WO2007124083A1 - Multi-mode multimedia device and computing system - Google Patents

Multi-mode multimedia device and computing system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2007124083A1
WO2007124083A1 PCT/US2007/009701 US2007009701W WO2007124083A1 WO 2007124083 A1 WO2007124083 A1 WO 2007124083A1 US 2007009701 W US2007009701 W US 2007009701W WO 2007124083 A1 WO2007124083 A1 WO 2007124083A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
act
accordance
computing system
application
method
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2007/009701
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Srinivas Koppolu
Pranav Mistry
Niranjan S. Nayak
Original Assignee
Microsoft 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.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to IN1021DE2006 priority Critical
Priority to IN1021/DEL/2006 priority
Priority to IN1417DE2006 priority
Priority to IN1416/DEL/2006 priority
Priority to IN1416DE2006 priority
Priority to IN1420/DEL/2006 priority
Priority to IN1422DE2006 priority
Priority to IN1417/DEL/2006 priority
Priority to IN1422/DEL/2006 priority
Priority to IN1419/DEL/2006 priority
Priority to IN1418DE2006 priority
Priority to IN1420DE2006 priority
Priority to IN1419DE2006 priority
Priority to IN1418/DEL/2006 priority
Application filed by Microsoft Corporation filed Critical Microsoft Corporation
Publication of WO2007124083A1 publication Critical patent/WO2007124083A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details not covered by groups G06F3/00 – G06F13/00 and G06F21/00
    • G06F1/16Constructional details or arrangements
    • G06F1/1613Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers
    • G06F1/1615Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers with several enclosures having relative motions, each enclosure supporting at least one I/O or computing function
    • G06F1/1624Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers with several enclosures having relative motions, each enclosure supporting at least one I/O or computing function with sliding enclosures, e.g. sliding keyboard or display
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details not covered by groups G06F3/00 – G06F13/00 and G06F21/00
    • G06F1/16Constructional details or arrangements
    • G06F1/1613Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers
    • G06F1/1615Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers with several enclosures having relative motions, each enclosure supporting at least one I/O or computing function
    • G06F1/1616Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers with several enclosures having relative motions, each enclosure supporting at least one I/O or computing function with folding flat displays, e.g. laptop computers or notebooks having a clamshell configuration, with body parts pivoting to an open position around an axis parallel to the plane they define in closed position
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details not covered by groups G06F3/00 – G06F13/00 and G06F21/00
    • G06F1/16Constructional details or arrangements
    • G06F1/1613Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers
    • G06F1/1633Constructional details or arrangements of portable computers not specific to the type of enclosures covered by groups G06F1/1615 - G06F1/1626
    • G06F1/1656Details related to functional adaptations of the enclosure, e.g. to provide protection against EMI, shock, water, or to host detachable peripherals like a mouse or removable expansions units like PCMCIA cards, or to provide access to internal components for maintenance or to removable storage supports like CDs or DVDs, or to mechanically mount accessories
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F1/00Details not covered by groups G06F3/00 – G06F13/00 and G06F21/00
    • G06F1/16Constructional details or arrangements
    • G06F1/1613Constructional details or arrangements for portable computers
    • G06F1/1633Constructional details or arrangements of portable computers not specific to the type of enclosures covered by groups G06F1/1615 - G06F1/1626
    • G06F1/1662Details related to the integrated keyboard
    • G06F1/1671Special purpose buttons or auxiliary keyboards, e.g. retractable mini keypads, keypads or buttons that remain accessible at closed laptop

Abstract

A computing system that includes a main housing, a display, and a keyboard. The display is coupled to the upper surface of the main housing, and pivots about an axis that is approximately parallel to and towards the front surface of the main housing. In device mode, the keyboard is largely hidden within or under the main housing. In computer mode, the keyboard is slid out from the front of the main housing. Thus, the computer may be interfaced with as a device or a computer, depending on the user's preferences and the application.

Description

MULTI-MODE MULTIMEDIA DEVICE AND COMPUTING SYSTEM

BACKGROUND

User studies carried out on a number of users have shown that entertainment, communication and information retrieval are the three main motivating factors for people to use devices like a personal computer. However since a personal computer is a general purpose device, some amount of learning is associated with achieving the same task as compared to achieving the same task using a special purpose device like a telephone, a music player, or the like.

For example making a telephone call using a computer involves knowing what application is used on the computer to make a call, starting the application and figuring out how to use it using the input devices attached to the computer like a keyboard and mouse. Instead if the device had a hardware keypad that is normally used in a telephone along with appropriate software then dialing a call would just involve pressing the "Dial" button followed by the numbers to be dialed on the hardware keypad and the required software would come up and complete the call for the user. In this way the interaction of the user with the device would be the same as the interaction with a special purpose device for making a telephone call.

SUMMARY In accordance with a first aspect, embodiments relate to a computing system that includes a main housing, a display, and a keyboard. The display is coupled to the upper surface of the main housing, and pivots about an axis that is approximately parallel to and towards the front surface of the main housing. In device mode, the keyboard is largely hidden within or under the main housing, ha computer mode, the keyboard is slid out from the front of the main housing. Thus, the computer may be interfaced with as a device or a computer, depending on the user's preferences and the application.

In accordance with a second' aspect, embodiments relate to allowing a user to interface with one or more utilities while interfacing with an application. While displaying a user interface for the application, the user may select a single hardware control to access the utilities. This might be accomplished by, for example, deactivating the process that runs the application while still keeping the application open. Another process is activated that displays the user interface associated with the one or more utilities in a manner that the user interface associated with the application is deemphasized. The activated process then permits the user to interact with the Utilities. Li some embodiments, the same hardware control may be used to toggle back to the original application that was being worked on.

In accordance with a third aspect, embodiments relate to allowing a user to view a list of running tasks by simply selecting a hardware control on the computing system. In one embodiment, the list of running tasks may be displayed in a drop down menu. A task to be switched to may then be selected by using navigation buttons to select one of the running tasks. This significantly simplifies the process of switching tasks without requiring significant display area. Furthermore, in the embodiment in which a list view is used to display the names of running tasks, there can be significantly more area to describe the name of the task, particularly in situations in which there are many running tasks. This contrasts with the use of a task button on a task bar, in which the display area for the task name depends on the total number of tasks running in the system.

In accordance with a fourth aspect, embodiments relate to a task-oriented start menu model. At least some of the items in the start menu represent a task category describing a task to be accomplished, rather than listing the application that accomplishes that task. For example, a user might select "Create New" from the start menu, rather than selecting a shortcut to "Microsoft Word". Upon selection of the task, a submenu might be opened showing various subcategories of tasks that might be accomplished. If there are no sub-categories associated with the task, the appropriate application that accomplishes the task might be opened with the appropriate configuration settings. For example, upon selection of a "Create New" task, a "Create New Letter" submenu option might appear. Upon selection of the Create New Letter icon, a word processing application may be launched with an appropriate letter writing template. In accordance with a fifth aspect, embodiments relate to a start menu model in which a first start menu is first displayed that includes an initial list of application items (such as programs or tasks) as well as a more list expander icon. If the user selects the more list expander icon, the first start menu is replaced with a second start menu that includes a second list of a second plurality of application items. In one embodiment, the second start menu occupies the same area on the display as the first start menu did.

In accordance with a sixth aspect, embodiments relate to the use of a cordless receiver to control a computing system. The simple alphanumeric controls of, for example, a telephone device may be used to control the computing system. For instance, upon the user < selecting one of the alphanumeric controls on the telephonic device, a command may be sent to the computing system indicating the selection. The computing system may then respond appropriately. For example, suppose a menu is displayed on the computing system with a selection of 10 possible items associated with single digit numbers 0 through 9. The telephone could be used to quickly select one of the items from the menu.

This Summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the Detailed Description. This Summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used as an aid in determining the scope of the claimed subject matter.

BRIEF DESCMPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The appended drawings are used in order to more particularly describe embodiments of the present invention. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered to be limiting of its scope, the embodiments will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure IA illustrates an external perspective view of a multi-mode computing system in accordance with one embodiment of the principles of the present invention; Figure IB illustrates an external top view of the multi-mode computing system of

Figure IA;

Figures 2A through 2J illustrates the internal components of the computer of Figures IA and IB in various incremental stages so as to allow clear visualization of the internal components on their placement within the computer. Figure 3A illustrates the computer of Figures IA and IB in device mode with the keyboard retracted;

Figure 3B illustrates the computer of Figures IA and IB in computing mode with the keyboard extended;

Figure 4 illustrates a perspective view of the back of the computing system of Figures IA and IB;

Figure 5 illustrates a controller that may be used with the computing system of Figures IA and IB; Figure 6A illustrates a start menu as it may appear upon activation of the start menu;

Figure 6B illustrates the start menu as it might appear upon selection of the "More" Icon of Figure 6A;

Figure 6C illustrates the start menu as it might appear upon selection of the "Create New" icon of the start menu of Figure 6A;

Figure 7A illustrates a user interface that may be displayed on the display of a computer, and that the user might interface with while working on an application prior to the selection of the quick mode hardware control;

Figure 7B illustrates a user interface that may be displayed on the display of the computer, and that the user might interface with while using the several utilities caused to be displayed by activation of the quick mode button;

Figure 8A illustrates an example user interface that may be displayed on the display of a computer prior to the selection of the single task switching hardware control;

Figure 8B illustrates the example user interface of Figure 3A after the task switching hardware control is activated;

Figure 9 illustrates a state transition diagram that shows transitions between an application active state and a utility(s) active state; and

Figure 10 illustrates a state transition diagram showing how task switching might occur in accordance with embodiments described herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Figure IA and IB illustrate external perspective and top views of a multi-mode computing system 100 in accordance with one embodiment. In Figures IA and IB, the computing system 100 is illustrated in one major mode of operation in which the display and keyboard are in the retracted position. This mode will also be referred to hereinafter as the "fully retracted mode 10OA". The computing system 100 may be shipped or stored in the fully retracted mode in order to conserve space and to protect the computing system 100.

The computing system 100 includes three major components, a main housing 110, a fold-up display 120, and a slide-out keyboard 130. In Figures IA and IB, the computing system 100 is its fully retracted mode IOOA in which the display is folded down so as to be adjacent to and abutted against the upper surface of the main housing 110. In the retracted mode, the keyboard 130 is slid in within the main housing 110. Accordingly, the keyboard 130 is not visible in Figures IA and IB. In one embodiment, the main housing 110 is primarily box-shaped except for a curvature area at the front of the main housing 110.

Figure 3 A illustrates the computing system 100 in a second of its major modes called herein the "device" mode 10OB. In the device mode 10OB, the display 120 is folded up into its extended position pivoting about one end that is pivotably attached to the main housing 110.

Figure 3B illustrates the computing system 100 in a "computer" mode (also called herein "computer mode lOOC") in which the display 120 is fully extracted, and in which the keyboard 130 is in its extracted position, being mostly slid out of the main housing 110. Accordingly, the keyboard 130 is shown to be slidably coupled to the main housing 110 so as to slide into and out of the main housing 110 proximate the lower surface of the main housing 110. In computer mode, the keyboard slides 130 out from below the main housing 110 of the device. The hinge for the display 120 is towards the front of the main housing 110. This has been done taking into account the fact that the distance between the keyboard 130 and the display 120 are to be made comfortable for reading and typing. If the hinge was placed towards the back of the main housing 110, then the total distance between the user of the computing system 100 and the display 120 would increase thereby reducing readability of text. A thin groove is left on all sides of the computing system 100, making it look like a hardbound book. The display panel 120 juts out a bit from the back of the main housing like the cover of a book. Like having a hardbound cover makes it simple to lift the cover of the book, having a groove towards the back of the computing system 100 makes it simple to lift the display housing 120.

The main housing 110 contains general purpose computing components, sufficient to enable the computing system 100 to behave as a general purpose computer. The main housing 110 is of sufficient size that low cost conventional computing components may be used, thereby allowing the computing system 100 to be relatively inexpensive to produce from a hardware perspective.

In order to provide a sense for the internal structure of the computing system 100, Figures 2A through 2J are shown illustrating various components introduced from the bottom of the structure to the top of the structure, and represents just one example of how such general purpose computing components may be arranged and oriented within the main housing 110. In each case, an imaginary box defined by dashed lines is illustrated, which represents a three dimensional space that the components would fit into in order to be properly contained within the main housing 110 of the computing system. In Figures 2A through 2J, some of the components orientations are not explained such as, for example, the button panel for media controls or the controller circuitry for the display. However, such components may simply be placed in the main housing 110 proximate where the relative external components are placed. For instance, the dial pad would be placed within the main housing 110 just behind the dial buttons. The display controller may be placed within or proximate the display 110.

Figure 2 A illustrates a front view of the contents of the main housing once the keyboard 130 only is present. The keyboard 130 fits very low in the main housing 110 or perhaps even underneath. the main housing. Accordingly, when the keyboard 130 is slid out of the main housing 110, the keyboard will be closed to or abut against the same surface that the main housing 110 is resting upon. Figure 2B illustrates a top view of the contents of the main housing 110 once the keyboard 130 only is present, and is the same as Figure 2A, except from a different perspective to provide clarity.

Figure 2C is a top view of the contents of the main housing 110 once a motherboard 201 is placed above the keyboard 130. In this embodiment, the motherboard 201 is approximately 170 millimeters (mm) by 170 mm. The motherboard 201 is placed immediately above any packing that is used to mechanically support the motherboard 201 and separate the motherboard 201 from the keyboard 130 so as to allow the keyboard 130 to slide into and out of the main housing 110 without mechanically contacting or harming the motherboard 201. The motherboard 201 may be oriented so that the connectors are at the back side of the main housing.

Figure 2D is a top view of the contents of the main housing 110 once a battery 202 and a hard disk drive 203 are placed at about the same level as, but at the left of, the motherboard 201 within the main housing 110. The battery 202 with the dimension of 97mm by 43mm by 52 mm is at the extreme left and at the back side. The hard disk drive 203 is at the extreme left but in front of the battery 202. The hard disk drive 203 has dimensions of about 100 mm by 150 mm by 25 mm and is oriented such that its connectors are at the front side of the main housing 110.

Figure 2E illustrates a top view of the contents of the main housing 110 once a power supply board 204 (also referred to herein as a "power supply 204") is added to the contents shown in Figure 2D. The power supply 204 fits neatly in front of the motherboard 201 above the keyboard 130. The power connector at the back of the main housing 110 lets power in to a right side pin on the power supply 204. From the left side of the power supply 204, a power pin will be supplied to any components that require power such as, for example, the motherboard 201, the hard disk drive 203, a DVD/CD drive (illustrated later in the assembly), the display, and any other component that requires external power. Figure 2F illustrates a front perspective view of the contents shown in Figure 2E for clarity.

Figure 2G illustrates a top view of the contents of the main housing 110 once a DVD/CD drive 205 is added to the left of the motherboard 201 and above the hard disk drive 203. The DVD/CD drive 205 is oriented so that the disk insertion port is at the front. The disk will come out from the left portion of the curvature area of the main housing. Figure 2H illustrates a front view of the contents of the main housing 110 of Figure 2G. This view makes the orientation of the hard disk drive 203 and DVD/CD drive 205 more clear, and more clearly shows the power supply placed in front of the motherboard 201. In another embodiment, the DVD/CD drive 205 comes out of some other portion (e.g., a center portion) of the curvature area of the main housing.

Figure 21 illustrates a top view of the contents of the main housing 110 once a modem card 206 is placed at the back and right corner of the main housing 110 above the motherboard 201. The connectors for the modem are oriented towards the back of the main housing so that the connectors of the modem 206 are above the connectors of the motherboard 201 at the back side of the main housing 110.

Figure 2J illustrates a front view of the contents of the main housing. In one embodiment, showing the height dimension may be about 70 mm. That height would allow for less expensive general-purpose computing components to be placed within the main housing 110 while allowing adequate leeway for cables and other interconnecting infrastructure.

Having illustrated one particular hardware embodiment of the invention, the principles of the present invention are not limited to any one particular choice for dimensions of the main housing. In one embodiment, the dimensions of the main housing may be, for example, approximately 240 mm by 290 mm by 70 mm. In other cases, the dimensions may be as small as, for example, 200 mm by 250 mm by 50 mm, or even smaller. In the device mode IOOB of Figure 3 A, the computing system 100 acts much like a multi-media device and/or a telephone. Control of the multi-media device may be effected through the use of multi-media controls 311, which are built in as a hardware component of the main housing 110. Listed from left to right, the multi-media controls 311 include an eject control, a jump rewind control, a fast rewind control, a play control, a pause control, a fast forward control, and a jump forward control. Such controls may include any controls such as, for example, levers, switches, any mechanism that responds to mechanical displacement or pressure, or the like.

By selecting the eject control, the disk within the DVD/CD drive 206 (Figure 21) may be ejected. By selecting the jump rewind control, the disk is reversed to the prior track on the

CD, or the prior chapter of the DVD.

By selecting the fast rewind control, the DVD or CD is rewound. Optionally, the repeated selection of the fast rewind control may cause the rewind operation to toggle between various rewind speeds. The play/pause control may be used to play the DVD or CD, or select a highlighted item on the display 120. The play/pause control may also be used to pause the current play of the DVD or CD. The pause button may be used to toggle between the pause operation and the play operation.

The fast forward control may be used to fast forward the DVD or CD. Optionally, the repeated selections of the fast forward button may cause the forwarding operation to toggle between various forwarding speeds.

The jump forward control may be selected to jump to the next track of a CD, or to the next chapter of a DVD.

When in device mode, when a DVD or CD disk is placed in the DVD/CD drive, the computing system 100 may be configured such that the appropriate DVD or CD application is initiated by the computing system. The application may be programmed to respond to the activation of the various multi-media controls 311 so as to provide a user interface that the user of a standard DVD or CD might expect.

Thus, the multi-media controls 311 may be used to navigate through certain actions of a multi-media device acting as either a DVD or CD player. The use of such navigation buttons may be intuitive to one familiar with standard DVD and CD players, as most such devices contain similar control buttons. Accordingly, the computing system 100 may be operated in device mode, without the use of the keyboard 130, in order to emulate multimedia devices to which the user had previously become accustomed, without the user necessarily knowing how to operate a general purpose computing system, and without even being aware that the computing system is, in fact, built upon general purpose computing technology. Additionally, with the display 120 being prominently positioned in the front of the main housing, the multi -media information on the display 120 may be clearly viewed without the distraction of a keyboard or other items in front of the display. Thus, in device mode, the computing system 100 truly assumes the look and feel of a less intimidating multi-media device, rather than that of a sometimes more intimidating computer. The device mode IOOB of Figure 3 A also allows the computing system 100 to behave as a telephone. The main housing 110 has associated therewith a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) connection and/or a wireless telephone transceiver such as is enabled by Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) wireless communication networks, or other wireless communication networks. Control of the telephone device may be accomplished using the media buttons, navigation, dialing and/or other miscellaneous control buttons as will be described further below.

For example, making a telephone call using a conventional computer involves the user knowing what application is used on the computer to make a call, starting the application and figuring out how to use it the input devices attached to the computer like keyboard and mouse. Instead, if the device had a hardware dialing keypad similar to that that is normally used in a telephone along with appropriate software, then dialing a call would just involve pressing the "Dial" button followed by the numbers to be dialed on the hardware keypad and the required software would come up and complete the call for the user. In this way, the interaction of the user with the device would be the same as the interaction with a special purpose device for making a telephone call. The underlying components used in the computing system 100 may be similar to those used in a general purpose personal computer. However through the use of proper interface to the general purpose hardware, the device can act as a consumer electronics entertainment center, a communication center or an information center. In order to allow the computing system 100 to take on the feeling of a multi-media device or telephone in the device mode, the bottom end of the display 120 is preferably pivotable attached to the upper surface of the main housing 110 so that the pivoting connection is more than 50% (but possibly more than 80%) of the way from the back surface of the main housing to the front surface of the main housing.

Referring to Figure 3B, with the keyboard 130 slidably extracted from the main housing 110, the keyboard 130 may now be viewed as including keyboard keys in the standard QWERTY configuration, with an associated touchpad and left and right touchpad buttons. The touchpad and touchpad keys behave as a mouse selection device much as is now common in laptop computers.

In the computing mode lOOC, the computing system 100 feels much like a laptop computer with some tolerable variances.

A first variance is that the display 120 is positioned a little higher vertically from the keyboard than a standard laptop would be. However, a user may easily become accustomed to such a variance by simply averting the user's eyes a little upwards as compared to a laptop, which requires only a minor user behavior change.

A second variance is that the main housing containing the computing components is largely positioned below and behind the display 120, rather than beneath the keyboard as with a standard laptop. Nevertheless, this is an acceptable, variance in many situations as the main housing is largely hidden behind the display 120. While it might be difficult to have the computing system in computer mode within coach class of an airplane, the main point is that the computing system 100 in computer mode IOOC has the user interface feel and behavior of a standard general purpose computing system. Thus, the computing system 100 is a multi-mode computing system which can change from a device mode IOOB of Figure 3 A to a computing mode IOOC of Figure 3B. A user can thus treat the computing system 100 as a multi-media or telephone device in its entirety, or the user may treat the computing system 100 as a computer in its entirety, or the user may take full advantage of the multi-modality of the computing system 100 by treating the computing system 100 as a device at some times and as a computer at others. Furthermore, since the main housing 110 is large enough to permit low-cost components to enable the general purpose functionality, the computing system 100 may be a relatively low cost computing solution.

Figure IB also illustrates that the main housing 110 has thereon one or more media dialing pad controls 142. Such dialing controls 142 will be familiar to those that use standard telephone calls. They include alphanumeric controls 0-9, an asterisk control "*", and a pound control "#". The dialing controls also include a dial initiation control and a call hang-up control for initiating and terminating a telephone call. In device mode 10OB, when a user selects the dialing pad controls, the computing system 100 initiates a telephone application and responds as expected. For instance, when dialing a telephone number, the numbers may be displayed on the display 120. When the call is placed, the telephone application may display the progress of the call (e.g., "dialing", "connecting", "ringing", and the like). When the call is terminated, the user interface of the telephone application may display an indication that the call is being terminated. When a telephone number is dialed, the telephone application interfaces with the appropriate communication protocol to complete the connection using any one or numerous mechanisms for placing a telephone call. Figure IB also includes navigation controls 143. Such controls permit the user to navigate left-ward, right-ward, upward, and down-ward through a particular user interface rendered on the display 120, and to select a highlighted item. The controls 143 also include start, context menu controls, and back/cancel controls. The selection of the start control activates a start menu, such as that illustrated with respect to Figure 6A. The selection of the context menu control may be the same as right-clicking using a mouse (when the left mouse button is the primary selection button for the mouse) or left-clicking using a mouse (when the right mouse button is the primary selection button for the mouse).

Figure IB also shows miscellaneous controls including a QuickMode control 144 (marked with a "Q") and a SwitchTask control 145 (marked with an "S"). The function of each of these buttons will be described further below. The front panel also includes speakers, and Infra-Red transceiver port.

Figure 5 illustrates a controller 500 that may serve as a remote input device for the computing system 100. The controller 500 includes navigation controls 501, which may be similar to the navigation controls that form part of the main housing 110 of the computing system 100. Specifically, the navigation controls 501 include upward direction navigation control 501 A, downward direction navigation control 501B, leftward direction navigation control 501C, rightward direction navigation button 501D, and navigation selection control 501E. The controller 500 also includes volume control controls 502 including mute control 502A, volume down control 502B and volume up control 502C. The controller 500 includes several miscellaneous controls. For instance, the start control 503 generates a command to display the start menu on the display 120. The context menu control 504 generates a context menu command and is equivalent to selection of the right mouse button. The back/cancel control 505 generates a backward navigation command or a cancel command. Once one of the navigation buttons, windows button, context menu button, backward navigation button, or one of the volume control buttons is selected, the relevant command is communicated to the computing system 100. This communication may be accomplished via Infra-Red (IR) or via Radio Frequency (RF) channels.

The controller 500 also includes alphanumeric controls 505 including alphanumeric controls, asterisk control, and pound control, as one might find on a standard telephone. These controls 505 may be used to send dialing instructions to the computing system 100 when the computing system 100 is acting as a telephone. The associated commands for controls 505 may be placed to the computing system using RF communication. Even if the computing system 100 is not acting as a telephone, the alphanumeric controls 505 may be used to select menu items displayed on the computing system 100. If the computing system 100 limits the number of menu items to 10 options, such a mechanism permits for rapid and convenient selection of a menu item even remotely by simply selecting a number corresponding to the menu item desired. The computing system 100 may be configured and/or programmed to comprehend RF control signals from another remote control. For instance, the computing system 100 could recognize RF signals from a cordless telephone to thereby allow the cordless telephone to act essentially as a remote control for purposes of selecting menu items or placing a telephone call using the computing system. The controller 500 also includes call initiation button 506A and call termination button 506B for use in initiating and terminating a telephone call. The associated commands may be communicated with the computing system 100 using RF signals. Thus, the controller 500 may be used to directionally navigate through the displayed user interface on the display 120. The controller 500 may also be used to interface with a displayed telephone application using hardware controls that would be familiar to the user of a typical telephone. Finally, the alphanumeric controls may be used to quickly negotiate a displayed menu. - Furthermore, a standard telephone that includes an RF transmitter (such as a cordless phone) to interface with the display. The RF transmitter of the cordless phone may interface with an RF receiver in the main housing 110 to allow the cordless phone to behave as a remote control, either for purposes of making a telephone call through the computing system 100, or for purposes of selecting a menu item displayed on the display 120.

Figure 4 illustrates an external perspective view of the back panel of the computing system 100. The back panel includes two RJI l connections that form a splitter for the modem for communication over POTS, and an RJ45 connection for network communications. These three connections are collectively referred to as "modem connections 401 ".

The back panel also includes video connections 402 including RCA jacks for audio/video output. Also included is an S-Video connector. The back panel may also include additional heat vents if needed for heat dissipation. The back panel is also provided with a power On/Off control 404 and a 12V power-in port 405. Having described some of the hardware aspects of the computing system, some unique software that may run on the computing system will now be described. Accordingly, embodiments within the scope of the present invention also include computer-readable media for carrying or having computer-executable instructions or data structures stored thereon. Such computer-readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer. By way of example, and not limitation, such computer-readable media can comprise RAM, ROM, EEPROM, CD-ROM or other optical disk storage, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which can be used to carry or store desired program code means in the form of computer-executable instructions or data structures and which can be accessed by a general purpose or special purpose computer. When information is transferred or provided over a network or another communications connection (either hardwired, wireless, or a combination of hardwired or wireless) to a computer, the computer properly views the connection as a computer-readable medium. Thus, any such connection is properly termed a computer-readable medium. Combinations of the above should also be included within the scope of computer-readable media.

Computer-executable instructions comprise, for example, instructions and data which cause a general purpose computer, special purpose computer, or special purpose processing device to perform a certain function or group of functions. Although the subject matter has been described in language specific to structural features and/or methodological acts, it is to be understood that the subject matter defined in the appended claims is not necessarily limited to the specific features or acts described above. Rather, the specific features and acts described above are disclosed as example forms of implementing the claims.

Figure 6A illustrates a user interface 600A that shows a start menu 602A that may be displayed upon selection of a start icon 601. The start menu 602A might also be displayed upon selection of the windows control, either on the main housing 110 or the controller 500. The start menu 602A includes an initial list of ten application items. In each case, the application item is represented as a corresponding task category, although an application item may also represent a specific application. In this case, the initial list is limited to ten application items, each having a corresponding single digit number for convenient and fast selection of the menu item.

The start menu 602A is illustrated as including the contacts task category corresponding to the digit "1", the phone task category corresponding to the digit "2", the pictures task category corresponding to the digit "3", the music/video task category corresponding to the digit "4", the documents task category corresponding to the digit "5", the student task category corresponding to the digit "6", the games task category corresponding to the digit "7", the internet task category corresponding to the digit "8", the e-mail task category corresponding to the digit "9", and the create new task category corresponding to the digit "0". Of course, as with any of the start menus, the principles of the present invention are not limited to particular numbers being assigned to a particular category, nor to any identity of any particular category. For instance, after doing a user study, it may be that the digit "1" should be assigned to the phone task category or some other category in order to maximize consumer satisfaction. The start menu 602A also includes a more list expander icon 603 to allow for more application items to be displayed.

By representing the applications by the task category, a user need not be aware of the underlying application that accomplishes the task. This simplifies the accomplishment of the task since it is often the task that the user cares most about, and not about the identity of the application that accomplishes the task. For instance, a user who want to create a document would know that the user wants to create something new (corresponding to item 0 in the task menu 602A), but may not know of the best application or available applications to accomplish the task, nor perhaps how to access the application.

The user may select one of the items in the initial start menu 602A by navigating up or down using the upward and downward direction navigation controls (either on the main housing 110 of the computing system 100, or on the controller 500). Once the desired task category is highlighted, the navigation selection control may be selected. Alternatively, since each menu item has a corresponding single-digit number, the user could instead select a number on the alphanumeric keypad (once again, on the main housing 110 or on the controller 500).

If the desired task category was not in the first task menu 602A, the user could instead select the more list expander icon 603. In the description and in the claims, a "more list expander icon" is any selectable icon that, when selected, extends the list of application items. For instance, upon selection of the more list expander icon 603, a second start menu 602B might appear as represented with Figure 6B, along with the first start menu 602A disappearing. In one embodiment, the second start menu 602B may appear in approximately or even exactly the same display position as the first start menu 602A. For instance, the second start menu 602B might overlap the majority of the area that the first start menu 602A, or may even by sized the same as the first start menu 602A, and overlap the exact same area as the first start menu 602A. This presents a clean mental model for the user. The user would cognitively recognize that this same portion of the screen is dedicated for navigation through the start menu regardless of where in the navigation the user is.

The user may select the more list expander icon 603 by navigating to the icon using the upward and downward direction navigation controls and selecting the navigation selection control, or alternatively by simply pressing the rightward navigation control. The start menu 602B of Figure 6B shows a back list icon that may be selected by navigating a cursor position to the back list icon and selecting, or by simply selecting the backward navigation control (either on the main housing 110 or on the controller 500). Alternatively, the more list expander 603 and back list icon may instead be selected by using the navigation and enter buttons on the keyboard, or using the mouse present on the keyboard. Upon selecting back, the start menu 602 A of Figure 6 A may once again appear. While using the start menu 602B, the user may select a particular task category in the second start menu 602B in the same manner as described above for the first start menu 602A. Accordingly, the user is provided with a mechanism to quickly navigate through the start menu, and select a particular item. If there were yet more application items than could be displayed in the second start menu 602B, a more list expander icon could be provided for the second start menu 602B as well. This concept may be extended to permit backwards and forwards navigation through a number of start menu lists. Figure 6C illustrates a submenu 602C that may appear if the user selected, for example, the create new task category of the first start menu 602 A. This menu illustrates more specific tasks under the "create new" category. For instance, the user might create a new letter (corresponding to item "1"), resume (corresponding to item "2"), budget (corresponding to item "3"), fax (corresponding to item "4"), report (corresponding to item "5"), proposal (corresponding to item "6"), presentation (corresponding to item "7"), drawing (corresponding to item "8"), website (corresponding to item "9"), or voice note (corresponding to item "0"). Once again, the same controls may be used to select one of the items, or to select to view more. Thus, convenient navigation forwards and backwards at the second sub-menu level is also enabled. It is possible that one of the task categories even at the submenu level may further be selected to reveal a deeper level of submenus. The principles of navigation explained above with respect to the start menu and submenu levels may apply to one or more even deeper levels of submenus.

Whenever a menu appears at any level of the start menu, submenus, or deeper level submenus, the menu may appear in substantially the same portion of the screen. Thus, there are no cascading menus that require the user to look at different parts of the screen in order to evaluate the menu. Instead, the menu may appear in substantially or exactly the same portion of screen regarding of its level in the start menu hierarchy. Furthermore, convenient menu selection and navigation mechanism are provided that permit navigation using a single key for each step in the navigation. Furthermore, the start menu may be organized by task desired, rather than application. Thus, convenient and intuitive start menu navigation is employed, permitting the user to quite intuitively navigate to accomplish the desired task.

The operating system may come with a predetermined start menu hierarchy. In addition, when new applications are installed, the operating system may automatically identify the tasks that may be accomplished by the application, and automatically categorize the task in the appropriate portion of the start menu hierarchy. In one embodiment, the association of the signal digit numbers (0 through 9) to the task category items remains fixed. This permits the user to quickly navigate to commonly used tasks by memorizing the key sequence used to get to that task. Thus, as new tasks are added to the start menu, that task may be added to the end of the task list, thereby leaving the memorized key sequence unaffected. The computing system 100 may be used for efficiently switching from one task to another. It is common for a user of an operating system to be working on multiple tasks in parallel. For example, a user might be typing in a letter and browsing a web site at the same time. As a result, switching between tasks is a common operation that is performed in a computing system environment. There are several conventional methods for switching between tasks. One option is to look at the currently running tasks in the task bar or task tray, and then use the mouse to select the task to which the user wishes to switch. Another alternative is to press the alt key followed by the tab key (with some time overlap) to thereby enable a task switching to occur. Both of these mechanisms require access to the keyboard and/or mouse. Furthermore, not all computer users are familiar with the alt-tab key sequence as a possibility for task switching, and thus this solution has a discoverability problem. These task switching operations may also result in unexpected switching.

The computing system 100 is capable of facilitating hardware-initiated task switching between running tasks. Rather than having to interface with a bulky task tray or task bar, and rather than using the "alt" - "tab" key sequence, the computing system 100 is provided with a hardware control that permits fast and convenient switching between running tasks. Referring to Figure IB, this hardware control may be in the form of the SwitchTask control 145. The operation of the hardware control to perform task switching will now be described. Figure 8A illustrates a user interface 800A that might be displayed on the display before the example task switching operation. One logical flow associated with Figures 8A and 8B will be illustrated with respect to the state transition diagram of Figure 10. In the example of Figure 8A, an active application banner 801 may be used to show the current active application. In the example, the user is currently interfacing with a children's encyclopedia application. Referring to Figure 10, at the stage of Figure 8 A, the state is in the current task 1001. Referring back to Figure 8A, if the keyboard 130 was available with the computing system 100 in computer mode, the drop-down list expander icon 802 may be selected to reveal the user interface 800B of Figure 8B in which the drop-down task list 803 is displayed as including a list of all of the running tasks. For instance, referring to Figure 10, the select drop-down list expander event 1011 is one event that may cause the computing system to migrate to a state 1002 in which the list of running tasks are displayed over the current active application.

In this specific example, the drop down menu includes a current task portion at the top of the drop down menu that displays the Microsoft Kids children's encyclopedia as the currently active task. The remainder of the drop down list represents an options portion that shows a variety of currently running applications that the user might switch to. For instance, in this example, there are seven other running tasks including 1) the MSN India Web page opened by Internet Explorer, 2) a Microsoft Outlook Express e-mail In-box, 3) a Microsoft Word document called My Resume, 4) an Railway Tickets purchase site opened by Internet Explorer, 5) a Map application opened by Microsoft Student 2006, 6) an Excel spreadsheet called Home Budget (November), and 7) the computing systems desktop.

The user might then use the mouse or navigation controls to navigate to the desired task, and activate the desired other task. For instance, referring to Figure 10, if the current task is selected from the list of running icons (represented by event 1021), then the active task is returned to (represented by state 1001). On the other hand, if another running task is selected (represented by event 1022), the selected task becomes the active task (represented by action 1030) thereby returning to state 1001.

However, even without the use of the keyboard, the task switching may be performed. In this case, the user might activate the SwitchTask 145 hardware control, which is not on the keyboard 130, but is on the main housing 110 of the computing system 100. When the computing system 100 detects that the SwitchTask 145 hardware control has been interfaced with, the computing system 100 may cause the drop-down task list 803 of Figure 8B to appear. Referring to Figure 10, the selection of the hardware control (represented by event 1012) may also cause the list of running tasks to appear. In the same manner as previously described, the computing system may then detect a user selection of one of the tasks in the drop-down task list 803, whereupon the selected task is activated. The user may select the task by using the navigation direction and selection buttons represented by the navigation controls 143.

Referring to the user interface 800B of Figure 8B, if the user were to interface with the SwitchTask control 145 a second time, the drop-down task list 803 may be caused to disappear, returning to the user interface 800A of Figure 8 A. Alternatively, the hardware control may be used as a selection control to cause whatever task is highlighted to become the active task.

Accordingly, convenient activation of the drop-down task list is enabled by pressing a single hardware button. Furthermore, the drop-down task list shows the list of tasks in a form that the details of each task may be more readily viewed. Furthermore, the navigation controls may be used to select the desired task. Thus, task switching and selection may be accomplished while the computing system 100 is in device mode, without requiring the keyboard. Finally, in the embodiment in which a list view is used to display the names of running tasks, there can be significantly more area to describe the name of the task, particularly in situations in which there are many running tasks. This contrasts with the use of a task button on a task bar, in which the display area for the task name depends on the total number of tasks running in the system.

The computing system 100 is also capable of facilitating single key access to one or more utilities. As a user is working on a primary task, there may be a few commonly- used utilities that the user may want to refer to at some point in time. For example, the user could be typing in a letter and would like to check items on his "To-do" list to see what else needs to be taken care of that day, or perhaps the user wants to refer to a dictionary, write a note, use a calculator, check the weather, view a clock, or others.

According to one embodiment, the user may select a hardware control of the computing system in order to enter a "QuickMode" in which the user may interact with any of the commonly-used utilities registered for use with QuickMode, without having to exit the application that supports the primary task, and without having to manually launch each individual utility in the QuickMode as a separate item. While the hardware control may be part of the keyboard 130, the hardware control may alternatively be built into the main housing 110. For instance, the user may interface with the QuickMode control 144 of the main housing 110 as illustrated in Figure IB to initiate a "QuickMode".

The operation of the QuickMode will now be described in further detail. Figure 7A illustrates a user interface 700A that the user might be interfacing with at the time the user wishes to enter QuickMode. Since the user is capable of interfacing with the application, the computer 100 is in the application active state. For instance, referring to the state transition diagram 900 of Figure 9, the computer 100 is in the application active state 901 when displaying the user interface 700A of Figure 7 A. While the application may be any software application that provides a user interface that the user may interact, in Figure 7 A, the user is interfacing with a spreadsheet application program in order to organize a personal household budget. The personal household budget is fictionally contrived in order not to disclose actual finances associated with any particular individual.

Now suppose that the user wants to interface with one of his more frequently used utilities. The user might then activate a single hardware control such as, for example, the QuickMode control 144 when operating using the computer 100 of Figures IA, IB, 3A and 3B. The activation of the hardware control to deactivate the application and activate the one or more utilities is represented in Figure 9 by transition 911.

Upon activating the hardware control, one or more predetermined utilities are activated to transition the computer into a utilities active state 902. For instance, a separate process becomes the active process and causes the user interface 700B of Figure 7B to appear. In this specific example of Figure 7B, five utilities appear: a clock 701, a calculator 702, a searcher 703, a To-Do list 704, and a calendar 705. The previous application that the user was working on is still represented in the user interface 700B, albeit in deemphasized form. For instance, although not represented in Figure 7B to avoid confusion in the drawings, the previous user interface may be displayed with a slight opaqueness in the background. In other words, the five utilities 701 through 705 may be displayed as partially transparent in the foreground in front of the previous user interface. The newly initiated process permits the user to interface with the various utilities 701 through 705 as desired. This allows the utilities in the foreground to be more sharply displayed and recognized by the user, while permitting the background application to still be shown in deemphasized form to remind the user of the application that he or she was working on without being too distracting.

While in "QuickMode", (i.e., while in the utility(s) active state 902 of Figure 9), the user may interface with the various utilities that the user might frequently want to refer to. For example, the user may interface with a calculator to perform a calculation. The user may then select the same or a different hardware control to exit the utility(s) active state 902 as represented by event 912 of Figure 9. This event may cause the QuickMode to thereby terminating the QuickMode process, and activate once again the process that was running the previous application. From the user's perspective, the user never really exits the previous application, but just performed some miscellaneous tasks while interface with the previous application.

The specific items to be displayed in QuickMode may be configured by a user or administrator in a separate user interface that is not shown and/or may be set by default. Alternatively, the identity of the utilities may be set by default. When the QuickMode process is initiated, the process may verify the identity of any QuickMode utilities by referring the previous entered user-preferences and/or the default utility identification. The identity of the QuickMode utilities may be the same across all applications, or may be customized to groups of one or more applications. For instance, when working on a word processing application, the QuickMode state may include a dictionary and To-Do list. When working on a spreadsheet program, the QuickMode state may include a calculator and the To-Do List. Accordingly, one or more of the utilities may be specific to the application, while one or more other utilities may be universal. Accordingly, in accordance with a first aspect, a unique computing system is described that perform multiple modes of operation, and that has unique operational features that permit the computing system to be easily interfaced with.

In accordance with a second aspect, the user may conveniently and quickly perform frequently performed tasks while working on an application without having to perform more complex user interaction in order to navigate to the utilities required to perform the task. Instead, the user simply activates the single hardware control (e.g., presses a pressure sensitive device such as, for example, a button) to access the utilities. The user may then quickly return to the application by once again activating the hardware control (or alternatively activating another hardware control). The hardware control may thus be activated by a single finger pressing a single control.

In accordance with a third aspect, a single hardware control is to switch between running tasks.

In accordance with a fourth aspect, a task-oriented start menu model is provided. At least some of the items in the start menu represent a task category describing a task to be accomplished, rather than listing the application that accomplishes that task. For example, a user might select "Create New" from the start menu, rather than selecting a shortcut to "Microsoft Word". Upon selection of the task, a submenu might be opened showing various subcategories of tasks that might be accomplished. If there are no sub- categories associated with the task, the appropriate application that accomplishes the task might be opened with the appropriate configuration settings. For example, upon selection of a "Create New" task, a "Create New Letter" submenu option might appear. Upon selection of the Create New Letter icon, a word processing application may be launched with an appropriate letter writing template.

In accordance with a fifth aspect, a unique start menu model may be more easily navigated to select a desired application item. In some embodiments, each level of the start menu may occupy substantially the same display area.

The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.

Claims

What is claimed is:
1. A computing system comprising: a main housing having at least a front surface, a back surface, a bottom surface, and a top surface; a display having a bottom end that is pivotably coupled to the upper surface of the main housing at a portion that is more than 50% of the way from the back surface of the main housing to the front surface of the main housing along the upper surface of the main housing; and a keyboard that is slidably coupled to the main housing, such that when the keyboard is extracted from the main housing, at least a majority of the keyboard extends forward further than the front surface of the main housing.
2. The computing system in accordance with Claim 1 , wherein the bottom end of the display is pivotably coupled to the upper surface of the main housing at a portion that is more than 80% of the way from the back surface of the main housing to the front surface of the main housing along the upper surface of the main housing.
3. The computing system in accordance with Claim 1, further comprising: a plurality of media buttons disposed on the front surface of the main housing or on the upper surface of the main housing in front of the display.
4. The computing system in accordance with Claim 3, wherein the plurality of media buttons comprises at least four of the following: an eject button; a fast rewind button; a rewind button; a play button; a pause button; a forward button; and a fast forward button.
5. The computing system in accordance with Claim 4, wherein the main housing further has disposed thereon a plurality of navigation control buttons.
6. The computing system in accordance with Claim 1, wherein the main housing has dimensions of at least 20 cm by 25 cm by 5 cm.
7. The computing system in accordance with Claim 1, wherein the main housing has disposed therein at least the following: a processor; system memory; disk storage; and a system bus coupled between at least two of the processor, the system memory and the disk storage.
8. The computing system in accordance with Claim 1, wherein the main housing has disposed thereon a quick mode hardware control that, when activated, deactivates the current application and activates a plurality of utilities.
9. The computing system in accordance with Claim 8, wherein the main housing further has disposed thereon a task switching hardware control that, when activated, displays a selectable list of currently running tasks.
10. The computing system in accordance with Claim 8, wherein the main housing further has disposed thereon a task switching hardware control that, when activated, displays a selectable list of currently running tasks.
11. The computing system in accordance with Claim 1, wherein the keyboard has disposed thereon a pointing device.
12. A computing system comprising: a main housing containing therein at least a processor, a memory, and storage; a display having a bottom end that is pivotably coupled to an upper surface of the main housing along an axis that is parallel to and towards a front surface of the main housing; and a keyboard that is slidably coupled to the main housing, such that when the keyboard is extracted from the main housing, a majority of the keyboard extends outwards from the front surface of the main housing.
13. The computing system in accordance with Claim 12, further comprising: a plurality of media buttons disposed on the front surface of the main housing or on the upper surface of the main housing in front of the display.
14. The computing system in accordance with Claim 13, wherein the plurality of media buttons comprises at least four of the following: an eject button; a fast rewind button; a rewind button; a play button; a pause button; a forward button; and a fast forward button.
15. The computing system in accordance with Claim 12, wherein the main housing further has disposed thereon a plurality of navigation control buttons.
16. The computing system in accordance with Claim 12, wherein the main housing has dimensions of at least 20 cm by 25 cm by 5 cm.
17. A computing system comprising: a main housing containing therein at least a processor, a memory, and storage; a display having a bottom end that is pivotably coupled to an upper surface of the main housing along an axis that is parallel to and towards the front surface of the main housing; and a keyboard that is slidably coupled to the main housing, such that when the keyboard is extracted from the main housing, a majority of the keyboard extends outwards from the front surface of the main housing.
18. The computing system in accordance with Claim 17, further comprising: a plurality of media buttons disposed on the front surface of the main housing or on the upper surface of the main housing in front of the display.
19. The computing system in accordance with Claim 17, wherein the main housing further has disposed thereon a plurality of navigation control buttons.
20. The computing system in accordance with Claim 17, wherein the main housing has dimensions of at least 20 cm by 25 cm by 5 cm.
21. A method for permitting a user to interface with one or more utilities while interfacing with an application, the method comprising: while displaying a user interface for the application, an act of detecting that the user has selected a hardware control; in response to the act of detecting that the user has selected a hardware control: an act of deactivating a process that runs the application; and an act of activating a process that is configured to perform the following: an act of displaying a user interface associated with the one or more utilities in a manner that the user interface associated with the application is deemphasized; and an act of permitting the user to interact with the one or more utilities.
22. A method in accordance with Claim 21, wherein the hardware control is a single control on a keyboard of the computing system.
23. A method in accordance with Claim 21, wherein the hardware control is a single control on a main housing of the computing system.
24. A method in accordance with Claim 21, wherein the act of displaying the user interface associated with the one or more utilities in a manner that the user interface associated with the application is deemphasized comprises: an act of displaying the user interface associated with the application using a level of opaqueness in the foreground of the user interface associated with the application.
25. A method in accordance with Claim 21, further comprising: after the act of activating the process, an act of detecting that the user has once again selected the hardware control; in response to the act of detecting that the user has once again selected a hardware control: an act of deactivating the process that runs the utilities; and an act of reactivating the process that runs the application.
26. A method in accordance with Claim 21, further comprising: after the act of activating the process, an act of detecting that the user has selected another hardware control; in response to the act of detecting that the user has selected another hardware control: an act of deactivating the process that runs the utilities; and an act of reactivating the process that runs the application.
27. A method in accordance with Claim 21, wherein the hardware control is a pressure sensitive device.
28. A method in accordance with Claim 27, wherein the pressure sensitive device is a button.
29. A method in accordance with Claim 21, wherein the one or more utilities are a plurality of utilities.
30. A computer program product comprising one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that are structured such that, when executed by one or more processing of a computing system, the computing system performs a method for permitting a user to interface with one or more utilities in the midst of interfacing with an application, the method comprising: detecting user activation of a hardware control while a user interface for the application is active; upon detection of the activation of the hardware control, performing the following: deactivating a process that runs the application; and activating a process that is configured to perform the following: displaying a user interface associated with the one or more utilities in a manner that the user interface associated with the application is deemphasized; and permitting the user to interact with the one or more utilities.
31. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 30, wherein the one or more computer-readable media are physical memory media.
32. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 30, wherein the one or more computer-readable media are physical storage media.
33. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 30, wherein the one or more computer-readable media further have thereon computer-executable instructions that, when executed by the one or more processors, further cause the computing system to perform the following if a hardware control is activated while the processing that permits the user to interact with the one or more utilities is active: deactivating the process that permits the user to interact with the one or more utilities; and re-activating the processing the runs the application.
34. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 30, wherein the computer-executable instructions for displaying the user interface associated with the one or more utilities in a manner that the user interface associated with the application is deemphasized comprise: computer-executable instructions for displaying the user interface associated with the application using a level of opaqueness in the foreground of the user interface associated with the application.
35. A computing system comprising: one or more processors a hardware control; one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that are structured such that, when executed by the one or more processors, the computing system performs the following: detecting user activation of a hardware control while a user interface for the application is active; upon detection of the activation of the hardware control, performing the following: deactivating a process that runs the application; and activating a process that is configured to perform the following: displaying a user interface associated with the one or more utilities in a manner that the user interface associated with the application is deemphasized; and permitting the user to interact with the one or more utilities.
36. A computing system in accordance with Claim 35, wherein the hardware control is a single control on a keyboard of the computing system.
37. A computing system in accordance with Claim 35, wherein the hardware control is a single control on a main housing of the computing system.
38. A computing system in accordance with Claim 35, wherein the hardware control is a pressure sensitive device.
39. A computing system in accordance with Claim 38, wherein the pressure sensitive device is a button.
40. A computing system in accordance with Claim 35, wherein the one or more computer-readable media further have thereon computer-executable instructions that, when executed by the one or more processors, further cause the computing system to perform the following if the hardware control is activated while the processing that permits the user to interact with the one or more utilities is active: deactivating the process that permits the user to interact with the one or more utilities; and re-activating the processing the runs the application.
41. A method for switching from one task to another in a computing system, the method comprising: an act of detecting that a user has interfaced with a hardware control on the computing system; and an act of displaying a list of running tasks in response to the act of detecting.
42. A method in accordance with Claim 41, further comprising: an act of detecting a user-selection of one of the tasks in the list of running tasks; and an act of making the selected task active.
43. A method in accordance with Claim 42, wherein the act of detecting a user selection of one of the tasks in the list of running tasks comprises: an act of detecting that the user has used navigation controls to navigate to and select the selected task in the list of running tasks.
44. A method in accordance with Claim 41, wherein the hardware control is not on the keyboard of the computing system.
45. A method in accordance with Claim 41, wherein the hardware control is on a main housing of the computing system.
46. A method in accordance with Claim 41, wherein the act of displaying a list of running tasks comprises: an act of displaying the list of running tasks in a drop-down menu.
47. A method in accordance with Claim 46, wherein the drop-down contains a current task portion that identifies the currently active running task, and an options portion that identifies a plurality of current running tasks that may be switched to.
48. A method in accordance with Claim 41, wherein the hardware control is a mechanical button.
49. A method in accordance with Claim 41, further comprising: after the act of displaying, an act of detecting that a user has interfaced with the hardware control on the computing system a second time; and an act of hiding the list of running tasks in response to the act of detecting that a user has interfaced with the hardware control.
50. A method in accordance with Claim 49, wherein the act of displaying a list of running tasks comprises an act of displaying the list of running tasks in a drop-down menu that contains a current task portion that identifies the currently active running task, and an options portion that identifies a plurality of current running tasks that may be switched to; and wherein the act of hiding the list of running tasks comprises an act of hiding the options portion of the drop-down menu.
51. A computer program product comprising one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that are structure such that, when executed by one or more processors of a computing system, the computing system is caused to perform a method for switching from one task to another in a computing system, the method comprising: an act of determining whether or not a user has interfaced with a hardware control on the computing system; and if it is determined that a user has interfaced with the hardware control, an act of displaying a list of running tasks in response to the act of detecting without requiring any further user input.
52. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 51, wherein the one or more computer-readable media are physical storage and/or memory media.
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53. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 51, wherein the computer-readable media further have computer-executable instructions that, when executed by the one or more processors, further cause the computing system to make a selected task active upon detecting a user-selection of one of the tasks in the list of running tasks.
54. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 53, wherein the user selection of one of the tasks in the list of running tasks is made by the user user using navigation controls to navigate to and select the selected task in the list of running tasks.
55. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 51 , wherein the act of displaying a list of running tasks comprises: an act of displaying the list of running tasks in a drop-down menu.
56. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 55, wherein the computer program product includes computer-executable instructions that are structured such that, when executed by the oen or more processors, the computer is configured to hide the list of running tasks when it is detected that a user has interfaced with the hardware control a second time.
57. A computing system comprising: one or more processors; a hardware control; one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that, when executed by the one or more processors, the one or more processors cause the computing system to perform a method for switching from one task to another in a computing system, the method comprising: an act of detecting that a user has interfaced with a hardware control on the computing system; and an act of displaying a list of running tasks in response to the act of detecting.
58. A computing system in accordance with Claim 57, wherein the hardware control is not on the keyboard of the computing system.
59. A computing system in accordance with Claim 57, wherein the hardware control is on a main housing of the computing system.
60. A computing system in accordance with Claim 57, wherein the hardware control is a pressure sensitive device.
61. A method for displaying an application start menu comprising: an act of displaying a start menu showing at least an initial list of a plurality of application items, at least one of the application items representing a task category of applications by a task accomplished by each of the applications; and an act of receiving a user selection of the task category represented in the initial list of the plurality of application items.
62. A method in accordance with Claim 61, further comprising: in response to the act of receiving, an act of displaying at least an initial submenu list of application items associated with the task category.
63. A method in accordance with Claim 61, wherein at least one of the application items in the initial submenu list represents a task rather than an application that accomplishes the task.
64. A method in accordance with Claim 61, further comprising: in response to the act of receiving, an act of identifying an application and associated application configuration associated with the task; and launching the identified application with the identified application configuration to thereby initiate the task.
65. A method in accordance with Claim 61, further comprising: an act of adding a new application item to the start menu.
66. A method in accordance with Claim 65, wherein the act of adding the new application item to the start menu comprises: an act of adding the application item to the start menu in a manner that the order of pre-existing application items in start menu are not affected.
67. A method in accordance with Claim 66, wherein the act of adding the new application item to the start menu comprises: an act of adding the application item at the end of the pre-existing application items in the start menu.
68. A method in accordance with Claim 66, wherein the act of adding the new application item comprises: an act of identifying a task category into which the new application item belongs; and an act of placing the application item in the start menu under the identified task category associated with the application item.
69. A method in accordance with Claim 61, wherein the plurality of application items corresponding to single digit numbers.
70. A computer program product comprising one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that are structured such that, when executed by one or more processors of a computing system, the computing system is caused to perform a method for displaying an application start menu comprising: an act of displaying a start menu showing at least an initial list of a plurality of application items, at least one of the application items representing a task category of applications by a task accomplished by each of the applications; and an act of receiving a user selection of the task category represented in the initial list of the plurality of application items.
71. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 70, wherein the one or more computer-readable media comprises physical memory and/or storage media.
72. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 70, wherein the . method further comprises: in response to the act of receiving, an act of displaying at least an initial submenu list of application items associated with the task category.
73. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 70, wherein at least one of the application items in the initial submenu list represents a task rather than an application that accomplishes the task.
74. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 70, wherein the method further comprises: in response to the act of receiving, an act of identifying an application and associated application configuration associated with the task; and launching the identified application with the identified application configuration to thereby initiate the task.
75. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 70, wherein the method further comprises: an act of adding a new application item to the start menu.
76. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 75, wherein the act of adding the new application item to the start menu comprises: an act of adding the application item to the start menu in a manner that the order of pre-existing application items in start menu are not affected.
77. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 16, wherein the act of adding the new application item to the start menu comprises: an act of adding the application item at the end of the pre-existing application items in the start menu.
78. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 76, wherein the act of adding the new application item comprises: an act of identifying a task category into which the new application item belongs; and an act of placing the application item in the start menu under the identified task category associated with the application item.
79. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 70, wherein the plurality of application items corresponding to single digit numbers.
80. A computing system comprising: one or more processors; one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that are structured such that, when executed by one or more processors of a computing system, the computing system is caused to perform a method for displaying an application start menu comprising: an act of displaying a start menu showing at least an initial list of a plurality of application items, at least one of the application items representing a task category of applications by a task accomplished by each of the applications; and an act of receiving a user selection of the task category represented in the initial list of the plurality of application items.
81. A method for displaying an application start menu comprising: an act of displaying a first start menu showing at least an initial list of a first plurality of application items as well as a more list expander icon; an act of receiving a user selection of the more list expander icon; in response to the act of receiving the user selection of the list expander icon, an act of replacing the first start menu with a second start menu that includes a second list of a second plurality of application items.
82. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein at least some of the application items in the first and second plurality of application items identify a task to be performed, but not the application that performs the task.
83. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein all of the application items in the first and second plurality of application items identify a task to be performed, but not the application that performs the task.
84. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein the user selection of the more list expander icon comprises a user selection of a forward navigation control.
85. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein the second start menu occupies at least a majority of a portion of a display that the first start menu occupied.
86. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein the second start menu is the same size as the first start menu and occupies the same area on a display as the first start menu.
87. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein the second start menu further includes a more list expander icon.
88. A method in accordance with Claim 85, further comprising: an act of receiving a user selection of the more list expander icon in the second start menu; in response to the act of receiving the user selection of the more list expander icon in the second start menu, an act of replacing the second start menu with a third start menu that includes a second list of a second plurality of application items.
89. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein the second start menu further includes a back list icon.
90. A method in accordance with Claim 89, further comprising: an act of receiving a user selection of the back list icon in the second start menu; in response to the act of receiving the user selection of the more list expander icon in the second start menu, an act of replacing the second start menu with the first start menu.
91. A method in accordance with Claim 90, wherein the user selection of the back list icon comprises a user selection of a backward navigation control.
92. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein the act of receiving a user selection of the more list expander icon comprises: an act of receiving navigation commands until the more list expander icon is highlighted on a display; and after the act of receiving navigation commands, an act of receiving a command to select the highlighted item.
93. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein each of the second plurality of application items in the second list of application items includes a corresponding number, the method further comprising: an act of receiving a user selection of a number; and an act of selecting the application item associated with the number in response to the act of receiving the user selection of the number.
94. A method in accordance with Claim 81, wherein each of the first plurality of application items in the first list of application items includes a corresponding number, the method further comprising: an act of receiving a user selection of a number; and an act of selecting the application item associated with the number in response to the act of receiving the user selection of the number.
95. A computer program product having thereon computer-executable instructions that are structured such that, when executed by one or more processors of a computing system, the computing system is caused to perform the following: displaying a first start menu showing at least an initial list of a first plurality of application items as well as a more list expander icon; and in response to receiving the user selection of the list expander icon in the first start menu, an act of replacing the first start menu on a display with a second start menu that includes a second list of a second plurality of application items.
96. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 95, wherein the one or more computer-readable media include physical memory media.
97. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 95, wherein the one or more computer-readable media include physical storage media.
98 A computer program product in accordance with Claim 95, wherein the second start menu is the same size as the first start menu and occupies the same area on a display as the first start menu.
99. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 95, wherein the second start menu further includes a more list expander icon, the computer-executable instructions being structured such that, when executed by the one or more processors, the computing system is further configured to perform the following in response to receiving a user selection of the more list expander icon in the second start menu: an act of replacing the second start menu with a third start menu that includes a second list of a second plurality of application items.
100. A computing system comprising: one or more processors; a display one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that are structured such that, when executed by the one or more processors, the computing system is caused to perform the following: displaying on the display a first start menu showing at least an initial list of a first plurality of application items as well as a more list expander icon; and in response to receiving the user selection of the list expander icon in the first start menu, an act of replacing the first start menu on the display with a second start menu that includes a second list of a second plurality of application items.
101. A method for controlling a computing system comprising: an act of a telephone receiving a user selection of an alphanumeric control button; and an act of the telephone transmitting a command associated with the alphanumeric control button to the computing system using radio frequency (RF).
102. A method in accordance with Claim 101, wherein the command is to select a menu item displayed in a menu on a display of the computing system.
103. A method in accordance with Claim 102, wherein the user selection is a first user selection, the alphanumeric control button is a first alphanumeric control button, and wherein the command is a first command, the method further comprising: an act of the telephone receiving a second user selection of a second alphanumeric control button; and an act of the telephone transmitting a second command associated with the alphanumeric control button to the computing system using radio frequency.
104. A method in accordance with Claim 103, wherein the menu item is a first menu item of a first menu displayed on the display, and wherein the second command is to select a second menu item displayed in a second menu on the display of the computing system.
105. A method in accordance with Claim 104, wherein the second menu is displayed on the display as a result of the selection of a forward menu item of the first menu.
106. A method in accordance with Claim 103, wherein the first command is to dial a number using the computing system.
107. A method in accordance with Claim 102, wherein the user selection is a first user selection, and the command is a first command, the method further comprising: an act of the telephone receiving a second user selection of a navigation control button; and an act of the telephone transmitting a second command associated with the navigation control button to the computing system using radio frequency.
108. A method in accordance with Claim 102, wherein the user selection is a first user selection, and the command is a first command, the method further comprising: an act of the telephone receiving a second user selection of a quick mode control button; and an act of the telephone transmitting a second command associated with the quick mode control button to the computing system using radio frequency.
109. A method in accordance with Claim 102, wherein the user selection is a first user selection, and the command is a first command, the method further comprising: an act of the telephone receiving a second user selection of a quick mode control button; and an act of the telephone transmitting a second command associated with the quick mode control button to the computing system using radio frequency.
110. A method in accordance with Claim 102, wherein the user selection is a first user selection, and the command is a first command, the method further comprising: an act of the telephone receiving a second user selection of a start menu control button; and an act of the telephone transmitting a second command associated with the start menu control button to the computing system using radio frequency.
111. A method in accordance with Claim 101, wherein the command is to dial a number using the computing system.
112. A computer program product comprising one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that, when executed by one or more processors of the computing system, cause the computing system to perform the following: an act of the computing system detecting receipt of a command from a hand-held remote control, the command representing a selection of an alphanumeric control button on the handheld remote control; and an act of selecting a menu item from a menu in accordance with a number associated with the command.
113. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 112, wherein the one or more computer-readable media are physical memory and/or storage media.
114. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 112, the one or more computer-readable media further having thereon computer-executable instructions that, when executed by the one or more processors, causes the computing system to perform the following: an act of displaying a second menu in response to the section of the menu item from the first menu.
115. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 114, wherein the menu is a first menu, and the command is a first command, the computer-readable media further having thereon computer-executable instructions that, when executed by the one or more processors, cause the computing system to perform the following after the act of display the second menu: in response to detecting receipt of a second command from the hand-held remote control, the second command representing a selection of an alphanumeric control button on the handheld remote control; and an act of selecting a menu item from a second menu in accordance with a number associated with the command.
116. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 112, wherein the command is received using an RF protocol stack.
117. A computer program product in accordance with Claim 112, wherein the command is received using an IR protocol stack.
118. A computing system comprising: one or more processors; one or more computer-readable media having thereon computer-executable instructions that, when executed by one or more processors of the computing system, cause the computing system to perform the following: an act of the computing system detecting receipt of a command from a hand-held remote control, the command representing a selection of an alphanumeric control button on the handheld remote control; and an act of selecting a menu item from a menu in accordance with a number associated with the command.
119. A computing system in accordance with Claim 118, wherein the one or more computer-readable media include memory and/or storage media.
120. A computing system in accordance with Claim 118, wherein the method further comprises: an act of displaying a second menu in response to the section of the menu item from the first menu.
PCT/US2007/009701 2006-04-20 2007-04-19 Multi-mode multimedia device and computing system WO2007124083A1 (en)

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IN1422DE2006 2006-06-15
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