WO2001022262A2 - Device enabling rapid reading and accessing of web pages - Google Patents

Device enabling rapid reading and accessing of web pages

Info

Publication number
WO2001022262A2
WO2001022262A2 PCT/US2000/026142 US0026142W WO2001022262A2 WO 2001022262 A2 WO2001022262 A2 WO 2001022262A2 US 0026142 W US0026142 W US 0026142W WO 2001022262 A2 WO2001022262 A2 WO 2001022262A2
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
address
web
device
internet
invention
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2000/026142
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2001022262A3 (en )
Inventor
Peter Kassan
Original Assignee
Peter Kassan
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.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F17/00Digital computing or data processing equipment or methods, specially adapted for specific functions
    • G06F17/30Information retrieval; Database structures therefor ; File system structures therefor
    • G06F17/30861Retrieval from the Internet, e.g. browsers
    • G06F17/30876Retrieval from the Internet, e.g. browsers by using information identifiers, e.g. encoding URL in specific indicia, browsing history
    • G06F17/30879Retrieval from the Internet, e.g. browsers by using information identifiers, e.g. encoding URL in specific indicia, browsing history by using bar codes

Abstract

A scanning device connected to a computer such as a PC, notebook, and/or hand held computing device operates in conjunction with special software that receives from the device information and determines whether the information comprises a web page, e-mail or keyword address. If a web page, a stored program automatically connects the PC to the web page or at least stores the address for a later retrieval, uploading or use. If an e-mail address, the software or program automatically interfaces with an e-mail program that is automatically pre-addressed to the e-mail address that has been scanned by the scanning device. If keyword(s) of another kind, the software invokes the appropriate web site or proprietary network, passing the keyword or keywords in the format appropriate for that web site or network.

Description

DEVICE ENABLING RAPID READING AND ACCESSING OF WEB PAGES

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to the subjects of the Internet, the World Wide Web, browsing software ("browsers"), electronic mail software ("e-mail programs") and, more particularly, to handheld devices designed to scan Web page addresses (also known as universal resource locators, or "URLs") and/or e-mail addresses and to communicate those addresses automatically to a computer to allow the computer to automatically access the resource (whether an Internet Web page or a local or private ["Internet"] web page or to invoke an e-mail program to create an e-mail addressed to the address scanned.

The Internet and the Worldwide Web have virtually conquered the world. Millions of individuals regularly conduct their business activities via computers . Indeed many individuals similarly use the computer for leisure purposes such as entertainment, research, games, etc. as well. It is widely known to use the URL (Universal Resource Locator) of web sites as hypertext links that can be clicked on to rapidly access information contained at various sites, libraries, etc. Often, individuals encounter in newspapers, books, magazines etc., Web site addresses that they would like to visit. In these cases, they must jot down the address for later use and eventually manually type the addresses, i.e., the URL, of the sites. This is cumbersome, slow, unreliable and not acceptable in the impatient world in which we live.

Furthermore, the browser has become a standard mechanism for viewing virtual "documents" and files of all kind, and the URL has become a truly universal standard for conveying the location of such files to the browser, whether that resource physically resides as an electronic file on the user's own computer, on a computer to which the user is temporarily or permanently attached via a local area network (LAN) , a wide area network (WAN) , or the Internet, or whether in fact the document specified by the URL is created on the fly and exists only as long as the user is browsing it. In many applications, the so-called address is actually a complex specification of parameters that drive the creation of a virtual document . Such URLs are often very long and complicated, and must be entered in exactly the correct format or will not work.

Furthermore, as e-mail becomes a ubiquitous means of communication, e-mail addresses become increasingly as common and important as telephone numbers. Again, such e-mail addresses must be entered in exactly the correct format or will not work. However, people often encounter e-mail addresses in non-electronic forms (such as on business cards, in advertisements, in magazine or newspaper articles, on business stationary, etc.) where they cannot be automatically captured.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention comprises a combination of the following elements:

• A handheld optical scanning device (such as a handheld scanner, light pen, bar code reader, etc . ) • Specialized software to support Lhe optical scanning device, including optical character recognition (OCR) , bar code reading software, and/or digital symbol -reading software, as appropriate;

• Further specialized software to recognize and select a URL from within the text and/or other symbols read by the scanning device;

• A web browser (such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Netscape Navigator, etc.) or the interface program of proprietary network (such as America Online) ; • Optionally, an e-mail program (such as Microsoft Outlook) ;

• Interface software between the specialized software and the web browser and/or the e- mail program capable of:

• invoking the web browser and/or e- mail program if it is not already active on the user's system, or if the user has indicated that a new window is to be opened when the invention is used;

• passing a URL to the web browser or an e-mail address to the e-mail program in the mode appropriate to create a new e-mail message;

• directing the browser to locate the resource specified by the URL and displaying the results.

• Optionally, the encoding of URLs in bar codes or other digitized pattern;

• Optionally, the printing of a bar code or other digitized encoding of a URL near the URL, company name, or trademark;

• Optionally, the printing of a bar code or other digitized encoding of a URL near the URL, company name, or trademark in an unobtrusive ink readable only by the scanning device. • Optionally, the encoding of a URL entirely as a sequence of numbers and/or separator symbols, so as to increase the likelihood of a successful OCR interpretation of the URL. Features of the invention include at least the following:

• Incorporating the scanning device, e.g., the reading pen or scanner, into a computer mouse; • Incorporating the scanning device into a cellular cordless telephone;

• Allowing the scanning device to store URL's when not connected to the computer (or otherwise unable to open the web page) for later uploading, retrieval, use;

• When the scanning device is positioned over a word or phrase not recognizable as a URL, linking to a site that searches for the nearest match in a URL and then go directly to that best match; • Incorporating in the scanning device a display window showing what is being scanned;

• Enabling the scanning device to display what has been scanned (and/or the name or description of the web page being linked to) on electronic display; • Forming the scanning device as a device that is placed on or swiped across the URL or a bar code representing the URL;

• Incorporating the functionality described above into a device incorporating or consisting of a digital camera, to allow capture of a URL without physical contact with a page or item on which a URL is printed (for example, on a billboard) ;

• Allowing optional editing of a scanned URL before linking to a web page.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Figure 1 shows a computer and an attached scanning device of the type to which the invention relates .

Figure 2 shows a simplified block diagram of the system of the present invention.

Figure 3 shows a connector which can accommodate both a mouse and the scanning device of the present invention.

Figure 4 is a block diagram of software that operates in accordance with one embodiment of the invention .

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION Light -pen technology, for example, in the form of a wand for a hand-held, combined light pen and bar code reader, is not new in and of itself. The same comment applies to hand held scanners that read text or information in a batch. These products have been sold and described for use in scanning information such as text or images into a computer. Exemplifying such technology are United States Patent Nos . 5,932,860; 5,710,844; 5,656,805; 5,630,168; 5,506,394; 5,115,230; 4,748,318; 4,677,428; and 4 , 146 , 782. The contents of the aforementioned patents are incorporated by reference herein. Several companies sell a so called "c.Pen" which is a particular type of a light pen. Thus, the prior art is well acquainted with scanners and light pens and similar scanning devices and no specific description thereof is necessary to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to use, modify, and deploy such scanning devices for the purposes of the present invention as further described below.

Turning to the figures, Figure 1 shows an otherwise conventional personal computer such as a PC 10 which comprises a monitor 12, connected to a chassis 14 and operating in conjunction with a keyboard 16. A light pen 18 is schematically shown connected to the chassis 14. However, while an example of the invention is described herein mostly by reference to a pen style scanning device, the preferred device is a scanning device that captures the image of a portion of a page or text in chunks, without having to be swept or scanned mechanically by hand over the information. See the scanner 17 shown in dotted lines in Figure 1. Turning to Figure 2, block 20 represents the prior art, namely existing software that is commonly installed in PCs for handling hypertext links and for carrying out the instruction sequences that automatically connect a computer to a web site or the like upon the clicking on a highlighted web address.

In accordance with the present invention, the scanning device captures the image in the area scanned as a graphic image; second, optical character recognition (OCR) software turns the graphic into text; and third, heuristic software makes a "best guess" as to what the likeliest URL , keyword, or email address the user had intended to scan. The scanned image may be the trademark or logo of a company. It may also be the name and/or address of a company that uniquely identifies it.

To this end, the invention optionally includes a database of known URL's, keywords, company trademarks/logos/names and the like against which the scanned URL or scanned trademark etc. is matched in order to make the aforementioned "best guess" as to what is, if any, the likeliest Internet URL or e-mail address. Also, URL's can be encoded in bar codes and/or bar codes of various types, e.g. UPC, ISBN, etc., may be scanned to identify a product and the corresponding Internet destination "looked up" in the database . There are two options here for how the device will operate: first the user can click to start the process and the rest happens (including the display of the web address or new email window) without any further user interaction; or, second, the user prompts the action by clicking again once the program has selected the web address or the like.

By way of a non- limiting example, the figures show the light pen 18 (and again, the preferred device is a hand-held scanner 17) which interfaces with software 22 which receives inputs from the light pen and operates on the input from the light pen to evolve a web address (and/or an e-mail address) . That address is then communicated to the existing software 20 and installed in one or more registers of that software which point to a desired web site. If desired, the light pen can temporarily store a plurality of web site addresses and/or e-mail addresses in a storage or memory 23. As an option, the invention permits a user to recall web site addresses from the light pen storage 23 for accessing any of several web sites at the point delayed relative to the time when these web site addresses have been scanned and stored in the storage 23. The software in the block 22 can be resident in the light pen itself or it can wholly or partially reside in the memory or storage of the PC 10, or any other convenient location. Once again, the terms "light pen" or "pen" or "scanning device" are used herein interchangeably. Similarly in the figures, a scanning device can be substituted for the illustrated light pen.

Figure 3 illustrates one mode of connecting the light pen 18 to the computer 10. It is common for computers to include a mouse 24 which is connected via a cable 25 through a connector 26 to the computer, in well known manner. The light pen of the present invention may be connected to the computer through its own connector, i.e. through its own serial port. Alternatively, the invention provides a modified connector 28 which can accommodate both the mouse 24 and the light pen 18. The light pen 18 may include several actuating buttons 30, through the actuation of which circuitry can be enabled to allow the computer 10 to receive inputs from either the mouse or the pen on a mutually exclusive basis.

Figure 4 is a block diagram of one form of implementing the software process of the present invention. Thus, the start block 40 attends to the initialization of registers and configuring data sets, tables, and working parameters for the light pen 18. At block 42 the software awaits receipt of information scanned by the light pen 18. As information is received from the light pen, it is analyzed and packaged to allow determining whether it is in a form that represents a web page and/or possibly an e-mail address and/or a keyword.

At decisional block 46, the program either returns to receive fresh scanning information at block 42 or, if the data has the format of either a web page or an e-mail address, the program proceeds to block

48. At block 48 it is decided whether the information stream from the light pen 18 represents a web page. If it does, the program automatically "accesses" a web page (i.e. invokes the user's Internet browser) as indicated at block 54. If it is not a web page, decisional block 50 determines whether the format is that of an e-mail. If it is, the program proceeds to block 52 where the software automatically interfaces with an e-mail program, for example the GroupWise product, and opens an e-mail screen which it pre- addressed to the party whose address the light pen has scanned. The operator can then compose an e-mail message and send it to its destination, without having to manually enter addressing information. The operation of the invention is now complete and the system returns to its initial state. If it is determined at block 50 that it is not e-mail, the information from the light pen may have been garbled or a non-web page or e-mail text may have been scanned. In this situation, the program returns to block 40 to await further input from the light pen.

Returning to block 54, after a web page address has been accessed, the program determines, at decision block 56, whether the web page has been successfully accessed. If the accessing of the web page has been successful, the program returns to block 42. If not, the program proceeds to the decision block 58 where the program checks to see if the program has been set up to search for close matches to the web page address whose accessing has been unsuccessful. If the answer is no, the program returns to the block 42 to await further input. If the answer is yes, the program proceeds to block 62 where it accesses a special web site that contains a library of URL addresses and proceeds to find the closest match to the web page address characters that it has previously processed. Once it has received information that provides a reasonably close match, the program proceeds to block 62 where the accessing of that web page is automatically handled and thereafter the program returns to the block 42 to receive additional inputs from the light pen. As described above, the present invention uses known light pen technology to provide PC users with a powerful technique to rapidly accesses web sites or e-mail addresses that one encounters through reading materials such as newspapers and the like, without need to manually type long cumbersome and difficult to memorize web addresses and without being frustrated by spelling errors and the like.

The invention as described above includes the possibility of incorporating the light pen 18, i.e. scanning device, into a computer mouse 24. It also contemplates incorporating the scanning device into a cellular cordless telephone. The invention further allows the scanning device to store URLs when not connected to the computer (or otherwise unable to open the web page) for later uploading, retrieval and/or use) . When the scanning device is positioned over a word or phrase not recognizable as a URL, the software allows it to link to a site that searches for the neatest match in a URL and then go directly to the best match. The scanning device contains a window directly showing what is being scanned as shown for example in the c.Pen commercial product.

The scanning device displays what has been scanned (and/or the name or description being linked) on a electronic display. The scanning device can be incorporated into a pen-device that is swiped across a URL or a bar code which designates a URL or e-mail or the like. The functionality of the present invention can be incorporated in or consists of a digital camera, allowing capture of URL's without physical contact with a page or item on which a URL is printed (for example, on a billboard) . The invention allows the optional editing of scanned URL before linking to the web page .

As described above, the present invention involves four main functions. The first is to carry out the scanning process which may create bit map or the like to create information that is inputted into the computer. The second function involves optical character recognition in order to allow operating on the input information by the system' s software programs. The third function involves the heuristics of extracting a web page, e-mail address, a key word associated with the web address, etc. from the received information. The fourth function involves effecting a connection to a destination by invoking a web browser, an e-mail program, a LAN (Local Area Network) , etc .

Further details pertaining to the invention are described below. Relative to the scanning device, it should be evident that it is generally preferred that it be a handheld scanner. It is advantageous for it to incorporate a flat bed scanner, similar to those used in copy machine technology. For the purposes of the present invention, it might be preferred that the scanning device have a "mini flatbed" style component with a screen that is able to take in a rectangular area measuring about one-half to one inch in height and about two inches in width, to allow for easy and rapid pointing to and scanning of a desired web page or e-mail address or the like, without requiring the user to "swipe" the scanner over the information to be captured. Such a scanning device can be either an existing device or it can be incorporated into existing handheld devices, such as the familiar computer mouse. Personal digital assistants (PDAs) may be used for the purpose of the present invention. Other devices can be electronic organizers or handheld PCs or bar code scanners, indeed, anything that is attachable to computers by cable or wireless.

The invention can be incorporated into devices known as the "palm" computers, such as the Palm Pilot series. Several commercially available devices incorporate the scanning device of the present invention. One is the Phillips Nino 510 model, a second the HP Jornada 420 device, a third the Compaq AERO 2130, and a fourth the Casio E-100 model. These devices have been advertised in the September 2, 1999 copy of The New York Times . Further, the present invention is not strictly limited to web page addresses as such. For example, there is now a trend to move away from cumbersome URL addresses as such. For example, the RealNames Corporation provides a system of using keywords which are then translated by an intermediate web page to the ultimate web page address. The present invention can detect these keywords and cause the accessing process to automatically reach the ultimate web address. Hence, the scanning device of the invention can scan keywords and the software may contain a library or knowledge base of such keywords and contain the software instructions for accessing the corresponding web address. Alternatively, it may reach the destination via the RealNames web page or the like. Still further the software of the invention preferably incorporates the ability to recognize numerically coded web (or email) addresses, (to the extent they exit) . Thus, the software recognizes from the context of certain numerical data that the data represents an address and automatically translates the same into a character string that is usable by a web browser to reach the ultimate destination.

Similarly, the present invention can be adapted to recognize file names and then find those files. For example, a file name may be C:\DOC\ABC.DOC. Another standard form can be a telephone number or a fax number which the software then recognizes as such, and automatically dials for the user. Another expedient provided by the invention is that it may scan addresses that are not necessarily visibly rendered. For example, web addresses can be provided (at some future date) next to a company name, rendered in unobtrusive or invisible ink and the scanning device of the present invention may be constructed to recognize and read such addresses. The invention can also access web sites, such as the one owned by Netcraft which allows finding web addresses, i.e., URLs. Information concerning data such as conventional URLs can be numerically encoded or bar coded and the present invention will detect the same regardless of the form in which it is presented. The information to be detected can be located anywhere near a trademark, a company or product name, logo, conventional URLs, e-mail address, picture, etc. It can be located in a header or footer of a document or it can appear on labels to be placed on existing documents, objects, etc.

However it is presented, such information can be processed by the software flow of the present invention which will carry out at least the following steps:

• store inputs for later processing (if offline) ,- OCR, bar code read, digital read, etc.; isolate URL, e-mail address, keyboard, filename, or encoded equivalent; open new browser window open e-mail program in create mode; invoke existing browser window; open proprietary network { e . g. , AOL.) window; invoke search engine web address; • invoke web address search site; pass parameter (URL, keyboard, e-mail address, filename, search argument) to program (place in address field, etc.); • start processing of parameter. Yet another expedient of the invention allows the software of the present invention to recognize automatically a keyword indicating a stock exchange and a stock symbol, for example like this: (NASDAQ :RMDY) or (NYSE:CA) . The program, in such situations, recognizes the input as a stock exchange and a corresponding stock symbol and then opens an appropriate web site where stock information is displayed, with the parameter (the stock symbol) preloaded as for example:

http: //quotes .nasdaq- amex. com/Quote . dll?page=multi&mode= stock&mode=Stock&symbol=rmdy http : //www. stockmaster . com/wc/form/Pl?template=sm/char t&

Symbol=CA http : //cgi .nyse . com/cgi- bin/ny_quote?sym=CASimagel . x=6&

Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. It is preferred, therefore, that the present invention be limited not by the specific disclosure herein, but only by the appended claims.

Claims

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1. A method for accessing Internet destinations, each Internet destination being uniquely defined by an alphanumeric and/or image Internet address indicia, the method comprising the steps of: electronically acquiring an image of the
Internet address indicia corresponding to a desired Internet destination; automatically converting the acquired Internet address indicia to alphanumeric characters which form an Internet destination address; and transmitting the Internet destination address over the Internet to reach the desired Internet destination.
2. The method of claim 1, in which the Internet address indicia is a Universal Resource Locator (URL) .
3. The method of claim 1, in which the Internet address indicia is an e-mail address.
4. The method of claim 1, including acquiring the Internet address indicia by use of an imaging device selected from the group including: a hand-held scanner, a light pen, a bar code reader, a camera, and a digital camera.
5. The method of claim 4, including providing the imaging device in another device selected from the group including: a computer mouse, a personal digital assistant, a palm-held computer, a digital camera, a telephone, and a cellular telephone.
6. The method of claim 1, in which the Internet address indicia is selected from an indicia group including: bar codes, URLs, e-mail addresses, keywords, stock symbols, company names, and trademarks, said indicia group being alphanumeric characters and images visible and invisible.
7. The method of claim 4, in which the imaging device includes a display and including the step of displaying to a user information related to the imaging of Internet address indicia.
8. The method of claim 1, further including carrying out the electronic acquisition step in an off-line mode and subsequently transmitting the Internet destination address in an on-line mode.
9. The method of claim 8, further including acquiring the address indicia for a plurality of Internet destinations in the off-line mode .
10. The method of claim 1, further including enabling a user to edit the converted Internet destination address.
11. The method of claim 4, further including acquiring the image of the Internet address indicia in chunks of data without having to sweep or scan mechanically the imaging device by hand over the Internet address indicia.
12. The method of claim 1, further including providing a best approximation of an Internet address indicia by matching scanned data to information stored in a database.
13. The method of claim 1, further including determining a type of an Internet address indicia that has been imaged.
14. The method of claim 13, in which the type includes a URL address, an e-mail address, and a keyword .
15. The method of claim 1, further including storing the Internet address indicia as a bitmap .
16. The method of claim 1, in which the Internet address indicia is invisibly rendered.
17. The method of claim 1, including carrying out the transmitting step automatically without manual actuation.
18. A method for accessing computer- designated destinations, each computer-designated destination being uniquely defined by an alphanumeric address indicia, the method comprising the steps of: electronically acquiring an image of the address indicia corresponding to a desired computer- designated destination; automatically converting the acquired address indicia to alphanumeric characters which form a computer destination address; and automatically actuating a computer to retrieve contents corresponding to the computer- designated destination.
19. The method of claim 18, in which the address indicia is a computer file name.
20. The method of claim 18, in which the address indicia is a stock symbol.
21. A system for accessing Internet destinations, each Internet destination being uniquely defined by an alphanumeric and/or image Internet address indicia, the system comprising: an imaging device for electronically acquiring an image of the Internet address indicia corresponding to a desired Internet destination; a converter for automatically converting the acquired Internet address indicia to alphanumeric characters which form an Internet destination address; and a transmitter that transmits the Internet destination address over the Internet to reach desired Internet destinations on or via the Internet .
22. The system of claim 21, in which the Internet address indicia is a Universal Resource Locator (URL) .
23. The system of claim 21, in which the Internet address indicia is an e-mail address.
24. The system of claim 21, in which the imaging device is selected from a group including; hand-held scanners, a light pen, a bar code reader, a camera and a digital camera.
25. The system of claim 24, in which the imaging device is incorporated in another device selected from the group including: a computer mouse, a personal digital assistant, a palm-held computer, a digital camera, a telephone, and a cellular telephone.
26. The system of claim 21, in which the address indicia is selected from an indicia group including: bar codes, URLs, e-mail addresses, keywords, stock symbols, company names, trademarks, said indicia group being rendered in alphanumeric characters or images .
27. The system of claim 21, in which the imaging device includes a display.
28. The system of claim 21, further including software in the imaging device that enables acquiring the address indicia in an off-line mode and subsequently transmitting the destination address in an on-line mode.
29. The system of claim 28, further including software that acquires the address indicia for a plurality of Internet destinations in an offline mode.
30. The system of claim 21, further including software that enables a user to edit the converted Internet destination addresses.
PCT/US2000/026142 1999-09-24 2000-09-22 Device enabling rapid reading and accessing of web pages WO2001022262A3 (en)

Priority Applications (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US15609299 true 1999-09-24 1999-09-24
US60/156,092 1999-09-24
US66741600 true 2000-09-21 2000-09-21
US09/667,416 2000-09-21

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EP1087305A2 (en) * 1999-09-20 2001-03-28 NCR International, Inc. Creation, transmission and retrieval of information
EP1087305A3 (en) * 1999-09-20 2006-06-28 NCR International, Inc. Creation, transmission and retrieval of information
WO2002035808A2 (en) * 2000-10-28 2002-05-02 Web.De Ag Computerised device, method for operating a computerised device and computer program product
WO2002035808A3 (en) * 2000-10-28 2002-12-27 Web De Ag Computerised device, method for operating a computerised device and computer program product
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Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
EP1433081A2 (en) 2004-06-30 application
WO2001022262A3 (en) 2004-04-15 application

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