WO2002073818A1 - Systems for providing point-to-call functionality - Google Patents

Systems for providing point-to-call functionality Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2002073818A1
WO2002073818A1 PCT/US2001/051087 US0151087W WO02073818A1 WO 2002073818 A1 WO2002073818 A1 WO 2002073818A1 US 0151087 W US0151087 W US 0151087W WO 02073818 A1 WO02073818 A1 WO 02073818A1
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WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
telephone
computer
call
point
object
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Application number
PCT/US2001/051087
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Thomas Ellenby
Peter Ellenby
Jeffrey Alan Jay
John Ellenby
Joseph Page
Original Assignee
Geovector Corporation
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 US80542101A priority Critical
Priority to US09/805,421 priority
Application filed by Geovector Corporation filed Critical Geovector Corporation
Publication of WO2002073818A1 publication Critical patent/WO2002073818A1/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/72Substation extension arrangements; Cordless telephones, i.e. devices for establishing wireless links to base stations without route selecting
    • H04M1/725Cordless telephones
    • H04M1/72519Portable communication terminals with improved user interface to control a main telephone operation mode or to indicate the communication status
    • H04M1/72522With means for supporting locally a plurality of applications to increase the functionality

Abstract

Highly functional pointing systems (Fig. 5) which operate with regard to objects being addressed (54) by the systems as defined by an intersection between an address indicator and a geometric descriptor enable 'point-to-call' functionality. A mobile unit (52) preferably in the form of a mobile telephone handset is configured to receive information relating to objects being addressed via a pointing action (53). The information received may contain telephone contact information, i.e. telephone numbers of various entitles which may relate to or have authority over the objects. Activation of a point-to-call function causes telephone connection to be initiated for the requested number. A user may merely point a click a telephone to cause a call to be placed to a desired entity.

Description

In the United States Patent and Trademark Office

Title: Systems for Providing Point-to-Call Functionality

Specification for a Letters Patent

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTIONS

Field

The following invention disclosure is generally concerned with mobile telecommunications and specifically concerned with mobile apparatus arranged for addressing an object and initiating a telephone connection.

Presently, when a person wishes to contact someone by telephone it is a requirement that a numeric address, or 'telephone number', be entered in order that the call be routed properly to the desired recipient. Without a telephone number, it is impossible to connect a call in a telephone network. To get the correct telephone number, a user may employ the services of a directory assistance at extra costs, both money and time, to the caller. In addition, it requires the sometimes difficult step of explaining to an operator the correct title of the intended recipient which is not always known precisely to the caller. Alternatively, a user may search his personal phonebook with frequently used numbers of friends and acquaintances therein. However, it is not always the case that a personal phone book has a listing for all numbers of entities which may become desirable to contact. Due to these difficulties, among others, processes of looking up phone numbers are quite unpopular and cumbersome.

Mobile systems arranged to receive information relating to objects being addressed are being introduced as modern telecommunication technologies.

Particularly, technologies introduced by the present inventors in recent US patent # 6,173,239. These systems teach how a mobile unit can receive information relating to an object towards which the mobile unit is pointed. Information is passed, from a database which 'knows' the addressed object, to the requesting client. Those systems do not perfectly teach new and exciting function explained here. In particular, Those systems are not set up to cause a telephone call to be placed thereby connecting the requesting client with an object being addressed to more precisely identified that document.

A United States Patent application filed under Express Mail Label number EL 651531976 US by the same inventors here in January 2001, having the title "Pointing Systems for Addressing Objects" is an important disclosure which relates and introduces these inventions. Accordingly, that document is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. This application will be amended as soon as that application receives a serial number assignment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTIONS

Comes now, Thomas Ellenby, Peter Ellenby, John Ellenby, Jeffrey Alan Jay, and Joseph Page with inventions of systems for addressing moving objects including devices and methods relating to mobile telecommunications and advanced information exchange.

Devices of these inventions are arranged to operate with automatic features known herein as a 'point-to-call' function. In response to merely pointing a device towards a desired call recipient, the device identifies the intended recipient and attempts telephonic contact. A caller's telephone is equipped with position and attitude measurement devices which allows the phone to 'know' which targets are being addressed via a database of stored information. The database of stored information gets frequent updates from all participants of the program including those who may become intended recipients of calls. Thus a system database maintains a current position parameter for participants as well as other related information.

A better understanding can be had with reference to detailed description of preferred embodiments and with reference to appended drawings. Embodiments presented are particular ways to realize the invention and are not inclusive of all ways possible. Therefore, embodiments may exist which do not deviate from the spirit and scope of this disclosure as set forth by the claims, but do not appear here as specific examples. It will be appreciated that a great plurality of alternative versions are possible. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims and drawings where: Figure 1 is a simple block diagram to illustrate the two major steps of methods of these inventions;

Figure 2 is a detailed block diagram which follows from Figure 1 with more precision;

Figure 3 includes a modified block from Figure 2 with added features illustrated;

Figure 4 is an illustration of a gentleman caller attempting to contact a lady via wireless telephone link;

Figure 5 shows a graphical representation of an important geometric construct associated with the recipient's telephone; Figure 6 shows a display response in connection with an attempt to make telephone contact; and

Figure 7 illustrates a similar positive response at a telephone display.

PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTIONS In accordance with each of the preferred embodiments of the invention, there is provided apparatus for and methods of addressing objects in a manner to cause telephonic contact. It will be appreciated that each of the embodiments described include both apparatus and method and that the apparatus and method of one preferred embodiment may be different than the apparatus and method of another alternative embodiment.

Point-to-call

Although briefly mentioned in the above referenced application, a 'point-to- call' function can be better understood in view of the following more complete description. Some preferred versions of providing a point-to-call function include devices integrated with a common mobile telephone. Mobile telephones cooperate well with 'point-and-click activity whereby a user may simply point a telephone towards a target of interest and trip a tactile switch to provide stimulus to a program nmning on a computer therein. Thus, a mobile telephone properly arranged with special computing facility, position and attitude determining means is a perfect example of a device of these inventions.

Preferred methods may best be understood in view of Figure 1 which is a simple block diagram directed to two major steps of a preferred method. An 'address object' step 1 suggests that a user causes a mobile telephone to be pointed towards, and thus address, an object of interest. Thereafter, execution of the method passes 2 to a second step where the telephone's computing facility executes a request which relates to the address action. In particular, the request is one for a telephone connection and further a connection to an entity which relates to the object being addressed. Thus, stimulus is provided to the computing facility which is necessarily in communication with a telephone network, which sets it into motion and results in a call being placed.

A mobile telephone having point and direction references, position and attitude determining means allows a pointing action to connect the telephone to certain objects known to the database by way of the mobile unit's (telephone's) address indicator and the addressed object's geometric descriptor. Intersection between these constructs indicates the condition that an object is being addressed; and for these methods indicates that a call is to be placed to a telephone number associated with the addressed object. Upon a trigger action, the mobile unit determines which objects are being addressed, recalls from the database data relating to those objects including telephone numbers associated therewith, and completes the point-to-call action by initiating a voice connection to either of the telephone numbers via wireless link. The activity remains mostly transparent to the user, who merely has to point the device and click a switch to place a call.

Methods are better understood in consideration of more detail. Figure 2 is a detailed block diagram which presents several additional steps which further clarify and perfect methods of these inventions. These methods may be envisaged as including five primary steps as follows: an 'address object' step 21; an 'get targets' step 22; an 'present choices' step 23; an 'user selection' step 24; and an 'initiate call' step 25. Within these steps are further details with presentation herefollowing.

As in the basic method described above, this preferred method begins with an 'address object' step. A user points the phone 26 and selects 27 a point-to-call operational mode if the phone is not already in a point-to-call operation mode. After a phone has been pointed towards a target of interest, a step is run where the computer searches a database of prerecorded information to find the information relating to the objects being addressed in a 'get targets' step. This step may include a substep 28 of applying filters. Information filters may be used when conducting database searches to retrieve information having particular attributes. For example, one may conduct a search of objects where the only objects to be recalled are of the class 'hotel'; further a filter may specify only '3 star hotels'.

After a database search produces results in view of a particular address action, the results may be presented to a user in a 'present choices' 23 step. A graphical user interface such as a display screen may have a drop down menu which is arranged to list the hit targets, i.e. all objects being simultaneously addressed. From this drop down menu, a user may select 29 either target from the list in the 'user selection' step. Further, a user may then select 210 a call type from a secondary menu which may offer a plurality of call types which may be associated with the single object. Finally, a user may trigger 211 the call by a simple click action at a tactile input or via voice command. The computer response thereafter includes the two substeps as follows: transmit request for call 212; and set-up local phone 213. The mobile telephone in communication with a telephone network produces a request for a telephone call and passes the desired telephone number into the network for proper handling there. In addition, the mobile telephone handset is prepared for normal telephone operation, i.e. the speaker and microphone are activated while the rest of the phone is set in call-in- progress mode.

With that detailed description in mind, a full understanding is made better by considering a few examples where point-to-call systems are advantageously enjoyed. First examples are directed to calls which may be placed to entities directly. Further examples are drawn to calls placed to entities associated with a target but not directly the target itself.

Direct Point-to-Call While it is generally preferable to get hotel reservations before traveling, one sometimes nevertheless, finds oneself in a city among many hotels but without a booking at any. Thus in such situations, the task becomes securing a nearby room booking. Without inventions taught here, one must look about for 'Vacancy' signs posted at hotels with rooms remaining, and walking to each to inquire as to prices. Conversely, persons having a mobile unit telephone taught here merely have to point their device towards a hotel of interest to receive pricing information at the display screen. Further, upon activation of a point-to-call function, a telephone call to the chosen hotel may be initiated. For example, while visiting Amsterdam a traveler walks from central station to find many hotels on the street Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. Among the hotels on that street all within line of sight from a sidewalk is the 'Inntel', 'Soifϊtel' and 'Cok City' hotels. These hotels do not display 'Vacancy' signs but rather a person must walk to each to check prices. Using a mobile telephone prepared and arranged as described, a user can contact either or each of the hotels after having checked prices at the telephone display. First a user may point towards the Sofitel to learn that it is a four star hotel with room rates of approximately $225 per night. Looking for a less expensive room, the user may point towards Cok City to learn it is a three star hotel, with rooms available that night. With only a few questions remaining before a decision can be taken, the user desires placing a call to the hotel desk. Indication of such via menu choices offered a user causes the systems of the invention to connect a telephone call to the hotel desk where an operator remains ready to receive inquiries. After learning of further details, the traveler can advise the clerk of her momentary arrival.

Indirect Point-to-Call

Great utility will be realized in systems using a point-to-call function to place a call which relates to an addressed object but is not a call directly to that object. The following examples are presented to illustrate these special subsets of the point-to-call functionality. In consideration of this presentation, the reader will surely appreciate the benefit society will enjoy as soon as these systems are deployed.

An observant traveler frequently notices conditions of his surroundings which require the attention of certain authorities. In example, city facilities including road signs, safety lamps, park fixtures, et cetera, sometimes become in a condition which is dangerous or otherwise damaged or defective. In such cases, these facilities need to be brought to the attention of the city facilities maintenance office. Users noticing city facilities in disrepair can call to report the condition using the point-to-call function of these inventions. The precise object noticed is automatically documented and information is passed directly to officers in charge in the point-to-call operation. Likewise, emergency situations are occasioned by an urgent need to contact rescue and assistance teams and further to provide those entities with precise location information so that they are enabled with a quick response plan including directions to the scene of the emergency. Fire is an emergency whereby the time to alert authorities has a great effect on the overall outcome of the incident. Quick reporting of the location of the building on fire not only saves lives and valuable property, it can make the difference between complete loss and minor annoyance. Since the results of fire are generally severe, early notice and accurate location information cooperate together to give firefighters a big advantage. Armed with devices of the invention, any person who happens to see the start of a fire can report it with ease, speed, and accuracy simply by pointing the mobile unit towards the fire scene. Such does not require special skills on the part of the reporting persons. A fire type point-to-call function produces a telephone call directly to the fire department and transmits position information relating to the exact location where a fire may be. A voice connection may also be activated and a user may give additional information, such as the presence of individuals in need of medical attention which may help a fire rescue team understand the precise nature of the incident and the resources required at the scene.

Finally, a good example of a point-to-call function relating to facilitating business includes the case where an owner of real property offers it for sale. A sales agent not actually co-located with the property can be contacted by telephone connection whenever interested buyers using the point-to-call function directs a special telephone to address the subject real estate and request contact with the agent. In this way, a point-to-call function puts a requesting party in contact with the proper authority in charge of handling sales questions and procedures. Position data may be compared to the agent's database to alert the agent as to which property is being addressed.

It is interesting to note that several types of contacts may be associated with one object. A building on fire may require a point-to-call function to the fire department while the identical building for sale would have business inquiry calls properly routed to a sales agent. In these circumstances, specification of the nature of the call, i.e. emergency, business, et cetera, directs the precise routing of the point-to- call action. These actions may be accounted for as described in the user selection step 24 of Figure 2. All of the above mentioned events require timely connection to appropriate agencies. Details regarding precise times and places may also be critically important. These necessary details are usually not sufficiently provided by verbal descriptions provided by reporting persons. In view of a forest fire on a remote mountain in a region unfamiliar to reporting party, one can truly understand the dilemma.

In the simple case of a defective traffic light a server causes a report to be logged at a city facilities unit. In the case of a damaged train crossing, the railway operations people are provided an alert at their central office. In the case of a broken damn, forest fire, or traffic accident, authorities appropriate for handling a response to those types of emergencies are contacted.

Each of the above examples illustrates the function whereby a point-and-click action on devices of these inventions results in a server providing a command to execute an action at a remote location where that location is not the object of the address, is not the server, and is not the mobile unit, but rather is a related, but remote location. It is easy to understand how impossible it would be to explain all relationships between objects and remote locations; therefore, one should remain mindful that the precise relationship does not make these inventions but rather the mere fact that there exists some relationship yields great utility and novelty in the combinations taught.

Although preceding discussions include great detail as to how general systems may function, the following discussion is directed to particular special arrangements for targets of high mobility; for example, moving persons. While it is easy to see how fixed objects such as hotels and banks may be known to a database and referenced via their geometric descriptors, it is not precisely clear how a person who is free to move about may become a target of a point-to-call operation.

Point-to-Call Mobile

Devices and methods of these inventions are directed to systems having prerecorded information stored in a database. The examples above do not anticipate the case where an object is dynamic in position and has a geometric descriptor which changes in time. Accordingly, those systems are useful for addressing fixed position objects such as buildings, bridges, mountains, but not useful for objects which are highly dynamic in position such as a person walking about a city street or driving down a highway.

Where targets are highly mobile, they have a geometric descriptor whose position is dynamic with respect to time. In this case, the database is continuously updated with current information triggered by an update cycle. Figure 3 explains. The 'get targets' 31 step fits into the scheme of Figure 2 as described above, however, it is modified in the regard that it is attached to a database 33 capable of maintaining data which can be frequently modified. A 'modify stored data' step 34 is taken to adjust the present state of data in the database at frequent intervals. A participating target object, such as a person registered in the point-to-call program, has a mobile telephone capable of determining the phone's position and reporting that position to the database. An 'update position measurement' step 35 can be continuously repeated on the regulation of a clock 36 such that accurate position can be reported 37 to and recorded in the database in real-time. In this way, any time a user addresses a person carrying a registered mobile phone, that person can be addressed by the user wishing to make telephone contact. A more complete and full understanding is easily realized in view of the drawing Figures 4 - 7 herefollowing.

Figure 4 illustrates a gentleman 41 in possession of a device of the invention 42, a mobile telephone equipped with point and direction 43 reference and position and attitude determining means. A pretty lady 45 is also in possession of a mobile telephone 44, that telephone being registered with a point-to-call program service. The gentlemen being interested in the lady points his telephone towards her to indicate to the computer his interest. The computer responds by searching a database of known objects to find information which may be available including the lady's telephone number. Because the lady is a registered point-to-call participant, her position or more accurately her phone's position is known to the system database.

A firm understanding is appreciated in view of Figure 5 which illustrates the lady target with the geometric construct associated with her telephone. The gentleman 51 points his mobile telephone 52 having a reference direction 53 in the general direction of the telephone 54 held by the lady 55. The lady's telephone being registered in the point-to-call program has associated therewith a geometric descriptor. Such a geometric descriptor 56 has a position concurrent with the phone position, and a spatial extent to form a spherical body of a meter or two in radius. In this way, the pointing action of the gentleman forms an intersection with the geometric descriptor associated with the lady's phone. As such, the computer determines that the lady (more precisely, the lady's phone) is being addressed and a telephone call connection is desired. A click action taken by the gentleman whose phone is in a point-to-call operational mode causes a call to be placed via the wireless telephone network to the lady (lady's phone).

Filters

It is recognized and acknowledged that privacy is a major concern with respect to technologies having advanced considerably over the years. Accordingly, these inventions include provisions for locking out unwanted calls.

When a person registers a phone in a point-to-call program as a potential recipient phone, the registration is enabled with an option of setting filter mechanisms. Filtering techniques permit only qualified callers to contact another. Calls made by unqualified callers are rejected. For example, when a person decides to participate in a 'blind' caller (callers otherwise unknown to them) program, a filter may be designed to sort incoming calls. Criteria which may be important to a person is specified and stored in the database along with the geometric descriptor and association with a recipient telephone. Criteria may vary from one person to another. A person may only wish to receive calls from blind callers having certain attributes: i.e. callers having a formal education; male callers over 5'11 in height; callers associated with a particular industry; et cetera. Persons may only wish to receive calls from people who are residents of a certain part of a city. For example, residents of the North Beach section of San Francisco may be allowed to place calls while persons from Potrero Hill would be excluded in a particular persons personal profile. The list of possible filter criteria is extensive and difficult to fully present here.

Figure 6 illustrates the case where an attempt to contact a person is blocked. The system recognizes the target and identifies it as one which is not open for call access. Requester 61 who is pointing his mobile phone 62 towards 63 an intended recipient 64 is blocked from placing a call. Display label "No Access" 65 indicates the recipient cannot be contacted via telephone call. Menu choice item 66 "Send Msg." permits the caller to send a message which may be allowed despite that fact that calls are blocked. A second menu choice item 67 "Invite call" suggests that an invitation be sent which suggests a reverse point-to-call contact be made; i.e. the call connection is made to the person pointing from the intended recipient who overrides the blocked access if the invitation is accepted.

Alternatively, Figure 7 illustrates the case where caller 71, points phone 72, via reference direction 73 to intended recipient 74. Menu label 75 indicates the "Access Open" condition. Menu list item 76 allows the user to select a 'Place Call' function to stimulate the computer to make the call connection. Menu list item 77

'Capture #' allows the user to simply capture the person's phone number for later use. Of course use of profiles to drive filter rules naturally invites profile inflation when persons are registering as callers and recipients and forming their caller/recipient profiles. An independent program agency could certify a caller/recipient profiles before allowing persons to participate in the program service.

The particular rules for various programs will be further defined by program administrators. The rules presented here are not intended to be a complete set of rules but rather illustrative of those which may form a system of the invention. It is sufficient to say that applying filters fully meets the spirit and design of these inventions taught here without additional elaboration on those rules.

One will now fully appreciate how point-to-call functionality is achieved.

Although the present invention has been described in considerable detail with clear and concise language and with reference to certain preferred versions thereof including the best mode anticipated by the inventor, other versions are possible.

Therefore, the spirit and scope of the invention should not be limited by the description of the preferred versions contained therein, but rather by the claims appended hereto.

Claims

What is claimed is:
1) Methods of initiating a telephone call connection comprising the steps: addressing an object; and triggering a call request action, said 'addressing an object' is further defined as pointing a mobile unit reference direction toward said object, and said 'triggering a call request action' is providing stimulus to a computer in communication with a telephone network and further arranged to place telephone calls to numbers associated with objects being addressed.
2) Methods of claim 1, said 'addressing an object step' further comprising: pointing a mobile telephone having point and direction references towards an object known to a database, said database having telephone information stored therein relating to said addressed object.
3) Methods of claim 1, said 'triggering a call request' is further defined as operating a graphical user interface menu to make a selection and causing a trigger event via a user input to set the computer into action whereby said telephone call connection is initiated with respect to the addressed object.
4) Methods of claim 2, said objects are known to a database via a dynamic position update which allows potential targets to update geometric descriptors associated therewith repeatedly over a predetermined time period.
5) Methods of claim 4, further comprising a search step of searching a database for addressed objects and information relating thereto.
6) Methods of claim 5, said search step includes applying filters to the search to limit the results in view of predetermined criteria.
7) Telephone apparatus configured to execute a request for a telephone connection in response to an addressing action, the telephone apparatus comprising: a point reference; a direction reference; a position determining means; an attitude determining means; a computer processor; and an application server having a database and a point-to-call module, said database comprising a plurality of data records each including a geometric descriptor, said point-to-call module in communication with a telephone network arranged to initiate telephone calls in response to pointing actions.
8) Telephone apparatus of claim 7, said point-to-call module being responsive to an object address action as defined by an intersection between an address indicator and a geometric descriptor.
9) Systems for addressing mobile objects comprising: a) at least one mobile unit; b) a wireless network; and c) a target object, said mobile unit comprising: i) a point reference; ii) a direction reference; iii) position determining means; iv) attitude determining means; v) a computer; and vi) a transceiver, said attitude determining means connected to said computer whereby an attitude measure of the direction reference is conveyed to the computer and said position determining means connected to said computer whereby a position measure of the point reference is conveyed to the computer, the computer being connected to the transceiver whereby commands and data may be passed to and from the computer, said wireless network in communication with said mobile unit, the wireless network comprising: i) at least one transceiver; and ii) at least one computer, said at least one transceiver coupled to at least one computer, and said target object in electromagnetic communication with said wireless network, the target object comprising: i) a point reference; ii) position determining means; iii) a computer; and iv) a transceiver, said position determining means is connected to said computer and transceiver whereby a position measure of the target object point reference is conveyed to said wireless network.
10) Systems of claim 9, said mobile unit further comprises a telephone... target object further comprises a telephone.
11) Systems of claim 9, said wireless network computer comprises an application server and database with data structure including records which include geometric descriptors with position fields frequently updated by a moving target object.
PCT/US2001/051087 2001-03-13 2001-10-29 Systems for providing point-to-call functionality WO2002073818A1 (en)

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