Automatic response option mobile system for responding to incoming texts or calls or both
1. A cellular phone having an automated response system comprising:
- a cellular phone including cellular telephony transceiver circuitry, short message service transceiver circuitry, memory and a touchscreen and a microprocessor programmed by software to control said cellular telephony transceiver circuitry, said short message service transceiver circuitry, said touchscreen display and said memory, said microprocessor controlled by an operating system or kernel to;
determine when an incoming cellular call is arriving and display on said touchscreen an option to auto-respond to said incoming cellular call by answering said incoming cellular call by diverting said incoming cellular call to voicemail and send a predefined text;
sense when said user of said cellular phone has touched said touchscreen with at least two touches in a predetermined sequence, the first touch occurring within a predetermined interval to indicate a desire to send said predefined text message to the caller who initiated said incoming cellular call; and
retrieve said predefined text message and send said predefined text message to said caller.
A cell phone with software to provide options to auto-respond to incoming text message or phone calls with a pre-stored text message or audio message. In some embodiments, the auto-response text message can be one selected by the user from among a plurality of pre-stored text messages. In other embodiments, the user can also choose an auto-response audio message to play to callers. In some embodiments, the cell system makes a determination of the speed at which cell phones in the system are moving for at least phones to which incoming text messages or phone calls are directed, and automatically determines whether or not to send an automated response message. In some embodiments, the cell phone makes a determination of its speed and asks the user if he or she wants to auto-respond to incoming texts or calls or both if moving at driving speed.
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Patent #US 20140120884A1
Current AssigneeBlackberry Limited
Sponsoring EntityBlackberry Limited
|Methods and apparatus to audibly provide messages in a mobile device|
Patent #US 9,386,156 B2
Current AssigneeBlackberry Limited
Sponsoring EntityBlackberry Limited
|Messaging in attention critical environments|
Patent #US 9,680,784 B2
Current AssigneeInternational Business Machines Corporation
Sponsoring EntityInternational Business Machines Corporation
|Messaging in attention critical environments|
Patent #US 9,755,996 B2
Current AssigneeInternational Business Machines Corporation
Sponsoring EntityInternational Business Machines Corporation
|Removable computing device that facilitates communications|
Patent #US 10,244,095 B2
Current AssigneeGoogle LLC
Sponsoring EntityGoogle LLC
|System and methods for monitoring the context associated with a mobile communication device|
Patent #US 8,000,689 B2
Current AssigneeAegis Mobility Incorporated
Sponsoring EntityAegis Mobility Incorporated
|Mobility call management|
Patent #US 8,045,976 B2
Current AssigneeAegis Mobility Incorporated
Sponsoring EntityAegis Mobility Incorporated
|Method and Device for Communications While Using a Single Telephone Device|
Patent #US 20090270082A1
Current AssigneeDorron Mottes
Sponsoring EntityDorron Mottes
|Unstructured Supplementary Service Data Application within a Wireless Network|
Patent #US 20080139230A1
Current AssigneeVascode Technologies Ltd.
|Response message transmitter and response message transmitting method in cellular mobile telephone apparatus and recording medium recording program for executing the method|
Patent #US 20080299949A1
Current AssigneeSamsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
Sponsoring EntitySamsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
|Method And Device For Routing Communications In Cellular Communications Network|
Patent #US 20070298771A1
Current AssigneeDorron Mottes
Sponsoring EntityDorron Mottes
|Response message transmitter and response message transmitting method in cellular mobile telephone apparatus and recording medium recording program for executing the method|
Patent #US 20030216138A1
Current AssigneeSamsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
Sponsoring EntitySamsung Electronics Co. Ltd.
|Call rerouter method and apparatus|
Patent #US 6,169,796 B1
Current AssigneeATT Inc.
Sponsoring EntityATT Inc.
|Management of mobile device communication sessions to reduce user distraction|
Patent #US 8,160,560 B2
Current AssigneeAegis Mobility Incorporated
Sponsoring EntityAegis Mobility Incorporated
|System for preventing text messaging while driving|
Patent #US 8,295,854 B2
Current AssigneeRobert Osann Jr
Sponsoring EntityRobert Osann Jr
- 1. A cellular phone having an automated response system comprising:
a cellular phone including cellular telephony transceiver circuitry, short message service transceiver circuitry, memory and a touchscreen and a microprocessor programmed by software to control said cellular telephony transceiver circuitry, said short message service transceiver circuitry, said touchscreen display and said memory, said microprocessor controlled by an operating system or kernel to; determine when an incoming cellular call is arriving and display on said touchscreen an option to auto-respond to said incoming cellular call by answering said incoming cellular call by diverting said incoming cellular call to voicemail and send a predefined text; sense when said user of said cellular phone has touched said touchscreen with at least two touches in a predetermined sequence, the first touch occurring within a predetermined interval to indicate a desire to send said predefined text message to the caller who initiated said incoming cellular call; and retrieve said predefined text message and send said predefined text message to said caller.
- 2. A subsystem for use in a cell phone having a system for providing auto-response options to respond to incoming texts and/or phone calls, comprising:
first circuitry including a display, a microprocessor controlled by an operating system of said cell phone and/or other software of said cell phone, said microprocessor controlling said display and audio circuitry including voice synthesis circuitry coupled to an audio CODEC which converts digital signals to analog sound signals which are fed to the input of an audio amplifier the output of which is coupled to a speaker and/or headphone output jack, said first circuitry functioning to receive notification of an incoming text or phone call including information identifying the sender of the text or the caller and to cause an audible announcement of the identity of said sender or caller to be made using said voice synthesis circuitry and causing a query to be posed to the user of said cell phone as to whether said user wants to auto-respond to the incoming text or call, said query posed to said user either audibly using said voice synthesis circuitry or visibly using a display of said cell phone controlled by said microprocessor and said operating system, or posed by both means; and second circuitry including a keyboard or touchscreen display and a microprocessor controlled by an operating system of said cell phone and/or other software of said cell phone and which is controlled by said operating system to receive input from said keyboard or touchscreen display, said operating system and/or other software of said cell phone including voice recognition software which receives digital input signals from audio input circuitry including an audio CODEC coupled to an audio amplifier coupled to a microphone which picks up voice commands given by a user of said cell phone, said second circuitry functioning to receive one or more voice responses or one or more key presses on said keyboard or one or more touches of one or more predetermined areas of said touchscreen display as responses to said query, and process said one or more voice responses using said voice recognition software or analyze said one or more key which were pressed or analyze said one or more areas of said touchscreen display which were touched to determine when said user wishes to auto-respond to said incoming text or phone call or not, predetermined words or phrases spoken by said user or a press of a predetermined key or presses of a predetermined key sequence or a touch of a predetermined area or a predetermined sequence of touches of areas on said touchscreen display each being adjudged an affirmative response indicating a desire by the user to auto-respond to said incoming text or phone call.
- 3. A cell phone programmed to display an auto-response text message which can automatically be sent back to a caller or sender of an incoming text whenever an incoming cellular call is detected, and programmed to determine if a user of said cell phone touches one or more predetermined areas of a touchscreen of said cell phone three or more times in a predetermined sequence, said predetermined sequence including a requirement that at least the first two touches have to occur within predetermined intervals, and wherein said cell phone is programmed to interpret said predetermined sequence of touches as a command to send as an automated response to said incoming cellular call a predefined, user-selected text message to the caller who placed said incoming cellular call.
- 5. A cell phone programmed to respond to an incoming text message by displaying a plurality of auto-response text messages, each auto-response text message displayed in a separate area of a touchscreen of said cell phone, and wherein said cell phone is programmed to interpret as a command to send whatever auto-response text message is touched in response to an incoming text message and display of said plurality of auto-response text message, said cell phone programmed to send whichever one of said auto-response text messages is touched in response to an incoming text message, and wherein said cell phone is further programmed to respond to an incoming cellular call by displaying a plurality of auto-response text messages, each auto-response text message displayed in a separate area of a touchscreen of said cell phone, and wherein said cell phone is programmed to interpret as a command to send whatever auto-response text message is touched in response to an incoming cellular call and further programmed to send whichever one of said auto-response text messages is touched in response to said incoming cellular call to the caller who placed said call.
- 6. A cell phone programmed to respond to an incoming text message by displaying an auto-response text messages which will be sent to the sender of said incoming text message when an auto-response is ordered by the user of said cell phone, said cell phone further programmed to audibly announce the identity of the sender of said incoming text message and display said identity on said touchscreen of said cell phone, and said cell phone further programmed to monitor for either an audible command to auto-respond by sending said auto-response text message or to determine when said user has touched said area of said touchscreen which said cell phone has been programmed to interpret as a command to send said auto-response text message, and when a command to send said auto-response text message is received, sending said auto-response text message to the sender of said incoming text message.
This is a continuation-in-part application of a prior U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/803,282, filed Jun. 22, 2010 (currently allowed). This is also a continuation-in-part application of a prior U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/658,449, filed Dec. 21, 2009 having the same title and inventors which is currently abandoned but subject to a petition to revive, and is also a continuation-in-part of the following prior U.S. divisional patent applications having the same title and inventors and having the following Ser. No. 13/373,325, filed Nov. 10, 2011 currently co-pending; Ser. No. 13/373,326, filed Nov. 10, 2011 now allowed and the issue fee having been paid Oct. 23, 2012; Ser. No. 13/373,323, filed Nov. 10, 2011 currently co-pending, all of which are divisionals of prior U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/653,988, filed Dec. 21, 2009, now U.S. Pat. No. 8,249,627.
Recent studies have shown that driving while texting on a cell phone is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated. Older studies have linked higher traffic accident rates to talking on cell phones while driving.
However, some people use their cell phones for business and do not want clients or customers to wonder why they did not call back right away. Other people just want to be able to respond promptly in some fashion without endangering themselves or others so the person calling them or texting them knows what is going on or does not start to worry since the person normally responds right away to a text or phone call.
An article in a Nov. 22, 2009 Dallas newspaper described a subscription system called ZoomSafer™ that renders driving when a cell phone is present safer. The system uses the GPS on the phone to detect when the user is driving and then disables the cell phone until the driver stops the car. This system is believed to shut off the user'"'"'s phone while the user is driving. The problem with such a system is that the user may wish to know who is calling or texting, and, if the call or text is important enough, pull over, stop the car and answer the text or call.
Other companies such as GM assume that drivers'"'"' judgment can be trusted and they have implemented handsfree Onstar™ systems to voice dial numbers that have been previously stored and given a nametag by pushing the Onstar phone button and asking the user to speak the nametag. The system then automatically dials the phone number stored in the car'"'"'s computer using a cell phone built into the car and minutes purchased from Onstar. GM has also implemented Bluetooth™ systems to dial the phone owned by the user by coupling the user'"'"'s cell phone to the car'"'"'s audio system and allowing the user to dial a number from a keypad displayed on the navigation system display of the vehicle or from the cell phone or cell phone address book. The audio of the call is played through the car'"'"'s audio system and a microphone in the car picks up the driver'"'"'s voice and couples it to the cell phone for transmission using the Bluetooth system. Ford and Microsoft are selling systems that rely on voice commands to dial phones. The systems that disable the cell phone using the GPS have caught the attention of the insurance companies because studies show that driving while talking on a cell phone is dangerous even if the driver is using a headset and has both hands on the wheel. One insurance company has said it will offer discounts to customers who use a call-blocking service to disable their phones. Other companies such as Aegis Mobility and obdEdge employ systems that place restrictions on phones based upon the phone'"'"'s GPS signal, data from the car itself or from nearby cell towers. Any incoming calls are routed to voice mail or a message explaining that the phone'"'"'s user is driving. Exceptions can be made for certain numbers. The exceptions are the only control the user of the cell phone has in these systems to allow a call to come through. This puts too much restriction on the driver to anticipate who might be calling and gives the driver no option to see the caller IDs of all incoming calls and decide whether or not to pull over and take the call or just take the call while driving and take the risk.
Another prior art feature found in some phones is called “Quick Text” and it features a menu from which the user can choose “canned” (already typed and stored in the phone) responses to send in response to a text message received. In a “Quick Text” capable phone, all the steps to reply to a text message must be done as they are normally done, but with a few extra keystrokes, the user can choose a message that has already been typed instead of having to type a reply message. That is, the user receives a notification that a text (SMS) message has arrived, does a keystroke or two to select the text application program and select the text message to view, does a keystroke to put the phone into reply mode but then the user may do another keystroke to open a menu of canned messages to send as a reply. Typically, this is a keystroke to select an “Options” icon (give a command to open a menu which includes a command “Add Quick Text”). Then another keystroke is required to select the “Add Quick Text” command. This keystroke brings up a list of canned messages that can be selected and sent such as “thanks”, “yes”, “no”, etc. One or more keystrokes or scrolling action or trackball action is then required to select the canned message to send and then another keystroke is required to put the canned message into the reply screen as the message to be sent. Then another keystroke is required to actually send the canned message just selected. That is quite a few keystrokes and requires too much attention to the phone, its display and its keypad. It would be too many keystrokes and diverted attention to do while driving and still drive safely.
A published Korean Patent Abstract of an unexamined Korean Patent application published under publication number 1020040082363 on Sep. 24, 2004 teaches a mobile phone for “automatically making a character response during a conference” so as to automatically inform a cellular caller about a situation where the callee [sic] cannot take the call. When a cellular call is received during a situation when the called party cannot take the call, the called party presses a special button or performs a special manipulation on a key of the mobile phone. A memory stops receiving the call immediately, and a predetermined suitable character string is read from the memory and then sent to a phone number of the caller who made the incoming cellular call.
Recently, a series of ads run by AT&T have raised public awareness of the dangers of texting while driving. Some cellular phone manufacturers are starting to respond. In the iOS6™ operating system which started shipping in iPhones™, iPads™ and iPod™ Touch™ devices in October 2012, there is a Reject a Call With a Text Message feature to reject an incoming cell call with a text message. When an incoming cell call arrives, the traditional Decline and Answer “buttons” (areas of the touchscreen labeled Decline and Answer, respectively) are displayed on the touchscreen of the display. To the right of those buttons, a small phone icon is displayed. Swiping that phone icon upward on the touchscreen causes two more areas or “buttons” to be displayed on the touchscreen, one labeled Reply with Message and the other labeled Remind Me Later. The Remind Me Later button does not send an automated text message reply. It just automatically schedules a reminder to call that person later. Touching the Reply with Message button brings up three canned (pre-typed or predetermined) text messages the user can select from to have the phone automatically send to the caller (the caller is automatically sent to voicemail when the Reply with Message button is touched). The three canned messages are “I'"'"'ll call you later”, “I'"'"'m on my way” and “What'"'"'s up”. A fourth button labelled Custom allows the user to compose a text on the fly. The canned messages can be changed by going to Settings/Phone/Reply with Message.
There has therefore arisen a need for a simple, fast, safe way for the user of a cell phone who is driving to know who is calling or texting, and, with a single push of a button, send a pre-typed message to a text sender or a pre-recorded voice message to a caller who is calling in while the owner of a cell phone is driving or otherwise engaged if the driver chooses not to take the call or reply to the text while driving and chooses not to pull over and take the call or reply to the text.
In some embodiments, instead of launching the Busy: Respond Later™ Application 169, the operating system puts itself into a mode or sets a flag or does something which will cause the cell phone operating system itself to automatically respond to any incoming phone call or text message with an automatically generated text message if the user indicates that is his or her wish after a prompt when an incoming call or text is arriving.
A single query is displayed in step 518 after the cell phone itself detects the phone is moving at driving speed that asks whether the user wants to send automated response to incoming cell calls and incoming texts while driving. This query can be caused to be displayed by the Busy: Respond Later™ Application via a function call to the operating system, or, in some embodiments, the operating system of the phone itself interfaces directly with the speed routine and displays the query via the phone'"'"'s display and display controller or touchscreen and touchscreen controller as soon as the speed routine sends a notification to the operating system that the cell phone is moving at a speed which indicates it is probably in a car which is being driven. An affirmative response by any of the user interface mechanisms detailed herein in the other embodiments will vector processing to step 520 to wait for an incoming phone call or text message, and, thereafter, if a call or text comes in, the user is not bothered and an automated response will be generated.
A conventional cell phone, preferably one which displays the identity of a caller or text sender who is in the address book of the owner of the cell phone, is modified to implement the teachings of the invention. The modification involves having either one or two new buttons on the phone or keypad or touchscreen (or one or two keystrokes of existing keys), hereafter sometimes referred to as Busy buttons, which can be pushed to automatically send a pre-typed text message and/or answer an incoming call and send a pre-recorded voice message to the caller if the Busy: Respond Later™ application (referred to herein and in the drawings sometimes as the Busy Application and shown 169 in
The Busy: Respond Later™ button or buttons can either be a new button or buttons added to the phone or to the keypad of the phone, as is illustrated in the examples, or already existing buttons on the phone or keypad of the phone. In some embodiments, the outgoing message can be fixed such as “I am busy right now and will respond later”. In other embodiments, the outgoing automated message (text or voice message) can be selected by the user during configuration of the Busy: Respond Later™ application from a number of different “canned” messages supplied by the manufacturer of the phone. In other embodiments, the outgoing message or messages is a message that the user types in and/or records using a voice notes application, if the phone has one. In other embodiments, the outgoing Busy: Respond Later™ message may be established by the user by importing an MP3 file recorded on another device into the phone or by downloading a text message or voice message or both types of messages from a ringtone service or some other service like a ringtone service from which text and voice messages for the Busy: Respond Later™ application may be downloaded for free or for a fee. In configurable message embodiments, the user can pick the message to be sent or played before they get in the car and start driving or go on vacation or start a meeting.
A single button, context sensitive embodiment, can be implemented in “hot key” embodiments with two pre-existing keys on the cell phone keypad which must be pushed simultaneously for the Busy: Respond Later™ technology to be triggered. When the Busy: Respond Later™ technology is triggered, it sends an automated response to the sender of a text or the caller of an incoming call informing them of the busy status of the user of the cell phone.
Similar embodiments are implemented for two button embodiments where one button is used to automatically respond to an SMS message and another button is pushed to automatically answer an incoming call and respond with an appropriate message. Either or both of these buttons can be added to the phone or the existing keypad or they can be existing keys on the phone or keypad or they can be existing keys on the phone or keypad which will trigger the automated response only if another “hot key” on the phone or keypad is pushed simultaneously. The hot key embodiments are not favored since to push two buttons on a cell phone simultaneously in a moving car would probably require both hands which would be dangerous. However, the hot key and the other key could be located next to each other such that one finger can push both simultaneously.
Anywhere key is referred to in any embodiment, it can also refer to a button either added to the keypad or added anywhere on the phone or a touchscreen version of a key depicted as added to the keypad depiction or added to any other screen displayed by a touchscreen phone. Further, a voice command can be used to give any command stated to be given by a key, and in any embodiment herein, a command or response can be given by the user by any of the methods identified specifically in the description of
In the context-sensitive embodiments, a single context-sensitive button is pushed (or a hot key and another button) which responds to a text message automatically if a text message has just been received, or answers and incoming call and responds by playing a pre-recorded message.
In one push, non-hot-key embodiments, a text message is automatically responded to after one push of a newly added SMS button or key or one push of a pre-existing button or key with a pre-typed reply message that the owner of the phone is busy driving or otherwise engaged and cannot respond to a text message which has just been received.
In one push non-hot-key embodiments, an incoming phone call is responded to automatically with a single button push of a newly added Busy: Respond Later™ CALL button or key or a button or key which already exists on the phone or keyboard which causes the incoming call to be answered and a pre-recorded message played that informs the caller that the owner of the cell phone is busy and cannot speak with the caller at the moment.
The technology varies from phone to phone in terms of the type of software and the function calls made to manipulate the operating system, SMS application and phone call application which implements the Busy: Respond Later™ technology, referred to in the claims as an automated response application program. Basically, the Busy: Respond Later™ technology functions, when triggered, to do whatever is necessary on the host phone to give the appropriate commands to designate the text message to which an automated reply is being sent, select it and enter the reply mode, enter the pre-recorded text message and, finally, to automatically give the send command. In the case of an incoming phone call, the Busy: Respond Later™ technology, when triggered, makes whatever function calls are necessary to answer an incoming call automatically and play a pre-recorded message to the incoming caller and then hang up the phone or route it to voicemail. All processes which work for whatever phone the technology is implemented on are intended to be covered by the appended claims.
The message that is sent to respond to an incoming text just received or played to an incoming caller could be anything. “I am driving and cannot respond immediately” is one example.
In some embodiments, only the text of the automated reply message is entered automatically, and all other commands to launch the SMS service, select the text message to reply to and send the automated reply message are manually given. In another embodiment, all commands are entered manually but the command to launch a macro or program to automatically enter the text of the reply message also includes automatically giving the send command after the text of the automated reply message has been entered.
The Busy: Respond Later™ technology 12 also comprises whatever circuitry and/or software which is necessary for the particular host cell phone to, in the case of an incoming text message: 1) receive the push of the Busy: Respond Later™ key; 2) select the text message which has just been received; 3) do whatever is necessary for the particular host cell phone in which the Busy: Respond Later™ technology is resident to put the cell phone in reply mode to reply to the text message just received; 4) do whatever is necessary for the particular host cell phone in which the Busy: Respond Later™ technology is resident to automatically enter characters of a reply text message that informs the sender of the text message that the recipient is busy and cannot respond immediately; and 5) do whatever is necessary for the particular host cell phone in which the Busy: Respond Later™ technology is resident to give the command to send the text message. Thus, a user of a cell phone can reply to an incoming text message automatically with a single push of a button, which can easily be accomplished while the user is driving or otherwise engaged and cannot respond to the text message just received safely or who simply does not wish to respond to the text message just received immediately. At least one example will be given below for specific cell phone technology.
In the case of an incoming phone call while the user of the cell phone is driving or otherwise does not wish to speak with the caller but wishes to tell the caller the user is busy and cannot speak with the caller at the moment, the Busy: Respond Later™ technology 12 comprises a button or “key” on the cell phone or on the “keypad” or “keyboard” of the cell phone which: 1) receives the push of the Busy: Respond Later™ key; 2) does whatever is necessary for the particular host cell phone in which the Busy: Respond Later™ technology is resident to answer the incoming phone call; 3) does whatever is necessary for the particular host cell phone in which the Busy: Respond Later™ technology is resident to play a pre-recorded message to the caller indicating that the user is driving or otherwise busy and cannot talk to the caller at the moment; and 4) does whatever is necessary for the particular host cell phone in which the Busy: Respond Later™ technology is resident to hang up the phone or route the call to voicemail.
The terms “button,” “key,” “keypad” and “keyboard” in embodiments described herein include not only physical keys and keyboards such as are found on most cell phones such as the Blackberry™ smartphone but also on touch sensitive areas on the desktops or any display such as the display of the keyboard on touchscreen cell phones or smartphones such as the iPhone™ smartphone or any of the new touchscreen phones based on the Android operating system such as the Droid™ phone made by Motorola for Verizon or the EVO 4G™ phone made for the Sprint™ network by HTC.
There can be a single key for the Busy: Respond Later™ technology which is context sensitive and does whatever is necessary to respond to an incoming phone call or a text message which was just received, depending upon which was received, or there can be two keys, one to respond to text messages just received and one to respond to an incoming phone call.
A typical environment in which the teachings are employed is shown in
It is possible for text messages to be sent to a cell phone from a computer. For example, client computer 30 coupled to server 32 via LAN 33 can send a text message to cell phone 10 via an Internet Service Provider 38, the internet 34 and data router 5 in cell system 16. Link 38 represents both an ISP and some sort of physical layer modem to connect the server 32 to the internet such as a UVERSE™ modem, cable modem, satellite service modem, POTS dial up modem, etc. Text messages from cell phone 10 are packetized and sent back via the SMS channel of the cell system 16 (part of the control channel used for call setup), data router 5, internet 34 and ISP 38, server 32 to client computer 30. Some computers 36 are coupled to the internet 34 directly and not through a LAN such as by a wireless broadband USB card, cell phone acting as a modem or any other type modem supplied by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as UVERSE™, Comcast™, etc.
Details of how cellular systems work can be found in Macario, Raymon, “Cellular Radio: Principles and Design” (McGraw Hill 1997), which is hereby incorporated by reference.
Text messages of the Short Message Service or SMS are methods of communication that send text between cell phones or from a PC to a cell phone. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters total. Even if a person is not talking on their cell phone, the phone is periodically sending and receiving information. It is talking to its cell phone tower over a data pathway called a control channel modulated onto a radio carrier. The reason for this chatter is so that the cell provider knows which cell your phone is in so that it can be found for incoming calls or texts, and so that the cell phone can change cell towers as it moves around. Every so often, the phone and the tower exchange a packet of data that lets both of them know everything is in good working order and who is where in the cell system. This is called a handshake.
The cell phone also uses the control channel for call setup. When someone tries to call your phone, the cell tower sends your phone a message over the control channel telling your phone to play its ringtone. The tower in cell system 16 also gives your phone a pair of voice channel frequencies, one to transmit on and one to receive on, for full duplex communication. The control channel also provides the digital data pathway for SMS messages and router 5 which routes packets of digitized voice data and also routes packets of SMS data. Internet web browsing and e-mail are different digital data pathways that are separate from the data pathways used to send and receive digitized voice data and SMS messages. Data router 40 is actually in the web and e-mail data pathway of the cell system 16 and is used by the cell phone 10 to send and receive e-mail messages and to browse the worldwide web.
The cell system has a core network which includes a centralized SMSC (Short Message Switching Control—symbolized by router 5 in
In the embodiment of
Those skilled in the art appreciate how the hardware of the phone works so only brief explanation will be given here. Power is supplied by li-ion rechargeable battery 58 and a power management circuit 60 controls the charging of the battery and reporting its status. Circuit 62 is fusion flash nonvolatile memory and volatile dynamic random access RAM memory manufactured by Samsung. A quad band transceiver 64 implements GSM protocol RF transmission and reception so the phone can be used in GSM systems here and abroad for phone calls. A tri-band RF transceiver 66 does the transmitting and receiving of RF carriers modulated with digital data packets for web browsing, e-mail, etc. These transceivers receive transmit data from processor 54 and send received data to it.
Power amplifier 68 amplifies RF carriers modulated with GSM protocol voice data and is coupled to antenna 70. Power amplifiers 72 and 74 amplify transmitted and received RF carrier signals modulated by code division multiple access (CDMA) data for browsing, e-mail, etc.
LCD controller 76 allows processor 54 to control the phone'"'"'s display 78.
Still photograph camera and video camera 80 receives commands from processor 54 to snap pictures or take video and sends the captured photo or video data to processor 54.
Bluetooth transceiver 82 couples processor 54 to external devices such as car phone systems or Bluetooth headsets to allow phone calls to be heard through the car audio or a wireless external headset.
GPS receiver 84 receives GPS signals, determines the phone'"'"'s position and sends that data to processor 54.
802.11 a/b/g transceiver 86 allows the phone to couple wirelessly to the internet as a client computer through other than the cell system'"'"'s data path. PMIC wi-fi circuit 88 manages power for the wi-fi access process. Power amplifier 90 couples the wi-fi RF signals from wi-fi transceiver 86 to antenna 92 for 802.11a protocol signals in the 5 GHz band, and power amp 94 couples wi-fi 2.4 GHz RF signals from wi-fi transceiver 86 in the 801.11 b/g protocol.
The audio of phone calls and other audio from movies being played back is converted from digital to analog by Codec 96 and coupled to speaker 98, earpiece 100 and headphone jack 102.
SIM card 104 stores all the phones contacts and settings and identifies the user and the user'"'"'s account. It works only with GSM phones such as the iPhone™ and Blackberry™ and not with CDMA phones from Sprint or Verizon.
Controller chip 106 establishes a USB 2.0 interface for a micro-USB port 108 on the phone so that data and photos can be uploaded from the phone to a computer and for a Micro SD slot 110 so that an auxiliary memory card can be inserted in the phone.
Microphone 112 and analog-to-digital converter 114 convert voice sound waves to analog signals and analog signals to digital data for processor 54 to use in phone calls, recording voice notes, taking movies, etc.
General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) is an older wireless network data transfer protocol for smartphones that is a packet based communication service. It is a 2.5G protocol that was the standard till recently. It is a packet-switched, always-on connection that remains active as long as the phone is within range of a tower. It allows the smartphone to do things like run applications remotely over the network, interface with the internet, participate in instant messenger sessions, act as a wireless modem for a computer and transmit and receive e-mails. It is limited to 114 kilobytes per second, so it has been replaced by Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE) protocols which can transmit at 384 kbps, but it is still a 2.5G protocol. 3G protocols transmit data in megabits per second (some as fast as 10 Mbps) and are taking over. Some US carriers such as Sprint™ offer 3G protocols (EVDO). NTT DoCoMo Inc. tested a 4G protocol Feb. 9, 2007 that is 500 times faster than 3G protoocols, and those protocols will eventually take over. The teachings of the invention may be employed in all these protocols.
In an alternative embodiment, the circuitry of the cell phone is either the iPhone 4s circuitry disclosed in the circuit diagrams of Appendix A or the iPhone 5 circuitry incorporated by reference and described later herein and in Appendix C. In the iPhone 5 embodiments, the baseband processor like processor 54 that controls the circuitry of the phone is the Apple A6 processor, and it is controlled by the iOS 6 operating system, the details of which are incorporated by reference, but the operating system or other software of the phone is modified or altered to carry out the processes disclosed herein to carry out the functions needed to provide auto-response or auto-response options.
In a basic embodiment, there is RF section circuitry that transmits and receives cellular voice phone calls and text messages (and other data such as web browsing) simultaneously on radio frequency carriers using at least one transmission protocol, usually one or more. Details of the RF section circuitry for the iPhone 4s™ and iPhone 5™ are given in Appendices A and C appended hereto and in description given later herein. There is user interface circuitry for exchanging information with a user of the phone. That can include a touchscreen or a non-touchscreen display and a keyboard or a keyboard and trackball like the Blackberries™ and it can include voice synthesis and voice recognition software such as Siri™. The user interface circuitry typically includes a touchscreen controller and audio CODEC circuitry and audio chips. The user interface circuitry also includes an accelerometer and three axis gyro in some embodiments to help in orientation of the display, etc. There is also control circuitry coupled to control all of this circuitry under control of an operating system and possibly some application programs. In the iPhones, the operating system is the iOS, details of which are given in Appendix B. The operating system or other software controlling the phone is structured or modified to implement the processes described herein to provide auto-response functions in some embodiments or auto-response options in other embodiments.
The Modified Software Stack Architecture
The typical software of a smartphone can be visualized as a stack. At each layer of the stack there are programs and application programmatic interfaces or APIs. APIs provide access to functions of a program invoked through its API without the programmer of the calling program needing to know the details of the structure and operation of the called program.
At the lowest level is the kernel 160. The kernel is the operating system which implements management systems for processes and some drivers for hardware. The kernel of a cell phone, among other things, manages the hardware circuitry and software resources for the keyboard, the display screen or touchscreen, the address book, the phone dialer, the battery and the network connection. The operating system provides a stable, consistent interface for application programs on the application layer 168 including the Busy: Respond Later™ application 169 to deal with the hardware of the smartphone without having to know the hardware circuitry of the particular smartphone upon which the application is resident.
To the extent power on self test code and BIOS code are used in cell phone operating systems as they are in desktop computers, the kernel implements these functions as code stored in nonvolatile memory such as ROM or FLASH memory. A bootstrap loader code section may also be stored in nonvolatile memory and functions to load the kernel or operating system into memory of the phone to take over further processing, set up divisions of memory that hold the operating system, user information and applications and it establishes data structures to hold the myriad of signals, flags and semaphores needed to communicate within and between the subsystems and applications of the computer. Finally, it turns control over to the operating system kernel 160 which, inter alia, performs processor management, memory management, device management, storage management, application programmatic interface and user interface functions. These functions of the kernel also allow the user of the phone to multitask and run more than one application at a time. When an application like the Busy: Respond Later™ application is running, it may cause several other processes to launch simultaneously such as launching the text messaging function (possibly on layer 162 or possibly one of the functions of the kernel 160—the layer is not important) and memory access or storage I/O process to retrieve the configuration file data, if a configuration file is used, and to retrieve the pre-typed text message designated to be sent when the Busy key (SMS) 50 or Busy key (Context Sensitive) 120 is pushed. The Busy: Respond Later™ application is a process in the operating system sense of the word meaning it is software that performs the designated action and it can be controlled by the user, other application or by the operating system. The kernel 160 schedules processor time for the Busy: Respond Later™ application and suspends it when necessary to run other processes or handle interrupts. Interrupts are signals sent to the processor by hardware or software to cause the kernel to handle some need of the sender of the interrupt. To allow multiple processes to appear to run on the phone simultaneously, the kernel switches between different processes thousands of times per second. Each process uses a certain amount of RAM, and uses registers, stacks and queues within the processor and operating system memory to do its process. The kernel allocates a certain number of processor cycles to the process. When those cycles are expended, the kernel switches processes by allocating a certain number of processor cycles to the new process, making a copy of all the registers, stacks, flags and queues used by the process being suspended (process #1) and noting the point in process #1 where execution was suspended (making a copy of the program counter). Process #2 is then started by loading the registers, stacks, queues, flags previously stored for process #2 and setting the program counter at the count at which it was suspended when process #2 was last suspended. After process #2 completes its allocated number of processor cycles, its registers, stacks, queues, flags and program count are copied and the process #1 is restored by bringing the copies of the registers, stacks, queues, flags and program count back into the appropriate registers and memory locations. Each process has a process control block with an ID for the process, pointers to the locations in the program and its data where processing last occurred, register contents, states of various flags and switches, pointers to the upper and lower bounds in memory required for the process, a list of files opened by the process, a priority of the process and the status of all input/output devices needed by the process.
Each process has a status associated with it. Many processes consume no processor time until they get some sort of input such as a keystroke from the user. The Busy: Respond Later™ application is an example of such a process. Until the Busy key is pushed, the Busy: Respond Later™ application 169 does not do anything. While it is waiting, it is “suspended” and all the information in the process control block for the Busy: Respond Later™ application'"'"'s process is maintained. The process control block may be created in some embodiments, when the Busy: Respond Later™ application is launched just before the driver starts driving or attending a meeting that is not to be interrupted. In other embodiments, the Busy: Respond Later™ application does not launch until the Busy key is pushed.
The kernel also does memory management by setting up memory boundaries for each process and using the various types of memory such as cache, RAM, virtual memory and nonvolatile memory such as flash or disk drives (if present).
Drivers on the various layers like layer 166 are programs that act as translators between the electrical signals of the circuitry in the phone such as the keyboard and display and the high level programming instructions of the operating system. Drivers take data that the kernel 160 has defined as a file and translates the data into streams of bits stored in specific locations on storage devices as a series of laser pulses in a printer. In the case of the Busy: Respond Later™ application, a driver program in layer 166 takes the pre-recorded text file 171 to be sent when the Busy key (SMS) 50 or Busy key (Context Sensitive) 120 is pushed and places it in the keyboard buffer 175 when the Busy: Respond Later™ application sends API function calls to the kernel asking it to activate the text messaging application and send a text message. The keyboard buffer 175 is used by the operating system to feed characters to the text messaging packetization process when that process is activated. The characters of the pre-recorded text message are then fed into the text message packetization process from the keyboard buffer 175 under command of the operating system as fast as the text message packetization process can handle the characters and when it needs them. The text message packetization process builds a control packet having the pre-recorded text message therein and sends it. More details of this will be explained below.
The operating system kernel 160 can be anything such as the operating systems provided by Research in Motion for the Blackberry™ smartphone, Windows Mobile™, the iPhone™ operating system, the Palm™ operating system for any of its smartphones or, preferably, the open source operating system Android™ for the Google™ smartphone. The operating system controls the hardware circuitry shown in block diagrams of
At the next level up in the software architecture of
The libraries of software layer 162 are sets of instructions that control the smartphone operating system, microprocessor and other hardware to handle different kinds of data. For example, the media framework library contains instructions controlling how the operating system controls the hardware of the phone to support playback and recording of various audio, video and picture formats. Think of the libraries as specialists in specific tasks and the operating system as a generalist that knows how to control the hardware assets of the phone to carry out the instructions given by the specialist library. There is likely to be a library to handle text messaging and a library to handle phone functions such as answer a call, play a voicemail message, hang up the call, answer an incoming call or ignore an incoming call during an ongoing call, etc. These text and phone functions may be incorporated into the kernel 160 in some embodiments since they are so much an intrinsic part of what every cell phone does and not special add on functions such as video recording, audio recording, audio playback and web browsing. Web browsing is usually a library and not built into the operating system in most embodiments.
The middleware libraries use the hardware circuits of the phone to accomplish their functions by making Application Programmatic Interface (API) function calls to the kernel 160. For example, a web browser application can request a web page by making an appropriate function call to the kernel commanding it to address the data communication interface circuitry and cause it to transmit out to the internet a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) passed to the kernel with the API function call. Each library of the middleware layer itself has an API which allows the kernel to call the middleware library and pass it commands or data received from other circuits in the cell phone.
The next level up in the stack or even at the same layer as the middleware libraries is the Application Execution Environment (AEE) 164 is a layer of tools which allows developers to create their own programs. In the Android operating system, AEE layer 164 is at the same layer as the middleware libraries 162 and comprises a set of core JAVA libraries that Android application program developers use to develop application programs for the phone. Application programs for the phone are like the software programs you use on your computer to do specific things like recording voice memos, browse the internet, send and receive e-mail, send and receive text messages. On some cell phones such as the Blackberry™ or iPhone™ smartphones, applications do things like GPS navigation, finding the closest parking structure or restaurant, remembering where you parked your car and pointing it out on a Google map, etc. Some of these functions like GPS navigation, etc. may also be on the application layer 168. Basically, functions of the phone may be put on various layers such as the application layer or middleware library layer, but some are more appropriate for certain layers rather than others. It does not matter for purposes of the invention which layer upon which specific functions needed for the various embodiments are implemented. The particular layer a function is on is not at this time thought to be critical to the invention. For example, texting may be on the application layer 168, in the kernel 160, in the middleware libraries 162 or the runtime Java libraries.
The AEE layer 164 may include the GSM radio frequency transmitter driver or CDMA radio frequency transmitter driver also in some embodiments although that function may also be incorporated into the kernel or other layers. Generally functions that may be improved or altered or which processes (2.5G to 3G for example) are implemented separately from the kernel so that when changes or improvements are made, the entire operating system does not have to be propagated again with the changes to all the machines which use it. These RF transmission and modulation functions are more likely to be on the AEE layer in the Android operating system since the Android kernel is designed to support hardware from different manufacturers and some of them use GSM protocol (AT&T) and some use CDMA protocol (Sprint).
In the Android operating system, the runtime layer 162 also includes a library that implements the Dalvik Virtual Machine. A virtual machine is a software application that behaves as if it were an independent device with its own operating system. A virtual machine can emulate a computer that runs on an entirely different OS than the OS of the host machine running the virtual machine application. That is how Macs can display a Windows XP machine desktop and run Windows applications when running the Parallels™ application. The Android kernel uses virtual machines to run each application program as its own separate process. This allows each application to run without dependence on any other, and prevents the crash of one application from crashing any other applications simultaneously running in their own virtual machines. Running a separate virtual machine for every application also simplifies memory management for the kernel. In some embodiments, the text messaging, phone functions and Busy: Respond Later™ processes are each run on their own separate virtual machine running on the underlying platform, especially if the kernel 160 is Android™ OS.
The next level in the stack is a user interface and application framework 166 which is a set of programs that cooperate with the operating system to implement the basic functions of the phone and its user interface (drive and read the display, keyboard, trackball or other pointing device, etc.). Layer 166 includes a display manager program in some embodiments that is tightly tied to the kernel 160 and manages the phone display for the kernel. Such basic functions as resource allocation, telephone applications, switching between processes or programs and keeping track of the phone'"'"'s physical location are done at this layer 166 in the embodiments using the Android kernel and in many other embodiments. The application framework 166 can be thought of as a set of basic tools which application developers can access to build higher level and more complex applications on the application layer 168 and for the Busy: Respond Later™ application 169. Although the Busy: Respond Later™ application 169 is shown as its own layer in
The programs on application framework layer 166 include software that renders the graphics and layouts seen on the display. Basically, this layer of software, in most embodiments, includes drivers and interfaces with the display, keyboard and pointing device and may provide I/O services to all the other memory and storage devices in the phone. Memory and storage device I/O services and drivers may be included in the kernel 160 in some embodiments.
Finally, there is the application suite 168. This software layer represents the software applications that implement various basic functions the user can invoke such as making phone calls or receiving them, accessing the web browser, accessing the contacts list or address book, etc. Some of the basic applications of the Sprint Blackberry™ phone, represented by icons on the desktop are: launching the web browser and sending it a URL to direct it to the Sprint™ software store, making entries on calendars, setting alarms, reading and sending e-mail, receiving and sending text messages via SMS (if this function is not in the kernel), making and receiving phone calls (if this function is not in the kernel), using GPS navigation, performing instant messaging, locking the phone keyboard, performing media playback, performing web browsing (if not on the library layer 162), viewing an automatically compiled log of incoming and outgoing calls, viewing live TV, displaying a map, etc.
A barebones system to practice the invention only needs the kernel and I/O services software for the memory or storage device in which pre-typed text messages or outgoing voice messages are stored, display, keyboard and pointing device drivers and the protocol layer or library or application that implements text message functions and phone functions such that a predefined text or voice message may be sent by a touch of a button to the sender of an incoming text or the caller of an incoming phone call.
The Busy: Respond Later™ Application Process
The Busy Respond Later™ application (BRL process) and its Application Programmatic Interface (API) is shown at 169 in
As a specific example of how, in some embodiments, the BRL process 169 creates pre-recorded text files 171 or pre-recorded voice files 181 consider the following. Suppose a pre-recorded voice file 181 is to be created by the BRL app (hereafter Busy app) 169 using a voice notes application on layer 168. The BRL app 169 makes one or more function calls to the API of the kernel asking it to activate the voice notes application and create a file with a specific name into which the pre-recorded voice message is to be recorded. Suppose the kernel provides an API function named MakeFile for creating files. When writing the part of the BRL app 169 program that creates the pre-recorded voice message file 181, the programmer would insert a line that looks like this:
MakeFile [1, % Name, 2]
In this example, the instruction tells the operating system 160 to create a file that will allow random access to its data (signified by the 1—the other option might be 0 for a serial file), will have a name typed in by the user (% Name) and will be a size that varies depending on how much data is stored in the file (signified by the 2—other options might be zero for a fixed size, and 1 for a file that grows as data is added but does not shrink when data is removed). The following is what the operating system does to turn the instruction into action.
The operating system 160 sends a query to the memory management function of the kernel 160 to get the location of the first available free storage location.
With that information, the operating system creates an entry in the file system of the cell phone showing the beginning and ending locations of the file, the name of the file, the file type, whether the file has been archived, which users have permission to look at or modify the file, and the date and time of the file'"'"'s creation.
The operating system writes information at the beginning of the file that identifies the file, sets up the type of access possible and includes other information that ties the file to the application. In all of this information, the queries to the disk drive and addresses of the beginning and ending point of the file are in formats heavily dependent on the manufacturer and model of the phone.
Because the programmer has written the program to use the API for disk storage, the programmer doesn'"'"'t have to keep up with the instruction codes, data types and response codes for every possible phone and memory structure. The operating system, connected to drivers for the various hardware subsystems, deals with the changing details of the hardware. The programmer must simply write code for the API and trust the operating system to do the rest.
Although the text files 171 and voice files 181 and configuration file 179 and Busy keys 50, 52 and 120 are shown as connected to the Busy: Respond Later™ application, these are logical data paths only. In reality, the Busy: Respond Later™ application creates these files, accesses and reads the files, displays information on the display and reads the keyboard and Busy keys through the operating system kernel and its API 160 and the user interface driver framework and its API 166 and drivers on layer 166 that do storage input/output (I/O). Layer 166 includes drivers for the display and keyboard and pointer device and storage such as RAM or FLASH memory of the smartphone. Preferably, the pre-recorded text and voice messages in files 171 and 181 are stored in non-volatile memory. All the circuits shown in
Now suppose a text message is received while driving or in a meeting and the user of the phone presses the Busy key 50 (SMS) (
Step 204 in
Before functions recited in step 204 happen, there are other events that occur, and the details of one or more examples follow. Those skilled in the art appreciate that there is more than one way to cause the basic function of step 204 to occur and what follows is only one or more examples. The claims where the broad functions of step 208 are stated are to be interpreted to cover all the various ways of accomplishing the function of step 208 since they are all structurally and functionally equivalent.
First, the fact that the Busy key 50 (SMS) (
The detection of the push of the Busy key 50 (SMS) (
In order for the BRL process 169 to send the pre-recorded text message, it must cause the text messaging application to be launched, select the most recent text message received, send the pre-recorded text message to the text messaging process and cause the send command to be given. To accomplish these functions, step 204 represents the steps of sending a function call to the kernel to request it to launch the text messaging process. Normally, the user launches the text messaging process by manipulating the track ball or the touchscreen to select the text messaging icon on the desktop or by pushing some other key or combination of keys on the keypad. Regardless of the type of phone or keypad controller or touchscreen controller, whatever is done on the particular phone involved to launch the text messaging function results in a function call to the API of the kernel. The BRL process 169 automatically makes that same function call to the kernel that the keypad controller and its driver would normally make to launch the text messaging process when the user does what they normally do on the phone to launch the text messaging process. Next the BRL process 169 makes whatever function call the keypad controller or touchscreen controller would make to select the most recent text message received. On a Blackberry™ smartphone where the messaging application records all incoming and outgoing text messages and phone calls, the user must roll the trackball to the text message to which a reply is to be sent. Since there will be many text messages on the message log usually, and they will be mixed in with message logs of phone calls received and made, some human intelligence is involved. The user must look at the message log, mentally select the text message to which a reply is to be sent, roll the trackball to it and press the trackball to select the message and press the trackball again to bring up a menu of things the user can do with the message, e.g., copy, reply, forward, delete. Then the user must roll the trackball down to the reply command and press the trackball again to put the text messaging process into reply mode. All this manual processing is replaced in the BRL process by making a function call to the kernel'"'"'s API and asking for the contents of the message log to be sent to the BRL process 169. This file will have entries in it for incoming phone calls, outgoing phone calls, incoming texts and outgoing texts. The BRL process 169 (
The text message application then packetizes the pre-recorded text message received from the BRL process into control packets which include header information about which text message the packetized text message is a reply. These packets containing the automated text message reply are then sent with a function call to the kernel 160 (
Now suppose while the user of the phone is driving, an incoming phone call occurs. The cell phone displays the caller ID and the user typically will look at it to determine who is calling. If the caller is sufficiently important to the user, the user may choose to pull over and answer the call normally and talk to the caller. However, if the user chooses to keep driving instead of taking the call, the user presses the Busy key 52 (Call) in
Before the functions of step 208 happen, other events occur and the details of one or more examples thereof follow. Those skilled in the art appreciate that there is more than one way to cause the basic function of step 208 to occur and what follows is only one or more examples thereof. The claims where the broad functions of step 208 are stated are to be interpreted to cover all the various ways of accomplishing the function of step 208 since they are all structurally and functionally equivalent.
First, the fact that the Busy key 52 (Call) has been pushed is detected by the keypad controller 56 in
The BRL process 169 responds by retrieving the digitized data of the automated reply voice message to be automatically sent and causing it to be played to the caller as an automated response to the incoming call. This step itself involves several substeps. First, in configurable embodiments, the BRL process 169 makes a function call to the kernel requesting access to configuration file 179 shown in
To actually play the automated voice response to the caller, the BRL app 169 makes the same function call or calls that would be made if the user were to push whatever button exists on the phone to answer an incoming call. Typically that would be a function call to the kernel from the keypad controllers driver software 166 to indicate that the user has pushed the button that needs to be pushed to answer the call. This results in the kernel making whatever function calls it normally makes to control the phone'"'"'s phone call circuitry and transmitters to answer the call, and start transmitting and receiving on the channels designated by the control packet from the cell tower designating the channel frequencies for send and receive and telling the phone to play its ringtone. The BRL process then makes whatever function calls are necessary to copy the digitized voice data of the automated voice message reply into the outgoing voice message buffer 177 in
In step 216, the Busy app 169 (
The BRL app 169 (
It is useful to have the automated response system do everything that needs to be done with just a single push of a button to send an automated response including launching the Busy application. The embodiments of
Step 220 represents the process of the keyboard driver software 166 (
Step 224 symbolizes the process carried out by the Busy app of responding to the API function call by the kernel by launching the appropriate text messaging or cell call process, as appropriate based upon the status information sent by the kernel as to whether a text has just been received or a cell call is currently ringing the phone.
If a text message has just been received, step 226 is performed by the Busy app to retrieve the automated text message response and to cause this automated message to be sent in response to the text message just received. The details of this step and alternatives are the same as previously discussed in the discussion of step 214 in
If an incoming phone call is currently ringing the cell phone, the Busy application responds to the function call by the kernel by performing step 228. In this step, the Busy app makes a function call to the kernel to cause it to answer the call. This function call is the same one made by the keyboard driver 166 (
The Busy app then also (step 228 continued) retrieves the digital data of the automated voice message to be played and causes it to be played by the kernel to the caller as an automated response to the incoming phone call. Typically, this is done by sending the digitized voice data (already compressed) to the kernel which makes a function call to the cell phone call process and sends it the compressed voice data. The cell phone process has a packetization process which takes the compressed voice data of the automated voice message and puts it into packets in the format (GSM, TDMA, etc.) used by the cell phone networks cellular call data path in the same way the outgoing voicemail announcement message is transmitted. The packets containing the “I am busy and cannot take your call right now” type message are then transmitted on the cellular network'"'"'s cell phone data path and are routed via the other pathways discussed in
It may be frustrating for callers to hear only the automated voice message and not be able to leave a message saying what they are calling about. To alleviate that, the Busy app also performs the following function in step 228. After the automated “I am busy” voice message is transmitted, the Busy app then makes whatever function call to the API of the kernel as is necessary to divert the call directly into voicemail. The resulting processing will then be similar to the processing which results when the user receives an incoming phone call and presses the ignore button except that at this point, the call has already been answered and the transmitter and receiver have already been set up on the frequencies designated in the control packet that instructed the phone to sound its ringtone. The resulting function calls cause the kernel to take the digital data in the packets that contain the digitized voice of the incoming caller and store them in a voicemail file created by the kernel with metadata in the header of the file that indicates the caller'"'"'s name if the caller ID is not blocked and is in the phone'"'"'s address book, and which also indicates the date and the time of the call.
The process of
Step 232 represents the process of the keyboard driver 166 (
The Busy keys 50 (SMS) and 52 (Call) can be new buttons added anywhere on the phone or displayed anywhere on any touchscreen display, preferably the home display (the first one shown when the touchscreen is activated from sleep). They can also be existing keys on the keypad, preferably ones that can be found by feel without looking at the keypad such as the spacebar, or existing keys on the keypad which need to be pushed simultaneously with a hot key which can be another key on the keypad. Preferably, the Busy keys 50 (SMS) and 52 (Call) are buttons which have been added to the sides, top or bottom edges of the phone to make them easy to find by feel without having to look at the phone.
The term “push” should be interpreted to mean one or more pushes of the Busy key (SMS) 50 or one or more pushes of the Busy key (Call) 52. The reason for requiring multiple pushes of the Busy key within a given time or inquiring when the last text message was received or whether an incoming call is ringing the phone currently is to prevent accidental Busy key pushes while the phone is being carried from launching the Busy application and sending spurious text messages that the user is busy or driving when that is not the case. Some embodiments may require only a single push. In these embodiments, the steps 236 and 238 are performed to ensure that the push of the Busy key was not spurious. Step 236 is a process carried out by the Busy app 169 (
The embodiment of
Other embodiments, symbolized by the flowchart of
Returning to the consideration of
Step 236 represents the process carried out by the Busy app 169 (
Step 251 represents the process of the cell phone receiving a text message while the user of the phone is driving or otherwise is occupied. Step 252 represents the process of the user manually entering whatever commands are necessary on the phone the user is using to select the SMS application program and launch it. On a Blackberry™, those commands are to get to the desktop, move the trackball till the SMS application is highlighted, and press the trackball to launch the SMS application. That takes the user to a page where all the messages are displayed including SMS and email messages and phone log entries are recorded. Step 254 represents the process of the user manually entering whatever commands are needed on the phone the user is using to select the text message that just came in and display it. On a Blackberry™, this requires the user to roll the trackball to highlight the text message to be responded to and then press the trackball to select the text message and display it.
Step 256 represents the process of the user manually entering whatever commands are necessary on the phone the user is using to put the SMS message application program into reply mode. On a Blackberry™, this step represents the process of rolling the trackball to put the cursor in the text of the incoming text message to which a response is to be sent and pressing the trackball to bring up a menu of commands such as reply, forward, delete or request a full menu, then rolling the trackball to highlight reply and pressing the trackball again. This brings up a reply window in which the reply can be typed and places the insertion point at the beginning of the reply window.
Normally at this point, the user would start pressing keys on the phone keypad to type a reply text message. In this particular embodiment of the invention, step 258 represents the process of automatically typing a reply message that indicates the user is driving or otherwise engaged and cannot respond immediately. In other words, instead of typing the message herself, the user presses a key or key combination on the keyboard (which can be a new key added to the keyboard or a combination of existing keys already on the keyboard) which causes a reply message to be automatically typed and the send command automatically given. The process of step 258 represents the process of the keypad controller 56 in
In some embodiments, the text of the automated reply to be sent is stored in the Busy: Respond Later™ application and there is no need to access the text of the message from the pre-recorded text files 171 (
An alternative species of this embodiment is represented by dashed line 259 and boxes 260 and 262. In this embodiment, after step 256 is performed, steps 260 and 262 are performed instead of step 258. In step 260, the user presses a button assigned to a macro which automatically enters text of a message such as “I am busy driving and cannot respond right now”. This process works the same way as it worked in the embodiment represented by step 258. Then step 262 is performed wherein the user manually gives the send command. In the Blackberry™ cell phone, that command represents a first push of the trackball to bring up a menu which includes the send command and a second push of the trackball with the send command highlighted to actually give the send command.
Embodiment where Cell Provider Servers Detect Driving Speed and Automatically Send “Busy Now” Replies to Incoming Texts
Positions of cell phones (and therefore position changes and speed) can be determined in several ways. One way is by use of GPS receivers in the phones themselves. This will be discussed further below.
Another way of detecting the position of a cell phone at any particular moment in time is by using the topology of the cellular providers cell tower system itself and the way the system works. Each cell tower has a unique ID and position on the face of the earth, and each cell phone conducts handshake exchanges with the cell tower of the cell it is in. Therefore, the cell providers switches know which cell each cell phone is in so that calls and texts directed to that phone can be routed to the proper cell tower for transmission to the cell phone. Cell phones are sophisticated two way radios which travel through a network of towers and base stations called cells.
More specifically, a cell phone transmits low power signals which are picked up by the cell towers of the cells they are in and by the receivers of adjacent cells. Even if a person is not talking on their cell phone, the phone is periodically sending and receiving handshake signals with the cell tower. Each cell phone in a cell is talking to its cell phone tower over a data pathway called a control channel modulated onto a radio carrier. Every so often, the phone and the tower exchange a packet of data on the control channel or some other channel that lets both of them know everything is in good working order and who is where in the cell system. This is called a handshake. The reason for this chatter is so that the cell provider'"'"'s servers know which cell your phone is in so that it can be found for incoming calls or texts, and so that the cell phone can change cell towers as it moves around in what is called a handoff.
The cell phone also uses the control channel for call setup. When someone tries to call your phone, the cell tower sends your phone a message over the control channel telling your phone to play its ringtone. The tower in cell system also gives your phone a pair of voice channel frequencies, one to transmit on and one to receive on, for full duplex communication. The control channel also provides the digital data pathway for SMS messages and the router 5 in
Non GPS Position Determinations in Cell Phones
The position of the cell phone in the system can be roughly approximated by using the information in the handshake transmissions. As the cell phone travels toward the edge of a cell and into another cell, its apparent signal power appears to decrease at the base station of the cell it is leaving and increase at the base station of the cell it is approaching. As the cell phone moves from one cell to the other, the base stations handoff the phone from one to the other so that the cell the phone enters starts the handshake process with the phone, and the cell the phone left stops sending handshake packets to the phone. Therefore, even without using any GPS receiver in the phone, information about the phone'"'"'s location can be derived by the servers of the cell provider since the cell provider servers know which cell each phone is in at any particular time because of the information in the handshake packets. Each cell phone has a unique ID and each cell tower has a unique ID. Information about where the phone is in any particular cell can be derived by triangulation based upon information such as how long it takes for the cell phone handshake transmissions to reach each of several different cell towers (which gives the distance from each tower), the strength of the signal when it reaches the towers and the angle of approach to the cell towers. If three cell towers each know the time of flight from the cell phones'"'"' handshake packet to each tower, they can calculate the distance of the cell phone from each tower and figuratively draw a sphere around each tower having a diameter equal to the distance from that tower to the cell phone. Where each of these three spheres intersect on the surface of the earth is the approximate position of the cell phone. By making this calculation from time to time, the approximate speed of travel of the cell phone through the cell system can be calculated by dividing the distance between the latitude and longitude positions established at two successive fixes by the interval between the times the fixes were taken.
Due in part to regulations encouraging mobile phone tracking, including E911, the majority of GPS receivers are built into mobile telephones, with varying degrees of coverage and user accessibility. Commercial navigation software is available for most 21st century smartphones as well as some Java-enabled phones that allows them to use an internal or external GPS receiver (in the latter case, connecting via serial or Bluetooth). Some phones with GPS capability work by assisted GPS (A-GPS) only, and do not function when out of range of their carrier'"'"'s cell towers. Others can navigate worldwide with satellite GPS signals as a dedicated portable GPS receiver does, upgrading their operation to A-GPS mode when in range. Still others have a hybrid positioning system that can use other signals when GPS signals are inadequate.
More solutions also exist for smartphones with inbuilt GPS capabilities. Some such phones can use tethering to double as a wireless modem for a laptop, while allowing GPS-navigation/localisation as well. One such example is marketed by Verizon Wireless in the United States, and is called VZ Navigator™. The system uses gpsOne technology to determine the location, and then uses the mobile phone'"'"'s data connection to download maps and calculate navigational routes. Other products including iPhone™ are used to provide similar services. Nokia™ provides Ovi Maps free on its smartphones and maps can be preloaded. According to market research from the independent analyst firm Berg Insight, the sales of GPS-enabled GSM/WCDMA handsets was 150 million units in 2009.
GPS phones can calculate their own position from signals they receive from GPS satellites. There are currently 27 GPS satellites in orbit. Most phones sold today have GPS capability in the form of an onboard GPS receiver. When this GPS receiver is turned on, and it has determined the locations of at least three GPS satellites it can “see” in the sky above the phone, it can calculate the position of the phone. It does this by using trilateration in some cases but not in other cases to determine the exact position of the phone on the surface of the earth.
A GPS receiver calculates its position by precisely timing the signals sent by the GPS satellites high above the Earth. Each satellite continually transmits messages which include: the time the message was transmitted; precise orbital information (the ephemeris); and, the general system health and rough orbits of all GPS satellites (the almanac).
The receiver utilizes the messages it receives to determine the transit time of each message and computes the distances to each satellite. These distances along with the satellites'"'"' locations are used with the possible aid of trilateration, depending on which algorithm is used, to compute the position of the receiver. This position is then displayed, perhaps with a moving map display or latitude and longitude; elevation information may be included. Many GPS units show derived information such as direction and speed, calculated from position changes.
Three satellites might seem enough to solve for position, since space has three dimensions and a position near the Earth'"'"'s surface can be assumed. However, even a very small clock error multiplied by the very large speed of light—the speed at which satellite signals propagate—results in a large positional error. Therefore receivers use four or more satellites to solve for the receivers location and time. The very accurately computed time is effectively hidden by most GPS applications, which use only the location. A few specialized GPS applications do however use the time; these include time transfer, traffic signal timing, and synchronization of cell phone base stations.
Although four satellites are required for normal operation, fewer apply in special cases. If one variable is already known, a receiver can determine its position using only three satellites. (For example, a ship or plane may have known elevation.) Some GPS receivers may use additional clues or assumptions (such as reusing the last known altitude, dead reckoning, inertial navigation or rough position information derived from the cell in which the GPS phone is located to either speed up the position calculation or to give a less accurate (degraded) position when fewer than four satellites are visible.
Position Calculation Introduction
To provide an introductory description of how a GPS receiver works, errors will be ignored in this section. Using messages received from a minimum of four visible satellites, a GPS receiver is able to determine the times sent and then the satellite positions corresponding to these times sent. The x, y, and z components of position, and the time sent, are designated as [xi, yi, zi, ti] where the subscript i is the satellite number and has the value 1, 2, 3, or 4. Knowing the indicated time the message was received tr, the GPS receiver can compute the transit time of the message as (tr−ti). Assuming the message traveled at the speed of light, c, the distance traveled or pseudorange, pi can be computed as (tr−ti)c.
A satellite'"'"'s position and pseudorange define a sphere, centered on the satellite with radius equal to the pseudorange. The position of the receiver is somewhere on the surface of this sphere. Thus with four satellites, the indicated position of the GPS receiver is at or near the intersection of the surfaces of four spheres. In the ideal case of no errors, the GPS receiver would be at a precise intersection of the four surfaces. If the surfaces of two spheres intersect at more than one point, they intersect in a circle. The intersection of a third spherical surface with the first two will be its intersection with that circle; in most cases of practical interest, this means they intersect at two points.
For automobiles and other near-earth-vehicles, the correct position of the GPS receiver is the intersection closest to the Earth'"'"'s surface. For space vehicles, the intersection farthest from Earth may be the correct one.
The correct position for the GPS receiver is the intersection closest to the surface of the sphere corresponding to the fourth satellite.
A third way the positions of cell phones can be determined to allow the speeds through the cell system of the cell phones to be calculated is using a combination of the two above described techniques and is called assisted GPS.
gpsOne™ is the brand name for a cellphone chipset manufactured by Qualcomm™ that allows cell phones to more accurately plot their position, using a technology referred to as A-GPS or Assisted-GPS. gpsOne™ is primarily used today for Enhanced-911 E911 service, allowing a cell phone to relay its location to emergency dispatchers, thus overcoming one of the traditional shortcomings of cellular phone technology. Using a combination of GPS satellite signals and the locations of the cell towers themselves, gpsOne™ plots the location faster and with greater accuracy than traditional GPS systems in areas where satellite reception is problematic due to buildings or terrain.
Basically, the way assisted GPS works is as follows. A rough estimate of the phone'"'"'s position is determined by the first method using data regarding the cell phone'"'"'s position in the various cells of the system at various times and signal power perceived at the cell base stations of the cell the phone is leaving and the cell the phone is entering. The rough position is then fed into the GPS calculation to speed it up. GPS position calculations sometimes take an amount of time to compute which is not useful for the application to be described below if the phone'"'"'s GPS position has not been determined in awhile or the phone has been off and moved a substantial distance from the location where its location was last computed. To speed this process up to a short enough time to make the calculation useful for the application to be described below, the rough location of the phone as determined by the first method describe above is fed into the GPS position calculation which speeds it up substantially.
Cellular Systems Modified to Determine Phone Speed and Provide an Option to the Users to Automatically Send Text Message to Callers or Persons Sending Text that the Called Phone is Currently Unavailable
The dual-mode wireless communications system 310 is configured for wireless telephone and data communications between dual-mode wireless telephones 312a and the public switched telephone network (PSTN) 314. In particular, the dual-mode wireless telephone system 310 includes a first wireless telephone system that outputs analog telephone signals for transmission according to a first wireless protocol (e.g., AMPS). The first wireless telephone system is illustrated in
The dual-mode wireless telephone system 310 also includes a digital wireless system 320, including a digital base station 322 having digital-only transmission protocol and dual-mode base stations 324 having circuitry for both wireless analog (e.g., AMPS) and digital (e.g., CDMA) communications. The base stations 322 and 324 are configured for transmission of digital wireless telephone signals in coverage regions (e.g., cells) overlying the coverage areas of the AMPS system 316 according to a digital wireless protocol, for example the CDMA protocol IS-95.
Since the dual mode aspects of this system and the traffic control innovation taught in the patent incorporated by reference are not relevant to the subject of this CIP patent application, description of that aspect of the system will be left to the patent incorporated by reference and omitted here.
As shown in
Each switching subsystem 330 and 332 includes a plurality of T1 interfaces 340 for supplying traffic and signaling data to the respective base stations. For example, the AMPS base station 316 transfers voice and signaling traffic between the switching subsystem 330 via a T1 interface 340a, whereas the digital base station 322 transfers voice and signaling data between the switching subsystem 332 via T1 interface 340b. Each switch subsystem 330 also includes a trunk interface 342 for termination of trunk lines with the PSTN 314.
The MTSO 318 includes a central processor subsystem 334 that controls all central office type functions, such as switching, networking, call processing, call statistics, and billing for the dual-mode wireless network 310. The control processor subsystem 324 also controls soft and hard handoff decisions, routing of signaling and voice traffic to and from the PSTN 314, etc. The control processor subsystem 334 includes program memory 346 for storing switching routines, a separate memory 348 for call processing and the like, and a subscriber profile register 350, also referred to as a home location register (HLR) that stores data about each subscriber authorized to use the system including the current cell location of each subscriber so that incoming calls can be routed. The control processor subsystem 324 has been modified to add a visitor location register or VLR 351 to store information about cell phones that have roamed into the wireless system 320 from other cellular systems.
Safety Flag Modification
The processor HLR 350 in
When an incoming text arrives directed to a cell phone in the wireless system 320 arrives, the control processor 352 is programmed according to the teachings of the invention to check the flag in the HLR, and if the flag is set indicating the cell phone is moving at driving speed, to automatically send a text message back to the sender indicating the user to whom the text is directed is currently unavailable. In some embodiments, this automatic text service will only be sent if the user has configured their phone to allow this to happen. In other embodiments, this automatic text service will only occur if the user has subscribed to the service. In other embodiments, this automatic text service will only be sent if the user positively responds to a request from the MTSO 310 inquiring whether the user wants this service after it has been detected that the user is moving at driving speed.
The HLR also functions to send subscriber data to the VLR 351 when a user first roams into the wireless system 320 and to remove data about a subscriber from the VLR when the user roams back out of the system 320.
As recognized in the art, the HLR 350 includes subscriber profile information for each of the registered subscribers of the dual-mode wireless telephones 312a. The HLR 350 stores subscriber profile information including the subscriber telephone number, the mobile identifier number of the dual-mode wireless telephone 312a, etc. for each subscriber registered with the dual-mode system 310. The HLR 350 also stores, for each dual-mode wireless telephone 312a, subscriber priority information that specifies a priority class for the corresponding dual-mode mobile telephone 312a.
The digital base station 22 also includes a cell site processor 360, a plurality of transceiver channel cards 362, a low noise transmit amplifier 364, and a transmit filter 366 for forward link signals. The base station 322 also includes a receive filter 368 for filtering received wireless signals on the reverse link, a low noise receive amplifier 370, and a radio diagnostic unit 372. These components of the digital base station 322 are also found in the dual-mode base stations of
The cell site processor 360 manages the overall operations of the base station 322. In particular, the cell site processor 360 assigns voice traffic to one of the transceiver channel cards 3621, to 362N−1 allocated for voice traffic. The cell site processor 360 also controls the routing of signaling data to a transceiver channel card 362N designated for transmitting and receiving signaling data to the dual-mode wireless telephones within the corresponding cell propagation region of the cell site 322. The cell site processor 360 also supplies the appropriate code sequences to the transceiver cards 362 to implement code division multiple access (CDMA) digital data transmission so that multiple cell phones may transmit in the same frequency band without interfering with each other. The transceiver channel cards 362 use the code sequences to modulate the supplied information (voice-data traffic and/or signaling data) into a spread spectrum signal having a unique code sequence.
Each transceiver card 362 is configured for generating a CDMA modulated signal for an assigned channel as specified by the cell site processor 360. The CDMA modulated signals are output to the amplifier 364, which amplifies the CDMA modulated signals to a prescribed transmit power level as specified by the transceiver channel cards 362. The amplified transmit signals are then filtered by the transmit filter 366, and output as the forward link channels to the air interface via a transmit antenna 374.
On the reverse link from the cell phone 312a (
According to the preferred embodiment, the cell site transceivers 362 operate according to CDMA protocol IS-95. In particular, CDMA systems have been standardized according to TIA/ELA/IS-95A (“MOBILE STATION-BASE STATION COMPATIBILITY STANDARD FOR DUAL MODE WIDEBAND SPREAD SPECTRUM CELLULAR SYSTEM”—1995), by the Telecommunications Industry Association (“TIA”), the disclosure of which is incorporated in its entirety herein by reference. For later generation systems such as 3G or 4G and GSM systems, changes to the MTOS 318 of
With CDMA, each transmitted signal comprises a different pseudorandom binary sequence, also referred to as a pseudonoise (PN) sequence, that modulates a carrier signal, spreading the spectrum of the waveform. Thus, since each CDMA subscriber unit cell phone 312a is assigned a unique PN code, a plurality of subscriber stations can send and receive CDMA signals sharing the same frequency spectrum. If these CDMA signals were viewed in either the frequency or time domain, the multiple access signals would appear to be superimposed on top of each other. The CDMA signals are separated in the receivers of the base stations or the subscriber stations by using a correlator which accepts only signal energy from the selected binary PN sequence and despreads its spectrum. The CDMA signals from other sources, whose codes do not match the selected binary PN sequence, are not despread in bandwidth and as a result, contribute only to the background noise and represent a self-interference generated by the system. CDMA interference therefore can be controlled, with the goal of increasing system capacity, on the basis of the reduction in signal-to-noise ratio caused by other users within the cellular CDMA system. Thus, a goal in any CDMA system is to limit the power output of transmitters in order to minimize the cumulative system noise caused by the other users in the CDMA system.
As recognized in the art, the wireless CDMA system 320 may be implemented as a cellular-type system, or a PCS-type system for Personal Communication Services (PCS). A proposed standard for a CDMA PCS system has been submitted by the Joint Technical Committee of the TIA, entitled PN-3384, “PERSONAL STATION-BASE STATION COMPATIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR 1.8 TO 2.0 GHz CODE DIVISION MULTIPLE ACCESS (CDMA) PERSONAL COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS”, Nov. 3, 1994, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. The PCS proposed standard PN-3384 specifies enhanced services including transmission rates up to 14.4 kbps for enhanced speech quality, full data services at rates up to about 13 kbps, and simultaneous transmission of voice and data. The CDMA PCS system is adapted to operate in any of the licensed PCS frequency allocations from the FCC, currently assigned at 1930-1990 MHz band for the forward CDMA channel (base station to subscriber), and 1850-1910 MHz for the reverse CDMA channel (subscriber to base station).
The forward CDMA channel signals for each sector include sixty four (64) code channels generated by the channel transceivers 362 (channel elements). Each channel element 362 may handle one or more code channels. Certain code channels are assigned to different logic channels. For example, code channel 0 is used as a pilot channel, code channels 1-7 are used for either paging channels or traffic channels, and code channel 32 is used as a sync channel or a traffic channel. The remaining code channels are traffic channels.
The paging channel, which supports a fixed data rate at 9600, 4800, or 2400 bps, is used for transmission of either control information or pages from the base station to the MTOS 318. Each paging channel slot has a 200 millisecond interval.
The CDMA circuitry in the dual-mode or digital only cell phone 312a, upon initializing for operation in a CDMA system, acquires the pilot channel of the cell site in which it is located, and attempts to obtain system configuration and timing information for the CDMA cell site from the sync channel. In particular, the sync channel is used by the CDMA circuitry in the cell phones to acquire initial time synchronization data, transmitted as a complex direct sequence spread spectrum signal consisting of encoded data modulated with the short PN sequence and Walsh function 32. A sync channel is required on the primary and secondary CDMA RF channels to provide the digital CDMA circuitry in the dual mode or digital only wireless telephones with the basic timing information when the mobile phone first acquires the base stations. The CDMA circuitry in the cell phone will periodically search for the sync channel, for example every 5-10 minutes. Note that sync channels are not required on the remaining CDMA RF channels.
The mobile telephone 312a or 312b, upon initializing for operation in a CDMA system, acquires the pilot channel of the cell site base station 322, obtains system configuration and timing information for the CDMA system, and begins monitoring the CDMA paging channels. In particular, the dual-mode or digital only telephone 312a may perform paging channel monitoring procedures while in an idle state. The mobile phone 312a may operate in a slotted mode, where only selected slots (e.g., one or two slots per slot cycle) are monitored on the paging channel. Alternatively, the mobile phone 312a may monitor all paging and control channels if operating in a non-slotted mode. In either case, the mobile phone 312a, monitors the paging and control channels for commands, and transmits an acknowledgment on a reverse link channel upon receiving any message that is addressed to the mobile phone 312a.
As described below, the cell site processor 360 monitors traffic conditions within the base station 322, and reports to the control processor 334 of the MTSO 318 if a traffic condition is detected in the base station 322. For example, the cell site processor 360 monitors for base station blockage factors, including a failure in (or detected by) the T1 interface, or some other hardware component. In addition, the cell site processor 360 monitors the radio diagnostic unit 372 to determine the presence of any radio link blockages. In particular, the radio diagnostic unit 372 measures the signal energy in the amplifiers 364 and 372, and as such measures the loading and/or interference on the radio spectrum. The cell site processor 360 thus uses the radio diagnostic unit 372 to detect an airlink interference overload or a airlink capacity overload. The cell site processor 360 also monitors the number of users that are assigned to the channel cards 362 at any point in time. If the cell site processor 360 detects a blockage problem that may be a potential traffic or overload condition, the cell site processor 360 reports the blockage factor, along with any other detected base station characteristic relevant to traffic management, to the MTSO 318.
The base station of
The control processor 352 is programmed in PCS systems or any system where Short Message Service text messages can be received and routed to the cell phones in the system to check the safety flag of any cell phone to whom a text message has been directed. If the safety flag is set, the control processor then automatically sends a text message back to the sender saying the user is busy and cannot respond immediately. In some embodiments, the control processor 352 is programmed to send a text message to the user who is driving asking the user to send back an acknowledgment that this automatic safety service is to be carried out while the user is driving if the safety flag is set. In these embodiments, if the user indicates the service is not desired, the text message is forwarded to the user'"'"'s cell phone by normal procedures, but if the user indicates the safety service is to be carried out, the control processor 352 automatically generates a text message indicating the user is busy and cannot immediately respond and sends it back to the sender. In embodiments where this safety service is a subscription only service, the control processor also checks a flag in the HLR section that indicates what services the user has subscribed to and carries out the above described safety service only if the user has subscribed to the service.
All cell systems today can determine the location of the cell phones within their cells either approximately or precisely. Approximate positions can be calculated using cell tower identifications of the base switching stations that are communicating with the cell phones on the overhead channels sometimes called the pilot channel, synchronization channel or paging channel. There is always some kind of overhead or management channel or channels used by the system that the cell phones entering the system tune to get synchronized with the system, receive messages from the mobile switching center (MSC or MTSO), receive channel assignments and send SMS messages and other data back to the MSC or MTSO. Approximate positions can be determined by the locations of the base stations with which each cell phone is communication and by signal strength measurements of the signal from the phone at each of several cell towers which are picking it up and the time of flight of any administrative transmission from the cell phone to the several towers which pick it up. By triangulation of the distance of the cell phone from at least two different towers with the distance calculated roughly by power or more precisely by time of flight using the speed of light as the speed of the signal, a pretty good estimate of where the cell phone is in the cell system can be obtained at any particular time. Such systems are known in the prior art.
Positions of the cell phones within the cell system can be determined precisely using GPS or assisted GPS. Assisted GPS chipsets are commercially available from Qualcomm in San Diego, Calif. under the trademark gpsOne™. In some cases determination of the phone'"'"'s position may be the result of the phone itself periodically determining its position and sending it to the base station switch at the cell tower on one of the administrative/management channels used by the system or via an always on wireless data network connection which connects the cell phones to the base stations and the mobile switching center to which the base stations are connected by a data path and from there via a gateway to the internet. In other cases, the MSC (Mobile Switching Center) or MTSO sends a command to the phone to which the text message is addressed telling it to turn its GPS on and report its position at two different times. The cell phone does this and sends back the fixes and the times and the MSC or MTSO processor calculates the distance between the fixes and the time interval between them and calculates the speed of the phone. The speed is then compared to the differentiation speed constant to determine if the user is likely to be driving, step 404. In other embodiments, non GPS methods are used to obtain the fixes. Absolute precision of GPS is not required as a general ballpark speed is all that is needed to determine if the safety function of an automated text message response needs to be implemented. Steps 402 and 404 represent any way of calculating the approximate speed of the cell phone using GPS, assisted GPS, non GPS signal power or time of flight methods or any other method which functions to provide at least two fixes separated by some time and provides that data either to the MSC or the base station processor for calculation of speed and comparison to the discrimination speed. This speed determination can be carried out by the processor in the phone or by the cellular system itself. Therefore, the meaning of the word “system” in step 404 is either the cellular system or the system of the cell phone itself. Thus, for example, if the cellular system is determining the speed of the phone, the cellular system can determine the location of the phone at two different times and calculating the distance between those two position fixes and then dividing that distance by the time between the fixes to calculate the speed. The two fixes can be determined by the cellular system by any of the above noted methods, including, but not limited to: 1) requesting the phone to report its position at two different times as calculated by an onboard GPS on the phone; 2) requesting the phone to report its position at two different times as calculated by an assisted GPS chipset onboard the phone; 3) using cell tower triangulation; 4) calculating an approximation of the cell phone'"'"'s speed by calculating a doppler shift of the frequency of any transmission from the phone such as a control channel transmission; 5) calculating an approximation of the cell phone'"'"'s speed by calculating the loss and/or gain in signal power of the cell phones transmissions to cell tower receivers of the cells in which the cell phone currently is travelling; 6) assuming a latency response time in the cell phone to respond to a command from the cellular system and sending a command to said cell phone at two different times and timing the time of flight of the outbound command, the turnaround at the phone and the time of flight of the response from the phone, and using the differences in time of flight and the speed of light to calculate the distance traveled by the phone during the interval between the commands and dividing that distance by the time between the commands. Any way of calculating the approximate speed of travel of the cell phone will suffice to practice this aspect of the invention to carry out the process of step 404.
In the case where the system is the phone, the processor of the phone carries out steps 402 and 404 in any way such as by consulting its onboard GPS or assisted GPS chips at two different times to determine its position, calculates the distance between those two different positions and divides that distance by the time between the fixes. The other methods described above carried out by the cellular system may also be used by the cell phone itself to calculate its speed where applicable.
Step 406 then determines if an automatic text message response is to be sent to the sender of the text message indicating the user is busy. Again, step 406 can be carried out by the cellular system in some embodiment or by the cell phone in other embodiments. This step can be accomplished by any one of a number of different processes, but all will include a step to determine the result of the comparison of step 404. If the system determines from the speed of movement of the cell phone that the user is probably not driving, then no automatic text message is to be sent and step 408 is performed to send the text message to the cell phone as it normally would be sent.
However, if the system determines that an automated text message is to be sent to the sender because of the speed of the cell phone indicating the user is probably driving, then step 410 is performed (if all other conditions are met) to automatically generate a text message reply and send it back to the sender of the text message indicating the user is busy and cannot respond immediately. In some embodiments, the automatically generated text message in sent from the cellular system to the sender of the message without involving the cell phone to which the original text message was directed. In other embodiments, the automatically generated text message is sent from the cell phone to which the original text message was generated.
In at least some of the embodiments described herein, there is a condition that will block the automatic generation of a text message and sending same to the sender of an incoming text message. That condition is whether or not the user has opted to block the sending of the automatically generated text message because they are in a moving vehicle but can safely send a text message. Such situations can arise if the user of the phone is a passenger in a vehicle driven by somebody else or the user of the phone can safely text and drive for some reason. This option is preferably included in every embodiment described herein but is not necessary in any embodiment. This option should be interpreted to be part of step 406 in
In some embodiments, the system sends an automatically generated text message to the user of the phone when a speed is sensed that appears to be a driving speed either when an incoming text is received in some embodiments, or just as part of a general calculation of speeds of all cell phones in the system. The automatically generated text indicates that the system has detected what appears to be driving speed of their cell phone and asks the driver if they want to respond to incoming texts or not. The system can get its answer either by receiving a text back from the driver that tells what the driver preference is or by interpreting silence by the driver as a response that they want the automated text reply generated by the system and sent (or vice versa interpretation of silence in some embodiments).
The determination of whether to send the automated response or not can be done in any of a number of different ways. First, and simplest embodiment is the system simply determines from the output of step 404 if the speed indicates the user is driving and then, if so, automatically sends the automated text message reply.
The second possible embodiment, is the system, after determining the user is probably driving, checks the user'"'"'s profile data in the HLR or VLR and determines if the user has subscribed to this safety service, and, if not, step 408 is performed, but if the user has subscribed to the automated response safety service, then step 410 is performed.
A third possible embodiment, is the system, after determining the user is probably driving, sends a message of any sort to the user asking them if they want an automated text message sent back to the senders of any text messages. The user can indicate yes or no in any way such as by giving the command to send back an automated response in any of the ways described earlier herein, or sending a text message back to the MSC (not preferred) indicating yes or no to the automated response or by simply ignoring the message and letting the system default to a position that the user wants to send an automated response because they ignored the permission request message sent to the phone either by the MSC or the base station processor.
Possible ways of giving the command to the system to automatically send an automatically generated response text message in response to an incoming text message (or phone call in some embodiments) include, but are not limited to: 1) a single push of any button or key on the cell phone; 2) multiple pushes such as two or three pushes of the same button; 3) multiple pushes of multiple buttons or multiple touches of multiple areas of a touchscreen display, each having a different predetermined function, in a predetermined sequence; 4) multiple pushes of the same button or multiple touches of the same area of a touchscreen having a predefined function in a rapid sequence within a predetermined amount of time; 5) a single or multiple shakes of the phone within a predetermined amount of time sufficient to trigger the phone'"'"'s accelerometers; 6) a single or multiple twirls of the phone 90 degrees and back sufficient to trigger the phone'"'"'s accelerometer 51 in
Another possible way of implementing the text message safety function is represented in
Another embodiment is represented by the speed calculation circles 426, 428 and 430 in the base station switching centers 432, 434 and 436. In this embodiment, the computers in these BSCs are programmed to communicate with either all the phones in their areas or just the ones for which text message have been received to get at least two location fixes at two different times and the times of those fixes. This can be done by assisted GPS, GPS only or any non GPS method using the command and control, overhead or paging channels to communicate with the phones and to send the calculated speeds to the MSCs for storage in the VLR or HLR. The MSCs set the flags based upon the calculated speeds and store them. In another embodiment, the MSC is not involved and the BSCs carry out the safety function anytime a text message is received from the MSC directed to a phone within the location area of the BSC. The BSC calculates the speed of the phone to which the text is directed and, if the speed indicates the phone is likely to be moving in a car, the BSC does the safety function in any of the ways previously described for other embodiments such as: sending the text message with a warning message; checking whether the subscriber has subscribed to the safety function and sending an automated reply if he or she has; just sending an automated text message reply automatically generated by the BSC if the speed comparison indicates the phone is likely to be moving in a car; or sending a text message to the user asking them whether they want the automated text message reply to be sent or not and drawing a conclusion from the action or inaction of the user and either forwarding the received message is the user indicates they do not want the automated response sent or sending the automated response text if the user somehow indicates he or she wants that to happen (which can be by inaction for a specified period of time).
The speed calculation can also be done in the cell phones themselves and reported upstream to the BSC or MSC for comparison to the discrimination speed and carrying out the rest of the safety function either in the MSC or the BSC.
The SMSC 500 is the short message service center which handles text messages and gets incoming texts to the MSCs for inclusion in control packets sent to the cell phones and receives outgoing text messages and forwards them to the recipients. The AUC or authentication center 502 ensures only subscribers and roaming phones can use the system by authenticating every SIM card that attempts to connect to the system. Once authentication has occurred, the HLR is allowed to manage the SIM and services the subscriber has subscribed to. The VLR is a temporary database which stores data of subscribers who have roamed into the particular area the VLR serves. The MSCs are the primary service delivery nodes for GSM systems. They route voice calls and SMS text messages by setting up and releasing circuit switched end-to-end connections, handling mobility and handoffs during calls and account monitoring and charging for services. The gateway MSC (GMSC) 504 is the MSC that determines which visited MSC the subscriber who is being called is currently located. The GMSC also interfaces the cellular system to the public service telephone network (PSTN). All mobile to mobile calls and PSTN to mobile calls are routed through the GMSC. The HLR or home location register is a database which obtains data about the SIM and mobile services and phone number of every authorized cell phone in the system. The BSCs or base station subsystems handle radio communication with the 2G and 2.5G cell phones in the system. A UMTS terrestrial radio network (not shown) handles communication with 3G phones.
In all the embodiments that follow in
More specifically, in
Typically, when the speed routine is part of the Busy: Respond Later™ Application, it makes a speed calculation by making function calls through API 169 in
Step 512 determines if two position fixes have been received which are far enough apart to make a speed calculation. It is possible for the speed routine to be launched on power up, but the phone is stationary so multiple position fixes will be received, but they are at the same location so the phone is not moving. In some embodiments, the cell phone makes the speed calculation every time two position fixes have been received, but in the preferred embodiment, the cell phone only makes a speed calculation if the two position fixes at different times show different positions for the phone on the face of the earth. If two position fixes have not been received (or in some embodiments, if two position fixes showing no movement of the cell phone have been received), processing returns to step 510 to request another position fix, as symbolized by line 511. If two fixes separated in space and time have been received, enough data for a speed calculation is present, and processing proceeds to step 514. There, the speed is calculated by calculating the distances between the two fixes and dividing that distance by the time between the position fixes, and converting the result to the proper units of speed such as miles per hour.
Then speed discrimination test 516 is performed to compare the speed calculated to a discrimination threshold to determine the probability the phone is in a moving car which is being driven by the user of the cell phone. The discrimination speed will be some speed which is faster than a man can run, Typically, it is fast enough that it would be unsafe to be receiving and reading texts or typing reply texts. If step 516 determines the cell phone is not in a car which is being driven, processing returns to step 510. However, if step 516 determines that the cell phone is in a car which is being driven (or is otherwise moving at high speed), step 518 is performed.
Step 518 represents the process of automatically activating the Busy: Respond Later™ Application or putting the operating system into a mode wherein it will automatically respond to an incoming phone call or text if the user of the cell phone so desires. Step 518 also represents the process of sending a query to the user to determine if the user wants to send an automatically generated response to the sender of a text or a cellular caller and determining the user'"'"'s answer. This query can be anything such as a displayed message on a cell phone touchscreen to indicate the cell phone is aware that the user is probably driving and asking whether the user wants to send out automated responses to incoming text messages or cellular phone calls. The question posed to the user is if he or she wants an automatically generated reply text indicating the user is driving or otherwise busy and unable to immediately respond to the text to be sent to senders of incoming texts and callers. It is possible the user of the cell phone is driving but is expecting an important call or text and will pull over to answer it when it comes in and does not want any automated response sent. It is also possible that the user of the cell phone is a passenger in the car and can answer incoming calls and texts without danger.
So step 518 sends a query to the user as to whether automated responses are desired, and determines what the user'"'"'s answer is. If the user wishes an automated reply to be sent, the user responds affirmatively, and processing proceeds to step 520, as symbolized by path 519, to wait for an incoming cell call or text. If the user does not want an automated response generated for any reason including he or she is not driving or will pull over to respond, the user responds to the query of test 518 by responding negatively. The query can include yes and no buttons displayed on the touchscreen in phones with touchscreens or keys assigned to yes and no on the keyboard of the phone or, if the phone include voice recognition circuitry such as Siri™ in the iPhone, the user can speak a response to the query. The processing of step 518 can be performed by the Busy: Respond Later™ Application alone, the Busy: Respond Later™ Application working in conjunction with the operating system or the operating system of the phone alone or by any other software installed by the manufacturer of the phone.
In step 518, after activation of the Busy: Respond Later™ Application or the operating system mode for auto-response, the query of step 518 can be given to the user either audibly or via the display or both, and the query basically poses the question as to whether the user wants to auto-respond with a text message if a text or call comes in while the phone is moving at driving speed. Step 518 also represents the process of receiving the response to this query. The process by which this query is posed and the answer received and the hardware circuitry involved is described in conjunction with the description of
The user can respond to the query affirmatively in any of the ways listed above in various embodiments, but the list given below are the most typical ways the user can respond affirmatively to the query. Specifically, the user can indicate a desire for an automated response to be sent by doing any of the following things (this list is not exhaustive and any other alternative can be used also) in various alternative embodiments: 1) a single push of any button on the cell phone (where “button” includes a physical switch or key on a keyboard of said phone or anywhere else on said phone or an area of a touchscreen display which is displayed with an indication of what function will be performed if the area is touched); 2) multiple pushes such as two or three pushes of the same button; 3) multiple pushes of the same button within a predetermined time (to eliminate random pushes and key bounce); 4) multiple pushes of different buttons in a predetermined order; 5) multiple pushes of different buttons in a predetermined sequence within a predetermined amount of time (to prevent random button pushes from being misinterpreted as commands to send an automated text message response)); 6) a single shake of the phone sufficient to trigger the accelerometer to output a signal indicating a shake occurred; 7) multiple shakes of the phone within a predetermined amount of time which are sufficient to trigger the phone'"'"'s accelerometers (multiple shakes within a predetermined amount of time are preferred to eliminate random shaking while driving from being misinterpreted as a user command); 8) a single or multiple twirls of the phone 90 degrees and back around an axis orthogonal to the face of the phone and which are sufficient to trigger the phone'"'"'s accelerometer 51 in
If step 518 determines that no automatically generated responses are to be sent even though the phone is in a car which is being driven, processing proceeds to step 524, as symbolized by line 521. Step 524 which represents normal processing of incoming texts and cellular calls as if the user were not driving. A negative response to the query of step 518 can be by any method including but not limited to a spoken word or phrase indicating no desire to send an automated response, touching an area of a touchscreen which indicates that the answer to the query will be no if that area is touched, pressing a no key on a keyboard of the phone or on the display of a keyboard on a touchscreen, pressing one or more keys a predetermined number of times indicating a no response or touching multiple keys in a sequence that indicates a no response is desired.
If step 518 determines that the user does desire automated responses to incoming calls and texts, processing proceeds to step 520 to await an incoming phone call or text. In some embodiments described herein where a speed determination is made by a step like step 516 and the user is queried as to whether he or she wants to auto-respond upon detection of driving speed, a mechanism is present to handle the stop and go traffic situation. In these embodiments, steps 516 and 518 also represent the process of detecting when the car has stopped for more than some time which is indicative that the user has stopped driving, such as 15 minutes (or some user-configurable delay). When a long term stoppage greater than the predetermined delay deemed indicative that the user has stopped driving occurs, these embodiments deactivate the process of querying the user if he or she wants auto-response options presented in case of an incoming text or phone call. In these embodiments, the phone goes back to normal processing where an auto-response will be generated if the user presses the Busy key (or gives the equivalent command by any of the means identified herein including speaking a particular word or phrase) in response to an incoming text or call. Any stoppage less than the predetermined delay will not affect processing in embodiments like
Step 520 represents the process of detecting an incoming call or text. The hardware and processing to do this is described elsewhere herein. When a call or text arrives, processing proceeds to step 522 where another query is displayed or posed in any way to the user asking whether the user still wants to send an automated response now that the user knows who is texting or calling. This gives the user the option respond normally to the text or phone call (preferably by pulling over but that is not required by this embodiment) by giving a no response in any of the ways described herein and letting processing proceed to step 524. If the user gives an affirmative answer to the query of step 522, processing proceeds to step 524 to generate the automated response.
In step 526, the cell phone Busy: Respond Later™ Application or the phone'"'"'s operating system responds automatically to incoming text messages or cellular calls without any further input from the user by sending an automatically generated text message to the texter or caller. This message can be any canned message or a message typed by the user in advance and stored in memory indicating the user is driving or busy. The content of the message is not relevant, but it typically will indicate the user is driving or in a conference or is otherwise occupied and cannot take the call or respond to the text and will respond later. In some embodiments, step 524 also automatically answers the incoming phone call and sends the call to voicemail in addition to sending the automated response text message.
Step 528 represents the process displaying a message to the user asking the user if he or she still wants to reply automatically now that step 520 has detected an incoming phone call or text message and the user presumably knows the identity of the sender or caller. The user is prompted in any way to select one of several possible pre-stored text messages to send in reply such as by displaying the possible selections of pre-stored text messages that can be sent on a touchscreen or audibly speaking them. The user gives an affirmative response in this embodiment by any method which indicates which pre-stored text message to send such as by touching the area of a touchscreen which contains the pre-stored text message the user wants to send or some suggestion of its content or by speaking an audible affirmative response following and in response to an audible prompt as to whether the user wants to send a particular pre-stored text message. Typically, the possible response text messages will be short and the entire possible text message option can be spoken by the cell phone'"'"'s voice prompt system such as Siri in the iPhone and then Siri can listen for an affirmative spoken command indicating the user wishes to send that text message to the texter or caller. Alternatively, in non touchscreen phones, the phone could use a voice prompt system or its display to show or announce each text message option with a number to press on the keyboard if that text message is to be selected and say or display a message saying, for example “press 1 for message A, press 2 for message B . . . ” etc. Any manner by which the user can manifest an affirmative response to the question do you want an automated reply text message sent and which one do you want sent will suffice to practice this embodiment.
Once the affirmative response is received and the selection is made in step 528, step 530 automatically retrieves the selected text message from memory and sends it via the SMS channel to the sender of the incoming text or to the cell phone of the caller. A negative response given, for example, because the user wishes to pull over and take the call or respond to the text, sends processing to step 524.
In the embodiment represented by
If step 520 detects an incoming phone call, step 532 displays or announces the query as to whether the user still wishes to have an automated response generated now that he or she knows who is calling, and displays a list of options of possible audio messages the user can choose from to play to the caller. In touchscreen phones, this is typically done by displaying several areas that display a paraphrase of the content of the audio message such as “I am driving, I will call you later” or “I am in a meeting and will call you later” etc. By touching one of these displayed areas, the user is answering the query in the affirmative and selecting the audio message to send. In some embodiments, separate yes and no touchscreen areas may be displayed to allow the user to answer the question as to whether an automated response is desired, and, if the yes area is touched, then several more touchscreen areas are displayed with paraphrases of the audio messages the user can choose from to play to the caller and the user chooses an audio message by touching one of those displayed areas. In non touchscreen phones, a similar mechanism may be used to display the query and the possible audio messages that can be sent except keys on the keyboard are assigned to each of the yes and no answers and each of the possible audio messages the user can choose from and the user presses the yes or no key and, if yes, then presses the key assigned to the audio message he or she wants played to the caller.
If an affirmative response is given in step 532 and a message selected, step 534 automatically retrieves from memory the user selected text message or user selected audio message digital data and sends it to the sender of the text or plays it to the caller. In some embodiments, the call is sent to voicemail after the audio message is played, and in other embodiments, the call is simply hung up after the audio message is played. In the case of an audio message, the digital data encoding the user selected audio message is converted to an audio signal by a codec and fed into the audio channel after the call is answered as if it came from the phone'"'"'s microphone in some embodiments. Any method of storing the pre-stored audio messages and playing them to a caller will suffice to practice this embodiment.
If a negative response is given to the step 532 query “Do you want an automated response sent out to the incoming text or call?, processing is vectored by step 532 to step 524 where the incoming text or phone call is handled normally as if the user was not driving. The negative response can be indicated by any user interface mechanism such as by not selecting any text message or any audio message to play, pressing a no key, touching a no area of the touchscreen or speaking a negative response word or phrase.
Once step 520 detects an incoming text or phone call in the embodiment of
In the embodiment of
Once step 544 determines the selection the user made, processing flows to step 546 where the phone retrieves the text message the user selected in step 544 from memory and automatically sends it via the SMS channel to the sender of the incoming text or to the cell phone of the caller.
In the embodiment of
To minimize the need for attention to the phone instead of to the road or the meeting the user is engaged with, the user may, in the embodiment of
In the case of an incoming phone call, the user may, in the embodiment of
If the user wants to answer the call or text in the normal fashion, he or she may simply make no selection and then slide the unlock button (iPhone) or do whatever is necessary on whatever kind of phone the user is using to unlock the phone and answer the call or bring up the home page so that the text icon or text menu can be selected and a reply text composed. This process of normal use of the phone after no selection is symbolized by step 524.
Once step 548 determines the selection the user made, processing flows to step 550 where the phone retrieves the text message the user selected in step 544 or the audio message the user selected from memory. The user selected text message is automatically sent via the SMS channel to the sender of the incoming text. The user selected audio message is automatically played to the caller after the call is automatically answered. In some embodiments, the call is then transferred to voicemail, and in other embodiments, the call is simply hung up.
After announcing the identity of the texter or caller, the cell phone in step 552 asks the user audibly and/or by a display on the touchscreen or display of the cell phone whether the user wants to auto-respond and listens for a response. The response can be an audible response and/or the user can touch the touchscreen or keyboard to give an affirmative or negative response. In the case where the phone is paired to the Bluetooth system of the car, the audible response can be picked up by the microphone of the Bluetooth system of the car, fed into the phone through its Bluetooth data path, processed by the voice recognition software and processing proceeds from there depending upon whether the response is affirmative or negative as to whether an auto-response is desired. Step 552 represents the process of the cell phone monitoring the touchscreen and keyboard for affirmative or negative responses to the question as to whether the user wants to send an automatic response. All this happens without the need for the phone to be unlocked. For example, if the incoming event is a text, the user can, without unlocking the phone, affirmatively respond to the query posed by step 552 by touching the area of the touchscreen displaying the auto-response text message to be sent to the texter indicating the user is driving or busy and cannot respond to the text immediately. In phones such as iPhones having Sin and Android phones with voice recognition software or any other phones having voice recognition capabilities, the affirmative or negative response to the question posed by step 552 can be a spoken word or phrase indicating “yes, please auto-respond” or “no, do not auto-respond”, and this command can be given without unlocking the phone.
In the case of a negative response or silence or no selection at all, processing flows from step 552 to step 524 where the incoming text or call is handled as it normally would be if the user was not driving, i.e., the user can answer the call while driving or pull over and answer the call or answer the text as he or she normally would if he or she were not driving or in a meeting.
The affirmative response can be given by speaking a word or phrase recognized by the voice recognition software as an affirmative response or by touching the area of the touchscreen displaying the auto-response text message or the label, hint or paraphrase of the auto-response audible message to be played to the caller. The affirmative response may also be given by pressing the key assigned to the auto-response message to be sent in phones without touchscreens. An affirmative response can also be given by any of the other user interface mechanisms previously discussed which tends to indicate the event is not random including, but not limited to: 1) a single push of any button on the cell phone; 2) multiple pushes such as two or three pushes of the same button; 3) multiple pushes of multiple buttons or multiple touches of multiple areas of a touchscreen display, each having a different predetermined function, in a predetermined sequence; 4) multiple pushes of the same button or multiple touches of the same area of a touchscreen having a predefined function in a rapid sequence within a predetermined amount of time; 5) a single or multiple shakes of the phone within a predetermined amount of time sufficient to trigger the phone'"'"'s accelerometers; and 6) a single or multiple twirls of the phone 90 degrees and back sufficient to trigger the phone'"'"'s accelerometer 51 in
If the user gives an affirmative response to the question as to whether to auto-respond, step 554 is performed where the single pre-stored text message is retrieved from memory and sent to the sender of the incoming text or the single pre-stored audio message is retrieved from memory, converted to audio and played to the caller after the call is automatically answered. Optionally, in some embodiments, the call is transferred to voicemail after the audible message is played.
The embodiment of
Step 560 represents the process of the radio frequency receiver and demodulator section or sections of the phone hardware receiving and recovering an incoming text message on the Short Message Service or Multimedia Message Service channel. Typically, SMS and MMS messages are sent on the cellular system'"'"'s control channel, but other SMS or MMS dedicated channels or SMS or MMS subchannels of channels used for other purposes can be used in some embodiments covering future or present cellular systems. The RF section circuitry includes the antenna, antenna switching circuitry, antenna tuning module, transceiver and modem/demodulator circuits that send and receive the radio frequency transmissions upon which the voice calls and digital data of the text (SMS or MMS) message is modulated. A description of the hardware circuitry inside the iPhone 5 including the RF section circuitry and baseband modem (4G LTE) is found at http://www.chipworks.com/blog/recentteardowns/2012/09/20/2467/ which is attached hereto as Appendix C. The iPhone5 RF section includes a Qualcomm MDM9615 4G LTE Modem Processor and RTR8600 multi-band/mode RF transceiver, the combination of which carries out 28 nanometer wavelength transceiver RF transmission and reception simultaneously of voice and data on 5 LTE and 4 EDGE bands (FDD and TDD). Antenna switching is provided by Murata D06 modules with Peregrine DP12T RF Switch and the Murata module SWUA127. Antenna tuning is provided by RF Micro RF 1101 SPDT Switch and 1102 tuner. Power amplifiers for the various protocols are the Skyworks and Avago and Triquint and RF Micro chips disclosed in Appendix C. This combination of devices is an HSPA+, EV-DO Rev B, TD-SCMA modem and transceiver, and it includes onboard RAM and an onboard GPS. It is not critical to any of the embodiments where the GPS or RAM is and what type of RF circuitry or modem is used for RF transceiver duty to send and receive voice and data traffic over radio frequency carriers and all structures are deemed functional equivalent and structural equivalents and equivalent structures for purposes of all of the various embodiments disclosed herein. The iPhone 5™ RF section circuitry disclosed in Appendix C supports all the following transmission protocols LTE FDD/TDD CAT3, SVLTE-DB, Release 8 DC-HSPA+, TD-SCDMA, GSM/GPRS/EDGE, EGAL, 1x Adv., EV-DO Rev. A/B. The circuitry for the Qualcomm chips and the specifications of the transmission protocols are incorporated herein by reference.
A full schematic diagram of the iPhone 4 is included herewith as Appendix A and is available online at http://www.mediafire.com/?a571yok84lc1r8m. The RF section schematic diagram of Appendix A starts at page 21. The GSM and UMTS RF transceiver schematic is page 25 of Appendix A.
The demodulator circuitry of the RF section (the LTE processor/modem) recovers the digital data of the text message. Either the demodulator circuitry or control circuitry that controls operation of the RF circuitry sends an Application Programmatic Interface call to the operating system (Kernel in
Step 562 represents the process of the phone operating system receiving notification of the incoming text message from the RF section and controlling the baseband processor (Apple A6 in the iPhone 5 embodiments) and the touchscreen controller circuit to display one or more areas on the touchscreen representing different pre-stored text messages the phone can send out as auto-responses to the incoming text message. These areas essentially represent Busy keys. Each area of the touchscreen represents a “Busy: Respond Later™” key that, if touched, will cause the phone to auto-respond with a text message sent on the SMS channel to the sender of the text message. This Busy: Respond Later™ key can be any area of the touchscreen which is displayed with an indication of its function, that function being to notify the user that if that area of the touchscreen is touched, the phone'"'"'s operating system will respond by automatically sending out a response text message indicating the user of the phone cannot immediately respond. The automatic text message response can be any message indicating the fact that the user cannot immediately respond, and it may or may not indicate the reason. In the embodiment represented by
Step 564 represents the process carried out by the operating system of the phone of controlling the touchscreen controller to monitor the touchscreen to determine which area of the touchscreen was touched by the user and automatically sending out the auto-response text message corresponding to the area of the touchscreen touched. In embodiments where the phone must be unlocked before the auto-response text message to send can be selected, step 564 monitors the touchscreen to make sure this sequence of events has happened, and then sends out the auto-response text message selected by the user. In some embodiments, there is only auto-response text message that can be sent, so the area of the touchscreen displayed elsewhere than in the slide-to-unlock function area when a text message arrives only contains the query “Do you want to send an automatic response to this text message now? If so, touch this area of the screen.” or any other wording to ask if the user wants to auto-respond or not. The message may or may not include instructions to touch that area of the touchscreen for an auto-response since that should be self-evident.
Step 560 represents the process of receiving the SMS or MMS text and is identical to the process represented by block 560 in
Step 566 represents the process of the phone operating system receiving notification of the arrival of a text message, and responding by controlling the touchscreen controller (TI 27C24S1/343s0628 in iPhone 5) to display an auto-respond area on the touchscreen with an indication of its function. The indication of function in the auto-respond area tells the user that if he or she touches that area of the touchscreen or touches and drags it, etc. (any manipulation will suffice but a touch and drag is preferred because that is highly unlikely to be a random event), the phone will interpret that act as a request by the user for the phone to auto-respond to the incoming text message.
Step 568 represents the operating system monitoring the auto-respond area of the touchscreen using the touchscreen controller to determine if the auto-respond area was touched or touched and slid, etc. Usually the touchscreen controller will send an interrupt to the OS indicating which area of the touchscreen was touched or touched and slid, etc. Some systems may have the touchscreen control send a message to the OS indicating which area was touched. It is not critical how the information gets to the operating system as to which area of the touchscreen was touched or touched and slid, etc. as long as it gets there.
If in step 568 the operating system detects a user touch or touch and drag (or whatever other predetermined manipulation is the signal of an affirmative response) of the auto-respond area of the touchscreen, the operating system, in step 570, controls the touchscreen controller to display one or more areas on the touchscreen which contain displays of the auto-response pre-stored text message which will be sent if that area is touched. The pre-stored text messages typically are “I am driving or am in a meeting. I will respond later” or “I am on my way” or “I will call you later” or “Whats up?” or “Custom” which, if touched, will cause the phone to send a text message the user typed and stored in memory previously, or “I will type my own text” which tells the system not to respond with a canned message and the user will pull over or excuse herself from the meeting and type a response message. Any set of message suitable to the most common situations which could cause a user to not want to respond immediately can be used. If step 568 is not touched or, if the operating system poses the question “Do you want to auto-respond to the text that just arrived?” and gives the user a “yes” and “no” area on the touchscreen to answer the question, and the user touches the “no” area, then the text is processed normally regardless of whether the user is driving, pulls over, excuses herself from the meeting or anything else.
Step 572 represents the process of the operating system monitoring the touchscreen through the touchscreen controller to determine which area of the touchscreen was touched so as to determine which pre-stored text message to send or, if the user chooses to type her own, to control the phone to bring up the text input screen so that the user can enter the text she wants to send.
Step 574 represents the process of the phone automatically sending the pre-stored text message displayed in the area touched by the user indicating a selection of that message as the auto-response.
In the preferred embodiment, the operating system carries out the process of
Step 582 represents the process of determining whether the auto-respond area was touched or swiped properly or the proper auto-respond key on the keyboard was pushed. In some embodiments, this process may be performed without unlocking the phone, and this is preferred so as to require less attention to the phone in case the user is driving. In other embodiments, the user must unlock the phone before responding to this query of step 580. As in all the other embodiments, an affirmative response can be given by any of the user interface methods previously identified including multiple pushes of a key, multiple pushes of a key within a predetermined time, multiple pushes of different keys in a predetermined sequence, a spoken word or phrase, a shake or twist of the phone to trigger the accelerometers, etc.
If the auto-response query was answered in the negative, or ignored, processing proceeds to test 584 to determine if the incoming event is a text. If so, step 586 is performed to process the text normally, i.e., the user can unlock the phone and respond while driving, pull over, unlock the phone and respond, etc. If test 584 determines the incoming event is not a text, test 588 is performed to determine if the user has given the answer or decline commands such as by touching the answer area or decline area of the touchscreen. If the answer command was given, the baseband processor (CPU) under control of the operating system control software control the circuitry of the phone to answer the call and act like a cell phone, as symbolized by step 590. If the decline command was given, the operating system controls the baseband processor and other circuitry of the phone to send the call to voicemail, as symbolized by step 592.
Returning to the consideration of test 582, if the auto-respond command was given, step 594 represents the process of the operating system displaying two messages: “Respond with a message” and “Remind me later”. In the case of touchscreen phones, the user can make his or her choice by touching the message area. Non touchscreen phones will require the user to press a key assigned to each message. The operating system software controls the touchscreen controller and the baseband processor to control the circuitry of the phone to monitor what choice the user makes.
If the user gives the “Respond with a Message” command, step 594 also represents the process of the operating system controlling the baseband processor and other circuitry of the phone to display one or more pre-stored text messages that the user can select for sending to the sender of the text or to the caller'"'"'s cell phone as an auto-response. In the case of a touchscreen phone, each text message is displayed in a different area of the touchscreen, and the user can select the text to send simply by touching the area containing the desired message. In the case of non touchscreen phones, the displayed text messages typically are each assigned to a different key on the keyboard and the user picks one by pressing the associated key.
Step 596 represents the process of the operating system controlling the circuitry of the phone such as the touchscreen controller and the baseband processor to monitor for which pre-stored text message the user picked for an auto-response. Once the choice is determined, step 598 automatically retrieves the selected text message from memory and sends it to the texter or caller'"'"'s cell phone via the SMS channel.
Steps 578 and 576 represent the process of the RF section electronics waiting for an incoming text message or cellular phone call. When one of these two events occurs, the operating system is notified and test 600 determines if the phone has been unlocked by the user in response to the event. When a call arrives, the cell phone will ring even if the phone is locked (meaning its touchscreen is disabled so that random touches of it while being carried in a purse, pocket, briefcase will not trigger unintended events). Also, in most phones such as the iPhone or Sprint EVO, when a text message arrives, an indication that it has arrived and the identity of the sender or source phone number if the sender is not in the user'"'"'s directory and at least part of the text is displayed on a portion of the touchscreen not used by the slide-to-unlock user interface mechanism. Thus, the user can choose to unlock the phone, and, if the incoming event is a phone call, unlocking the touchscreen will answer the call. Unlocking the touchscreen when the incoming event is a text will take the user to the home screen or, in some embodiments, to the text messaging screen, so that the user can start using the touchscreen to operate the phone to do whatever he or she wants such as reply to the text, call the texter, do a web search, follow a link in the text, send an email, etc. Step 602 represents the process that occurs of answering the phone or taking the user to whatever screen the operating system is programmed to take the user to if the user unlocks the touchscreen in response to an incoming phone call or text. Typically that is the home screen of the phone where the user can use the phone normally to carry out any of the functions the phone is capable of, but in the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5, it is whatever screen was last on display before the touchscreen went into lock mode.
If the user does not unlock the touchscreen in response to the incoming phone call or text message, step 604 is performed wherein the operating system displays an area on the display of the phone which if touched in the case of a touchscreen or if the key associated with that area is pressed if not a touchscreen is pressed indicates a desire by the user to consider options such as automatically sending a text message response to the incoming text or call or answering the call or docketing a reminder or sending the call directly to voicemail. In the iPhone, this area is a small telephone displayed on the touchscreen next to the slide to unlock area of the touchscreen. If the user desires to consider the various options, the phone icon is slid upward, and this causes two more areas to slide into view on the touchscreen. Those areas are: Respond with a Message and Remind Me Later. The idea in a touchscreen phone is to provide an area that can be touched, slid or otherwise manipulated in some way that indicates it is not a random event. In non touchscreen phones, the displayed area will typically indicate a key on the keyboard or some combination of keys to press to indicate a desire to consider various options on how to respond to the incoming text or phone call. The area displayed on the display in step 604 that will allow the user to consider auto-response and other options will be called the auto-respond/options area.
Test 606 determines if the auto-respond/options area was touched or the predetermined key or key combination was pressed within the predetermined time. If the auto-respond/options area is not touched in the predetermined time, path 608 is taken to step 610 where the operating system sends the call to voicemail if the incoming event is a call or stores the text in memory if the incoming event is a text.
If the auto-respond/options area of the touchscreen is touched or the key or key combination displayed in the auto-respond/options area is pressed within the predetermined time, test 612 is performed to determine if the incoming event is a text or a call. If a call, step 614 is performed to display “answer” and “decline” areas on the touchscreen (or answer and decline areas on the display with displayed messages as to which keys to press to carry out those functions if keys dedicated to those functions are not present on the keyboard of the phone).
Also displayed on the touchscreen of the phone in the process represented by step 614 is a “Respond With A Message” area and a “Remind Me Later” area (or similar areas on a non-touchscreen phone display along with displayed messages as to which keys to press to select each option). Step 616 represents the process of the operating system monitoring the touchscreen via the touchscreen controller and the baseband processor or monitoring the keyboard or other user interface mechanisms to determine whether the user chose either the “Respond With A Message” or the “Remind Me Later” options as opposed to the “Answer” or “Decline” options. The responses can be given by a spoken word or phrase or any of the other methods identified elsewhere herein of users giving responses which are unlikely to be mistaken for random events such as multiple pushes of the same key within a predetermined time, pushing multiple keys in a predetermined sequence, shaking or spinning the phone in a specific way to trigger the accelerometer etc.
If the user chose either “Respond With A Message” or “Remind Me Later”, path 617 is taken to step 618. Step 618 determines which of these two options was selected.
If the user does not wish to answer the call, but wishes to auto-respond to it with a text message, the user simply touches the “Respond With A Message” area (or presses the key assigned to that function, and tests 616 and 618 determine that it is the user'"'"'s intent to not answer the call but auto-respond to it by automatically sending a pre-stored text message. That causes path 620 is taken out of test 618 to step 622. Step 622 represents the process of the operating system displaying on the touchscreen (or non touchscreen display) one or more pre-stored text messages that will be tacked onto a stub message saying words to the effect “I am busy/driving . . . ” or “I cannot talk right now . . . ”. The various pre-stored text messages are each displayed in their own areas of the touchscreen (or their own areas of a non-touchscreen display along with the identity of the key to press to select that pre-stored text message). The various pre-stored text messages can be anything but typically are: “I am driving and will call you later.”; “I am on my way.”; “What is up?”; “I will text you later.”; “I will call you later.”; “I am in a meeting and will call you later.”; or a custom message that the user types in advance and stores in the memory of the phone and which is symbolized by an area on the touchscreen or display labelled “custom”.
In step 624, the phone operating system monitors the touchscreen (or the keyboard or other user interface mechanisms such as the voice recognition software interface since the selection may be made by speaking a word or phrase) to determine which pre-stored text message was selected for sending as an auto-response.
In step 626, the phone automatically retrieves the user-selected, pre-stored text message from the phone'"'"'s memory and sends it to the cell phone of the caller or texter via the SMS message channel.
Returning to step 618, if “Remind Me Later” was touched, path 619 is taken to step 628 to schedule a reminder to text or call the texter or caller back later. In some embodiments, whenever the “Remind Me Later” option is touched or otherwise selected, the operating system displays two or more areas on the touchscreen or display containing time intervals before the reminder will be triggered such as one hour, four hours, one day etc. In other embodiments, the reminder scheduler will just pick a time interval such as 4 hours and automatically schedule the reminder and keep rolling the reminder forward in time until it is acknowledged by the user. In other embodiments, the reminder scheduler process will just pick a time interval and schedule a reminder which will be put on the phone'"'"'s display as well as sounded audibly so that, even if the user misses the audible reminder, the user will see the reminder on the display the next time the user looks at the phone. In other embodiments, the phone may use on-board GPS or assisted GPS to determine the phone'"'"'s speed and automatically generate the reminder as soon as the phone'"'"'s speed drops back down to zero or below driving speed.
Returning to the consideration of step 616, if step 616 determines that neither the “Respond With A Message” nor “Remind Me Later” options were selected, test 630 is performed to determine if either of the “Answer” or “Decline” options were selected or if neither was selected. In touchscreen phones, these options are selected by touching these display areas. In non-touchscreen displays, by pressing the assigned keys, pressing keys in a predetermine sequence or a predetermined number of times within a predetermined interval, speaking a word or phrase such as “answer” or “decline”, twisting the phone, etc.
If test 630 determines that “Answer” was selected, path 631 is taken to step 632 where the operating system controls the baseband processor to control the other circuitry of the phone to answer the call and allow the user to speak to the caller.
If test 630 determines that “Decline” was selected, or neither option was selected after a predetermined timeout interval, path 633 is taken to step 634 where the operating system controls the baseband processor (CPU) to send the call to voicemail.
Returning to the consideration of test 612, if test 612 determines that the incoming event is a text (and test 606 has determined that the user has chosen to auto-respond for whatever reason such as the user is driving, in a meeting, etc.), processing proceeds on path 635 to test 636.
Test 636 represents the process of the operating system displaying on the touchscreen or display of the phone “Respond With A Message” and “Remind Me Later” areas which the user can select from as options, Test 636 also represents the process of monitoring the touchscreen or keyboard or other user interface mechanisms (depending upon the embodiment and how the user provides their option choices) to determine whether the user chose “Respond With A Message” or “Remind Me Later”. If no response is made, the text just sits in the phone'"'"'s memory and the user can respond to it later when he or she notices it.
If the user chooses the “Remind Me Later” option, path 637 is taken to step 628 to schedule a reminder as previously described.
If the user chooses the “Respond With A Message” option, processing proceeds on path 639 to step 622 where the operating system displays several pre-stored text messages the user can choose from to send as auto-responses as previously described. From there, processing is as previously described through steps 624 and 626.
An alternative embodiment is identical to the embodiment shown in
The first function of this subsystem is to receive notification that an incoming text or call has arrived or is arriving. Typically this results when the RF section modem or transceiver receives the text or call and notifies the operating system by the normal mechanism. The message to the operating system includes the caller ID data which includes the phone number of the texter or caller. The operating system uses that number to look in the user'"'"'s directory of contacts to determine who the texter or caller is. That is done by the baseband processor under control of the operating system by accessing whatever memory on the phone is used to store contacts. How the notification is received and from where and to what circuit or process it is sent is not part of this subsystem. It is only necessary to know that a text or call has arrived or is arriving.
The next function is to cause the phone to announce the identity of the texter or caller. This function is optional and is performed in some species within this general subsystem teaching, and not in other species. The baseband processor also controls the display and audio circuitry of the phone and it controls voice synthesis circuitry coupled to an audio CODEC which converts digital signals to analog sound signals. The operating system controls the baseband processor to feed the identity of the texter or caller to the voice synthesizer circuitry to generate data announcing the name of the texter or caller. This data is fed by the voice synthesizer (or baseband processor depending upon how the data flows in the circuitry) to the audio CODEC which converts the digital data to an audio signal. This audio signal is fed to the input of an audio amplifier the output of which is coupled to a speaker and/or headphone output jack. It is also fed to the Bluetooth data path circuitry input for transmission by Bluetooth into the audio input of the audio system of a car if the phone is in a car and paired with the Bluetooth system of the car so that the announcement of the texter or caller can be heard through the audio system of the car. In some embodiments, if the phone is paired with a Bluetooth system, the audio announcement is only played through Bluetooth and not simultaneously through the cell phone speaker or headphone jack. The baseband processor displays the identity of the texter or caller in embodiments where the identity is also displayed simply by sending the name of the texter or caller retrieved from the contacts list to the touchscreen controller or display controller.
The operating system and baseband processor then coordinate to carry out the next function of the subsystem which is to cause a query to be posed to the user of said cell phone as to whether said user wants to auto-respond to the incoming text or call. This query is posed to said user either audibly using said voice synthesis circuitry or visibly using a display of said cell phone controlled by said baseband processor or by both means. The query is basically a message which the operating system retrieves from memory such as “Do you wish to auto-respond to the incoming text?” or “Do you wish to auto-respond to the incoming call?”. In some embodiments, the operating system may specify by what means the auto-response would be made such as by fixed, pre-stored text message or by fixed, pre-stored audio message or by a user-selected, pre-stored text message or by a user-selected, pre-stored audio message, etc. What the auto response is, or how it is generated or sent is not part of this sub-system.
The last function carried out by the subsystem is to determine the response of the user to the query to determine if the user wants an auto-response to the incoming text or phone call or does not. This function is carried out by circuitry in the phone controlled by and coupled to the baseband processor which operates under control of the operating system and/or other software on the cell phone. For example, this other circuitry includes but is not limited to a keyboard coupled to the baseband processor upon which a user may enter a response by pressing one or more keys in a predetermined sequence for yes and one or more other keys in a predetermined sequence for no. Also, this other circuitry may include but not be limited to a touchscreen display coupled to the baseband processor upon which the user may touch or manipulate one or more areas in a predetermined sequence for yes or may touch or manipulate one or more areas for no. Further, this circuitry may include but not be limited to voice recognition software executed by the baseband processor or another microprocessor on the cell phone which is coupled to and controlled by an operating system of said cell phone and/or other software of said cell phone. This voice recognition software receives digital input signals from audio input circuitry including an audio CODEC coupled to an audio amplifier coupled to a microphone which picks up voice commands given by a user of said cell phone. The voice recognition software analyzes the voice commands uttered by the user to determine if said user wishes to auto-respond to said incoming text or phone call or not. The user may, for example, say “Yes” or “Auto-Respond” or “Affirmative” to indicate he or she wants the phone to send an auto-response, or “No” or “Negative” or “No thank you” to indicate no auto-response is desired. The voice recognition software figures out what the user said, and sends a message to the operating system so that it can continue its auto-response process accordingly. The subsystem described in
The auto-response process that is triggered if an affirmative answer is given to the query can be any of the processes described herein, including but not limited to, a single pre-stored text message, a single pre-stored audio message, user-selected, pre-stored canned audio message selected from a group of such messages recorded previously and stored in the phone by the manufacturer, user-selected, pre-stored, canned text message, user-selected, pre-stored custom text message selected from a group of such messages typed and stored previously by the user, pre-stored custom audio message selected from a group of such messages recorded and stored previously by the user,
All the processing described in the embodiments herein as being done by the operating system can also be done by an application added to the phone after manufacture such as application 169 in
Appendix B attached is a developer'"'"'s guide to the Apple iPhone iOS operating system, and gives a great deal of information about the structure and operation of iOS. The operating systems of the iPhone 4s and the iPhone 5 are incorporated by reference as basic operating systems to which the processes described herein are improvements. The hardware circuitry of the iPhone 5 is also incorporated by reference as the circuitry controlled by the iOS of the iPhone 5 as modified by the processes of the various embodiments disclosed herein. The iPhone 4s circuitry is given in Appendix A and is controlled by the iOS of the iPhone 4s as modified by the processes of the various embodiments disclosed herein.
Although the invention has been disclosed in terms of the preferred and alternative embodiments disclosed herein, those skilled in the art will appreciate that modifications and improvements may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, the functions described herein can be performed by any piece of software on any layer of