The method of claim 15 further comprising the step of associating the data code with a source unit.
17. The method of claim 16 further comprising the step of transmitting a description of the item selected and user identification information to the source unit.
18. An interactive television shopping method comprising the steps of: receiving a transmission of a television broadcast signal, wherein said transmission 5 includes a data code corresponding to an item; extracting the data code from the transmission upon selection of an item corresponding to the data code; and transmitting the data code with identification information to a processing unit for fulfillment of the selected item. 10
19. The method of claim 19, wherein the television broadcast signal includes a visual media including the data code.
20. The method of claim 18, wherein the television broadcast signal includes an audible media including the data code.
21. The method of claim 20, wherein the data code is a dual tone multi frequency tone signal. 15
22. An electronic commerce system for a user to select an item, the system comprising: a selection transceiver adapted to receive a data code from one of a plurality of mediums, wherein said data code corresponds to the item selected by the user; and a gateway, coupled to the selection transceiver, adapted to receive the data code from the selection transceiver and to transmit the data code. 20
23. The system of claim 22 further comprising an information unit adapted to transmit the data code to the selection transceiver.
24. The system of claim 23, wherein the information unit and the gateway are within a computer.
25. The system of claim 22 further comprising a processing unit, coupled to the gateway, 25 adapted to receive the data code from the gateway.
26. The system of claim 25 further comprising a transaction unit, coupled to the processing unit, adapted to complete a transaction between the user and a source unit.
27. An electronic commerce system for communicating a data code corresponding to an item selected by a user to a processing unit, the system comprising: a selection transceiver adapted to receive a data code from one of a plurality of mediums, wherein said data code corresponds to the item selected by the user; and a processing unit, coupled to the selection transceiver, adapted to receive the data code from said selection transceiver.
28. The system of claim 27, wherein the processing unit is a computer. 5
29. The system of claim 27 further comprising a gateway, coupled between the selection transceiver and the processing unit, adapted to receive the data code from said selection transceiver and to transmit the data code to the processing unit.
30. The system of claim 27 further comprising a source unit, coupled to the processing unit, adapted to forward the item corresponding to the data code to the user. 10
31. The system of claim 27 further comprising a transaction unit, coupled to the processing unit.
32. A gateway comprising: a selection transceiver interface adapted to receive a data code; and a communication network interface, coupled to the selection transceiver interface, 15 adapted to transmit the data code.
33. The gateway of claim 32 wherein the communication network interface includes a modem adapted to communicate with the communication network.
34. The gateway of claim 33 wherein the modem is a mobile telephony modem adapted to communicate with a mobile telephony network.
20 35. The gateway of claim 32 wherein the communication network interface includes a data network interface card.
36. A method for integrating a plurality of mediums comprising the steps of: extracting a first data code from a first medium of a plurality of mediums; extracting a second data code from a second medium of a plurality of mediums; and
25 transmitting the first data code and the second data code to a processing unit.
37. The method of claim 36, wherein the first medium is a paper media.
38. The method of claim 36, wherein the first medium is a visual media.
39. The method of claim 36, wherein the first medium is an audible media.
40. The method of claim 36, wherein the first medium is a wireless media.
PCT/NZ2000/000042 1999-03-31 2000-03-31 Medium independent electronic commerce system and method WO2000058804A2 (en)

Priority Applications (22)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
NZ33498699 1999-03-31
NZ334986 1999-03-31
NZ33502399 1999-04-07
NZ335023 1999-04-07
NZ33519299 1999-04-14
NZ33519099 1999-04-14
NZ335191 1999-04-14
NZ33519199 1999-04-14
NZ335190 1999-04-14
NZ335192 1999-04-14
NZ335935 1999-05-26
NZ33593399 1999-05-26
NZ33593599 1999-05-26
NZ335933 1999-05-26
NZ336964 1999-07-27
NZ33696499 1999-07-27
NZ501355 1999-11-29
NZ50135599 1999-11-29
NZ50229100 2000-01-12
NZ502291 2000-01-12
US53860300A true 2000-03-29 2000-03-29
US09/538,603 2000-03-29

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