COLLABORATIVE 3D MODELING SYSTEM
1. A 3D modeling system, comprising:
- a) a computer processing unit;
b) a digital memory; and
c) an electronic display, the computer processing unit and the digital memory configured to;
d) using the electronic display, provide 3D model representations of a first plurality of versions of an object component for a first user, the versions being selectable along a first axis; and
e) using the electronic display, provide a plurality of user identifications which are selectable along a second axis, wherein selecting a subsequent user causes a second plurality of said versions of said object component to be displayed on the electronic display.
A collaborative 3D modeling system, comprising a computer processing unit, a digital memory, and an electronic display, the computer processing unit and the digital memory configured to provide 3D model representations of a first plurality of versions of an object component for a first user, the versions being selectable along a first axis, and using the electronic display, provide a plurality of user identifications which are selectable along a second axis, wherein selecting a subsequent user causes a second plurality of said versions of said object component to be displayed on the electronic display.
- 1. A 3D modeling system, comprising:
a) a computer processing unit; b) a digital memory; and c) an electronic display, the computer processing unit and the digital memory configured to; d) using the electronic display, provide 3D model representations of a first plurality of versions of an object component for a first user, the versions being selectable along a first axis; and e) using the electronic display, provide a plurality of user identifications which are selectable along a second axis, wherein selecting a subsequent user causes a second plurality of said versions of said object component to be displayed on the electronic display.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
The present U.S. patent application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/821,831, filed Nov. 23, 2017, which claims the priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 62/426,011, filed Nov. 23, 2016. The present U.S. patent application is also related to and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/801,320, filed Nov. 1, 2017, which claims the priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 62/416,114, filed Nov. 1, 2016. The contents of all of the above applications are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety into the present disclosure.
The present application relates to computer aided-design systems, and more specifically, to a collaborative 3D computer modeling system.
Early-stage design is an essential part of the design process, as it allows designers to conceive and explore preliminary ideas while informing downstream processes. Its goal is not to generate full-fledged designs, but rather to aid visual observation and communication of coarse mental images. Current design practices primarily utilize sketching and 3D modeling for early-stage ideation. While sketching is an efficient means for expressing ideas, it is limited to a single viewpoint and also requires good drawing skills. Existing CAD tools on the other hand were developed in the computer as a tool paradigm, where it serves as a passive vessel for design. These methods failed to fully leverage the computer-as-a-partner approach where the digital medium is treated as an active participant in a creative design process. As a result, traditional CAD tools primarily serve final-stage detailed design processes, where expert-level design and tool operation skills are required. They are not conducive towards quick capturing and recording of fleeting ideas and rapid exploration of the design space, both of which are necessary to ensure a high quality end product and reduce design time and cost in downstream processes. Therefore, improvements are needed in the field.
The above and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent when taken in conjunction with the following description and drawings wherein identical reference numerals have been used, where possible, to designate identical features that are common to the figures, and wherein:
The attached drawings are for purposes of illustration and are not necessarily to scale.
In the following description, some aspects will be described in terms that would ordinarily be implemented as software programs. Those skilled in the art will readily recognize that the equivalent of such software can also be constructed in hardware, firmware, or micro-code. Because data-manipulation algorithms and systems are well known, the present description will be directed in particular to algorithms and systems forming part of, or cooperating more directly with, systems and methods described herein. Other aspects of such algorithms and systems, and hardware or software for producing and otherwise processing the signals involved therewith, not specifically shown or described herein, are selected from such systems, algorithms, components, and elements known in the art. Given the systems and methods as described herein, software not specifically shown, suggested, or described herein that is useful for implementation of any aspect is conventional and within the ordinary skill in such arts.
The present disclosure provides a set of frameworks, process and methods aimed at enabling the expression, manipulation, and exploration of 3D free-form shapes and designs enabled through sketch based modeling interactions on both desktop and mobile interfaces. In an example embodiment, the present disclosure provides sketch-based techniques for generating 3D shapes from simple sketch inputs provided by the user. Herein, a set of interactive techniques use for both creating the shapes, modifying their geometry, adding aesthetic or material properties, and manipulating them in three dimensional space is provided. In the second embodiment, an interactive mechanism for constructing shapes in context of an overall design structure is provided. The present disclosure also provides various visual means to support such in-situ shape creation, and design modeling directly in 3D space. Finally, an embodiment where the design model can be hierarchically represented as a collection of individual shapes, assembly of functional parts, or a holistic concept, embodying a full design idea within the the design space is provided.
The system 1800 disclosed herein (
The 3D design workspace (as shown in
This workspace is a highly interactive space. This space is receptive to a wide variety of 2D inputs ranging from multi-touch gestures on tablets and mobile devices, digital pen-tip contacts, mouse clicks, and keyboard commands. The system automatically recognizes direct contact inputs within the workspace, and uses ray-casting to determine what 3D element or region the user is trying to access within the space. This space is displayed using a perspective view, to aid depth perception of the 3D elements, and shadows are rendered to assist users perceive relative positioning between different elements.
To simplify user interactions and ensure quick expression of ideas, the system 1800 allows users to create 3D shapes from simple 2D sketch inputs. These inputs are directly drawn on a sketch plane using the pen or the mouse. When first starting out with blank workspace, this sketch plane first appears at a central workspace location. For subsequents shapes however, the plane can be interactively placed at a user defined location on the design. The plane can also be freely moved around using a 3D manipulation widget. Details of plane placement and manipulation will be discussed later.
Essentially, during the design modeling process, the user simply defines the cross-sectional silhouette of the shape he wants. The computer automatically fills in the region between the silhouette boundary with a 3D mesh such that the mesh approximates the geometry of the shape intended by the user. Users can define the silhouettes in two ways. First they can draw a single stroke 2D curve geometry or create a polyline curve by defining the individual vertices of the curve. Additionally, users can also create symmetric curves, by first defining a line of symmetry on the sketch plane and drawing the curve on one side of this line. The drawn curve is automatically mirrored onto the other side during the curve drawing process itself. While a freeform sketch is being drawn the sampled points are subjected to a single exponential smoothing process to ensure smoothness in the resulting curve. The raw sketch data (from both curve types) is also uniformly resampled to ensure smoothness in resulting shapes and to avoid geometric artifacts.
There are two types of 3D shapes that can be created using the system 1800. These are blobby shapes and tubular shapes, as shown in
Blobby Shapes are created by first drawing a closed “profile curve” on the sketch plane (
After a profile curve has been defined, the system automatically fills in the interior of the curve with a 3D mesh in order to generate the shape (
The system 1800 provides users with the options to select four different kinds of inflation functions. The functions are colloquially defined as circular, tapered, linear, and flat functions. Using iconic representations, we present these functions as four different modes of blobby shape creations within the front-end user interface. However, in the back end shape computational system, these functions are mathematically represented and used for displacing the interior vertices.
Tubular shapes, sweeps, or generalized cylinders serve as highly versatile shape representations for modeling a wide variety of 3D forms. Such shapes have been shown to allow sufficient complexity and diversity within designs, and can be constructed using simple 2D sketch inputs. Tubular Shapes are defined using two open “rail curves”. Similar to profile curves, these also represent a mid-sectional silhouette of tubular shapes. They are drawn as separate curves, however the system automatically recognized when the user intends to start and terminate drawing of a given rail curve. We can use both freeform or polyline sketch inputs to draw rail curves. Moreover, the symmetry tool can be used to simultaneously draw the two rail curves as mirrored opposites of one another. This results in a symmetric tubular shape, similar to a revolved extrusion in CAD.
Here, a sweep geometry with a circular cross section is fitted between the two rail curves (
The sketch plane is a very fundamental element within the 3D design workspace, as it is used to scaffold all shape creation process. In the previous sections, we described how to create a shape on the sketch plane, but the ability to spatially define the plane within the workspace is also an essential part of system 1800, as it directly supports in context creation of shapes over a design under progress.
As described above, the default location of the sketch plane for the first shape is at the center of the workspace. However, for ensuing shapes, users can choose to either place the plane normal or tangential to a given shape on the under-progress design. For this, users simply need to select the placement option, and click over the desired placement location. In addition to obtaining the tangent or orthogonal direction, the back end system also automatically detects the direction of the major axis of the plane (longer edge), such that the plane orientation is consistent with the most convenient direction to draw curves (
The aforementioned placement however is only an initial placement, i.e. users can further refine it using a 3D manipulation widget (
The profile or rail curves for the two shapes types in system 1800 can be drawn directly on the sketch planes. It does not matter what the orientation of the plane is while drawing the curves. User can rotate the design model and/or the plane to any convenient drawing orientation. Users can also manipulate the view of the 3D workspace in the middle of the drawing process to be able to see the sketched curves from different perspectives and scales. When defining a shape in context of an under-progress design, all the curves on the sketch plane are rendered in front of all the other geometries. This way users can observe exactly how their intended shape will look like at its location within the design, and also not have to worry about occlusions when defining the shape.
Very frequently during design prototyping, the initial placement of a shape in the design need to be changed either to refine the shape'"'"'s placement, test different configurations, or include another shape within the vicinity. In fact, for an early stage conceptualization process being able to quickly alter the placement of shapes leads to rapid exploration of different product forms and navigation of the design space. To support such modeling and design exploration capabilities, system 1800 allows for interactive 3D manipulation of the individual shapes in a quick and efficient manner.
Just as with the manipulation of the sketch plane, the individual shapes in the design can also be manipulated using a 3D manipulation widget (
In addition to spatially moving the shapes around, users can also alter the scale of the shape. This can be done by simply applying a pinch gesture on the tablet, or a SHIFT+drag gesture on the desktop interface. The back end system uses a predefined scaling factor to uniformly scale the shape. The sign of scaling (increase or decrease) is based on the motion of the dragging operation. An outward pinch or a mouse motion towards the shape indicates increased scaling, while the opposite motion indicates a decreased scaling. For blobby shapes, the inflation magnitude can also be altered. For this the widget comprises of an inflation scaling handle which can be dragged along the direction of inflation magnitude change.
At any point during the design modeling activity, the entire design model can also be rotated about its center (using an arcball rotation gesture), translated along a z-parallel plane (using a two finger drag gesture or CTRL+mouse drag on desktop), or scaled (using a two finger pinch gesture or ALT+mouse drag on desktop). These operations allow users to quickly adjust the viewing perspective and scale of the design model during new shape creation or general inspection processes.
The in context shape creation process in the 3D workspace is primarily intended to define the general outline of how a given shape should look like. In addition to that, users have the capability to further refine the shape, modify its geometry at a finer level of detail, and include features that couldn'"'"'t be applied during shape creation at a global context. For this, the system 1800 interface provides a shape editing mode. The edit mode can be invoked by by selecting a shape with a double tap gesture. Here, the workspace switches to a 2D sketch canvas with the shape'"'"'s profile or rail curves displayed in a front facing view. By using a separate 2D view, we can provide a larger display of the profile curves, making them amenable to the operations that require finer level of control and precision than what is possible in the 3D workspace. The 2D canvas during edit mode is provided with a regular grid to assist precise placement of sketch inputs, and in the case of polyline inputs, automatic snapping to the grid points. The following operations can be performed during the edit mode.
Overdrawing is a highly efficient curve editing technique that allows users to alter local regions on a curve by simply drawing over it using the system 1800 (
For a blobby shapes, the overdrawn curves are drawn in such a way that their starting ending points are close to the profile of the shape (
Very frequently shapes within physical products contain holes for several reasons such as weight and material reduction, aesthetic quality enhancement, and functional spacing. In the edit mode users can define as many holes as they like within a blobby shape. This can be done by simply selecting the hole option and drawing a closed freeform or polygon curve within the boundary of the profile curve we want a hole inside (
Just as with the profile curve drawing process, the interface also allows users to borrow pre-defined template curves to serve as holes within a given blobby shape. Our system can automatically detect whether or not a hole fully resides within the profile curve, and gives an error warning to the user if this condition is not met. Additionally, the system is also cognizant of holes being too close to the profile boundary curve, in order to preclude extremely thin features (which result in geometric artifacts). The hole curves are also amenable to modification, detailing, and refinement at any point during the design modeling activity. For this, the user simply needs to go the edit mode for the relevant shape (containing the hole to be edited), and apply the overdrawing inputs in order to modify the hole shape.
While the three dimensional form of a design model provides visual information on its structure, hierarchical organization of components/shapes, and the interrelationships between different parts and shapes, color and texture provide additional dimensions of design information that can be imparted with an idea or a concept. For example, textures allow designers to communicate what type of material a given shape or part could be made of, and allude towards downstream manufacturing and production capabilities/decisions. Texture can also impart broad level information on a given part or shape'"'"'s physical properties such as mass, thermal/electrical conductivity, surface smoothness and traction, malleability etc. Moreover, textures and colors can significantly enhance the aesthetic quality of a design, and provide the design model with a general finished appearance even at the early stages of the design process.
To apply the texture over a shape using the system 1800, users simply need to select it first and hit the texture button (
To enable users to quickly generate a pattern or symmetrical arrangement of common shapes, the system 1800 allows for copying and mirroring operations. To copy a shape users simply need to select it, hit the copy command, and define where to place it by clicking in the workspace. Mirroring operations are performed across another reference shape. Here, the shape to be mirrored is first selected, the mirror command entered, and finally the shape about which the mirror is to be performed is selected (
Initially when the design is constructed, it only exists as a collection of shapes, spatially arranged to achieve the form of an intended design. However the structure of a 3D design is much more complex than that. Different shapes often perform as components within a given part with a specific function in the part. Quite often, designers will want the capability to segment such parts for various design reuse and reinterpretation purposes.
To support grouping of shapes into functional parts or meaningful clusters within the design, we provide tagging capabilities. Essentially, when working within a certain design context, users can pre-define the parts the design context will comprise of across multiple iterations or variations of design ideas. Upon constructing each variation, users can simply select a shape, and assign it to one of the pre-defined parts. We call this tagging. Just as with individual shapes, parts can also be selected within the 3D workspace. Selected parts can then be subjected to operations such as spatial manipulation with a 3D widget, color/texture additions, and replication operations. Here, all the shapes included in the part gets subjected to the operations applied to the part (
Each design model is stored in a folder with a distinct numerical IDs. Just as with the design model, this folder is also hierarchically divided into subfolders, each containing shapes from a specific part, and also includes a temporary folder for untagged shapes (
In the presently disclosed system, the design explorer interface is the central element that supports all team-first design activities such as design data storage, hierarchical design information retrieval, design space navigation, and design reuse/reinterpretation. It visually represents the design concept space developed by the design team, and serves as a medium for storing, browsing, sharing and accessing design ideas. The design explorer can be directly opened and viewed within the 3D workspace, and is represented as a list of thumbnails, each showing a specific design concept. Each concept can be further expanded into a sub-menu displaying a closeup view of the individual parts within the design. The design explorer comprises of the following attributes that to support efficient navigation of the design concept space and fluid sharing of design ideas across team members.
As illustrated in
Being able to observe and reflect on others'"'"' ideas during a design activity not only inspires creativity but also helps identify new possibilities in one'"'"'s own design. Thus, the design explorer of
An important advantage of 3D design representation is that it provides designers with the ability to hierarchically deconstruct a design idea, and work with it at varying levels of details. Thus, the design explorer of
The design explorer of
Hierarchical navigation is consistent with the notion of working with multiple design ideas in parallel. Being able to view different concepts in the design explorer, while working on their own designs, helps inspire new ideas not just for their current design, but also for divergent concepts they went on to explore in future iterations. The presently disclosed design explorer interface takes this a step further by allowing users to work with multiple designs not just at the concept level, but also at the part and shape levels.
The hierarchical structure of 3D designs can have multiple levels of details, starting from the overall design concept, to the individual parts, their constituent shapes, and the underlying geometry defining the shapes. Thus, if a designer chooses to browse through the concept space with respect to a lower level design information, he/she will have to go through all higher level design information first. To prevent such tedious navigation of the concept space, the presently disclosed design interface allows users to isolate specific design components or information that are relevant to a particular modeling activity as shown in
The newest designs in the concept space typically represent the most recently developed ideas. In fact, within a collaborative design scenario, the most recent designs are those that have been derived from prior iterations, and polished through several stages of development. In certain embodiments, such newer designs are displayed first to provide designers with a quick overview of the current state of the design concept space. It also prevents designers from having to dwell over defunct design concepts or ideas, and helps avoid pitfalls or mistakes encountered by other team members at a previous time.
To ensure that each member gets credit for his contributions and to track the history of a design'"'"'s evolution, each concept should be identifiable to its author. In certain embodiments, at any given instance, the presently disclosed design explorer interface displays the designs of one user. However, designs by other users can be viewed and access simply by scrolling across different user ids. Within the design explorer, a single column or strip of thumbnails represent designs created by a specific user. A designer within a team can opt out of the design project. However, once uploaded to the shared repository, his/her designs remain within the explorer for the remaining duration of the design project.
The presently disclosed system maintains two distinct repositories for storing and retrieving design data. These are the local repository and the shared repository. During a design activity, users can choose to share their designs and ideas only when they feel ready to do so. This helps avoid evaluation apprehension, and provides team members with the freedom for independent thinking without having to fear judgement of fleeting ideas or premature thoughts. This also allows them to develop an idea to a level, which they can confidently claim ownership of. Each design created by users is initially stored locally within their individual systems. This local repository is only accessible to that particular user. At this point, the private designs of a given user are displayed only in his/her respective design explorer. However, users can invoke the upload option in order to transfer the design content into the shared repository. Once a design has been shared, it is visible in the design explorer across all design team members, and can be accessed for reuse or reinterpretation.
During a design activity, users can browse through the design explorer and import any design or its component from the explorer directly into their workspace. Here also, the hierarchical and filtered browsing modes can be leveraged to import either the entire concept or just a specific component. Design data can be imported from the explorer in two ways.
Insert operation: As shown in
Replace operation: A given part in the workspace can be substituted with a corresponding part from another design in the explorer as shown in
Annotate operation: Users can accompany their designs, or specific design components with annotations and comments in order to better communicate the information about the design concepts and their ideas as shown in
Chat operation: The chat box in Co-3Deator allows designers to send private or group messages electronically. This messaging system is particularly useful for distributed design teams where direct verbal communication is not feasible, or for sending information to specific team members in a private manner. In addition to textual messages, users can also share design ideas through this chat box by privately transferring design data files of images (screenshots) to specific collaborators.
Modify operation: It is not essential that the imported design component has to be retained in its exact form. Users can always apply editing operations to change its form, scale, or appearance. This way users can create a wide variety of variations of a given design. In fact, shapes or design components can also be reinterpreted to allow designers to use ideas from one context within a completely different context. Being able to borrow, reuse, and reinvent existing design concepts leads to a more expansive exploration of the concept, a larger number of early-stage ideas, and more insights leading to better product development.
Each team member can use the 3D modeling features of the presently disclosed system to generate as many design concepts as they can on their own. While the system serves as a team-first ideation tool, by necessity it also comprises elements from a designer-first tool. This is because in order to support any collaborative design process, there needs to be some form of a design concept space available. Thus, individual design creation can be used by design teams to initialize the concept space. The main strength of a team-first approach however lies in its support towards creative productivity. Here, inputs from multiple users along with the combinatorial and divergent affordances of the concept component hierarchy allow design teams to rapidly expand their concept space. The system supports creative work where the focus is on creating multiple, separate, and diverse content, often drawing on other collaborators. This kind of productivity cannot be achieved with just a designer-first approach. Such “team-first” design operations are as follows.
The goal of combinatorial design operations is to expand the concept space through quick combination of parts and shapes from different designs available in the design explorer. Here, users can deconstruct individual designs at various levels of details and combine specific components from different design concepts to generate new concepts using the presently disclosed system. The concept component hierarchy driving the 3D design models in Co-3Deator provides users with the freedom to selectively choose what level of design information to work with from a given concept. However, simply putting parts together does not lead to an aesthetic or structurally sound design. Instead, the ability to isolate, manipulate, and reconfigure individual shapes within a given part is what allowed users to adapt it to a new design context. As shown in
Combinatorial design in the presently disclosed system can be approached in several ways. One approach entails importing a central part that serves as a base or foundational structure of the new design model, followed by adding other parts that fit well with it. This approach is analogous to how we assemble a product in real life, where a primary structure is first established and then the rest of the parts assembled on top. Another approach involves browsing through the explorer and importing all parts that stand out as potentially providing some value. Various configurations can then be tested out with these parts, while pruning out those that didn'"'"'t work with the intended design context. This approach ultimately converges to a specific design concept, and allows designers to visually explore many different options and possibilities within the design concept space.
Using the design explorer interface system disclosed herein, designers can also take an existing design and redefine it into a new concept, however they find it fit. They could either choose a design created by themselves at a previous time, and branch it into a different version, generate a design variant of their teammates'"'"' design, modify it to form an entirely different design concept, or improve upon an existing design. Here also the concept component hierarchy gives users the flexibility to alter a design at multiple levels of detail. Thus, the redefinition can occur at a shape, part, or the entire design concept level. When redefining a design, the original version is retained within the design explorer, such that multiple designers can drive it in different directions. This also allows the design team to keep a history of a given design, and enable each member to track its evolution.
The following collaborative design operations can be performed using the design redefinition capabilities in the presently disclosed system: completing, extending, branching and reinterpretation, as shown in
Completing: Given the time limits within collaborative design work sessions, some designs might exist as incomplete models within the design explorer. Incomplete designs can also occur as one designer might stumble upon a roadblock while developing a certain concept. In such cases, there is a strong likelihood that other team members are inclined to bring such designs to a closure or completion. Thus, users can take an existing design that presents a scope for improvement, and further work upon it such that it meets the functional and structural requirements.
Extending: It is very common for users to seek out ways to augment a design either to improve its functionality or add another capability. The design explorer provides users with a visual means to not only draw upon designs from their collaborators, but also judge what was earlier missed in every design concept with the design space generated. This provides design team members to identify what could work better in their collaborators'"'"' designs and further add upon it to create an improved version.
Branching: This process involves taking an existing design and applying modifications such that results in a variant of the original concept, but novel enough to stand on its own. Such variants can be obtained by changing the color, texture, and style of one or more parts within a design. Branching is primarily useful in versioning a given design concept, and creating different models of a product context.
Reinterpretation: To save time, users can borrow one or more shapes from a specific part and repurpose them into another object with an entirely new meaning and function. In fact, the shapes repurposed can be used within a different design context as well. This provides design teams to parallely work with different design contexts in their projects, while still maintaining exchange of design information across contexts.
To close a collaborative design ideation activity, design teams frequently perform a final concept selection task in order to collectively reflect on the overall design concept space and identify final concepts to push towards downstream design processes. During this activity, users can simply browse through the design explorer and inspect each design at varying levels. The designs and their components can also be imported into the 3D workspace interface of the disclosed system for closer inspection and evaluation of design concepts. The design team members can then either utilize verbal discussion, in person or through digital communication media, or communicate through the chat mechanism in their workspaces, to decide upon the final concepts.
For refining the final concepts, the design team can also collectively refine the final concepts to everyone'"'"'s liking and to ensure that the design objectives are met. For this, a collaborative designing mode is provided in the presently disclosed system, where a common interface is shared across all users. Here, each user is able to see the events within the common interface on his/her personal device. However, only one user is able to interact with the interface at a given time. This is controlled through an explicit active user specification mechanism, and can be decided by the users themselves. During the collaborative design mode, the active model within the common 3D workspace is stored within the shared repository. The interface in each team member'"'"'s device constantly listens to changes to the active design model, and updates the 3D model in each device. This allows each member to observe real time changes within the concepts under refinement. Additionally, it allows the active user can also illustrate ideas through direct examples and 3D modeling illustrations, as he/she is verbally explaining.
Processor 1886 can implement processes of various aspects described herein. Processor 186 can be or include one or more device(s) for automatically operating on data, e.g., a central processing unit (CPU), microcontroller (MCU), desktop computer, laptop computer, mainframe computer, personal digital assistant, digital camera, cellular phone, smartphone, or any other device for processing data, managing data, or handling data, whether implemented with electrical, magnetic, optical, biological components, or otherwise. Processor 186 can include Harvard-architecture components, modified-Harvard-architecture components, or Von-Neumann-architecture components.
The phrase “communicatively connected” includes any type of connection, wired or wireless, for communicating data between devices or processors. These devices or processors can be located in physical proximity or not. For example, subsystems such as peripheral system 1820, user interface system 1830, and data storage system 1840 are shown separately from the data processing system 1886 but can be stored completely or partially within the data processing system 1886.
The peripheral system 1820 can include one or more devices configured to provide digital content records to the processor 1886. For example, the peripheral system 1820 can include digital still cameras, digital video cameras, cellular phones, or other data processors. The processor 1886, upon receipt of digital content records from a device in the peripheral system 1820, can store such digital content records in the data storage system 1840.
The user interface system 1830 can include a touchscreen, hand-held stylus, mouse, a keyboard, another computer (connected, e.g., via a network or a null-modem cable), or any device or combination of devices from which data is input to the processor 1886. The user interface system 1830 also can include a display device, a processor-accessible memory, or any device or combination of devices to which data is output by the processor 1886. The user interface system 1830 and the data storage system 1840 can share a processor-accessible memory.
In various aspects, processor 1886 includes or is connected to communication interface 1815 that is coupled via network link 1816 (shown in phantom) to network 1850. For example, communication interface 1815 can include an integrated services digital network (ISDN) terminal adapter or a modem to communicate data via a telephone line; a network interface to communicate data via a local-area network (LAN), e.g., an Ethernet LAN, or wide-area network (WAN); or a radio to communicate data via a wireless link, e.g., WiFi or GSM. Communication interface 1815 sends and receives electrical, electromagnetic or optical signals that carry digital or analog data streams representing various types of information across network link 1816 to network 1850. Network link 1816 can be connected to network 1850 via a switch, gateway, hub, router, or other networking device.
Processor 1886 can send messages and receive data, including program code, through network 1850, network link 116 and communication interface 1815. For example, a server can store requested code for an application program (e.g., a JAVA applet) on a tangible non-volatile computer-readable storage medium to which it is connected. The server can retrieve the code from the medium and transmit it through network 1850 to communication interface 1815. The received code can be executed by processor 1886 as it is received, or stored in data storage system 1840 for later execution.
Data storage system 1840 can include or be communicatively connected with one or more processor-accessible memories configured to store information. The memories can be, e.g., within a chassis or as parts of a distributed system. The phrase “processor-accessible memory” is intended to include any data storage device to or from which processor 186 can transfer data (using appropriate components of peripheral system 1820), whether volatile or nonvolatile; removable or fixed; electronic, magnetic, optical, chemical, mechanical, or otherwise. Exemplary processor-accessible memories include but are not limited to: registers, floppy disks, hard disks, tapes, bar codes, Compact Discs, DVDs, read-only memories (ROM), erasable programmable read-only memories (EPROM, EEPROM, or Flash), and random-access memories (RAMs). One of the processor-accessible memories in the data storage system 1840 can be a tangible non-transitory computer-readable storage medium, i.e., a non-transitory device or article of manufacture that participates in storing instructions that can be provided to processor 186 for execution.
In an example, data storage system 1840 includes code memory 1841, e.g., a RAM, and disk 1843, e.g., a tangible computer-readable rotational storage device such as a hard drive. Computer program instructions are read into code memory 1841 from disk 1843. Processor 186 then executes one or more sequences of the computer program instructions loaded into code memory 1841, as a result performing process steps described herein. In this way, processor 1886 carries out a computer implemented process. For example, steps of methods described herein, blocks of the flowchart illustrations or block diagrams herein, and combinations of those, can be implemented by computer program instructions. Code memory 1841 can also store data, or can store only code.
Various aspects described herein may be embodied as systems or methods. Accordingly, various aspects herein may take the form of an entirely hardware aspect, an entirely software aspect (including firmware, resident software, micro-code, etc.), or an aspect combining software and hardware aspects These aspects can all generally be referred to herein as a “service,” “circuit,” “circuitry,” “module,” or “system.”
Furthermore, various aspects herein may be embodied as computer program products including computer readable program code stored on a tangible non-transitory computer readable medium. Such a medium can be manufactured as is conventional for such articles, e.g., by pressing a CD-ROM. The program code includes computer program instructions that can be loaded into processor 1886 (and possibly also other processors), to cause functions, acts, or operational steps of various aspects herein to be performed by the processor 1886 (or other processor). Computer program code for carrying out operations for various aspects described herein may be written in any combination of one or more programming language(s), and can be loaded from disk 1843 into code memory 1841 for execution. The program code may execute, e.g., entirely on processor 1886, partly on processor 186 and partly on a remote computer connected to network 1850, or entirely on the remote computer.
The invention is inclusive of combinations of the aspects described herein. References to “a particular aspect” and the like refer to features that are present in at least one aspect of the invention. Separate references to “an aspect” (or “embodiment”) or “particular aspects” or the like do not necessarily refer to the same aspect or aspects; however, such aspects are not mutually exclusive, unless so indicated or as are readily apparent to one of skill in the art. The use of singular or plural in referring to “method” or “methods” and the like is not limiting. The word “or” is used in this disclosure in a non-exclusive sense, unless otherwise explicitly noted.
The invention has been described in detail with particular reference to certain preferred aspects thereof, but it will be understood that variations, combinations, and modifications can be effected by a person of ordinary skill in the art within the spirit and scope of the invention.