BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to methods in a communication system which allow messages including multiple message types to be stored and delivered to and from a variety of terminal types over a plurality of interconnecting networks.
The invention also relates to an arrangement for executing said methods.
STATE OF THE ART
A communication system is previously known by U.S. Pat. No. 4,837,798 in which one single electronic mailbox can receive and store different types of messages, such as voice or data messages. The message recipient has a single point of contact with the system where all messages can be scanned/viewed, which is pre-selected by the recipient. If necessary the communication system performs media translation from one media to another. Furthermore, one individual message may be composed of parts that use different native media.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,333,266 discloses a method and an apparatus for integrating mail from a plurality of mail servers handling different media types such as text, voice, facsimile, video and image. Various terminal interfaces, e.g. computers or telephones, can be used to collect, generate and act upon a message of any media type. For this purpose the apparatus comprises translation modules for bi-directional translation between speech and text and between optical character recognition and text.
From EP-A-0,662,763 is known an integrated electronic message system for storage and retrieval of electronic messages of different data types such as voice, video, text or facsimile. Electronic messages directed to a specific destination are placed into a single electronic mailbox, irrespective of the data type of the electronic message. Each message may consist of several message bodies, which contain message parts of different data types. When a stored message is retrieved from a certain endpoint device the format of the message is adapted as much as possible to what kinds of media the specific endpoint device can reproduce. If, for instance, the endpoint device is an ordinary telephone message bodies representing sounds may be presented directly, text bodies containing converted into voice data and message bodies carrying video or image data are eliminated.
In the solution according to U.S. Pat. No. 4,837,798 the recipient only has one single point of contact with the communication system. The system is thus incapable of handling e.g. mobile users roaming from one point to another. Incoming messages are always delivered to a default terminal regardless of the user being there or not.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,333,266 suggests a distributed message translation system which implies a message translation module in each of the interconnected networks. All message translation modules keep a copy of every message sent. This solution consumes considerable resources that could be used for alternative purposes.
The electronic message transfer system of EP-A-0,662,763 only translates header and title information. Furthermore, messages are always pre-translated, i.e. if the presentation capabilities at the current location of a user demands a message to be translated before delivery the message will be translated directly and stored centrally in a translated format. Since translation is performed when a message is received and not when a message is actually retrieved some translations may prove to be unnecessary. This is the case, for instance, when a user before accessing a certain message changes his/her terminal to a terminal which can access the message in its original format.
DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION
An object of the present invention is thus to provide one common message store which may be accessed not only from one, but from multiple terminal and network types.
It is another object of the present invention to link the message store to a user location database, which keeps a record of every user's current or latest registered location.
A further object of the present invention is to minimise the total need for message translation due to limited presentation capabilities of one or more specific user terminals.
Yet a further object of the present invention is to minimise the total need for message translation due to limited transmission capabilities of one or more specific interconnecting telecommunication networks.
These and other objects are met by the present invention according to which the translation is carried out in accordance with terminal type-data stored in the location database. The automatic translation procedure is complemented by a dynamic dialogue between the user and the messaging system. The dynamic dialogue gives the user an opportunity to notify the system of any additional multimedia presentation capabilities that his/her terminal may have and/or to inform the system that his/her terminal cannot handle a particular media format, but another variation of this format and/or to choose an alternative terminal which he/she may also have access to at his/her current location and which is capable of presenting the multimedia message in preferred format or formats.
The messaging system of the present invention sees to it that every multimedia message is delivered to the intended recipient of the message regardless of his/her current location.
Furthermore, the messaging system according to the invention automatically detects the optimal translation of said message into an alternate media, when message translation is necessary.
According to a first aspect of the invention, when a multimedia message is addressed to a user in the messaging system, the incoming message is stored in a multimedia message store. A first notification signal for this incoming message is diverted from an address stated in the address field of the message to the messaging system. A second notification signal is then sent from the messaging system to a location given by an address stored. Subsequent to the user being notified of the incoming multimedia message by the second notification signal a connection is established between the user location and the messaging system. This connection is set up by means of the dynamic dialogue described above. All parts of the multimedia message which need and can be translated into another media format in order to be presented at the current user terminal are translated accordingly. The translated parts and the parts of the multimedia message that do not need to be translated are finally transferred to and presented at the user terminal. If limitations in the presentation capabilities of the user terminal make it necessary to exclude one or more parts of a certain multimedia message this fact is preferably indicated to the user along with the presentation of the message. A method according to this first aspect of the invention is hereby characterised by what is apparent from claim 1.
According to a second aspect of the invention, when a user in the messaging system wishes to review, edit or delete, i.e. act upon, a specific multimedia message which is held in the multimedia message store he/she contacts the messaging system from an arbitrary terminal connected to any telecommunication network. After that the presentation capabilities at the particular user location are established through a dynamic dialogue between the user and the messaging system. Then the multimedia message, translated into a format best possibly suited for the given presentation capabilities, is delivered from the messaging system to the user via the above mentioned network. A method according to this second aspect of the invention is characterised by what is apparent from claim 2.
Naturally, the user is also given an opportunity to perform any modifications of the contents of the multimedia message and store an edited version of the message.
Therefore, according to a third aspect of the invention, a multimedia message is originated by a user in the messaging system according to the following procedure. The user connects to the messaging system from any terminal. The terminal may be connected to any telecommunications network using arbitrary standardised protocols. First, the multimedia message generation capabilities of the terminal are established through a dynamic dialogue between the user and the messaging system. Second, a multimedia message is created by the user and sent to the messaging system. Third, the message is stored in the multimedia message store. Fourth, if the message or parts of the message need and can be translated into a format which is ideally adapted to the message presentation capabilities given by the transmission network to which the receiver is connected and by the protocol used by the message channel which is delivering the message such a translation is performed on relevant portions of the message. Finally the message or the translated message is transmitted to the receiver. A method according to this third aspect of the invention is hereby characterised by what is apparent from claim 6.
A messaging system for carrying out the above identified aspects of the invention comprises a multimedia message store where a copy of every message sent to or from the system is kept, a translation unit for converting every message sent and received into a message format best possibly suited for the presentation capabilities of the recipient's current terminal, a database which stores address references and terminal data for all users in the system and a control unit for controlling and coordinating the other units in the system. The messaging system according to the invention is hereby characterised by what is apparent from claim 10.
Thus, the proposed solution offers notification to a user when a multimedia message comes in to him/her irrespective of in which network he/she is located in or if he/she has a subscription in this network or not.
A user may also access his/her earlier received multimedia messages from more than one terminal in a multiplicity of network environments.
Furthermore, the invention provides recipients of multimedia messages with as much multimedia information as possible, regardless of the terminal type used. As the term indicates a multimedia message may include more than one message format. The invention presents message parts of a multimedia message to a recipient according to the following principle. First, presenting the as much data in its original format as possible. Second, translating remaining data into a format adapted to the presentation capabilities of the user terminal. Third, excluding possible remaining data from the message to be presented. Preferably, the recipient is notified of any possible eliminations of one or several parts of a certain multimedia message due to limitations in the presentation capabilities of the recipient's current terminal. Since the recipient always has an opportunity to define and adjust earlier definitions of the presentation capabilities of his/her current terminal in a dynamic dialogue with the system a guarantee is given that every multimedia message is optimally presented to its recipient.
In FIG. 1 is shown a messaging system (100) according to an embodiment of the invention. The system (100) is interconnected with at least one first accessing network (200) and one second transport network (300). A user (u) in the system (100) utilises the accessing network (200) to contact the system (100) via a terminal (400) when he/she wishes to originate a multimedia message or act upon a stored multimedia message. The accessing network (200) is also utilised by the system (100) for delivering multimedia messages to the users (u). The accessing network (200) and the transport network (300) may be any kind of communication network such as e.g. a PSPDN (PSPDN=Packet Switched Public Data Network) (210, 310), a CSPDN (CSPDN Circuit Switched Public Data Network) (210, 310), a TCP/IP- network (TCP/IP=Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) (220, 320), a GPRS- network (GPRS=General Packet Radio Service) (230, 330), a digital radio telephone network (240, 340), an analogue radio telephone network (250, 350), a PSTN (PSTN=Public Switched Telephone Network) (260, 360), an ISDN (ISDN=Integrated Services Digital Network) (270, 370) or a B-ISDN (B-ISDN=Broadband ISDN) (270, 370). The terminal (400) can be any kind of terminal with a connection to at least one of the above mentioned accessing networks (200). Hence, the terminal (400) may, for instance, be a desktop computer or a workstation (410), a laptop computer (420) connected to a digital mobile telephone through a PCMCIA card or equipped with a radio modem, a personal digital assistant, personal intelligent communicator or network based knowledgable assistant (430), a digital or analogue mobile telephone (440), a regular desk phone, cordless telephone (450) or a facsimile machine (460).