|Publication number||US20050043060 A1|
|Application number||US 10/959,833|
|Publication date||Feb 24, 2005|
|Filing date||Oct 6, 2004|
|Priority date||Apr 4, 2000|
|Also published as||US6834195, US20030063072, WO2001076120A2, WO2001076120A3|
|Publication number||10959833, 959833, US 2005/0043060 A1, US 2005/043060 A1, US 20050043060 A1, US 20050043060A1, US 2005043060 A1, US 2005043060A1, US-A1-20050043060, US-A1-2005043060, US2005/0043060A1, US2005/043060A1, US20050043060 A1, US20050043060A1, US2005043060 A1, US2005043060A1|
|Inventors||Carl Brandenberg, Robert Kay, Kenneth Maxwell, R. Cotter|
|Original Assignee||Wireless Agents, Llc|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (7), Referenced by (148), Classifications (74)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/194,644, filed Apr. 4, 2000, titled “Location-Aware Wireless Communication Appliance and Network;” U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/229,235, filed Aug. 31, 2000, titled “Location-Aware Wireless Communication Appliance and Network;” and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/232,063, filed Sep. 12, 2000, titled “Thumb Optimized Keyboard for Personal Computing Device.” This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/745,617, filed 20 Dec. 2000, titled “Physical Configuration of a Handheld Electronic Communication Device,” and incorporates that application by reference herein as if set forth in full.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to the presentation of digital content on personal communication devices. In particular, the present invention relates to systematic scheduling of the presentation of digital content on personal communication devices.
2. Background Information
Over the last decade, there has been a tremendous increase in demand for new and better means of communicating and transferring data among consumers over communication networks. The Internet has played an important role in satisfying this demand, in that its development has spawned many new modes of communicating and sharing data, such as e-mail, chat, instant messaging, and video messaging. During its early development, consumers could only access the Internet and these new forms of digital content from a computer that was hard-wired to the Internet, either over a local area network, or via a modem. Recently, there has been a shift in consumer demand toward wireless communication and data sharing. People want access to all of these forms of communication and data transfer not only while they are at their desks, but also when they are on the move.
Many companies have tried to meet this demand by providing cellular phones and other wireless communicating devices which can transmit and receive Internet-type communications in addition to voice communications. However, because such phones have small display screens and limited data input devices, they typically rely on scaled down data transmission protocols, such as the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). Although WAP devices can transmit textual and graphical data, they are extremely limited in bandwidth. As such, these devices and the digital content available with them do not provide a very interesting user experience.
Aside from the problem of providing a wireless device with which consumers can communicate using these Internet-type modes of communication, there is also the problem of determining what information to provide. The Internet has quickly become one of the world's largest sources of knowledge and information. The enormous size and scope of the Internet and other information networks often makes it impossible to find relevant information in a reasonable amount of time. The difficulty of obtaining relevant information from the Internet and other information networks in a timely fashion has given rise to the development of a wide variety of products and services which locate and sift through large volumes of data in an effort to disseminate particular information which is relevant to particular consumers. For example, consumers can subscribe to certain services which locate and periodically broadcast specified information to their subscribers. This technology is often referred to as “push” technology, in that the information, or digital content, is pushed from the information provider to the subscriber.
It is not uncommon for push-technology service providers to have each subscriber fill out an initial questionnaire at the beginning of the subscription in order to obtain certain information about the subscriber. Such questionnaires typically include questions directed to the subscriber's biographic, demographic, and economic background. The digital content that is broadcast by these service providers to their subscribers is typically controlled solely by the service provider, with no input from the subscriber, other than the subscriber's initial questionnaire or when the subscriber updates his profile. These systems are not designed for ongoing interaction between the subscriber and the service provider. Although such systems can provide periodic broadcast of digital content or information, such as the transmission of a daily e-mail of news or information, they are not designed to provide the most appropriate digital content at the most appropriate time for the subscriber. Other than the subscriber “unsubscribing,” the service provider has no way of knowing whether the subscriber is still interested in the digital content offered by the service.
Although the devices and systems discussed above represent great strides in the areas of communication and presentation of digital content over personal communication devices, many shortcomings remain.
There is a need for a method and apparatus with which digital content may be systematically scheduled and presented on personal communication devices.
Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for systematically scheduling and selectively presenting digital content on personal communication devices.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for systematically scheduling and selectively offering digital content for presentation to users, wherein the digital content is generated, organized, stored, and rated by the users over a communication network.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for systematically scheduling and selectively offering digital content for presentation to users, wherein the digital content is generated, organized, stored, transmitted over a communication network to a client device, and rated by the users.
It is another object of the present invention to provide a method and apparatus for systematically scheduling and selectively offering digital content for presentation on a client device, wherein the digital content is generated, organized, stored, profiled, compared to a contextual user profile, transmitted to the client devices over a communication network, and rated by the users.
These objects are achieved by providing a method and apparatus wherein a software scheduling agent resides on a communication network and/or client device, such as location-aware wireless communication appliances, television set top, boxes, or other end user client devices. The software scheduling agent is part of a probabilistic modeling system in which the scheduler operates to perform constrained random variation with selection. Digital content is generated, organized, and stored on the communication network and/or the client devices. An electronic digital content wrapper, which holds information in the form of data and metadata related to the digital content is associated with each item of digital content. Contextual profiles for each user and each item of digital content are established by the users and the network and maintained by a service provider on the communication network. The software scheduling agent compares the contextual digital content profile for each item of digital content to the contextual user profile for each user to determine which digital content should be offered for presentation to each user. The comparison and determination of which items of digital content should be offered for presentation to which users is performed by a process of constrained random variation. After the software scheduling agent determines which items of digital content would most likely be relevant or interesting to the user, the digital content is transmitted, either in whole or in part, at predetermined times over the communication network to the appropriate client devices. The digital content is then stored, either in whole or in part, in cache memory on the client device until an appropriate time when the digital content is digitally packaged and presented to particular users over the users' client devices.
The present invention has many advantages over conventional methods and apparatuses for transmitting digital content to personal communication devices. First and foremost, the present invention is not merely a method of broadcasting digital content to an indiscriminant collection of subscribers. The present invention is a tool with which the user can play an active role in the dissemination and presentation of digital content. The present invention uses a scheduling agent that is based upon a probabilistic modeling system. The contextual digital content profiles and the contextual user profiles are continuously updated to ensure that there is a high probability that the user will be presented with digital content that he finds relevant and interesting. The user plays an ongoing active role in the systematic scheduling of digital content by rating the digital content as it is presented. Although the scheduling system is very sophisticated, the rating procedure is very intuitive and non-intrusive. The system is designed to obtain valuable opinion information from the user without intruding into the user's experience. Through the rating system of the present invention, the user has a certain level of control over which digital content is offered to himself and others on the system. This ensures that the user will not only continue to participate in the experience, but take an active role in the dissemination of digital content, thereby building community.
The following is a table of contents for this specification. Topics will be grouped under these headings and discussed in detail below.
1. Introduction and Overview
1.A. Contextually aware client
1.C. Delivery of content
2.A. Creating value for users
2.B. Creating value for developers
2.C. Creating value for wireless operators
2.D. Creating value for device manufacturers
2.E. Creating value for merchants
3.C. Rating of content
3.D. Content selection
3.I. Relationship network
3.J. Economy of content delivery
3.K. Abstraction of location
4.A. Macromedia Flash
5.A. Prototypical wrappers
5.B. Wrapper Tool
5.C. Automatic wrapping
6. Routing Mechanisms
6.A. Destination-specific Routing
7.A. Intelligent pre-caching
7.B. Separation of data and presentation layers
8.A. Content's context sensitivities interacting with current context
8.B. User Interface
8.C. User Interface (Alternate)
8.D. User Interface—Audio
8.E. User Interface Themes
8.F. Rating Mechanisms
8.H. Prioritized Interrupts
8.I. Suspend/resume of awareness subscriptions
9.A. Awareness hidden subscription model
9.B. Things grabbed from stream are auto-subscribed
10.A. Packet data
12.A. Operational empathy
12.B. Expectation management
13. Network Energy
14. Community Systems
1.A. Contextually aware client
As is shown in
Additionally, details of alternative position determination systems will also be discussed. As is shown in
A plurality of wireless transmission towers T1, T2, and TN are provided and distributed about the diverse geographic regions in order to provide wireless, bi-directional communication capabilities. As is shown in the view of
In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, each of users U1, U2, U3, U4, U5, and UN is equipped with his or her own personal location-aware wireless communication appliance D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, and DN. The users U1, U2, U3, U4, U5 and UN utilize the location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, DN in order to perform bi-directional communication operations through towers T1, T2, and TN. Preferably, each of the towers T1, T2, TN is communicatively coupled to a regional computing and traffic management system such as computing systems C1, C2, CN utilizing land line communication pathways LL1, LL2, LLN. Additionally, each of the regional computing and traffic management data processing systems C1, C2, CN are communicatively coupled utilizing land lines preferably to a network computer NC1 which is preferably located at a service center.
It should be appreciated that
For example, systems running on network computer NC1 at the service center may be utilized to broadcast or narrowcast particular information in the form of digital content to one or more particular users. For example, an advertisement may be transmitted from the network computer NC1 of the service center to users U1 and U2 in geographic location L1. Alternatively, the location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, D5 and DN may be utilized to allow particular users or groups of users to communicate with one another utilizing the GSM/GPRS as a communication protocol. For example, user U1 may utilize location-aware wireless communication appliance D1 to engage in a text-based “chat” with user UN who is located at a distant geographic location LN. In order to engage in the text-based chatting, user U1 will enter textual messages on his location-aware wireless communication appliance D1. The location-aware wireless communication appliance D1 will perform a wireless communication operation through tower T1. Tower T1 will utilize regional computer C1 and the local land lines LL1 in order to communicate with the network computer NC1 at the service center. Network computer NC1 at the service center will then communicate utilizing land lines LLN and regional computer CN in order to energize tower T1 in a predetermined manner in order to communicate the GSM/GPRS from tower TN to the location-aware wireless communication appliance DN which is under the control of user UN.
In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the network computer NC1 “knows” that user UN is in geographic locale LN which is within the transmission range of tower TN because location-aware wireless communication appliance DN has previously announced its availability to network computer NC1 through wireless communication or interaction with tower TN. In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, and as will be discussed in greater detail below, each of the location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, D5, and DN include a global positioning system integrated into the device. Each of the users U1, U2, U3, U4, U5, and UN may determine if and when the device will announce its location and availability to a particular one of towers T1, T2, and TN. It can be appreciated that, with a great number of users or with heavy communication traffic, a plurality of service centers may be provided, each equipped with a network computer, such as network computer NC1.
While the preferred embodiment of the present invention relies upon GSM/GPRS in order to enable bi-directional communication, alternative and/or additional modes of communication or communication protocols may be utilized in order to allow communication over the network, including communication between particular users or groups of users and communication between the network and particular users or groups of users. This is illustrated in a high level block diagram format in
It should be understood that the location-aware clients could be location-aware clients that are wireless connected to a local area wireless network such as that possible using 802.11 ethernet technology and that that remain relatively stationary with respect to global position.
1.B.2. Wired: It should also be understood that the location-aware clients could be connected using a hard-wired network, such as a cable television communication network or a fiber optic communication network. Of course, in such hard-wired applications, the location aware client appliances remain relatively stationary.
1.C. Delivery of content: In accordance with the preferred embodiment, transmission of information in the form of digital content can be broadcast or narrowcast in direct response to a user request or may be broadcast or narrowcast due to the relevancy of the information to the user's current contexts.
1.C.1. Delivery in Response to User Request: User requested information is information that the user wishes to have, but must actively search for and retrieve. By this, it is meant that the information will not be presented to the user without some action taken by the user. An example of user requested content is obtaining a telephone number from directory assistance. Unless the user initiates a phone call to directory assistance and specifies the name of the individual or business for which he or she needs the phone number, the desired phone number will not seek out and deliver itself to the user.
1.C.2. Delivery Based on Context: Contextually relevant content is content that is relevant to the client's current contexts, such as time, place and preferences. Examples of contextually relevant information: Pizza coupon delivered to a household that is in the recent vicinity of a pizza restaurant is contextually relevant information; and a traffic information display above a highway or interstate that displays traffic conditions on the road ahead.
1.C.3. Subscription: Prior request or permission for information to be delivered later either in context or not.
By delivering information in context, the client device creates a great deal of value for the user by reducing the amount of time that the user spends actively seeking the information that he or she wants.
2.A. Creating value for users: Delivering information in context creates a great deal of value for users by reducing the amount of time that users spends actively seeking the information that they wish to have. Rather than the individual being required to take the time to locate and acquire information, contextual delivery allows the information to be sent to the user without the user's attention so that the user may view the information at his or her convenience.
2.A.1. Feeling connected: The social nature of humans typically makes them want to feel connected to their friends and to the communities around them with which they interact. The information that provides this connected feeling includes, but is not limited to, is the location and availability of other individuals, news that publicizes the current situations of celebrity individuals, events and activities involving church and community organizations, and events and activities involving friends and relatives.
2.A.2. Keeping up with what is important, such as news.
2.A.3. Reminders (in time and space) After setting and naming a geographic region and/or time range, a user can set a reminding alert to be triggered upon entry or exit of this named space.
2.A.4.a. Instant Messaging (IM): Instant messages are transferred with minimal latency between the sender and recipient. The recipient can set a notification of the incoming message. Instant messaging also allows the sender to know if the recipient is available to receive a message. Within the context of the present invention, instant messages are carried through the network as with any other routed digital content. The current status of the recipient is presented through the generalized awareness model which operates through a hidden subscription model. User status information is published and this information is pushed to users who have the proper level of authorization.
2.A.5. Finding what they need, such as news articles, driving directions, addresses, phone numbers, contact information, merchandise, food, clothing, and entertainment.
2.A.5.a. Contextual searches (e.g., driving direction from current location).
2.A.6. Rich media experience: Dynamic, animated full-color graphics.
2.B. Creating value for developers: The following features of the present invention create value for developers:
2.B.1. Higher level development environment (through scripting of MM Flash);
2.B.2. “Mobile Flash” extensions; and
2.B.3. Best environment to create low-bandwidth, rich media, high interaction.
2.C. Creating value for wireless operators: The following features of the present invention create value for wireless operator:
2.C.1. 3G experience on a 2.5G packet network
2.C.2. Lets operators be more than a data pipe
2.C.3. First platform that can be monetized: Each and every piece of digital content is accompanied by a plurality of revenue/expense data representing things like revenue/expense of acquisition of the digital content, revenue/expense to deliver the digital content over various channels, revenue/expense for user to view the digital content, and revenue/expense to interact with the digital content. Bookkeeping operations are performed at every stage of the transport of the digital content and balances are kept. These account balances are used influence the delivery probabilities of this digital content.
2.D. Creating value for device manufacturers: The following features of the present invention create value for device manufactures:
2.D.1. Wireless, rich media reference design.
2.D.2. Hooks to recurring revenue: Since the originator and transport agents of digital content on this network are specifically identified for each piece of digital content, ongoing revenues (if any) can be apportioned to each as they are due.
2.E. Creating value for merchants: The following features of the present invention create value for merchants:
2.E.1. Rich media.
2.E.2. Contextual analysis of data.
2.E.3. Aggregated user data.
2.E.4. Transactional capability: Because the plurality of revenue/expense data associated with each piece of digital content can represent revenue for the user, merchants can set up campaigns that reward or debit users for certain behaviors, interactions, or transactions. For example, a piece of digital content which has a certain location contextual sensitivity could reward a user if they approach a physical storefront. Also, another piece of digital content representing a digital coupon upon interaction could debit a users account.
The types of information described above can be represented in a digital format that can be generated, stored, manipulated and transmitted by computers. The digital format of this information is what is termed “digital content” or simply “content.”
3.A. Content: Content is the primary digital construct on which the network platform operates. The network platform establishes an environment, in which content is created, wrapped (i.e., defined in terms of meta-data), routed, delivered, presented, and refreshed. The network platform constitutes an infrastructure to satisfy the content-related objectives of both content providers and consumers.
Because of the digital nature of the network, there exists a need to represent real-world information, such as that described above in section 2, as digital content that a computer can store, manipulate and transmit. Information can be represented as digital content in many different textual and graphical forms. For example, a restaurant establishment may publish its address and times during which the establishment is open to patrons in a simple textual format or by generating graphical advertisements for potential patrons to see. People may wish to make their context information available in a textual format and even a picture accessible in a graphical format. Communications such as instant messages and email are typically represented in a textual format. Events such as concerts and movies are typically represented in audio or video formats.
The network platform is content-centric, in that it provides a context-based vehicle for routing, packaging, presenting, and interacting with content. The network platform utilizes an expanded definition of content that treats (1) everything that is displayed on, or potentially displayed on, the screen; and (2) user requests as items of content. This content-centric perspective enables a wide variety of things, all considered content items by the platform to be treated by the system in the same uniform, but flexible, way. In essence this approach creates an organic system populated by content items that are treated and behave as living organisms. In this system content items can self-route and self-organize. This approach provides a unique and elegant layering between content presentation mechanisms and content delivery, packaging, and scheduling mechanisms.
3.A.1. Elements: Content exists in the network platform in three parts: (1) a data form that contains the information, (2) the presentation which is visually and audibly shown to users, and (3) a meta-data form that is a descriptive profile of the data and that can exist separate from the data.
The meta-data form, hereafter referred to as the “wrapper”, is used by the computational mechanisms in the network platform to route, deliver, present and refresh the data form, hereafter referred to as the “content item” or “content items”. Thus, the wrapper provides all the information needed for the content items to behave appropriately and effectively in the network platform. That is, the wrapper, by interacting with the network platform's computational environment, controls the behavior of the content items throughout the system. In this way, each content item acts in ways that are congruent with its intended objectives.
Hereafter, the wrapper and associated data and presentation elements are together referred to as “content.”
3.A.1.a. Meta-data (wrapper): Additionally, the content of messages A through G may be analyzed and “coded” as corresponding to particular types of content. For example, the communication of message B relates to content subjects X, Y. Additionally, the advertisement of message E from merchant 2 relates to content L, M. In practice, the network may manage hundreds or thousands of categories of subject matter. The network may require that members, including users and merchants, enter or select category designations or key words in order to allow sorting and analysis of the message. Alternatively, a software agent could be established which parses the content of the message and infers its content. This would lessen the burden on the merchant and the users but may result in some misidentification or miscategorization of the digital content. In accordance with the present invention, privacy, preference, and content information is utilized in order to filter, accelerate, prioritize, or block particular types of content.
Additionally, as has been discussed previously, location information may also be an important basis for transmitting, sorting, or prioritizing communications.
Wrappers point to one or more content items and can exist in the system independent of the content items to which the wrappers point. This independence provides the ability for wrappers carrying information-rich meta-data to move around the network without the overhead of moving all of the data in the content items themselves. This is beneficial because wrappers contain data in binary and/or textual format and tend to be much smaller in size than the content items which typically contain data in a graphical and/or audio format and tend to be much larger in size. Thus, content is often treated referentially. A data structure contained in the wrapper, called a header, contains zero or more links to associated content item(s) and provides the basis for the reference between a given content item(s) and the wrapper(s) that point to it. A content item can be pointed to by more than one wrapper. This permits the reuse of content items across different presentation packages or the categorization of contents at multiple cognitive levels. Presentation packages refer to complete sets of one or more content items that together form a screen-ready presentation. Each presentation package is defined by a wrapper and is unique in the system. Empty wrappers (those pointing to zero content items) are used to probe and gather intelligence about probable content needs and to make content distribution more effective and efficient.
All content items have wrappers. The wrappers provide information for the following purposes.
1. Separates meta-data about the content from the content itself, thus enabling efficient routing and delivery. This enables routing to devices by proactive probing (need to elaborate).
2. Uniquely identifies a complete content presentation package.
3. Integrates content items into complete presentation packages.
4. Controls both specified routing and self-routing of content.
5. Specifying several parameters that control the presentation of content (e.g., maximum number of plays, loneliness interval).
6. Specifies the life span of content.
7. Includes an inferred preference rating.
3.A.1.a.2. Components: Wrappers consist of tagged data elements that are organized into three major structures: a header, sensitivities, and content-association key(s). The structures are for organizational purposes only and should not be considered a limiting construct of the wrapper. The wrapper may include the data elements listed, but is not limited to these elements and optional data elements may be present in some cases. In addition, some data elements are optional and are not required for every content item. Each of the major structures is described in more detail in the following sections.
3.A.1.a.2.a. Header: Header information is the first major part of the wrapper meta-data about content packages.
i. Content ID: The content ID is a unique identifier that is used to identify a content item. It prevents collisions with content items with identical IDs, preventing multiple instances of the same content item. An example of a unique identifier would be a CRC (checksum calculated using a polynomial algorithm) generated from the content item's digital data.
ii. Content type: An identifier that identifies the broad category of the content item. For example, game, music, message, etc.
iii. Node destination: Lists one or more node ID's to which the wrapper will be routed. Node ID's refer to the nodes in the relationship network, to be discussed later. This may exist in different formats. These should not be confused with content ID's. If no destination nodes are listed, then the wrapper is self-routing and uses location sensitivities specified elsewhere in the wrapper for routing.
iv. Node origin: The node ID from which the content originates.
v. Delivery latency: A time latency specified by the content creator. This latency is used to schedule the delivery of content efficiently on the basis its presentation needs. For example, a content item that will not be presented for a week need not be delivered until it is available for presentation. This is similar to a just-in-time delivery strategy. It permits the memory on the device to be used for the neediest content.
vi. Creation time: A time stamp indicating the time and date at which the wrapper was created.
vii. Expiration time: A time stamp indicating the time and date at which the content item will expire, and no longer be available to be selected for presentation.
viii. Linkage count: The number of content items that need to put together to form a complete content presentation package. This may be zero for probing wrappers.
ix. Linkages list: The list of content ID's for the content items that form the complete content presentation package that is defined by the wrapper. The number of ID's must equal the value of the Linkage count variable.
x. Package status: A binary value that indicates whether or not all of the content items listed in the linkages list are ready and available for presentation. When this value is “no,” the presentation is blocked.
3.A.1.a.2.b. Sensitivities: Sensitivities are the second major structure of the wrapper. Sensitivities are expressed as context variable value conditions that are important to the content package. Matches between these value conditions and the current context trigger changes in content-related behaviors and computations.
i. Prerequisite Count: The number of prerequisite presentation packages.
ii. Prerequisite List: A list of content ID's that specify the prerequisite presentation packages for the package defined by the wrapper. A prerequisite refers to a presentation package that must be played before the package that lists it as a prerequisite. Thus, a prerequisite will block presentation of a package listing it until the prerequisite is presented. If more than one prerequisite is listed, any one of them can satisfy the prerequisite, similar to an exclusive OR operator. Each prerequisite is specified in terms of the following variables:
iii. Space/Time Dimple Count: The number of space/time sensitivity areas.
iv. Space/Time Dimple List: The specification of times and/or places in which the neediness value of the presentation package is impacted. The impact can be either positive or negative.
v. Max Views: The maximum number of times the presentation package can be presented on a single device.
vi. Habit Model Category Flags: The list of habit model categories that will impact the neediness of the presentation package when they are triggered.
vii. Presentation Characteristics:
viii. PG-Rating Flags: These provide a means to enable parental control over the types of content that a minor device-holder can have access to. These flags provide a blocking mechanism for content.
ix. Initial Specific Rating: The relationship network enables device-holders to create valued links to other device-holders. One type of value associated with a link is a directed similarity rating. In creating a link and applying a similarity rating the originating device-holder is indicating that the terminating device-holder has similar content preferences, at least to the degree of the rating. When the terminating device-holder rates content these ratings are communicated through the network so as to set the preference rating for the same presentation package on the originating device-holder's device, if that same package has not yet been rated by the originating device-holder.
x. Earn or burn: Values indicating the degree to which the presentation of the package will burn or earn the currency of network energy. The value can be a fixed amount or a rate.
xi. Is Earn or Burn a Rate Flag: A binary value (yes/no) indicating whether or not the value of the earn or burn field is a rate and accumulates with interaction.
xii. Additional Rating Earn (for rating content):
xiii. Loneliness Time Constant: A time value that specifies the interval over which a presentation package's neediness will return to a nominal value and beyond following its presentation.
xiv. Is Interruptive Flag: A binary value, i.e., “yes” or “no,” indicating whether or not the presentation package can interrupt the normal flow of content on the device screen. Interruptive content may have the effect of replacing currently playing content on the screen before that content is finished.
xv. Can Be Mentor: A binary value, i.e., “yes” or “no,” indicating whether or not the presentation package, when it is explicitly rated, can be used as a mentor for other content.
xvi. Is It a Question. Flag which converts rating actions to survey input.
3.A.1.a.2.c. Associations: Content associations are the third major part of the wrapper. Associations are used to compute the degree of similarity among content items.
In the content selection engine (server-side, to be discussed later), content item similarity is used for content selection. On the client scheduler, it can be used for automatic assignment of content items to arrangements.
The set of associations constitutes a model of the abstracted semantic structure of content items. Each association is modeled as a dimension for a given characteristic of content. Dimension can model either a unipolar association (e.g., movies), or a bipolar association (e.g., sedentary—active). There are two main types of associations: categories and properties. Neither categories nor properties alone provide a satisfactory model of the content relationships (as content is defined herein) that are needed to produce robust inductive inferences about user preferences. What is needed is a model that can represent both categories and properties in a way that permits inferences to be made from complex combinations of both.
Collectively, the content associations specify a set of semantic dimensions along which content items can be modeled. The dimensions describe an N-dimensional Euclidean space, where N is the number of dimensions. Each content item is assigned a value along each dimension, thus a given content item is represented by an point in the N-dimensional semantic space.
Values are assigned to dimensions on the basis of a subjective judgment that answers the question “to what degree is the category or feature that is represented by the dimension associated with the content item?” The “associated with” judgment subsumes all of the more specific types of relationships content items can have with each other. That is, the relationships such as: is, is a, is a type of, is a property of, has, has a, contains, and is contained in, among others are all included in the “associated with” assessment. Thus, the model provides a broad reach for computing similarity across complex inter-content relationships.
In the present technique inter-content item similarity is computed as a distance between the points occupied by each content item in the N-dimensional space. That is, the content association model defines a generic and fixed semantic structure that can be used to compute the similarity between any number of content items. This means that in applying the content association model, the number of judgments to be made is fixed and independent of the number of content items being modeled. Mapping a content item to a point in the space always involves the assigning values to the same number of dimensions. Computing the distance between two content items always involves the same number of comparisons. This is accomplished by uncoupling the association dimensions from the content items themselves.
To sum up, the content association model meets the following needs and provides the following advantages. The content association model:
1. Is not category or feature specific, and provides a unified treatment of categories and properties as dimensions. This enables complex multidimensional relationships that cut across both categories and properties to be identified.
2. Incorporates a pre-defined, finite and stable number of judgments that are independent of the number of content items being modeled.
3. Defines an absolute (rather than a relative) semantic structure that is based on dimensions, rather than on a specific set of content items and their relationships
4. Employs “degree associated with” judgments the include all other specific relationships, thus, creating a greater reach by being able to establish relationships that cut across specific types of relationships.
5. Provides for gradations (fuzziness) in the assignment of the characteristic to content items.
6. Can include both unipolar and bipolar dimensions
7. Can be used to assess similarity in a computationally efficient way.
A set of association dimensions is listed below separated into groups. The content association model is not limited to these specific associations or the specific number of dimensions.
Category Associations include:
Media associations include: movies, TV, music, radio, books, magazines, periodicals, live performances, telecommunications, Internet, and WWW.
Music genre associations include: classic, pop, rock, country/western, jazz, and edge.
Restaurant genre associations include: fast food, seafood, bistro/café, barbeque, and deli.
Other genre associations include: drama, comedy, action, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, documentary.
Recreation and activity associations include: sports, games, food, beverages, cars, motorcycles, boats, shopping, travel, and sightseeing.
Participatory activities associations include: games, general sports, winter sports, water sports, bicycling, roller blading, and skate boarding.
Lifestyle associations include: lifestyle, advice, clothes, fashion, beauty, dating, romance, fitness, and health.
Gender associations include: masculine and feminine.
Education associations include: school, education, government, culture, and religion.
Work associations include: jobs and public service.
Content type associations include: message, game, entertainment item (includes visual and musical), interface skins and other similar types of things, event announcement, offer, advertisement, review, data (e.g., weather, sports scores, stock quotes), question, geo notice, general news, service provider message, and personal account information (from service provider or other e-commerce entity).
Ethnic associations include: American, Cajun, British, French, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, Carribian, Indian, Greek, German, Chinese, Japanese, African, Middle-Eastern,
Property associations include:
Emotional associations include: violence, sexual, tragedy, romance, serious, and fun.
Spatial associations include: local, urban, and rural.
Temporal associations include: near-term, one-time, repetitive, brief, and time-consuming.
Activity associations include: sedentary and active.
Cognitive associations include: popular and intellectual.
Social associations include: solitary and shared.
Other associations include: classiness, inside, outside, quiet, loud, functional, and artistic.
Interactive associations include: fixed, mobile, and interactiveness.
Physical associations include: physical and virtual.
3.A.1.b. Data (Content item): Content items are the element (or form) of content that contains the information that is visually and/or audibly presented to users. Content items may exist in many digital forms. They may exist as a movie in a presentation format such as a Macromedia Flash or Apple QuickTime, or they may exist as a still JPEG or GIF graphic image. Content items may also exist as textual or graphical information that must be combined with one or more additional content items for presentation, such as a an XML file that requires a Macromedia Flash movie to act as a template that parses in the XML data and presents it in a Macromedia Flash player.
As mentioned above, content items may exist in many digital forms. Macromedia Flash is an optimum format with which to deliver maximum value to all of the users of network 11. Macromedia Flash is a complete solution incorporating:
1. A compact, space-efficient file format that is well matched to current wireless data network capacities;
2. An interactive user presentation based on a time-based animation format;
3. A file format that can contain a large number of rich vector and raster image formats like JPEG and GIF, and a number of audio formats like MP3 and WAV;
4. A small and highly efficient graphics rendering engine well matched to current handheld device capabilities;
5. An object-based procedural scripting language; and
6. A complete set of authoring tools.
While Macromedia Flash is a complete solution, other language and data formats may be used. Other language formats include but are not limited to HTML, DHTML, CHTML, WML and Apple QuickTime. Other data formats include, but are not limited to plain text, MP3, WAV, MIDI, JPEG, GIF and PNG.
3.A.2. Routing: Content items can be created and injected into the network from a variety of origins and need to be distributed to various destinations in the network. Routing is the process of efficiently and intelligently directing content items from their point of origin in the network to their appropriate destinations. Content items are routed in two basic ways.
Destination-specific routing is used to direct a content item to one or more specifically identified destinations. This method is used when specific destinations in the networks are known.
Self-routing is used to direct a content item to all destinations (i.e., users) that the system predicts will need or want the content item. No specific destinations are targeted.
These predictions are formed in the process of making probabilistic content selections for individual users using several types of information about the content items, content item interrelationships, and users.
See Section 6 below for a more complete discussion of routing mechanisms.
3.A.2.a. Specifically routed: Messages with a destination, such as content targeting a certain/specific place, but if a broadcast channel exists, it might be done a different way.
3.A.2.b. Self routed: Content Similarity is concerned with what it means for two pieces of content to be similar to each other, and why it is necessary to know this. This refers to how similar the wrapper context sensitivities are, not the actual content. There may be a need to probe more deeply into the actual data part of the content (when it is text) for certain similarity computations (beyond searching).
The present invention uses the content similarity in two applications: finding content “mentors” and self-organizing grouping.
In finding mentors is identifying specifically rated content that the user is likely to have a similar opinion about. Of course, this process can never be exact, but it does not have to be, it need only represent some first order approximation to a level of similarity.
The present invention limits what is compared to four categories:
1. The basic type of wrapper (game, offer, IM, question, etc.) (match or no match).
2. Who the originator of the content is (match or no match).
3. Location/time cylinder proximity (this is a value).
4. Content Associations (this is a Euclidean distance between all 96 dimensions of associations).
The routines should be set up to filter the parameters that participate in the similarity calculation (e.g., “similar in what way?”). For the first three listed above, this is just use/do not use, for the associations, it is a mask for each association.
When selecting mentors, Content Associations are the primary mechanism, with location/time being secondarily used.
For grouping calculations, initially all factors are taken into consideration, but user actions can modify which fields are used for similarity testing i.e., adding something to an arrangement identifies what is the differences that don't matter—removing a something from a tree identifies fields where similarity is apparently not significant.
The similarity calculations are straightforward equality checks for the type of wrapper and originator of content. The location/time cylinder comparisons are relatively simple distance calculations returning a distance and an intersection flag. The content association calculations appear more complex, but are really just simple distance calculations done in an efficient way using bit-wise math.
3.A.3. Auto-updateable. This section is explained below.
3.A.3.a. Subscriptions. This topic is explained below.
3.B. Context: Context influences the delivery and presentation of content to a user. A variety of factors, circumstances and conditions describe the current context and affect the probability of content delivery and presentation.
Context is maintained on the client device through various mechanisms that obtain and store context state information including but not limited to time, location, named places (time/space cylinders) and user preferences (ratings). Different aspects of context influence content delivery and presentation in different ways. These aspects include, but are not limited to 1) device context such as battery level and network connection status, 2) objective context such as time, location, user identity and account balance, 3) subjective context such as active user interaction and PG-rating filter, and 4) preference context such as content ratings.
Context may include, but is not limited to:
3.B.1. Device context
3.B.2. Objective context
As mentioned above, network 11 manages user location information as “fuzzy” data. In other words, network 11 does not identify the user's location in terms of raw GPS data, such as longitude and latitude, but instead manages data based upon colloquial names for the locations. For example, the designators “home,” “school,” “mall,” “Work place,” “restaurant A,” “restaurant B,” “game arcade” may be utilized in lieu of precise GPS data. This is necessary in order to preserve the privacy of the user and to minimize safety issues relating to the precise location of users, particularly adolescents. In contrast, however, the non-adolescent entities that are members of network 11 or commercially affiliated with network 11 may, in fact, be unconcerned about the privacy and security issues related to the precise or exact location of their places of operation. For example, a video game arcade and the restaurants which are identified as places frequented by a particular user may have a precisely known location within a database on network 11.
The utilization of fuzzy data to identify user location is one means of diminishing the communication bandwidth requirements of the network 11. Another means of achieving bandwidth efficiency comes from not continuously transmitting the user's geographic location. For the present invention, there is little or no need to constantly transmit the user's GPS location, either in fuzzy form or raw data. The location of the user is only transmitted to network 11 when the user changes location. In the preferred embodiment, each time the user identifies a particular location with an alias or colloquial name, network 11 assigns and associates a selected geographic region around that particular location to the alias or colloquial name. For example, if the user goes to her work place and, while sitting at her desk, designates that location as “work,” all other locations within a selected radius will also be considered by network 11 as “work.” In this manner, the user is free to move about at her work place without triggering transmissions her GPS location to network 11.
Also, in order to maximize privacy and security for adolescent users, the timing and manner in which location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 communicate their location to network 11 is largely under the control of the user. In other words, location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 will not automatically and periodically announce their location in network 11. Location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 will announce their location to network 11 when, and if, the individual user desires to establish an “on” status for use by network 11 and receipt of network traffic.
Within each service region 213, 215, 217, 219, and 221, there may be a plurality of favorite locations which have been so designated by a particular user. Additionally, within each service region 213, 215, 217, 219, and 221, there is preferably a plurality of network affiliates who advertise particular goods and services over network 11. Such network affiliates may be either non-profit or for-profit entities. The network affiliates may also generate consumable digital content and provide such digital content to network 11 and all or selected users of network 11 for consumption. This digital content may be provided for a fee, at no charge in the manner of “shareware” digital content, or in the manner of conventional broadcast communications, such as radio, television, or satellite.
In the view of
Continuing with the example of
Continuing with the example, the same is true for service region 217. Service region 217 is serviced by wireless communication tower 207. The user has selectively identified a plurality of favorite locations within region 207, including favorite locations 233, 235, and 237. Favorite locations 233, 235, and 237 are identified within network 11 by selected colloquial designations provided by the user. Additionally, there is preferably a plurality of network affiliates located within service region 207, including network affiliates 275, 277, 279, 281, 283, 285, 287, 289, and 291, all of which provide various goods, services, or digital content. When the user engages network 11 within service region 217, network 11 will “know” that the user is located within service region 217, and may then preferentially direct digital content, messages, and advertisements that are relevant to service region 217 to the user.
Continuing with the example of
Continuing with the example of
In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, favorite locations 225, 227, 229, 231, 233, 235, 237, 239, 241, 243, 245, 247, 249, and 251 within metropolitan region 201 are identified through user decision and user action by the particular user. Some of favorite locations 225, 227, 229, 231, 233, 235, 237, 239, 241, 243, 245, 247, 249, and 251 represent places which are personal to the user and which have no precisely known location within network 11. For example, a relative's house may be known to network 11 only by a colloquial designation, such as “Aunt Jane's house.” Additionally, the user's home may also be known only colloquially within network 11 as “home;” however, the true location, including GPS location and street address, for “home” may be known at some secure level within network 11, in order to guard the privacy and to ensure the safety of the user. For example, the address of “home” may be known by network 11 for billing and other communication purposes only. Some favorite places, such as “Aunt Jane's house,” may never have a known precise location, so far as network 11 is concerned. However, network 11 will “know” what region “Aunt Jane's house” is in, merely by knowing the identity of the wireless communication tower 203, 205, 207, 209, or 211 that services the user when he or she is at “Aunt Jane's house.”
The example of
As will be discussed in much greater detail below, the user determines the types of messages, advertisements, and digital content that are pulled from network 11 and transmitted to the user's appliance D1. These preferences or desires may be determined by appliance D1 and network 11 through analysis of the user's behavior and activities, or through direct questioning or interaction with the user. In the current example, since the user obviously enjoys riding stables and water parks, advertisements, communications, and/or digital content originating by, through, or from Riding Supply Store 261 may be preferentially pulled from network 11 and transmitted to the user's appliance D1. Because network 11 knows, if alerted, that the user is within the communication range of tower 203, network 11 may preferentially direct such communications from Riding Supply Store 261 to the user upon the assumption that communications and advertisements made while the user is within proximity to Riding Supply Store 261 may be more effective than communications and advertisements communicated when the user is located in a region of metropolitan region 201 that is remote from Riding Supply Store 261.
As an additional example, through the extensive profiling of the user, network 11 may “know” that the user has little or no interest in video games. Accordingly, communications and advertisements from Game Arcade 253 may be blocked or barred from communication to that particular user. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, as will be discussed in much greater detail below, there is always some possibility that communications relating to subject matters outside known interests of the user will be communicated to the user. However, network 11 includes a probabilistic modeling system for determining which communications or digital content more closely fit the user profile. Based on this probabilistic modeling system, appliance D1 determines which communications to pull from network 11 and transmit to the user. Accordingly, there is a higher probability of relevant communications occurring and a lower probability of less relevant communications occurring.
It is also important to note that if the user has established an “on” status, network 11 is aware of the service region in which the user is located and all adjoining service regions. In this manner, network 11 is capable of monitoring travel across service regions 213, 215, 217, 219, and 221, and may make sophisticated analyses of such travel based upon location, time, and changes in location and time, in order to infer action or purpose. These attributes will be discussed in greater detail below.
Continuing with the example,
As is shown in this example, a plurality of network affiliates 263, 265, 267, 269, 271, 273, and 278 reside within service region 215 and are known by network 11 as 24-Hour Gym 263, Ice Skating Rink 265, Sporting Goods Superstore 267, Prom Dress Shop 269, Belgian Chocolate Store 271, Pet Store 273, and Model Train Store 278, respectively. Network 11 may be entirely unaware of the actual location of Aunt Jane's House 229, Linear Park 231, or Pottery Supply Store 233; however, network 11 will know that Aunt Jane's House 229, Linear Park 231, and Pottery Supply Store 233 are located within service region 215 which is serviced by wireless communication tower 205. This is true because appliance D1 will not broadcast raw GPS position data to network 11. Instead, appliance D1 will transmit, if permitted, that the user is located in a favorite place known as Linear Park 231. On the other hand, network 11 may be aware of the precise GPS data and street address location for Pottery Supply Store 233, especially if Pottery Supply Store 233 is a network affiliate. When network 11 is aware that the user is located within service region 215 and communicating with network 11 via tower 205, communications from network affiliates 24-Hour Gym 263, Ice Skating Rink 265, Sporting Goods Superstore 267, Prom Dress Shop 269, Belgian Chocolate Store 271, Pet Store 273, and Model Train Store 278 may have their advertisements, communications, and/or digital content preferentially directed or routed to the user's appliance D1. However, such transmission of digital content will depend upon the user profile and user preferences which have been established through prolonged interaction between the user and network 11. Accordingly, network 11 may attach a low probability of communicating a digital message from Model Train Store 278 based upon what network 11 has determined about the user's preferences. However, if network 11 has determined that the user is an animal lover, network 11 may attach a high probability to messages which originate from Pet Store 273.
Based upon derived or inferred information about user preferences, or upon selections made by the user, the digital content transmitted to the user's appliance D1 via tower 205 may be entirely different from the digital content being simultaneously transmitted to other users located within the same service region 215. For example, a second user who has a high interest in ice skating may receive digital communications from Ice Skating Rink 265; a third user interested in fitness may receive digital content from 24-Hour Gym 263; and a fourth user known to be a female senior in high school may receive communications from Prom Dress Shop 269. Based upon a network assumption that individuals interested in fitness may not be interested in high calorie, luxury foods, such as Belgian chocolate, there may be a high probability that the third user will receive digital content from 24-Hour Gym 263, but a low probability that the third user will receive digital content from Belgian Chocolate Store 271.
Continuing with the example,
In this example, a plurality of network affiliates 275, 277, 279, 281, 283, 285, 287, 289, and 291 reside within located within region 217, and are known by network 11 to be Corn Maze 275, Aquarium 277, Museum 279, I-Max Theatre 281, Movie Theatre 283, Laser Tag Facility 285, Pizza Place 287, Zoo 289 and Public Library 291. When a user is located within service region 217, network 11 may preferentially broadcast digital messages from one or more network affiliates 275, 277, 279, 281, 283, 285, 287, 289, or 291 based upon the known, derived, or inferred preferences of the particular user. As stated before, there is always some probability that any particular message will be broadcast to a particular user; however, the probabilistic modeling system weights digital content for reception or transmission of digital content to a particular user based upon the derived, inferred, or obtained preferences of that particular user. Accordingly, if the user is known to be an animal lover, messages from Zoo 289 have a higher probability of being viewed by that user. Messages from Laser Tag Facility 287 or Museum 279 may have a low probability of either reception or transmission based upon the then-known user profiles and/or preferences.
Continuing with the example,
Continuing with the example,
2. According to the present invention, the range of GPS locations associated with the generalized location identifiers explained above may be automatically altered over time in response to any one of the following:
3. It should be understood that the generalized location identifiers explained above may simply be provided by network 11 as opposed to being provided by the user.
Bookkeeping operations are performed at every stage of the transport of the content item and balances are maintained in these stages. These account balances are used influence the delivery probabilities of this content item.
Because the plurality of revenue/expense data associated with each content item can represent revenue for the user, merchants can set up campaigns that reward or debit users for certain behaviors, interactions, or transactions. For example, a content item which has a certain location contextual sensitivity could reward a user if they approach a physical storefront. Also, another content item representing a digital coupon upon interaction could debit a users account.
This topic is also discussed below with regard to Network Energy in Section 13.
3.B.3. Objective context—Altered (Virtual locations)
By altering the objective context of the device, the user can influence the delivery and presentation of content. By changing the location context used by the content delivery and routing mechanisms, the user may enable a form of virtual travel known as “virtual tourism” in which the user may choose to receive digital content as if he or she were actually located in a different geographic location. This change in apparent location will cause a subsequent change in the content presented, showing content with contextual sensitivities appropriate for locations nearer the altered location.
3.B.3.a. Geographic Location: The known geographical position of the device may be altered by intercepting the data from the geographical positioning mechanism and either altering the position by a known offset or by generating or manually entering a new device position. This enables the rapid relocation or “jumping” between virtual locations.
3.B.3.b. Named locations: By naming a geographical location, a user is able to later manually specify this named location, thereby changing the location context and influencing the delivery and presentation of content relevant to the previously named location. This enables the rapid relocation or “jumping” between virtual locations.
3.B.3.c. Grouped Geographic Locations: In accordance with the present invention, one or more remote geographical locations may be combined into a single “morphed” virtual space. For example, the network space for New Orleans, Louisiana may be combined with the network space for Dallas, Tex. This morphed space creates a “sister” city metaphor, allowing content relevant to more than one location context to be delivered simultaneously. The remote geographical locations may either be specified by geographical position or by named locations.
3.B.3.e. Unique Virtual Locations: In accordance with the present invention, a user or a group of users may adopt a remote virtual space as a common virtual meeting space, and thus engage in community building. The virtual locations may be used as private spaces which are unknown to those not familiar with them. User generated content may be associated with this space so that the content becomes relevant when a user enters this virrtual location. See also “STICKY-NOTES COMMUNITY COMMUNICATION” and “DIGITAL GRAFITTI”.
3.B.4. Subjective context
3.B.4.a. PG-rating filter: As has been stated above, in the preferred embodiment of the present invention, a high value has been placed upon user privacy. This means that user privacy preferences will predominate over the compilation of other information, including biographic data, cultural data, demographic data, and preferences information, for individual users. Additionally, user privacy settings will predominate over the goals of network 11 of presenting particular digital content to particular users. In other words, a user, or more commonly, a user's parent, may block certain types of digital content from being pulled off of network 11 by appliances 351 and 357, and such block will have priority over the goal of network 11 to offer for presentation particular types of digital content to the users of appliances 351 and 357. Certainly, the user privacy preferences for the identification of his or her current location, in fuzzy terms, predominates over the goals of network 11 to know the location of the user.
It is important to note that a privacy block is different from a user preference. In a privacy block, there is a complete and absolute block on the subject digital content, and appliances 351 and 357 will not display such digital content. In other words, there is a zero percent probability that the communication will be displayed. On the other hand, a user preference, such as food preferences F1, F2, and F3, entertainment preferences E1, E2, and E3, and relationship preferences R1, R2, and R3, are determined primarily from each user's interaction with appliances 351 and 357, which includes the user's responses to inquiries, the user's trust relationship to other users, and/or inferences made by network 11. Such interaction is the primary source of contextual user profiles 411 and 417. Privacy blocks deals with blocking or filtering particular digital content, and user preferences deal with the ability of a user to aggressively seek out certain types of digital content based upon compiled user preferences. The former can be considered a digital filter, and the latter can be considered to be a digital accelerator.
3.B.4.b. Current named Place-time.
3.B.4.c. User absorption rate.
3.B.4.d. User thriftiness.
3.B.5. Preference: For example, how well the user liked the content before, i.e. ratings.
3.C. Rating: In accordance with the present invention, many novel and interesting applications and network functions are made possible through a data processing implemented profiling of individual user's preferences with regard to content items. A user's preference profile to content is represented by ratings that are assigned to content items with respect to each user. That is, the rating assigned to content items will vary across different users. Ratable content includes, but is not limited to, games, movies, music, images, ads, offers, news, events, user-created messages, and representations of people. Ratings represent the favorableness and utility of content items to each user.
Ratings enable the network platform to tune the selection and scheduling of content to each individual user's likes and needs. The meta-data provided in the wrapper is used to determine the similarity among content items. The tuning involves preferred selection of content items that are similar to other content items that are favorably rated. See Sections 3.D, 6.B.2, and 8.A, for further details on the influence of ratings on content selection and scheduling. See Section 8.F for a more detailed discussion of rating mechanisms and techniques.
3.D. Content Selection: The goal of delivering the right content items to the right people under the right circumstances can be implemented by either a single or dual stage process.
The preferred method provides enhanced user privacy and system scalability by implementation in two asynchronous stages. The first stage occurs on the server at the network operation center and performs gross content item candidate selection, while the final presentation decisions are made on the client. A feedback loop from the client to the server returns content item rating information.
3.D.1. Gross—Big scheduler (content selection engine): The goal of this stage is to select candidate payloads for delivery to the client. As content ages, expires, or is poorly rated, and as new content is introduced into the network as a whole, or the user's home location changes the client must be replenished with new content items. Such payloads are often delivered to the client when the device is cradled or during off-peak communication times.
This stage is running asynchronously, as server capacity allows, always keeping a list of candidate content for a specific client. When the client is able to accept new content, a the list of content items currently residing on the client, their byte sizes, their prioritized purge-ability, and their content-type blend, are examined and an optimal subset of the candidate list is transferred to the client. The candidate selection process is probabilistic, blending new content varieties with known preferences, and is based on historic ratings of content of this user and those users he selected as having similar tastes. This historic content's wrappers and ratings include information about content categories, features, and time and space relevancies.
3.D.2. Fine—Little scheduler: This stage operates on the payload of candidate content held within the client, refining precisely if or when the content is presented based on the user's context. If the content is presented and explicit or implicit user rating of the content can be acquired, this information is delivered back to the first stage.
The mechanism is again probabilistic, using the interaction of the content's contextual sensitivities with the current context to set probabilities of presentation.
3.E. Awareness: Awareness encompasses a wide range of different types of information, but in general, awareness is defined as these types of information that are delivered and presented based on context, as is defined in section 1. This includes, but is not limited to friends, events, processes, news, and merchant offers and many of the types of information listed in section 2 that provide value to users.
There are four general categories of awareness that the network and user interface are capable of supporting.
1. Awareness of what is close to and happening around a user at the present time. For example, awareness of the nearest automated teller machine or coffee shop, and awareness of a special offer at a favorite nearby restaurant delivered to the user near lunchtime.
2. Awareness of things that will happen or become effective at various times in the future. For example, awareness of an upcoming concert or soon to be released movie, awareness of invitations to parties or meetings, and awareness of new products.
3. Awareness about things that are of interest and that are happening now, but that are not near the user or directly observable. For example, awareness of the score of a baseball game, awareness of stock quotes, awareness of a package delivery, and awareness of the location of friends.
4. Awareness of state and status of user activities and the system. For example, awareness of received messages, awareness of an incoming call, awareness of pending work such as an unfinished instant message, awareness of the status of a sent message, awareness of current location, awareness of remaining battery capacity and awareness of network connection status.
Awareness may be presented at the user's focus, it may reside in the user's peripheral vision, and/or it may be interruptive and require immediate user attention. The user interface provides constructs for presentation of awareness items as appropriate. Examples of awareness presented in the user's focus include, but are not limited to news articles and the reading of an instant message that was recently received. Examples of awareness presented in the user's peripheral vision include, but are not limited to other user locations, the time and the network connection status. Examples of interruptive awareness include, but are not limited to a low battery, a lost network connection, an incoming instant message or an incoming phone call.
3.F.1. Organizational tool: An arrangement is a user interface construct for organizing content items for presentation to a user. An arrangement is an assemblage of zero or more content items that are collected, then spatially and/or temporally organized for presentation.
3.F.2. Content Item Membership is Non-exclusive: Arrangements offer users great flexibility in constructing an awareness environment that meets their individual needs. Users can define any number of arrangements and individual content items may be included of any number of arrangements.
3.F.3. Types of Arrangements: Users occasionally need to view homogenous collections of content objects formed on the basis of inherent category membership (e.g., an arrangement of all people). Traditional business-related functionality found on PDA's and desktops is designed around access to homogenous sets of information (e.g., contact lists or address books, message lists, to do lists, event lists or calendars). These are very useful for reference, but they do not satisfy the need people have to be aware of various kinds of information, especially when the set of information itself needs to adapt in response to changes in the present context. At any given time users have the need to bring together collections of content that are diverse. Using arrangements manages to satisfy both with the same interaction model.
3.F.4. Representation in other arrangements: The ability to nest arrangements within other arrangements creates association links between them giving much flexibility to users in setting up their own navigational paths. In this way, the set of arrangements taken together forms a heterarchical organization of content objects. In contrast to hierarchies, heterarchies are able to be reflexive so that they can be reformulated in response to immediate and changing needs. They are also more easily able to accommodate organizations of heterogeneous objects.
3.F.5. Contextually triggered: Arrangements are treated like any other content item, so their presentation may be controlled in a similar fashion. They may be chosen for presentation based on time, location or any specified contexts.
3.G. Communications: In accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention, a plurality of alternative communication modes are supported within network 11. Some communication modes can be considered to be “cold” forms of communication, while other modes of communication may be considered to be “hot” modes of communication. A cold mode of communication has a high degree of delay or latency associated therewith. Conversely, a hot mode of communication is one which has a low degree of delay or latency associated therewith. Generally, hot modes of communication may be conducted in real time. Preferably, the alternative communication modes include an e-mail mode, an instant messaging (IM) mode, a chat mode, a voice mode, and a video phone mode. The following is a description of the operation of the present invention to enable these various modes of communication as well as the escalation or de-escalation of modes of communication.
3.G.1. E-Mail: The e-mail mode of communication is one in which text messages are keyed in by one user and communicated in a text form over network 11 to a designated recipient. The e-mail mode of communication on network 11 utilizes conventional e-mail formats and protocols. E-mail messages may be accumulated and saved in an electronic in-box, whereby the e-mail messages may be read at the leisure and convenience of the recipient.
3.G.2. Instant messaging: The instant messaging mode of communications one in which text messages are keyed in by one user and delivered immediately to the recipient user if the recipient user's appliance is in an IM receipt mode. IM messages received while in the IM receipt mode subordinate other content on the recipient's appliance. Thus, IM is considered “hotter” than e-mail. It is desirable that the IM mode of communication on network 11 utilizes conventional IM formats and protocols.
3.G.3. Chat: The chat mode of communication is one in which a plurality of communicants have initiated a chat session in which text, graphical, or voice synthesized messages are exchanged substantially concurrently in a dialog fashion. Because the users in a chat session have affirmatively established a desire to communicate with each other, chat is “hotter” than e-mail and IM. It is desired that the chat mode of communication on network 11 utilizes conventional chat formats and protocols.
3.G.4. Voice: The voice mode of communication is similar to a telephone conversation. The voice mode of communication is possible when a mobile phone is embedded in appliance 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, or 361. Because the voice mode of communication is performed concurrently between users in real time, it is “hotter” than e-mail, IM or chat. It is desired that the voice mode of communication on network 11 utilizes conventional cellular or digital phone formats and protocols.
3.G.5. Video: The video-voice mode of communication is similar to a video phone conversation. The video-voice mode of communication is possible when a mobile video phone is embedded in appliance 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, or 361. Because the video-voice mode of communication is performed concurrently between users in real time, and involves current video, it is “hotter” than e-mail, IM, chat, or voice. It is desired that the video-voice mode of communication on network 11 utilizes conventional cellular or digital video phone formats and protocols.
3.G.6. Escalation of Communication Modes: In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, it is possible for communicants to move between modes of communication from a relatively “cold” mode of communication, such as IM, to a relatively “hot” mode of communication, such as a voice. If during an IM session, the communicants decide to “switch up” to the voice communication mode, they can simply input an appropriate command to their respective appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, or 361, and network 11 will establish the voice connection between the users.
3.G.7. De-escalation of Communication Modes: Conversely, it is possible for communicants to de-escalate modes of communication from a relatively “hot” to a relatively “cold” mode of communication. This could be done in an effort to reduce airtime or to conserve network energy. For example, if two users are communicating to each other in the voice mode and decide to “switch down” to a chat mode which may burn less network energy, the users simply input an appropriate command to their respective appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, or 361, and network 11 will disconnect the voice connection between the users and establish a chat session between the users.
3.H. Searches: Content items that perform find and search functions are provided so that the user may search for new content items located on the network and locate existing content items already stored on their device.
Search content items may perform specific searches and/or contextual searches. Specific searches include, but are not limited to finding certain people on the network or a particular merchant. Contextual searches include, but are not limited to, finding content items based on location, time and preferences.
A single find or search utility is extremely inadequate because it is much too difficult to provide a single, comprehensive search utility with all of the necessary options to find any possible type of information. For this reason, separate content items for finding different types of information are provided for. Users are accustomed to using different search mechanisms for different types of information. For example, when looking for directions, a user does not simply use a generic search mechanism and type in the keyword directions. The user goes to a mapping and directions site or page that has various options that make the process of getting exact directions from one location to another much easier.
Providing different content items for find and search operations provides the possibility for merchants to develop custom, branded content items that can be used to find a particular merchants locations or products. For example, a coffee shop could provide an awareness content item that simply provides a constant indication of the nearest coffee shop location. The awareness item is a search item, but the item does the search automatically based on the user's location.
3.I. Relationship network: Reference will now be made to
OVERVIEW: The relationship network is comprised of a set of nodes and edges, i.e., links between nodes. Nodes represent various entities that belong to the network. Edges represent the relationships among entities and are directionally valued.
NODE TYPES: All nodes are defined by a common way to facilitate code reuse and simplicity. Nodes for different types of entities are differentiated by the way parameters in the common node structure are set. The generic types of entities that are represented by nodes include the following.
a. Individual device holders.
d. Regions (e.g., D/FW).
e. Organizations (e.g., Ski club, church group, Boy Scouts, Wilderness Society).
f. Groups (these are created by one or more individual device-holders to act as places for sharing stuff, or sending group messages).
g. Authorities (e.g., police, fire department).
h. Service Provider.
NODE ATTRIBUTES: Nodes have the following attributes:
a. Node ID: Uniquely identifies the node to the network. All nodes can be found by using their ID.
b. Node type: Type specifications are used to derive the functional and behavioral characteristics of a node.
c. Place: A physical place to which the node is associated. Nodes for some entities may be strongly associated with a place, i.e., Starplex, church group, while others may have no place association at all, i.e., Brittany Spears fan club.
d. Time: Some nodes may be strongly associated with particular dates or times, i.e., a node for a group that gets together every week to watch football games; while others may not have time associations at all, i.e., all night pizza delivery service, the fire department.
e. Network Energy Level (Balance): All nodes have an economy associated with their existence. This economy's mechanism is network energy. Nodes can get network energy and use network energy.
f. Nodes can store content: Nodes can have a content store. Some of the content may be publicly available throughout the network, while some may be private and need authorization and permissions to access.
g. Permissions: these specify appropriate authorizations for other nodes to send content to, store content in, or access content from the node.
h. Set of link ratings: This is the set of ratings for links that originate from the node to other nodes.
i. Set of links: This is the set of links that originate from the node.
j. Content association ratings: The same set of associations that are used to characterize content are used to characterize nodes.
k. Node movie: Each node needs a representation of itself so that when it is visited by another node it can be “viewed.”
NODE OPERATIONS: Nodes can perform the following operations:
a. Acquire network energy.
b. Receive messages.
c. Receive a request to authorize interaction with another node.
d. Receive generic content.
e. Receive parental controls from a parent node.
f. Send updates to another node.
g. Authorize interaction with another node and send notice.
h. Send messages to another node.
i. Send generic content to another node.
RATINGS: Links represent node-to-node relationships. Some relationships are established by default and are not rated, i.e., links from all nodes to the service provider node or nodes. The nodes themselves, or actually the entities that the nodes represent, establish additional node-to-node links in the network. The node created links can be rated in two ways: (1) degree-of-trust; and (2) degree-of-similarity.
The degree-of-trust rating is a directed rating from the origination node to the linked node and is used to compute relationships on the basis of referential trust. Referential trust can be established between two nodes that are not directly linked when (a) each node trusts, or has a trust link to, a third, intermediate node; and (b) that intermediate node trusts each of the nodes.
The degree-of-similarity rating is also a directed rating from the origination node to the linked node. Similarity ratings are used to expand the pool of content delivered to a given device holder in terms of either breadth or depth.
Content breadth can be expanded by an individual-to-individual link. Basically, the similarity link establishes a way for content liked by one individual to affect the content seen by another individual. In this way, an individual can expand the set of content they see by using the combined set of content viewed and rated by other individuals. The degree of the rating influences the magnitude of the effect. The explicit rating provided by the linked node is used as the “preliminary specific rating” of preference for that content on the scheduler of the device whose associated node had created the link.
Content depth can be expanded by an individual-to-merchant, or to-organization, link. In this example, the link is creating a way to receive a greater quantity of content from a single source. The degree of the rating influences the magnitude of the content.
CONTENT ROUTING AND SCHEDULING: A major function of the relationship network is to provide an efficient means of routing content among nodes, and in so doing, providing the right pool of content to each node connected to a device holder. The pool of content from which each device's scheduler is replenished will be somewhat different for each device holder and will be a subset of the total set of content in the network. Note that compiling this pool and selecting from it in a probabilistic manner is generally the functionality performed by what has been referred to as the “big scheduler.”
The device-dependent content pools will consist of content-items that, for the most part, are expected to be highly preferred by each device holder. The pool will not contain certain types of content that is inappropriate. This includes:
a. Content for the wrong geographic location.
b. Content that falls outside parental authorizations (e.g., parental controls via PG ratings).
c. Content that has prerequisites which are not in the pool.
d. Content that is already on the device.
Basically, the pool will consist of content that the device holder is expected to like, but will also contain some content that is not similar to other content the device holder has seen, i.e., unfamiliar content, and some content that the device holder had previously indicated as undesirable. The purpose for including the later types of content is to provide for the possibility that the device holder tastes have evolved.
The device-dependent content pool for an individual device holder will be compiled using some form of aggregated/group data based on the group nodes to which each device holder belongs, or is linked. This group approach avoids the computational intensity that would be needed to select each device's content from a general pool of all content in the network.
3.J. Economy of content delivery: See iii.B.2.E above.
3.K. Abstraction of location: In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 and network 11 collaborate over time in order to generate a novel profile of the user associated with a particular location-aware wireless communication appliance D1. The most basic location-related information is the identification of places which the user frequents. This is depicted in simplified form in the view of
In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, during normal non-emergency operation, location-aware wireless communication appliance D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 will rarely or never communicate latitude and longitude data to network 11. Instead, as location-aware wireless communication appliance D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 identifies and catalogs the various places frequented by the user, it is the colloquial identification of those places which is communicated to network 11. Accordingly, the network may know that a user is at “home,” at “work,” at “school,” at the “mall,” or at a particular “restaurant,” but will not know the actual or precise location of those particular places. This is necessary in order to protect the privacy of the user. In the first commercial implementation of the present invention, the users will likely be adolescents, so there are additional safety and security reasons for rarely or never transmitting precise GPS data from location-aware wireless communication appliance D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 to network 11. However, as will be explained below, there is some ability to “track” location in a general manner by knowing which particular tower or towers a particular location-aware wireless communication appliance D1, D2, D3, D4, or D5 is communicating with.
In this manner, appliance D1 and network 11 may profile a particular portion of a day for the user. When this is done over relatively long intervals of time, an accurate location and time profile may be established for this particular user. For example, if location and time are monitored in this manner over an interval of several months, very reliable patterns will be detected, including patterns within particular days, as well as, patterns within longer time intervals, such as weeks or months. In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, these location and time profiles may be stored in memory within appliance D1 and/or network 11 and assigned various confidence intervals which represent a quantitative or qualitative conclusion relating to the reliability of such a profile. Once a time and location profile is established for a particular user, network 11 may more intelligently manage digital messages, also referred to herein as “digital content,” communicated by network 11 and/or affiliated entities, such as merchants, to ensure that messages or content are directed to the user at appropriate times, places, and manners. For example, the type of message that network 11 may deem appropriate for a user that is actually or likely located at the “mall” differs substantially from the types of messages that are appropriate for the user when he or she is at “school” or “home.” As will be discussed in significantly greater detail below, in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the user has a great deal of control over the content of messages, information, or digital content communicated to his or her location-aware wireless communication appliance D1. The establishment of profiles based upon time and location is one fundamental element of providing intelligent, effective, and predominately user-controlled messaging.
3.L. Authorization: This is permission of awareness things and of content
4.A. Macromedia Flash
All content items have wrappers. The wrappers allow content to be described, manipulated, used in computations, and referenced throughout the network without the presentation and data parts of the content item having to be moved or accessed.
Content can be wrapped either manually or automatically. Tools have been created to assist content creators in manually wrapping content and for automatically wrapping content that is text based.
5.A. Prototypical wrappers: Prototypical wrappers form a starting point to assist content creators in specifying wrappers.
5.A.1 Inheritance from prototypical wrappers: Prototypical wrappers can be defined in two ways. In one way the prototype describes a high-level framework for a class of content items. Using this as a starting point, content creators would fill in fields that specify the instance of the class. In the second way the prototype describes in detail a stereotypical instance of a class. Using this as a starting point, content creators would modify the fields already qualified by the stereotype.
5.A.2 Tagging: Detail of wrapper tags from above. Wrappers are specified in a tagged format that does not need all the tags.
Thus, the wrapper can be deconstructed/reconstructed to reduce bandwidth.
5.B. Wrapper Tool: Assists user by allowing associations to be filled by specifying combinations of other wrappers. Also assists users by automatically presenting the most similar content items to the one being defined, thus providing an internal validity check.
5.C. Automatic wrapping: Uses a set of indicator words and phrases that map to associations.
Involves a text search and match process in which the indicator words and phrases are match to the text in the content and through a scoring process based on the matches automatically assign values to associations.
5.D. Registration: Content registration system: Process of when a piece of content comes in, it gets compared with every other piece of content to get its distance in all dimensions from every other piece of content. Because pre-calculation is done during registration, it does not have to be done during selection.
Routing is the process of efficiently and intelligently directing content items from their point of origin in the network to their appropriate destinations. Routing processes will identify where content is to be delivered. Separate processes discussed in Section 7 handle the actual delivery of a content item from the server to the client destination. Content items are routed in two basic ways each discussed below.
6.A. Destination-specific routing: This method of routing is used to direct a content item to one or more specifically identified destinations. The destinations are specified in the content item's wrapper in the Node destination field either by the content creator or by an automated process.
Generally, content items that are destination-specific include:
6.B.1. Simultaneous distribution of unique experiences: While it is possible for each individual user within a particular service region to receive completely different digital content in his location-aware wireless communication appliance, there will be a great deal of overlap, such that certain groups of users within a certain service region will have common digital content displayed or played on their location-aware wireless communication appliances. Essentially, the overlap in digital content between users or groups of users represents a form of shared virtual environments. This will be described in high-level overview with respect to
Playable digital content column 367 contains the actual playable digital content, for example, a movie, an executable file, a graphical icon, a text message, or the like. Source column 369 identifies the source of each Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Type column 371 contains a general description of each Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F and G, or of the format of each Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Each Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F and G may be analyzed and “coded” as corresponding to particular types of content. For example, Digital Content A relates to content subjects X and Y, Digital Content B relates to weather, Digital Content E relates to content subjects L and M, and Digital Content F relates to sporting events. According to the present invention, the user may be required to “burn” selected amounts of network energy to view, play, or execute certain types of digital content. Energy required to play column 375 contains the amount of network energy, in network energy units, required to view, play, or execute each Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F and G. On the other hand, the user may be able to “earn” selected amounts of network energy by viewing, playing, or executing certain types of digital content. Energy earned for playing column 377 contains the amount of network energy, in network energy units, which may be earned for viewing, playing, or executing each Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F and G. In simplified terms, if the user does not have enough network energy to view or play certain digital content, he must perform an activity on network 11 for which he may earn network energy.
It should be understood that different digital content elements may have different wrapper elements, or that certain wrapper elements may not be applicable to certain digital content messages. For example, Digital Content A, C, D, and G do not contain data for the “Subject” wrapper element, subject column 373. Although only nine exemplary wrapper elements have been depicted in
Digital content may be “offered for presentation” to the user according to a variety of methods, including: immediate full display, incremental display with time, incremental display with location, and user initiated. A digital content element designated as “immediate full display” is displayed immediately in its fullest possible display format, regardless of time, user location, or user intervention. A digital content element designated as “incremental display with time” grows larger, becomes more prominent, or is offered at increased frequency as the preferred display time approaches. A digital content message designated as “incremental display with location” grows larger, becomes more prominent, or is offered at increased frequency as the user physically approaches the preferred display location. A digital content message designated as “user initiated” only grows larger, becomes more prominent, or is offered when the user initiates a request or search for such digital content. This “bubbling up” of digital content is discussed in more detail in conjunction with the description of the preferred graphical user interface.
As is shown, Digital Content A is an advertisement in the form of a movie from Merchant #12 for which a user may earn five units of network energy simply by playing the movie. Merchant #12 has designated that Digital Content A should preferably be offered for presentation to the user after school hours. The offer of presentation of Digital Content A to the user will grow larger or more prominent as the user incrementally approaches a preferred longitude and latitude LATLONG1, such as Merchant #12's retail outlet. Digital Content B is a severe weather warning in the form of text and an alarm from a government entity. Digital Content B is displayed immediately at various times and changing physical locations, such as the locations of users in the path of a severe storm. Digital Content C is an e-mail message from a Friend #1 is available for presentation to the user for a period of seven days, such period being established through various means, including designation by the sender, the user's responses to inquiries, the user's trust relationship to Friend #1, and/or inferences made by network 11. The receiving user will “burn” two units of network energy should he choose to read Friend #1's e-mail message.
Digital Content D is a request for chat from Acquaintance #3. Digital Content D is displayed as a graphical icon and will be available for response by the user for a period of three hours. Digital Content C and D have no preferred location. Digital Content E is a survey in an executable spreadsheet format from Merchant #2. As is depicted, the user can earn a relatively large amount of network energy, twenty units, by completing the survey. It will “cost” the user five units of network energy to respond to Digital Content D. Digital Content E will be offered for presentation to the user during the specific twenty-five day period between December 1st and December 25th. Digital Content F is a textual announcement from the user's school pertaining to a particular sporting event, such as a football game. As is depicted, Digital Content F will be incrementally displayed between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. over a seven day period. Thus, the offer for presentation of Digital Content F will grow larger, become more prominent, or be offered at increased frequency as the time of the football game approaches. Digital Content G is a schedule in a calendar file format from the user's Soccer Team. Digital Content G will only be offered for presentation if initiated by the user by a query of search. Of course, if the user does initiate the offer for presentation of Digital Content G, he will burn three units of network energy.
In practice, network 11 may manage millions of digital content elements in hundreds or thousands of categories, each digital content element possibly having hundreds of wrapper elements. Network 11 may require that members, including users and network affiliates, enter or select category designations or key words to allow sorting and analysis of the content subjects. Alternatively, a software agent could be established which parses the digital content or the associated wrappers and infers the content subject. Although use of such a software agent would lessen the burden on network affiliates and users, some misidentification or miscategorization of the digital content may result. As will be discussed below, in accordance with the present invention, privacy, preference, and content subject is utilized to filter, accelerate, prioritize, or block particular digital content elements. Additionally, as has been discussed previously, the user's current location information may also be an important basis for determining whether certain digital content should be offered for presentation.
Wrappers 385, 387, 389, 391, 393, 395, and 397 for Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, respectively, are illustrated in high-level, simplified representations in
Referring now to
Each user profile 411, 413, 415, 417, 419, and 421 is comprised of certain “static” data components 423, represented by columns 423 a, 423 b, and 423 c, and certain “dynamic” data components 425, represented by columns 425 a, 425 b, 425 c, 425 d, 425 e, 425 f, 425 g, and 425 h. Dynamic data components 425 may be separated into at least two categories: “hard” dynamic data components 427 a, represented by columns 425 a, 425 b, 425 c, and 425 d, and “soft” dynamic data components 427 b, represented by columns 425 e, 425 f, 425 g, and 425 h. Hard dynamic data is generally objective and concrete, while soft dynamic data is generally subjective and fungible. It should be understood that contextual user profiles 411, 413, 415, 417, 419, and 421 may consist of many other static and dynamic data components. It is the combination of static data components 423 and dynamic data components 425 that create the unique “contextual” user profile.
Static data components 423 consist of data that remains relatively constant, such as the accumulated biographic data of column 423 a, demographic data of column 423 b, and cultural data of column 432 c. On the other hand, both hard dynamic data components 427 a and soft dynamic data components 427 b consist of data that may change frequently, such as the date and time, the user's current location, network-inferred data, and the user's preferences data, as compiled through the inquisitiveness functions and responses to queries. Examples of hard dynamic data include the user's actual longitude and latitude data of column 425 a, the time of day of column 425 b, the date of column 425 c, and the user's available network energy 425 d. Examples of soft dynamic data include the user's food preferences of column 425 e, the user's entertainment preferences of column 425 f, the user's relationship preferences of column 425 g, in some instances the user's privacy blocks, and other such data derived from the habit-modeling functions and inquisitiveness functions of network 11. In other words, user profiles are constantly changing and adapting to reflect the user's current state of being, in terms of location, time, and personal likes and dislikes.
The broad diversity of contextual user profiles 411, 413, 415, 417, 419, and 421 is depicted in table 407. The user of appliance 351 has the following exemplary static data components: biographical data B1, demographic data DM3, and cultural data C1; the following exemplary hard dynamic data components: current latitude and longitude LATLONG1, current time of 4:00 p.m., current date of December 5th, and available network energy of 130 units; and the following soft dynamic data components: food preferences data F1, entertainment preferences data E1, relationship preferences data R3, and privacy blocks P1. In a similar fashion, the user of appliance 353 has the following exemplary static data components: biographical data B3, demographic data DM2, and cultural data C2; the following exemplary hard dynamic data components: current latitude and longitude LATLONG2, current time of 4:30 p.m., current date of December 5th, and available network energy of 43 units; and the following soft dynamic data components: food preferences data F2, entertainment preferences data E3, relationship preferences data R2, and privacy blocks P2. The user of appliance 355 has the following exemplary static data components: biographical data B2, demographic data DM1, and cultural data C3; the following exemplary hard dynamic data components: current latitude and longitude LATLONG3, current time of 5:00 p.m., current date of December 5th, and available network energy of 62 units; and the following soft dynamic data components: food preferences data F3, entertainment preferences data E2, relationship preferences data R1, and privacy blocks P3.
Continuing with table 407 of
Each biographic data B1, B2, and B3, each demographic data DM1, DM2, and DM3, and each cultural data C1, C2, and C3 represents a broad collection of information specific to a particular user, with some information overlapping for specific users. Similarly, each food preference data F1, F2, and F3, each entertainment data E1, E2, and E3, and each relationship data R1, R2, and R3 is a collection of related data compiled from the users' responses to many inquiries made over a relatively long period of time, as well as, from certain inferences made by network 11. Privacy blocks P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, and P6 are specific to each user and are either set up by the user or the user's parents. It should be understood that a large number of each of these types of preferences will exist in network 11. In
6.B.2. Content selection engine: The content selection engine works from a profile of content items that indirectly represents a profile of users. The basic process is outlined below.
The routines are set up to filter the parameters that participate in the similarity calculation. For the first three listed above, this is just “use” or “do not use,” for the associations. It is a mask for each association. When selecting mentors, content associations are the primary mechanism, with location/time being secondarily used.
For grouping calculations, initially all factors are taken into consideration, but user actions can modify which fields are used for similarity testing, i.e., adding something to an arrangement identifies what is the differences that do not matter—removing a something from an arrangement identifies fields where similarity is apparently not significant.
The similarity calculations are straightforward equality checks for the type of wrapper and originator of content. The location/time cylinder comparisons are relatively simple distance calculations returning a distance and an intersection flag. The content association calculations appear more complex, but are really just simple distance calculations done in an efficient way using bit-wise math.
Content Selection Services are responsible for creating content payloads on the network for each individual user. A content payload is made up of a single user id with a group of content ids associated to it. As soon as a user registers their device, a content payload is created and available on the network for that user. Initially the content payloads will be filled with random content. Once the user begins to rate content the payloads will become more tailored to each individual users preferences. Each time the user's device makes a request for content, the user's existing content payload (space allotting) on the network is sent to the user and the available space in their content payload account on the network is refreshed with new content. The content in each payload is selected through a series of complex calculations determining the most appropriate content for each specific user along with a few completely random pieces.
When a user buys a device it comes with a set of random content. When they register their device with the network, a content payload account is created with more random content and stored on the network for that user.
Users begin to rate content and buddies on their device over time. These ratings are sent over to the network on a regular basis. Each rating is stored with a time, location and value (positive or negative). The ratings are kept in a historical format.
A general content request is received from a user. Based on the amount of space available on the device for new content, the existing payload for that user is reviewed and the appropriate content is selected and sent to their device (see “Content Services” above). The user's content payload is also refilled in parallel. As stated above, the payload starts out as generic content but over time becomes tailored to each individual's preferences.
The payload is refilled by randomly selecting positive ratings from the user ratings history for that particular user. It then searches for content in the general content pool that is close to it based on a Euclidean distance, which is the straight line distance between two points, measure plus space and time parameters of where the particular rating was made.
6.B.3. Relationship influence: As mentioned earlier, users can rate other users. These ratings enable the ratings provided by other users to impact the content selected for the user who has rated others.
When a user rates a content item, the rating propagates out anonymously to everyone who has rated that user positively.
7.A. Intelligent pre-caching: In the preferred embodiment, an asynchronous data transfer and caching scheme is utilized to mediate network usage and deliver a data responsiveness that exceeds that possible with synchronous data delivery over narrowband wireless networks.
Narrowband, wireless packet data networks such as CDPD and GPRS cannot provide data delivery response times as low as those which users have become accustomed to with wide-band or broadband packet data network connections such as ISDN, DSL or dedicated leased lined. As a result, wireless enabled devices tend to have long response times after a user requests data from the network until the data is completely transmitted to the wireless device. In addition, the maximum capacity of current wireless networks is limited and demand may exceed capacity during peak usage times, further slowing data transfer. Also, wireless network usage during peak times can be more expensive than usage during off-peak times, making it financially beneficial to utilize off-peak time.
By utilizing the scheduling invention illustrated herein, it is possible to transfer pre-selected data to a memory cache on a device and later present the information to the user automatically and/or when the data is requested. The transfer of pre-selected data is performed asynchronously from the data presentation, allowing a wide-band connection and/or off-peak narrowband connection to be used to transfer the data to the memory cache in the device. In this way the presentation of the data makes it appear that the data transfer is exceeding the maximum theoretical bandwidth of the wireless network.
7.A.1. Transfer costs
7.A.2. Delivery times: In the process of packetizing, it is preferred that the system knows when it has to have it by and when is it too late.
7.A.2.a. Available to send
7.A.2.b. Must be sent by
7.B. Separation of data and presentation layers: To decompose the presentations into their base parts and send only what is needed
Resources can be shared
Efficiencies of factoring
Can keep logos separate from ads, so one logo can be used in numerous ads
One template can be used to present the same type of data numerous places. For instance, one news viewer used by numerous news content providers
Used in subscriptions to reduce the size of the data update
8.A. Content's context sensitivities interacting with current context: The calculation of neediness is discussed below.
Mechanisms about the interaction between the sensitivities and the actual situation
8.A.1. Client presentation scheduler
8.A.1.a. Probabilistic selection: In accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention, a software routine or module known as a “scheduler” is utilized to manage the presentation and refresh scheduling of digital content on each appliance 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, and 361. The scheduler operates to select digital content for either or both of transmission and reception in accordance with a scheduling model. The presentation of all content items is controlled, managed, or monitored by the scheduler. The scheduler probabilistically selects content items for presentation using constrained random variation. This can be better understood with reference to
In the preferred embodiment, the scheduler resides in its entirety on appliances 351 and 357. However, it should be understood that the scheduler may reside and be executable on network server 109, on appliances 351 and 357, or on a combination of network server 109 and appliances 351 and 357. Irrespective of the location in which the scheduler resides, the scheduler functions and operates in a similar manner. Therefore, the following discussion will not identify any particular location for the scheduler, and will be primarily focused on the scheduling functions and operations performed by the scheduler. As is illustrated, a scheduler 451 resides on appliance 351, and an identical scheduler 453 resides on appliance 357.
Plurality of messages 401 reside on network server 109 and are available for communication to appliances 351 and 357, the users of which are likely located in a particular geographic region, such as geographic region GR1 (see
As explained above, contextual user preference profiles 411 and 417 are compiled and reside on appliances 351 and 357, respectively. Schedulers 451 and 453 analyze Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F, and G and perform a comparative analysis between each Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F, and G and each contextual user profile 411 and 417. Schedulers 451 and 453 consider the location of the user, the time of day, the day of the week, the date, the identity or source of the digital content, the type of digital content, the preferences previously established by the user, and the content subject of the digital content. Schedulers 451 and 453 also consider the privacy settings previously established by the user or his parents. These privacy settings are maintained in privacy block data 402 residing on appliance 351, and privacy block data 404 a and 404 b residing on both appliance 357 and network server 109, respectively. Schedulers 451 and 453 filter, sort, and prioritize Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F and G in a manner which is consistent with the foregoing considerations. However, in the preferred implementation of the present invention, schedulers 451 and 453 are not rigid systems, but are instead probabilistic models which associate weights or values with each Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F, and G that is available for presentation to the users at any particular time. Additionally, schedulers 451 and 453 may associate a confidence measure with each weight and value. Accordingly, a weight and a confidence measure may be utilized in determining whether Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F, and G will be offered for presentation to the users, and, if so, in what order Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F, or G will be communicated to the users, relative to each other.
According to the preferred scheduling model, all digital content has a finite probability of being offered for presentation to the users of appliances 351 and 357, unless such digital content is absolutely and completely blocked for privacy reasons. This is so because the operations of schedulers 451 and 453 are governed by constrained random variation as described herein. In other words, a mere reference value of “Low” will not preclude particular digital content from being offered for presentation to a user.
Continuing with reference to
All data from Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, contextual user profiles 411 and 417, and privacy blocks 402, 404 a, and 404 b is input into neediness agents 461 and 465. The comparative analysis between each Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F, and G and contextual user profile 411 is performed by neediness agent 451. In identical fashion, the comparative analysis between each Digital Content A, B, C, D, E, F, and G and contextual user profile and 417 is performed by neediness agent 453.
As is shown, probabilistic wheel 463 includes Bin A, Bin B, Bin C, Bin D, Bin E, Bin F, and Bin G, each being sized to correspond to at least the weight accorded each Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F and G, respectively. Similarly, probabilistic wheel 467 includes Bin A, Bin B, Bin C, Bin D, Bin E, Bin F, and Bin G. The weighing may additionally take into account the confidence measure associated with the weight determination. According to the probabilistic scheduling model, there is a much greater probability of selection and presentation of digital content associated with larger bins. Neediness agent 461 has made Bin G the largest bin on probabilistic wheel 463. Similarly, neediness agent 465 has made Bin G the largest bin on probabilistic wheel 467. Therefore, of Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F and G, it is most probable that Digital Content G will be transmitted, received, and offered for presentation to the users of appliances 351 ad 357. The large size of Bin G on probabilistic wheels 463 and 467 may be the result of the weight accorded to Digital Content G, the confidence measure for the weight accorded to Digital Content item G, or some combination of weight and confidence measures.
As is shown on probabilistic wheel 463, Bin A, Bin B, Bin C, and Bin D are relatively uniform in size, but smaller in size than Bin G. Further, Bin E and Bin F are uniform in size, but are the smallest bins on probabilistic wheel 463. Thus, Digital Content A, B, C, and D have an equal probability of being offered for presentation to the user of appliance 351, albeit a lower probability than Digital Content G. In contrast, although Bin E and Bin F have an equal probability of being selected for presentation, such probability is the lowest of the bins on probabilistic wheel 463. As for probabilistic wheel 467, Bin C, Bin D, Bin E, and Bin F are relatively uniform in size, but smaller in size than Bin G. Further, Bin A and Bin B are uniform in size, but are the smallest bins on probabilistic wheel 467. Thus, Digital Content items C, D, E, and F have an equal probability of being offered for presentation to the user of appliance 357, albeit a lower probability than Digital Content item G. In contrast, although Bin A and Bin B have an equal probability of being selected for presentation, such probability is the lowest of the bins on probabilistic wheel 467.
It is important to note that schedulers 451 and 453 intelligently consider the amount of network energy required to play particular digital content, and the amount of network energy that is available for use by each user. If a user is low on network energy, neediness agents 461 and 465 will decrease the probability of presenting digital content that “burn” large amounts of network energy. Instead, neediness agents 461 and 465 will increase the probability of offering for presentation digital content for which the users may “earn” network energy. For example, if the user of appliance 351 is low on network energy, neediness agent 461 will decrease the probability of offering for presentation Digital Content item D, which requires five units of network energy to execute. On the other hand, neediness agent 461 will increase the probability of offering for presentation Digital Content item E, for which the user may earn 20 units of network energy for completing the survey.
According to the present invention, the user does not know what digital content has been stored in cache memory to be offered for presentation. However, the user indirectly controls what digital content is offered for presentation by the user's interaction with network 11. However, the user may initiate a search session in which the user requests particular digital content information. Because network 11 is highly user centric, such user-initiated searching receives a high priority. For example, if the user of appliance 357 initiates a search session to determine the starting time of the user's next soccer game, neediness agent 465 will immediately and greatly increase the probability of offering Digital Content item G for presentation to the user. Such user-initiated interaction with appliance 357 will predominate over other goals of network 11. The other goals of network 11 are secondary to user-initiated interaction.
Neediness agent 461 analyses and compares Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F, and G with contextual user profile 411. The comparative analysis necessarily includes consideration of privacy blocks 402. As a result of this comparative analysis, neediness agent 461 determines the relative size of the bins on probabilistic wheel 463 and then randomly selects which digital content should be offered for presentation to the user of appliance 351. The relative size of the bins will depend upon either the weight accorded the digital content messages or the confidence level associated with the weighing. As is shown, it is most probable that Digital Content item A, B, C, D, and G is presented, in some form or another, on display 352 (see also
Scheduler 453 of appliance 357 operates in a similar fashion. For scheduler 453, Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F, and G are analyzed and compared to contextual user profile 417. Neediness agent 465 analyses and compares Digital Content items A, B, C, D, E, F, and G with contextual user profile 417. The comparative analysis necessarily includes consideration of privacy blocks 404 a and 404 b. As a result of this comparative analysis, neediness agent 465 determines the relative size of the bins on probabilistic wheel 467 and then randomly selects which digital content should be offered for presentation to the user of appliance 357. The relative size of the bins will depend upon either the weight accorded the digital content messages or the confidence level associated with the weighing. Due to the different relative sizes of the bins, it is most probable that Digital Content items C, D, E, F, and G is presented, in some form or another, on display 358 (see also
It will be appreciated that one implementation of the present invention may be the generation of a “scheduling agent” which is identified with a particular user. This scheduling agent may be extremely sensitive to location of the particular user as he or she moves between service regions 213, 215, 217, 219, and 221 within the network 11 (see
Additionally, schedulers 451 and 453 may be “adaptive,” such that schedulers 451 and 453 change over time. Such changes may either be “reactive” or “predictive.” These adaptive changes to schedulers 451 and 453 are different than changes in contextual user profiles 411 and 417, which are constantly updated. Reactive changes to schedulers 451 and 453 may represent “step function” changes, such as a relatively long-term relocation of a user to a new distant locale, or “incremental” changes, such as a maturing of the user of a long period of time. This sensitivity to subtle changes can correspond to, be responsive to, and tracked with, changes in taste and preferences for the individual user. A step function adaptive change would occur in scheduler 451 if the user went on a vacation across the country for two weeks. Scheduler 451 would recognize this long-term change in location and adapt by offering different digital content, possibly digital content relating to the new location, for presentation. Further, the interests of a user who is seven or eight years old may differ substantially from the interests of a user who is fourteen or fifteen years old. If the user is a member of network 11 for that entire interval of time, from age seven to age fifteen, the user will be presented with repeated opportunities to update, modify, and supplement contextual user profile 411. As a result, incremental adaptive changes occur in scheduler 451 as the user ages over long periods of time. As tastes change due to maturation or other factors, scheduler 451 may also change and accord different weights to different sources, types, and subject matter of digital content. This type of response to either step function changes or incremental changes can be considered to be reactive changes.
On the other hand, schedulers 451 and 453 allow for and encourage certain types of “predictive” changes. As contextual user profiles 411 and 417 are complied, network 11 is better able predict far in advance the types of digital content which may be or could be of interest to the users, even before the users actually develop an interest in such subject matter. This allows network 11 to “lead” the user to digital content which may be of interest to the user based upon inferences generated from contextual user profiles 411 and 417. This contrasts with the reactive changes discussed above which can be considered a form of “lagging” behind changes in the users' conditions. Predictive changes in schedulers 451 and 453 can be useful in targeted advertising as the information for all users can be analyzed and patterns can be determined for likes, dislikes, and preferences from the aggregated data of thousands of users. One example would be the advertisement of a particular book or type of music based upon a statistically reliable inference that users which like one type of book or music may also like another type of book or music which is somehow stylistically or otherwise related.
8.A.1.a.1 DELIVERY OF CONTENT BASED UPON KNOWN USER PREFERENCES: In the example of
Users that have largely overlapping digital content can be considered as users who are “sharing” virtual space. If two or more users know one another and also share common virtual space through the receipt of generally similar digital content items, their user-experience can be richer and more enjoyable, and they can begin to build “community” within network 11 based upon common interests. This may take many forms including the creation, distribution, and sharing of digital content. It can also take the form of “virtual introductions.” Essentially, there is a substantial opportunity for the development of community systems. Community systems and novel functions enabled by the present invention will be discussed in greater detail below when the preferred community systems are discussed.
8.A.1.a.2 PRIMACY OF USER PRIVACY PREFERENCES: Privacy is primary for network 11. User preferences, not network or merchant preferences, have priority.
8.A.1.a.3 INFERRED ACTION AND PURPOSE: One additional novel function enabled by the present invention is the ability of network 11 to infer action and purpose of the user based upon certain types of data. Of course, contextual user profiles are extremely useful in inferring action and purpose. However, location information and time information are equally important in inferring action and purpose. In the simplest form, the action and purpose of a particular user can be inferred through the analysis of location information only. For example, if the user communicates with network 11 from a “school” location, it would be reasonable to assume that the user is present for purposes related to obtaining an education. However, it may be useful to also consider time information in addition to location information to better determine or infer action and/or purpose of a particular user. For example, the communication by the user from a “school” location during a weekend or holiday may infer different types of action or purpose, such as attendance at a sporting event. Certainly, determinations based upon location and time are likely to be more accurate than determinations based upon location information alone.
It is also possible for network 11 to analyze changes in either or both of location and time in order to infer action and purpose. For example, if the user has traveled from a first known location to a second known location in a particular time frame, it may be possible for network 11 to examine the time and location data from the user's contextual user profile to determine the most likely activity in which the user is about to become engaged. For example, with reference to
The following are several concrete illustrations of the utilization of location information only, location and time information, and changes in either of location and/or time information in order to infer action and/or purpose of the user. This information is useful because certain types of digital content may be more appropriate, relevant, or effective if offered for presentation at a particular time relative to an inferred action or purpose. For example, offering for presentation a commercial message from stores located in a particular mall is much more effective and relevant if network 11 can reasonably infer that a user is located at or in route to that particular mall.
8.A.1.a.4 USE OF LOCATION INFORMATION ONLY TO INFER ACTION: Network 11 might infer that if a user is at “work,” she is working. The system can exploit this knowledge by giving higher priority to content items that are associated with work-related activities.
8.A.1.a.5 USE OF LOCATION AND TIME INFORMATION TO INFER ACTION AND/OR PURPOSE: Network 11 might infer that if a user is at “school” on a weekend night, she is attending a sporting event. For example, if the user is at school after hours or on a weekend in the fall, the action and purpose of the user may be inferred to be non-educational, such as attendance at a football game.
8.A.1.a.6 USE OF CHANGES IN LOCATION AND/OR TIME TO INFER ACTION AND/OR PURPOSE: In addition, if the user travels from one “known” location to another, network 11 may be able to infer the activity that the user is about to become involved in. For example, network 11 may infer that if a user is traveling from “Restaurant A,” at which the user was located for the last hour, toward “work,” that the user is going back to work.
The relative probabilities assigned to each content item and used by the that the scheduler vary with the current context and the contextual sensitivities of the set of content items being scheduled. The relative probabilities are computing using the neediness measures calculated individually for each content item. This calculation is discussed in the following section.
8.A.1.b. Neediness: DEFINITION OF NEEDINESS: An aggregated relevancy based on many factors which determine how important a piece of content is to a user under their current context. Essentially it is a combination of effects that are mapped back to a value.
Components that Affect Neediness:
Neediness Changes Because:
a. Content Changes—Something a user has an awareness to escalates to a higher level of wanting to be seen, i.e., awareness trigger.
b. User actions—changes context, for example, find something, send a message.
c. Device status—docked status, signal conditions, etc.
d. PG rating—rating flag is a hard limit on what can be seen
e. Prerequisites—list of content that must have been seen within a certain space/time cylinder, which can be positive or negative.
f. Interruptiveness—immediate pass-through.
g. Loneliness—used to suppress repeat content. Individual time-constant based.
h. Space/time sensitivity—cylinder list intersections.
i. Habits (categorized place/time)—The experience platform enables individual device-holders to model their habits in terms of times, locations, and system-defined categories. At their discretion, device-holders are able to name the locations that want their device to know about. These location names are used when device-holders choose to expose their location information to other selected device-holders. The device “looks up” the current named place/time wherever the user is. It currently uses the smallest cylinder as their location if the user is in two overlapping cylinders. The rationale is that it makes the user's location more specific.
In addition to providing their own names for locations, device-holders can assign a habit category to a location. Actually, they can do this whether or not they provide a name for the location. The system service provider provides a plurality, preferably sixteen, predefined habit categories from which device-holders can choose. The habit categories represent places at which it can be inferred that a variety of typical behaviors and activities will take place. The habit categories will also have a predefined radius based on what it is. Content creators can take advantage of these inferred behaviors and activities and use them to affect the neediness of their content. A content creator can make the neediness of a given presentation package be sensitive to habits by listing applicable habit categories in the wrapper for that presentation package. An exemplary set of habit categories is listed below. This set is may be adapted as necessary.
j. Habit Categories:
k. Ratings—how the user rated it as well as when and where (time and place) he rated it.
The preference inference process is carried out by a content mentoring mechanism. Basically, any content item that is explicitly rated by a device holder will act as a potential mentor for other content whose content association key is similar. The degree of similarity between any two presentation-packages is determined by computing a Euclidean distance measure between the content association keys of the presentation-packages. Because the associations keys have four levels of strength of association for each of the ninety-six dimensions, the distance metric ranges from 0 (identical) to 29.39. The set of content associations is divided up into several categories. At the most fundamental level there is a distinction between category associations and property associations. Category associations provide a characterization of content in terms of taxonomic distinctions. Property associations provide a characterization in terms of properties that cut across the various categories. In this way, content similarity, or closeness, is sensitive to both categorical and property descriptions.
l. Energy Balance—works to keep balance at a certain level (centered).
m. Transfer balance (number of bytes)—budgets the amount of bandwidth usage—space it out over a month period.
(1) Context driven.
Integrating other features coherently and consistently with the awareness structures in the UI
An exception to this is personalization of which there are two distinct types:
Giving users much flexibility in specifying the information they wanted to be aware of and how it was arranged.
Providing users with the capability to create their own content, either to share with others on the network or to self-brand their device with their individual styles.
Only the first personalization use, that is, the need to provide users with flexibility in selecting and organizing information, became important to defining the UI framework.
8.B.1. Awareness Items
As used here, awareness encompasses a wide range of different types of information about, among other things, friends, events, processes, news, and merchant offers. Awareness is also manifested in different ways. We defined four forms of awareness that the network and its UI needed to be capable of supporting.
1. Awareness of what is close to you and happening around you at the present time. For example, awareness of the nearest ATM or Starbucks, and awareness of a special offer at a favorite nearby restaurant delivered to you near lunchtime.
2. Awareness of things that will happen or become effective at various times in the future. For example, awareness of an upcoming concert or soon to be released movie, awareness of invitations to parties or meetings, and awareness of new products.
3. Awareness about things that are of interest and that are happening now, but that are not near you or directly observable. For example, awareness of the score of a baseball game, awareness of stock quotes, awareness of a package delivery, and awareness of the location of friends.
4. Awareness of state and status of your activities and the system. For example, awareness of received messages, awareness of pending work such as an unfinished IM, awareness of the status of a sent message, and awareness that the battery is low or that you have lost connectivity.
8.B.2. Arrangement layer
8.B.3. Work layer
8.B.6. Menus and alerts
8.C. UI (Alternate)
8.E. UI Themes
8.E.1. Demographically configured: In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the contextual user profile can have secondary uses, including determining the scheme, design, layout, and/or content of graphical user interfaces (GUI's) for the location-aware wireless communication appliances. The determination of a GUI which might be most pleasing and acceptable to a member may be determined by and based upon the location information and demographic information for that particular member. Data regarding regional or demographical preferences may be aggregated to determine the most appropriate GUI.
8.E.2. Personality configured: Alternatively or additionally, a GUI may be determined, at least in part, by the personality of a particular member, based upon biographical, personal, and preferences data gathered for that particular member. Such data can be aggregated for a large number of users to determine the types of GUI's that are most pleasing to those types of members.
8.F. Rating mechanisms: As mentioned in Section 3.C, ratings enable the network platform to tune the selection and scheduling of content to each individual user's likes and needs. This tuning is the benefit accrued by the user for making the effort to rate content. However, rating is always an optional activity. See Sections 3.D, 6.B.2, and 8.A, for further details on the influence of ratings on content selection and scheduling.
8.F.1 Explicit methods: One method of acquiring ratings is by collecting explicit input form each user with regard to presented content. As content is presented, users are provided with the opportunity to rate the presented content. Nominally, the content item currently being presented in the Stream is the focus for the rating. The opportunity to rate is provided unobtrusively and is a natural way of interacting with the system. Since the Stream is generally continuous, the opportunity to rate content items is also generally continuously available.
The system is also inquisitive and can actively make inquiries of the user. For example, a content item may ask the user a generic question such as “do you like pizza?” A question of this sort can act as a mentor to the selection of other more specific content items related to it (e.g., an offer from a specific pizza restaurant). The inquisitiveness of the system is inherent in the manner in which content items are scheduled. It manifests itself in a conversational style that can be used to initiate a dialog-like interaction with the user.
A mechanism used to collect ratings explicitly from users is an analog responder mechanism that enables the user to make a choice among a one-dimensional spectrum of inputs ranging from unfavorable to favorable. The spectrum of choices can be continuous or discrete (in which case the analog nature of the response is approximated). The analog responder mechanism can be enabled in hardware or software. In any case, the analog responder mechanism is made readily available to the user when needed and can register a rating with a single input action from the user. Section 11.A.2, Analog responder, provides a detailed description of this mechanism.
8.F.2 Implicit methods: An alternative method of acquiring ratings is by implicitly gathering information about user behaviors with regard to content and automatically assigning ratings on the basis of the behaviors. For example, the degree to which a user interacts with a given content item (either in terms of duration, or breadth and depth of exploration) can be collected and used to assign a rating (i.e., the greater the interaction the more favorable the rating).
8.F.3 Forgeffulness: Ratings of specific and prototypical content, whether obtained from explicit or implicit methods, provide information about each user's likes and dislikes in an ongoing way. Over time, ratings will tend to narrow the scope of content a given user sees by increasingly biasing the selection of content toward what the user is known to like. This tuning is desirable, and it adapts well to changes in a user's taste in the favorable to unfavorable direction. However, it is also desirable for the system to be able to adapt to changes that are in the unfavorable to favorable direction. To accomplish this, the system incorporates a forgetting mechanism. Ratings lose their strength with time. The longer the interval since a rating was collected the lower its influence over content selection will be.
8.F.4 Contextually situated ratings: Context can be a major factor in the utility or desirability of content. For example, an offer for a free cup of coffee may be very welcome and useful on the way to work in the morning, but not late at night at home. To account for the impact of context on preference, ratings are collected with time and location associations. Thus, a user's preferences relate to both the characteristics of the content and the context in which it is used.
8.F.5 Ratings of people: People are represented in the system as content items. Users can rate these “people” content items. In doing so, users establish relationship links that enable the ratings that other users give to content items to influence their own content selection and scheduling. See section 3.I, Relationship network, and 6.B.3, Relationship influence, for further details.
8.F.6 Rating summary points:
8.G. Inquisitiveness: Inquisitiveness in the form of a content item that embeds a question that is rated was discussed briefly above. However, the mechanisms and techniques of inquisitiveness have broader application and are discussed in greater detail here. In accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention, location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 are systems which initialize and configure themselves through highly anthropomorphic dialogs between appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 and the corresponding users. In this manner, appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5 can generally be considered “plug and play” in their ease of use during the initialization and configuration operations. The following is a discussion of an exemplary or illustrative dialog between appliance D1 and the user during the initialization and configuration.
As discussed briefly above, the user may also be “profiled” by network 11 through direct interaction, preferably through highly anthropomorphic dialogs between network 11 acting through the particular location-aware wireless communication appliance D1 and the user. In other words, the dialog will appear to the user to be a dialog with a human. In order to enhance this illusion network 11 may assign a name, identity, communication style, and even a personality type to the dialog. In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, network 11 includes a number of software agents that operate to initiate a dialog or interleave a series of questions which are utilized by network 11 to gather certain types of information about each particular user. Such dialog or series of questions will be referred to herein as “inquisitiveness.” The information may include biographical data, which relates only to a particular user; demographic data, which may, in aggregation, provide generally useful information to network 11; and preferences data, which provides very particular information about each user, but which may also be aggregated in order to provide high-level information which may be useful to network 11.
In accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention, this inquisitiveness takes the form of a highly human dialog between one or more particular software agents running on network 11 and the particular user. The series of questions or dialogs may be interleaved or dispersed among or between other types of communications and/or digital content. In other words, there is no requirement that the user be subjected to an experience similar to responding to a written questionnaire or responding to an interrogation. In sharp contrast, in accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention, the questions may be spaced out over a relatively long time interval, for example, many months, and presented in a manner which is not offensive, burdensome, or taxing to the user; but which instead may take the form of interesting dialogs or exchanges between network 11 and the user. The inquisitiveness experience may become even more interesting and rewarding to the user when an identity and/or personality is assigned to the inquisitiveness software agents operating to obtain the information. Also, in accordance with the preferred embodiment, there is no requirement that the information be gathered in any particular order; therefore, each user may have a unique experience in terms of dealing with or responding to an inquisitive questioning or dialog initiated by the software agents operating in network 11. Over relatively long time intervals, however, the same types of information can be amassed for each particular user.
Broad categories 151, 153, and 155 may each have subcategories. For example, biographic data category 151 may include the following subcategories: name subcategory 163, gender subcategory 165, age subcategory 167, and ethnic background subcategory 169. As is shown, data element column 157 contains the data element “Sue” in name subcategory 163, the data element “female” in gender subcategory 165, the data element “13” in age subcategory 167, and the data element “Chinese-American” in ethnic background subcategory 169. In this example, confidence column 159 includes a qualitative confidence determination of the accuracy of the data elements. As is shown, confidence column 159 contains the qualitative determination of “High” for the data element “Sue” in name subcategory 163 and for the data element “female” in gender subcategory 165; but only the qualitative determination of “Medium” for the data element “13” in age subcategory 167 and for the data element “Chinese America” in ethnic background subcategory 169. Thus, at the time of the example illustrated in
Continuing with the example of
Preferences data category 155 may contain information on the particular likes, dislikes, and preferences for a particular user. In the example of
As is evident from the example of
This type of information is also useful in allowing adolescents to identify others with similar or different backgrounds, habits, likes, dislikes, and other preferences. This is useful in establishing a network of friends and acquaintances, and is especially useful in building “community” through the network established utilizing the location-aware wireless communication appliances D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. For adolescents, there is generally high interest in such community activities.
8.H. Prioritized Interrupts: Referring now to
Operating system 1575 is preferably a conventional operating system, such as ThreadX available from Express Logic, Inc., which has been ported to function with CPU 1501, and which has been customized to function on network 11. A conventional file system 1576, preferably FileX available from Digital Filing Solutions, Inc., operates in conjunction with operating system 1575 and manages data and files on appliance 1500. In accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention, a Flash rendering engine 1577 is communicatively coupled to operating system 1575 and file system 1576. It is preferred that the dynamic user interface (DUI) is predominantly a series of Flash movies, graphics, or animations which are rendered or displayed on display screen 1537 and adapted to provide information to the user in the form of messages or other communications, and to receive input from the user from either thumbboard 1527, analog responder 1528, joysticks 1530, or additional input elements 1529. As is shown, an application scheduling module 1579 is provided for application scheduling and user input control. A plurality of applications, such as application 1581 and application 1583, may be running simultaneously on appliance 1500. Application scheduling module 1579 manages applications 1581 and 1583 by allocating system resources so that network 11 and appliance 1500 function properly and efficiently. A scripting API 1585 may also be provided in communication with application scheduling module 1579. Scripting API 1585 manages and controls a plurality of custom applications, such as custom application 1587 and custom application 1589.
MESSAGING CENTRIC NETWORK SYSTEM WITH LOW LATENCY: In accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention, messaging functions are accorded a primary status within the network and device operation. Accordingly, interrupts within the device which are associated with external communication are given a priority of operation over other applications which are running locally within any particular location-aware wireless communication appliance. This results in a low latency in communication.
8.I. Suspend/resume of awareness subscriptions
9.A. Awareness hidden subscription model.
9.B. Things grabbed from stream are auto-subscribed.
10.A. Packet data: The present invention preferably utilizes a CDPD protocol for the communication of digital content. However, it should be understood that network 11 may be adapted to utilize other communication protocols, such as the 3rd Generation (3G) protocol supported by the consortium led by AT&T and Ericson, other protocols supported by other wireless communication consortia, Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), and/or other global standards.
10.B. Gateways: In accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention, one or more modes of communication which are possible utilizing network 11 and appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, or 361 may be integrated with the e-mail and/or instant messaging functions of either or both of AMERICA ONLINE, ICQ, and/or MSN and others.
11.A.1. Physical configuration: Until now, handheld, wireless devices have primarily been used for person-to-person communication by voice, transmitting and receiving voice data in real-time. These “mobile phone” devices have allowed users to go wherever they like and still be in touch with their friends and colleagues just as though they were using a wired phone at home or work. Communication by textual means, such as e-mail, has been performed almost exclusively over land-based copper and fiber optic phone lines because the wireless communication networks have simply not had the capacity or capability to provide cost effective, wireless transmission of textual data. But recent advancements in wireless technology have made it possible to provide cost-effective data transfer over existing wireless networks.
The most common means of textual communication has been e-mail, but a relatively new form of messaging called “instant messaging” (IM) has caught on and has grown very rapidly in popularity in the last several years. Unlike e-mail which sits in an electronic mailbox until the user retrieves his or her e-mail messages, IM occurs nearly instantaneously, producing a notification and a dialog box on a user's screen alerting the user that the user has an incoming message. In addition, users have the ability to know if the recipient is on-line and available to receive am IM message.
Many handheld, wireless devices are beginning to provide access to e-mail, but their functionality is currently very limited. The user is usually limited to browsing, that is receiving and reviewing the information, not authoring and sending data. Much like retrieving voice messages from a voice mailbox, the user is only able to retrieve e-mail messages from their e-mail in-box. The primary reason is that authoring messages requires a convenient method of alphanumeric data entry. Users are hesitant or reluctant to enter a message if the data entry process is slow and difficult. This is a problem that conventional devices cannot properly address due to user interface limitations, i.e., the capabilities, design, and layout of the physical devices. While e-mail may require entry of a moderate length message in response to a received message, such data entry usually happens at a time the user deems appropriate and convenient, not at a time dictated by the sender of the message. This is very much like the user being able to periodically check voice messages in a voice mailbox, and respond at the user's convenience.
IM, however, is more real-time and intrusive than e-mail, the same way that an incoming phone call is more real-time and intrusive than checking voice messages. IM is a much more frequently accessed and used system than an e-mail client; therefore, IM requires a network and appliance that are much more convenient to use than an e-mail client. Such a level of convenience has been possible with wired connections and desktop computers. With traditional desktop computers, the computer is placed on or near the work surface and the display and keyboard are easily accessible. The user can immediately see incoming IM messages presented on the display, then respond to the IM messages using the keyboard. The user does not have to remove a device from the user's belt clip or pocket and open the device to see the IM message. Neither does the user have to then locate a work surface for support and connect a peripheral keyboard in order to compose a response.
To be convenient for IM, a device must be able to support effortless reading of incoming IM messages and rapid entry of responses. Such support minimizes the inconvenience of the intrusion of the IM message. The device should allow a minimum amount of effort to perform the tasks involved when using IM. An ideal IM device requires the following unique and distinct features:
1. A display that is always visible. If, for example, the device must transition from a closed state (maximum portability) to an open state (maximum usability), the display should be visible in each state. Users are very intolerant of a device that must be opened and closed each and every time am IM message or notification occurs. Ideally, the display should be large enough and have the capabilities to display both textual and graphical information, allowing for a rich presentation of information;
2. A data entry means that is large enough for human hands and that is designed for rapid entry of moderate length alphanumeric messages;
3. An overall size which allows the device to be operated, ideally, with one or two hands, and which makes the device convenient for portable use; and
4. A design that allows the user to quickly interact and perform minimal responses to incoming IM messages, even if the device is in a closed state.
In order to be appropriate for mobile use, the device should be small and convenient to carry and use. For this reason, the features listed above are typically mutually exclusive. There are a variety of devices available that are capable of providing wireless access to textual information, such as mobile phones, PDA's, handheld computers, and two-way pagers, but the compromises in all of their designs limit their suitability as IM devices. For some of these devices, the displays are always visible and easy to see, but the device lacks an input device, has a small and inappropriate input device, has a slow and error prone method of data entry, or requires additional peripheral devices and a work surface for support. For other devices, a suitable input device is present, but the device transforms between multiple states which prevent the display from being seen in one of the states, limiting the convenience of using the device on a frequent basis.
Conventional wireless communication devices can be categorized into several distinct configurations:
1. Mobile phones, commonly known as “cellular phones;”
2. Personal digital assistants, commonly referred to as PDA's;
3. Handheld computers, commonly referred to as palmtop computers; and
4. Two-way pagers.
The configuration of a mobile phone typically consists of:
1. A small display that is always visible;
2. A keypad for numeric data entry; and
3. An internal communication module that can transmit and receive analog and/or digitized voice data.
The mobile phone configuration has the following disadvantages:
1. The display is typically very small and inappropriate for display of large amounts of textual data. They are typically proportioned for one or two rows of phone numbers and proper names, not textual data in the structure of a written sentence;
2. The keypad is commonly located adjacent to the display, increasing the overall size of the unit;
3. On some units, the device has a clamshell design that obscures both the keypad and display when closed;
4. The keypad is typically a twelve-digit keypad designed for numeric data entry, although the keyboard usually supports alphanumeric character entry for the purpose of entering proper names into an address book maintained in the phone's memory. The commonly used method of accessing alphanumeric characters is to switch the device into a text entry mode, then press a key repeatedly to access a particular one of a subset of characters available for each key. This method is extremely slow, awkward, error prone, and is not appropriate for a device intended to transfer textual data on a regular basis; and
5. The communication module is typically engineered to support voice communication, and in only the latest device versions, limited retrieval of alphanumeric data.
The configuration of a PDA typically consists of:
1. A large display that is always visible;
2. A touch screen and stylus for data entry;
3. No keyboard for data entry; and
4. No internal communication module.
The PDA configuration has the following disadvantages:
1. The device has no keyboard, so alphanumeric data entry is usually performed in one of two ways: (a) the user taps with a handheld stylus on a “soft” keyboard that is drawn on the display, or (b) the user writes on screen with a handheld stylus and the processor converts the user's writing into text data;
2. An optional detachable keyboard may be available, but the keyboard usually requires a flat surface for support during use as it is tethered to the device by a cable or attaches in such a way that it will easily become detached if tilted. This makes the keyboard extremely awkward for use in one hand while on the move; and
5. The device lacks a communication module. Modules may sometimes be added, but at the expense of consuming the port available for connecting the optional keyboard to.
The configuration of a palmtop computer typically consists of:
1. A large display screen;
2. A complete keyboard;
3. A clamshell design where the display closes over the keyboard, or a flat layout where the display is located adjacent to the display; and
4. No internal communication module.
The palmtop configuration has the following disadvantages:
1. The clamshell design renders the display non-visible when the device is closed. The clamshell design affords protection to the display and keyboard when the device is closed, but is not adequate for frequent presentation of information to a user on the move; and
2. The relatively large size makes the device prohibitive for use as an IM device. When a large display and keyboard are present, the device becomes inconvenient for the user to carry on a regular basis. When the device dimensions are reduced to yield a more convenient size, the usability of the display and keyboard are greatly reduced.
The configuration of a two-way pager typically consists of:
1. A small display screen;
2. A small, complete keyboard; and
3. A flat layout where the keyboard is located adjacent to the display, or clamshell design where the display folds over the keyboard when closed.
The two-way pager configuration has the following disadvantages:
1. Units with a flat layout have displays that are always visible, but to keep the overall device size down, the display and keyboard are reduced to minuscule dimensions which greatly reduces their usability; and
2. Units with a clamshell design, render the display non-visible when the unit is closed, adding inconvenience when the user must look at the display.
The distinction between each category of devices is blurring daily, but a trend is very evident in all the previously mentioned devices. The devices are either:
1. Designed primarily for voice communication and have limited alphanumeric entry capability, or a capability that is not suited to use in your hands while on the move; or
2. Designed primarily for occasional retrieval and display of textual information and have a design that is very inconvenient for frequent input and viewing of data while on the move.
The present invention is a new and improved configuration of a handheld, wireless communication device that overcomes the limitations of current handheld, electronic devices that serve or can be adapted to the purpose of bi-directional, wireless communication of textual information. The appliance of the present invention is a small, electronic device that can be held and operated with one or two hands, in a convenient and comfortable manner under usage conditions typically encountered with a mobile phone device. In addition, the appliance is configured such that it can be held and minimally operated in one hand. The appliance has a display screen, preferably color, capable of displaying textual and graphical information, and an input device that allows rapid and comfortable entry of alphanumeric data. The display may be protected by a cover made of either a rigid or flaccid material to afford protection from damage. The cover may be of a material such as a clear plastic or rubber that allows the display to remain visible even when covered. The appliance transitions between at least two states, each of which allows viewing of presented data, and acknowledgement of and response to received messages.
One device state maintains a small footprint, whereby the device consumes a minimal amount of volume and affords a greater level of portability and concealment, hereafter called the “closed” state. A second device state affords a more efficient level of alphanumeric data entry, hereafter called the “open” state. The device can transition from the open state to the closed state easily and with a minimum of effort, preferably with one hand. In the preferred embodiment, the appliance's display remains visible in either state, allowing the user to observe incoming messages without having to manipulate the device to transition it from one state to another, such as from closed to open.
The appliance of the present invention comprises at least the following components:
1. An alphanumeric input device, such as a keyboard or thumbboard;
2. A display device, such as an LCD, LED, or LEP display screen;
3. A processor;
4. A power source, such as a battery or mechanical generator like a wind-up spring mechanism;
5. A wireless communication module, such as a CDPD, CDMA, or GSM modem; and
6. A body consisting of at least two distinct parts—one containing the display device and one containing the input device, the remaining required components may be located in either or both of these two parts.
In a first device configuration:
1. The display remains visible when the device is in either the open or closed state;
2. In the closed state, the display remains visible, but obscures the input device;
3. The display is movable such that it reveals the input device obscured below the display when the device is transitioned from the closed state to the open state; and
4. When transitioning from the closed state to the open state, the display moves in one or a combination of a sliding, hinging, or pivoting movements as illustrated in a very broad sense in
In a second configuration:
1. The display remains visible when the device is in either the open or closed state;
2. In the closed state, the display remains visible, but obscures the input device;
3. The input device is movable such that it is revealed from below the display when the device is transitioned from the closed state to the open state; and
4. When transitioning from the closed state to the open state, the input device moves in one or a combination of a sliding, hinging, or pivoting movements as illustrated in a broad sense in
The preferred configuration of an appliance 601 according to the present invention is illustrated in
Display portion 603 includes a display screen 615. Display screen 615 is preferably a high-resolution, 16-bit color, reflective LCD screen being 320×240 pixels having a diagonal display area of about 3.8 inches. It should be understood that other comparable display screens may be used. Although always visible, display screen 615 will cycle down to a “power save” mode during periods of non-use to conserve power. A cover or shade (not shown) may be utilized to protect display screen 615 from damage, to enhance visibility, to prevent glare, or to alleviate or minimize other common problems associated with such display screens. In the preferred embodiment, display screen 615 is covered by a protective bezel (not shown).
Appliance 601 is powered by a portable power supply (not shown), such as batteries. In this regard, a power supply cover 613 is provided to cover and protect the portable power supply. In the preferred embodiment, the portable power supply is rechargeable by placing appliance 601 in a docking station or charging station (not shown). Although appliance 601 operates on DC current, appliance 601 may be plugged into and powered by a conventional 110-Volt wall outlet (not shown) with the use of a conventionally functioning AC to DC power transformer (not shown).
A plurality of push pads 617 are located at selected locations on display portion 603. Push pads 617 are preferably located such that the user may translate display portion 603 relative to body portion 607 by pushing on push pads 617 with his thumb or thumbs. In the preferred embodiment, display portion 603 is preferably made of rigid, molded plastic or similar material. Body portion 607 is preferably made of a similar material. As has become popular in recent years, display portion 603 and/or body portion 607 may be partially transparent or translucent, having a colored tint. A plurality of protective bumpers 619, preferably made of rubber or rubberized plastic, are coupled to display portion 603 and body portion 607 at selected locations. A plurality of raised grips 621 may be integrated into protective bumpers 619 to facilitate handling of and interaction with appliance 601. Appliance 601 may be of modular construction so that a plurality of the external components may be quickly and easily interchanged. Such interchangeability allows the user to choose from a wide variety of exterior styles and designs, thereby customizing appliance 601 to the user's particular tastes. In this manner, the appearance of appliance 601 can be modified to suit the user's ever changing moods and attitudes.
Appliance 601 includes a plurality of input/output devices, such as LED's 623, at least one speaker 625, a plurality of joysticks 627, conductive power terminals 629 for attachment to the docking station, an infrared (IR) port 631 for the transfer of data, a DC adapter port 633 for attachment of the power transformer, a headphone jack 635 for use with headphone speakers, an on-off switch 637 for toggling appliance between an “on” state, an “off” state, and/or a “standby” state, as further explained herein, and an analog responder 639. Analog responder 639 will be discussed in considerable detail below. It will be appreciated that LED's 623, joysticks 627, and on-off switch 637 may be multi-functional. For instance, LED's 623 are preferably full-spectrum color LED's that can be selectively programmed by the user to display selected colors at selected intensities and/or selected flash frequencies in response to certain conditions. LED's 623 are particularly useful when display screen 615 has cycled down into the power save mode. This allows the user to interact with appliance 601 without transitioning appliance into the open state. By using only LED's 623, speaker 625, joysticks 627, IR port 631, and analog responder 639, a user can perform a considerable amount of input/output without transitioning appliance 601 into the open state.
Analog responder 639 is a one-dimensional, electronic touch pad disposed within appliance 601. Analog responder 639 is activated by the user touching selected areas of appliance 601. Preferably, analog responder 639 is disposed within and centrally located along a lower edge of body portion 607 closest to the user. Such location allows analog responder 639 to be usable when appliance 601 is either in the closed state or the open state, i.e., when display portion 603 is translated relative to body portion 607. It is preferred that analog responder 639 be adjacent or in close proximity to display screen 615, because analog responder 639 functions primarily to manipulate a cursor or graphical images being displayed on display screen 615. The one-dimensional functional boundaries of analog responder 639 are preferably indicated by raised end ridges 641 or similar visual indicia. For example, one boundary may be indicated by a “−” sign and the opposing end boundary may be indicated by a “+” sign. Such indicia are particularly useful because a primary function of analog responder 639 is to allow the user to selectively input a response to a query from an analog range of possible responses. Using the current example, the end boundary indicated by the “−” might represent a negative response by the user to a query, such as “I do not like pizza;” whereas the end boundary indicated by the “+” might represent a positive response by the user to the same query, such as “I love pizza.” In a similar fashion, analog responder 639 is visually segmented, preferably by raised intermediate ridges 643, or similar visual indicia placed incrementally along the length of analog responder 639 between end ridges 641. In the preferred embodiment, intermediate ridges 643 are more pronounced at the center 645 of analog responder 639 and decrease in size or shape, if applicable, toward end ridges 641. This allows the user to quickly determine which portion of analog responder 639 the user is touching, tapping, or depressing.
Analog responder 639 may be programmed for response in either an “absolute” mode or a “relative” mode. In absolute mode, locations along the length of analog responder 639 are directly mapped to locations on display screen 615. For example, if the user touches the analog responder at right end ridge 641, the cursor or movable graphical image being displayed on display screen 615 would appear at the rightmost portion of display screen 615. On the other hand, in relative mode, locations along the length of analog responder 639 are not mapped directly to any specific location on display screen; rather, movements along analog responder 639 are programmed to provide programmed movement of a cursor or graphical image relative to the current location of the cursor or graphical image on display screen 615. For example, if the user drags her finger along the length of analog responder 639 from the right to the left, the cursor or graphical image being displayed on display screen 615 will respond by a moving from the right to the left. Absolute and relative mapping of analog responder 639 will be discussed in more detail below with respect to
Referring now to
CLAM-SHELL HOUSING: Referring now to
SLIDEABLE KEYBOARD: Referring now to
Preferred Internal Device Hardware:
THE IDEAL DEVICE: A preferred “ideal” device may include a variety of additional conventional functions and features. These additional functions and features, include interchangeable components, personal information management (PIM) functionality, and synchronization capabilities with other personal computing devices and desktop PC's. These additional features and functionality are limited only by the appliance's physical size, the appliance's available memory, the capacity of network 11, the bandwidth of network 11, and the cost of airtime.
THE INTERMEDIATE DEVICE: The preferred “intermediate device includes a combination of components, features, and functionality from both the “ideal” device and the “low-cost” device.
THE LOW-COST DEVICE: Referring now to
An input/output system 1503 is provided for transmitting and receiving GPS and GPRS data and information. More particularly, a GPS module 1507 is carried within appliance 1500. GPS module 1507 transmits and receives GPS data through a GPS antenna 1505. A GPRS modem module 1509 is also carried within appliance 1500. GPRS module transmits and receives GPRS data and information through a GPRS antenna 1507. Appliance 1500 “knows” its location through receipt of GPS signals from GPS antenna 1505 after processing by GPS module 1507. Appliance 1500 receives and transmits communications to network 11 utilizing a GPRS protocol over GPRS modem module 1509 and GPRS antenna 1507. An additional means of communication may be provided in the form of an IR input/output module 1510. IR input/output module 1510 allows appliance 1500 to communicate with other electronic devices, such as computers or other location-aware wireless communication appliances utilizing IR signals. A power management module 1513 is carried within appliance 1500. Power management module 1513 receives power from portable power source, such as batteries 1511 or external power supply 1515, and regulates and supplies power to CPU 1501 and all other components of appliance 1500. Each of these input-output systems 1507, 1509, 1510, and 1513 is in electrical communication with central processing unit 1501, preferably serial communication.
A memory system 1517 is provided which includes RAM 1519, flash memory 1521, programmable read-only memory (PROM) 1523, and a hardware identification module which holds a unique serial number for each appliance 1500. Each of these memory systems 1519, 1521, 1523, and 1524 is in electrical communication with central processing unit 1501, preferably serial communication. It should be understood that other types of memory modules may be utilized depending upon the desired application.
A user input system 1525 is provided which includes a novel QWERTY thumbboard 1527, an analog responder 1528, joysticks 1530, and a plurality of additional input elements 1529. Thumbboard 1527 may be illuminated by a backlight 1531 to allow use in low light conditions. Thumbboard 1527 may include a touch pad which controls a graphical pointing device or a separate touch pad may be provided (see
An output system 1533 is also provided which includes a vibratory alert module 1535, an always visible display screen 1537 which is driven by a graphics chip 1541, a plurality of additional display elements 1543, a sound controller 1545, a digital/analog (D/A) converter 1547, and at least one speaker 1549. Additional display elements 1543 include LED's, such as multi-functional LED's 623 (see
11.A.2. Analog responder: In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the location-aware wireless communication appliance may include a novel electronic data input apparatus. The electronic data input apparatus is so easy and intuitive to utilize that the user will be encouraged to interact with network 11 during data gathering operations. Particularly, the present invention includes an electronic data input apparatus which facilitates the entry of data or information in response to digital content, including queries, or series of queries. The user manipulates the electronic data input apparatus and a corresponding electrical signal is generated. The electrical signal is processed and converted into the user's response to the digital content.
As is depicted in
In table 3001 of
Each of these embodiments of the input element will be discussed in more detail. The preferred embodiment will be discussed with reference to
ONE-DIMENSIONAL TOUCH PAD: The one-dimensional touch pad embodiment of the input element is the preferred embodiment of the electronic data input apparatus. The physical characteristics of the one-dimensional touch pad and the overall function and operation of the electronic data input system and apparatus are described with reference to
One-dimensional touch pad 4010 may be integral with the surface material of body portion 4005 or may include a separate elongated digitized element disposed within body portion 4005. In the latter situation, the surface material of body portion 4005 is flexibly configured to allow depression of body portion 4005 and activation of one-dimensional touch pad 4010. Preferably, analog responder 4009 is centrally located along a lower edge of body portion 4005 closest to the user. Such location allows analog responder 4009 to be usable when appliance 4001 is either in the closed state or the open state, i.e., when display portion 4003 is translated relative to body portion 4005. It is preferred that analog responder 4009 be adjacent or in close proximity to display screen 4007. However, it should be understood that in certain personal computing device installations, such as on computer keyboards (see
Analog responder 4009 may be programmed for response in either an “absolute” mode or a “relative” mode. In absolute mode, locations along the length of one dimensional touch pad 4010 are directly mapped to locations on display screen 4007. For example, if the user touches one dimensional touch pad 4010 at right end ridge 4011, the cursor or movable graphical image being displayed on display screen 4007 would appear at the rightmost applicable portion of display screen 4007. If the user dragged his finger back and forth from one end ridge 4011 to the opposing end ridge 4011, the cursor would move from one extreme to the other within its graphical boundary on display screen 4007. For instances when movement along one dimensional touch pad 4010 manipulates a graphical image of an animation, if the user dragged his finger back and forth from one end ridge 4011 to the opposing end ridge 4011, the graphical image or animation would respond by displaying all of the frames of the scenes or frames of the graphical image or animation. The absolute mode helps make analog responder 4009 be non-biasing, as explained below.
On the other hand, in relative mode, locations along the length of one dimensional touch pad 4010 are not mapped directly to any specific location on display screen 4007; rather, movement along one dimensional touch pad 4010 is programmed to provide movement of a cursor or graphical image relative to their current location on display screen 4007. For example, if the user drags her finger along the length of one dimensional touch pad 4010 in a direction from right to left, the cursor of graphical image being displayed on display screen 4007 will respond by a moving in a direction right to left. In the preferred embodiment, if, while responding to a query, the user removes her finger from one dimensional touch pad 4010, the cursor remains stationary on display screen 4007 until the user repositions her finger on one dimensional touch pad 4010 and begins movement again, whereupon the cursor again tracks the movement of the user's finger along one dimensional touch pad 4010.
In operation and as is shown in the view of
In the present example, the user's response to query 4023 may range from “Hate 'em,” as depicted by scaling text message 4031 to “Love 'em,” as depicted by scaling text message 4033. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the operation of analog responder 4009 is non-biasing. This means that there is no “default” or initial response from which the user begins to make his response. Such default responses, even if presented as a “neutral” response, can affect how the user responds to the digital content. To record a response to query 4023, the user taps, touches, or drags her finger along one-dimensional touch pad 4010 in an manner which activates a movable, graphical shuttle element 4035 in a desired location between the boundaries established by scaling text messages 4031 and 4033. To maintain the non-biasing nature of one-dimensional touch pad 4010, it is preferred that graphical shuttle element 4035 does not appear on graphical element 4025 until the user makes contact with one-dimensional touch pad 4010. In this manner, the user's response to the digital content, in this case query 4023 about coffee bars, is not influenced by a default or initial response condition. As the user moves her finger along one-dimensional touch pad 4010 from left end ridge 4011 to the right end ridge 4011, graphical shuttle element 4035 moves correspondingly from scaling text message 4031 to scaling text message 4033. This is possible because graphical element 4025 is mapped to the available quantitative or quantitative range of values for an acceptable response. Such mapping may be either absolute or relative, depending on the desired application and response. In the preferred embodiment, when the user releases her finger from one-dimensional touch pad 4010, analog responder 4009 generates a corresponding electrical signal which is captured and recorded in appliance 4001.
From the user's perspective, graphical element 4025 is very easy to use and may be manipulated with easy motions. In this manner, network 11 may obtain a reasonably accurate response, opinion, or rating from the user of the digital content with only a minimum of intrusion into the user's experience.
Referring now to
In some instances, analog responder 4009 is used to capture a response from the user to digital content being displayed on display screen 4007, but does not manipulate any textual or graphical image being displayed. For example, while digital content in the form of a movie is being displayed on display screen 4007, the user might touch one-dimensional touch pad 4010 at a selected location which indicates that the user is enjoying the movie, i.e., near the right end ridge 4011. In this manner, analog responder 4009 is used to capture the user's opinion or rating of the digital content without the use of any on-screen indicator as described above with reference to
Regardless of the manner in which the preference information is obtained from the user's interaction with analog responder 4009, or which embodiment of the input element is employed, the preference information can be captured, recorded, stored, maintained, and used for many useful and valuable purposes. For example, this user initiated preference information may be used to update the user's contextual user profile, thereby affecting the probability that the same digital content will be offered again for presentation to the user, or the probability that related digital content will be offered for presentation to the user. This preference information may also be used by service provider to perform or infer referential preferences as explained above. In this manner, one user's responses may have an affect or impact upon other members' experiences, thereby expanding network 11 and creating community.
ELONGATED BUTTON: Referring now to
TOUCH SCREEN WITH GRAPHICAL SLIDER: Referring now to
JOG WHEEL: Referring now to
SCROLL WHEEL: Referring now to
THUMB WHEEL: Referring now to
LINEAR SLIDING KNOB: Referring now to
TOUCH SCREEN WITH GRAPHICAL RADIO BUTTONS: Referring now to
DEDICATED BUTTONS: Referring now to
TWO-DIMENSIONAL TOUCH PAD: Referring now to
With two-dimensional touch pad 5910, more responses or parameters may be recorded with a single response input from the user, wherein the location along the X-axis represents one response or parameter, and the location along the Y-axis represents another response or parameter. For example, if a particular digital content is a query about coffee bars, a user would have the capability of not only indicating her level of appreciation for coffee bars, but the time of day that she most likes to hang out there. In this example, the user's appreciation of coffee bars might be entered by activating two-dimensional touch pad 5910 along the X-axis, while the user's favorite time of day to spend time in coffee bars might be entered by the user's selection along the Y-axis. Two-dimensional touch pad may include raised ridges 5913 or other visual indicia to aid the user in spatially locating her response. As with one-dimensional touch pad 4010, two-dimensional touch pad 5910 may be programmed to function in either an absolute mode or a relative mode. It is preferred that when the user releases her finger from two-dimensional touch pad 5910, the user's response is captured and recorded in appliance 5901.
Utilizing Analog Responder in Other Personal Computing Devices:
ANALOG RESPONDER INTEGRATED INTO DEVICE: Referring now to
ANALOG RESPONDER AS AN EXPANSION MODULE: Referring now to
Although only the one-dimensional touch pad embodiment of the input element of electronic data input system and apparatus of the present invention has been illustrated in
11.B. Software: In accordance with the preferred implementation of the preferred invention, operating system 1575 is excessively user-centric. As such, the weight or value associated with interrupts generated through user manipulation of appliance 1500, whether through thumbboard 1527, analog responder 1528, joysticks 1530, or additional input elements 1529, is of the highest priority. Accordingly, other operations may be aborted or suspended in order to execute, on a priority basis, certain commands associated with a user interrupt.
SEPARATE THREAD FOR MONITORING USER ACTION: Preferably, such action is accomplished by providing a separate, dedicated thread for monitoring user commands, actions, and/or input. This user-initiated processing thread is accorded a greater priority relative to most other processing threads. In this manner, the user has a substantial impact on the operating system through manipulation of thumbboard 1527, analog responder 1528, joysticks 1530, and additional input elements 1529. The user never has to wait to take control of the appliance and/or the operating system.
USER IMPACT ON OPERATING PROCESSES: All systems are de-escalated to lower priority when the user is interacting with the appliance.
12.A. Operational empathy: In the preferred implementation of the present invention, network 11 monitors its own operation in a manner which allows appliances, such as appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, and 361, to communicate empathetic messages to the user when network 11 is operating in a manner which may be frustrating to the user. For example, network 11 traffic may be so heavy that there is substantial delay in communications such as the transmission of e-mails or the ability to engage in real-time chat communications. In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, and 361 will communicate to the user an awareness of a network problem which can be frustrating to the user. This may mitigate the user's frustration.
DEVICE AWARENESS: In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, and 361 include monitoring software to aid in determining whether empathetic action should be implemented.
USER COMPENSATION/INCENTIVES: Alternatively, network 11 may actually compensate the user in some manner for the frustration experienced due to network problems, such as a network being down or heavy traffic on the network. Such compensation may take many forms, such as dispensing network energy to the user as a direct compensation for frustration experienced due to operational difficulties of network 11. Alternative incentives or compensation may be provided to the user in the form of digital content, such as merchant coupons which may be consumed by the user. For example, digital content in the form of a program or game may be presented to the user as a form of compensation for some type of frustration experienced due to network problems. The following are particular examples of how the device manifests a “awareness” of network problems and manages the user's frustration through highly anthropomorphic empathy which may be communicated through dialog and other interaction with the user. Additionally, particular types of compensation or incentive for network problems will also be discussed.
12.B. Expectation management: In general, network 11 and appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, and 361 of the present invention may also be utilized to manage user expectations in general. This goes beyond management of frustration. Expectation management can be utilized in order to encourage the development of community around appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, and 361 and network 11. The utilization of expectation management may be a powerful means to allow the users to become involved in the development of consumable digital content. There are examples in the history of consumer electronics in which the existence of a “community” around an electronic appliance accelerated the adoption of such devices. One noteworthy example is Apple Computer which developed a very loyal community around its personal computing products. Another example is the “Palm Pilot” device which was introduced by 3COM. A community developed around this device and hundreds or thousands of applications were written which are available through publications or over the internet free of charge. These applications greatly enhance the utility of the device. Essentially, the community of users become an informal development team for new applications. Management of expectations can be utilized to accelerate the development of community and digital content which may be consumed by the community. Incentives, including the offering of network energy may be utilized to accelerate the development of community around appliances 351, 353, 355, 357, 359, and 361 and network 11.
Referring now to
As is shown, a service provider 2001 is in charge of operating and maintaining network 11. In this capacity, service provider 2001 operates and maintains a network treasury 2041 and a network energy market 2043. Accordingly, service provider 2001 performs numerous accounting, tracking, and distribution functions. Network energy market 2043 is supplied with valuable commodities from a plurality of sources. The sources of commodities include: network affiliates 2003, network merchants 2005, and network members 2007. There may be hundreds of network affiliates 2003, such as Network Affiliate #1, Network Affiliate #2, up to Network Affiliate #N, which are identified by reference numerals 2009, 2011, and 2013, respectively. Additionally, there may be thousands of network merchants 2005, such as Merchant #1, Merchant #2, up to Merchant #N, which are identified by reference numerals 2015, 2017, and 2019, respectively. There may be millions of members 2007 spread throughout the country, such as Member #1, Member #2, up to Member #N, which are identified by reference numerals 2021, 2023, and 2025, respectively. Each of the network affiliates 2003, merchants 2005, and members 2007 has an account 2061 which is set up, operated, and maintained by service provider 2001.
The commodities may be categorized into different types, including cash 2027, credit 2029, equity 2031, goods 2033, services 2035, infrastructure elements 2037, or digital content, such as shareware GUI 2079, game 2081, and text content 2083. Service provider 2001 accumulates, organizes, and assigns values to the commodities, which have varying degrees of liquidity. This process is represented by network market input 2045. Service provider 2001 then introduces the commodities into network energy market 2043. The commodities are transformed into either network energy 2049 or location-aware communication appliances 2053. This process is represented by network market output 2047. Network energy 2049 becomes available under certain conditions for consumption, distribution, and use by network affiliates 2003, merchants 2005, and/or members 2007. Appliances 2053 are distributed under certain conditions to new members 2051. Network energy 2049 may also be distributed to new members 2051. Each new member 2051 has an account 2055 which is operated and maintained by service provider 2001. Service provider 2001 also manages books of account 2057 which relate to the operation of network energy market 2043 and the valuation, allocation, and distribution of network energy 2049 and appliances 2053. As is shown, some network energy 2049 may be directed back to the sources that provided the commodities for network market input 2045 to network energy market 2043.
Continuing with reference to
In certain instances, network energy 2049 may be transferred directly from a source, i.e., network affiliates 2003, merchants 2005, or members 2007, to either other members 2007 or new members 2051. Such transfers are an alternative to the direct supply of network energy 2049 by service provider 2001. Although such transactions may not involve service provider 2001 or network energy market 2043, the transactions are recorded in accounts 2061 and 2055, thereby maintaining the balance of network energy 2049 within network 11.
In accordance with the preferred implementation of the present invention there are a variety of ways in which network energy 2049 may expended or consumed. Such activity is referred to herein as “burning” network energy 2049. Alternatively, there are a variety of ways in which network energy 2049 may be acquired or accumulated. Such activity is referred to herein as “earning” network energy 2049. As mentioned above, a balance can be obtained between service provider 2001, network affiliates 2003, merchants 2005, members 2007, and new members 2051 in a closed-loop environment. An equilibrium can be established which can be moderated or modulated by service provider 2001 to encourage or discourage growth of network 11. This is comparable to the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve, which through its actions, can regulate the supply of available money to the market, resulting in a “heating” or “cooling” impact on the economy in general. It is necessary for the success of service provider 2001 that a relationship exist between network energy 2049 and national currency. Of course, as interest in network 11 fluctuates, the relationship between network energy 2049 and national currency will also fluctuate.
ENERGY MANAGEMENT: Network 11 and service provider 2001 manage the “earning” and “burning” of network energy.
EARNING NETWORK ENERGY: There are a variety of ways in which network energy 2049 may be “earned” in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention. Several of the primary methods of earning network energy 2049 will now be discussed with reference to
PURCHASING ENERGY: The easiest way to obtain network energy 2049 is to directly purchase network energy 2049 with one or more national currencies. It should be understood that an exchange rate will established and maintained between network energy 2049 and selected national currencies, such as U.S. dollars, Euros, or Canadian dollars. Members may purchase network energy in the form of air time either in advance on a prepaid basis, or after charges have been incurred, if deemed creditworthy. Service provider 2001 generates periodic statements which reflect the amount of network energy earned and burned during the period for each network affiliate 2003, merchant 2005, member 2007, and new member 2051. The statements are then communicated to the network affiliates 2003, merchants 2005, members 2007, and new members 2051 for payment or advance payment.
EARNING ENERGY THROUGH POSTING OF DIGITAL CONTENT: One interesting way to “earn” network energy 2049 in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention is to generate and contribute digital content to network 11, preferably through the posting of digital content onto a publicly-available digital content site, such as a bulletin board 2077 (see
EARNING ENERGY THROUGH INTERACTION WITH MERCHANTS: Another interesting way to earn network energy 2049 in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention is through interaction with network merchants 2005. This is depicted in
As is shown in the view of
In a similar fashion, Merchant #N is engaged in commercial transactions with Member #5, Member #6, and Member #7. As is shown, Member #5 pays cash 2050 in exchange for goods 2036 and an amount of network energy 2049 from Merchant #N. Member #6 “burns” a selected amount of network energy 2049 in exchange for services 2038 from Merchant #N. Member #7 “burns” a selected amount of network energy 2049 in exchange for goods 2036 from Merchant #N. In each of these transactions, valuable consideration has been exchanged for goods 2036, services 2038, and/or network energy 2049.
EARNING ENERGY THROUGH RECRUITMENT OF NEW NETWORK MEMBERS: In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, network energy 2049 may also be earned by members through the recruitment of new members into network 11. This is depicted in simplified and graphic form in
The continuation of the recruitment process is also depicted in
EARNING ENERGY THROUGH GOOD SAMARATIN ACTION: An alternative way to earn energy in the network is performing acts which are considered “Good Samarita” acts in accordance with some schema established by service provider 2001. Good Samaritan acts may include assisting other members with difficulties in utilizing network 11 or appliances. In addition, good Samaritan acts may include the generation of “shareware” digital content or other means for enriching the user experience. Some good Samaritan acts may relate to particular problems experienced by network affiliates 2003, merchants 2005, or members 2007. For example, members 2007 asking for directions or other types of useful information may be rewarded through a good Samaritan system in which good deeds are reported to service provider 2001 and rewarded with predetermined amounts of network energy 2049.
GIFTS OF NETWORK ENERGY TO ENCOURAGE PARTICIPATION: Another way to obtain network energy 2049 is in receipt for engaging in certain types of activity on network 11. Service provider 2001 may reward members and member organizations for forming and maintaining chat groups or community relationships on network 11. For example, the leader of an antique car owner's group may be rewarded with network energy 2049 by service provider 2001 for establishing and maintaining a virtual community of member who own antique cars. Such rewards may be subsidized by a merchant who deals in antique car goods and services. This can have a substantial motivating effect on members, and can be utilized to grow and form network 11.
BURNING NETWORK ENERGY: A variety of ways are also provided for consuming or “burning” network energy 2049. A few of these means for consuming energy are discussed below under separate headings.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH HARDWARE ACQUISITION: One way to consume network energy 2049 is through the acquisition of network hardware or accessories. Under this scenario, a member may have access to a wide array of hardware and hardware accessories for utilization in activity on network 11. For example, a New Member #1 may want to burn network energy 2049 to obtain an additional docking station for his appliance 2099, or New Member #2 may wish to burn network energy 2049 to acquire an interchangeable housing for her appliance 3003. The prices for these activities may be set in terms of network energy 2049, instead of national currencies. Such pricing and exchange rates would be set by service provider 2001.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH CONTENT CONSUMPTION: Another means for burning network energy 2049 is through the consumption of digital content over network 11. As set forth above, digital content may come in many different forms and in many different ways. Digital content can be textual materials, graphical materials, or animated “movies” which are displayed on the member's appliance.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH AIRTIME USE: Another way to burn network energy 2049 is by utilizing airtime to transmit digital content or to conduct communications with other members within network 11. In accordance with the preferred embodiment of the present invention, airtime may have a predetermined or even variable price in terms of network energy 2049. Mechanisms are established for determining the total amount of airtime usage for particular members. On a periodic basis, the network energy 2049 in each member's account is reduced by an amount of network energy 2049 that is equivalent to the amount of airtime used by that each member during that period of time.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH INSTANT MESSAGING: One particular communication mode which burns network energy 2049 is instant messaging (IM). In network 11, IM is comparable to currently commercially available IM with the exception that in network 11 of the present invention, location-aware wireless communication appliances are utilized.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH CHATTING: Network energy 2049 may also be burned through communication activities in the form of real-time chatting between one or more members of network 11. The airtime used during a chat session may be apportioned among the various members engaged in the chat and charged to their own individual accounts, thus decrementing the amount of network energy 2049 available to each participant in the chat session.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH E-MAIL: E-mail may also be sent over network 11 in the preferred embodiment of the present invention. The use of network 11 to send and receive e-mail may also burn network energy 2049 in a predetermined amount. This may be established in terms of the length of the transmission, the number of characters transmitted, or by some other method.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH FINDING BUDDIES: Another way to burn energy on network 11 is to locate buddies within network 11 to determine their location and establish communication with them. The act of finding a buddy may have a predetermined price in network energy 2049 associated with it.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH WEB ACCESS: To the extent that the location-aware wireless communication appliances are equipped with web browsers, utilization of such devices to access the Web and download materials may also burn a certain predetermined amount of network energy 2049.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH GIFTS OR TRANSFERS: An alternative way to burn network energy 2049 is to give or transfer network energy 2049 to other members in the form of a gift or grant. Members may link network energy 2049 to other desirable currencies or goods or services. For example, relationships can be established between network energy 2049 and POKEMON cards or baseball cards. In another example, electronic gift certificates can be utilized to transfer network energy 2049 between members to celebrate special occasions, such as birthdays.
BURNING ENERGY THROUGH “COLLECT” TRANSACTIONS: An alternative and interesting means of burning network energy 2049 is to place communications on network 11 on a “collect” basis similar to the placement of collect telephone calls. When a collect communication is placed, the recipient of the communication, or the party that responds to the communication, is charged a predetermined amount of network energy 2049 for the transfer from source to service provider 2001 and from service provider 2001 to recipient, should the recipient accept the communication. With regard to IM, in the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the recipient is charged for all costs associated with the IM communication.
MERCHANTS AND AFFILIATIES: Network 11 relies heavily on the participation and cooperation of network affiliates 2003 and merchants 2005.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN NETWORK ENERGY/CURRENCY: In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, service provider 2001 is responsible for establishing and maintaining an exchange rate between network energy and national currencies, so that digital content, goods, and services may be freely exchanged over network 11 between and among service provider 2001, network affiliates 2003, merchants 2005, and members 2007.
E-COUPONS: E-coupons function in a manner very similar to conventional coupons. Merchants 2005 may distribute e-coupons to members 2007 who may redeem the e-coupons for goods and services, or reductions in the amount of network energy 2049 required to be burned for such goods and services.
TRUST MANAGEMENT: As has been previously discussed, network 11 of the present invention places a high value on the trust that a member places upon her appliance and network 11 in making her private communications. Accordingly, trust management is a priority for network 11. This is especially true because network 11 manages a great deal of personal information, especially information relating to the value or weight accorded by the member to her peers, friends, and acquaintances.
NETWORK MANAGEMENT OF RELATIONSHIPS: Network 11 relies upon truthful member input in establishing the weight or priority that is attached to particular communicants. Each member will be afforded an opportunity to honestly evaluate the relative importance of his or her peers, friends, and acquaintances. Although such information must be utilized by network 11 on a frequent basis, the information must be guarded at all times against inadvertent disclosure. Examples have been previously provided which illustrate how a member may attach a “block” to communications originating from particular entities, such as merchants 2005 or members 2007. Additional examples have been given illustrating the assignment of “high,” “medium,” or “low” values to communications originating from particular entities. By managing this trusted information, network 11 manages “relationships.”
REFERENTIAL TRUST: On novel aspect of the present invention is the ability of network 11 to infer likely levels of trust between individuals that have not yet interacted with one another through utilization of known trust data which the relevant individuals may have for commonly-known and ranked or rated members, groups of members, or merchants. In this manner, network 11 may infer trust data between members and groups of members. The use of referential trust can be extended to the analysis of likely preferences for particular goods or services based upon known preferences of particular members, or groups of members. For example, users having high regard for one another in one area of taste or likes are likely to agree upon other areas of a similar nature.
The concept of referential trust may also be used to assign preference ratings to digital content the first time the digital content is offered for presentation to a member. Because the member has not yet had an opportunity to rate the new digital content, a referential trust analysis can be performed to assign a preliminary preference rating to the digital content. In this analysis, the unrated new digital content is compared to existing rated digital content of a similar nature. On a member-by-member basis, the ratings from the existing digital content are used to calculate and assign a rating to the new digital content. The similarity between the new digital content and existing digital content is determined by comparing the wrapper for the new digital content with the wrapper for existing digital content. As set forth above, wrappers contain a wide variety of information, or content parameters, which describe the digital content.
MESSAGE BUBBLE-UP FILTERING: The preferred communication system of the present invention may utilize trust data in order to sort, prioritize, or filter digital content so that messages form a highly trusted source are quickly brought to the member's attention while messages form less trusted sources are blocked, delayed, or otherwise minimized.
FILTERING MERCHANT OFFERS: The presentation of merchant offers may also be filtered or prioritized based upon the level of commercial trust that the user has for particular merchants or providers of digital content. It should be understood the above-described referential trust analysis can be applied in the instance of assigning preference information to commercial digital content.
VIRTUAL INTRODUCTIONS: The level of trust and confidence that a user has assigned to particular known individuals may be utilized by network 11 to arrange for virtual introductions initiated by network 11 of members that are likely to form a relationship. In this manner, friendships can be created by network 11, thereby building community within network 11 around common preferences or evaluations of third-party members.
SEEKING A GOOD SAMARITAN: The trust and personal preferences information can be utilized automatically by network 11 to locate one or more individuals which could or may be of assistance in a time of need or crisis. A member in need of a ride to school or for a referral to a doctor may call upon network 11 to identify likely good Samaritans for possible assistance.
REQUESTING INFORMATION: Trust and personal preferences can also be utilized by network 11 to fulfill member requests for assistance.
Direct Assessment of Trust:
Interpolated or Calculated Trust:
Trust in ePINIONS and eVALUATIONS:
Messages and Trust:
DIGITAL PERIPHERAL VISION: Community can also be developed in network 11 through the sharing of virtual common space by particular members or groups of members. Because the virtual space of a display to some extent reflects portions of the actual physical space occupied by the members, a form of common peripheral space may be used in the actual display to identify and locate actual locations or places of commerce in a space known as the digital peripheral space. Items that are accorded a low priority by a member or groups of members may be relegated to the digital peripheral space. Focusing on this space can represent an exercise of digital peripheral vision. Items in this space are not in the foreground of the member's attention; however, such items are also not quite relegated to a background or off-screen position. Digital peripheral vision is further explained below with reference to the graphical user interface (GUI) of the present invention.
STICKY-NOTES COMMUNITY COMMUNICATION: The present invention also enables a new form of public forum. Sticky notes, which provide user commentary, may be attached to any particular virtual space in network 11 in the form of “digital sticky notes.” Sticky note messages may take the form of either positive or negative commentary. This commentary may prove useful to other users and aid in building community.
DIGITIAL GRAFITTI: The present invention also enables a form of “tagging” in virtual space which may take the form of “digital graffiti,” which may serve no useful purpose, except possibly to note that another member has passed in the same space before.
SHOUTING COMMUNICATION MODE: The present invention also provides for a digital “shout.” A digital shout is an IM communication sent by a single member which may be received, and perhaps acted upon or responded to, by many other members, such as trusted members or members which are determined by network 11 to likely prove to be helpful and/or trustworthy. Each member may set up and maintain a list of members who are to receive each member's digital shouts. In addition to this express designation of digital shout recipients, network 11 may utilize trust and preference data to determine which members receive each member's digital shouts. In such situations, the aggregated trust data can serve as a type of communication “creditworthiness” indicator.
GENERATING A DIGITAL SHOUT: In this embodiment, network 11 utilizes trust and preference information maintained in the relationship network to transmit the digital shout from a single member to many other trusted members or members who are determined by network 11 to likely prove to be helpful and/or trustworthy. Essentially, the aggregated trust and preference information can serve as a communication “creditworthiness” indicator. The relationship analysis referred to above may be used by network 11 to analyze and determine the group of members who are able to “hear” the shouting member's digital shout.
SENDING A DIGITAL SHOUT: In this embodiment, network 11 utilizes GPS information, either raw longitude and latitude coordinates, if chosen by the user, or colloquially designated information, to transmit the digital shout to listening members who are within a predetermined geographical proximity of the sending member.
COMBINATION DIGITAL SHOUT: In this embodiment, network 11 utilizes both trust and preference information and GPS information to transmit the digital shout to listening users who are determined by network 11 to likely prove to be helpful and/or trustworthy, and who are within a predetermined proximity of the sending member.
VIRTUAL TOURISM: The present invention also enables a form of virtual travel known as “virtual tourism” in which a member may choose to receive digital content as if he or she were actually located in a selected geographic region also served by network 11.
VIRTUAL WINDOW SHOPPING IN REMOTE LOCALE: The present invention also allows a member to actually shop in shared virtual space from a remote locale.
SISTER CITY THROUGH VIRTUAL LOCATION GROUPING: In accordance with the present invention, a member or a group of members may adopt a remote virtual space as a “sister” city, and thus engage in community building.
LOCATION “MORPHING” TO CREATE SHARED VIRTUAL SPACE: In accordance with the present invention, one or more members may combine remote virtual space into a single “morphed” virtual space. For example, the network space for New Orleans, La. may be combined with the network space for Dallas, Tex.
POSITION/LOCATION SNAP SHOTS: In accordance with the present invention, a member may mark or index a particular virtual location for future reference or to allow later return.
JUMP-TO FUNCTION TO EMULATE RELOCATION AND/OR TRAVEL: The present invention also enables the rapid relocation or “jumping” between virtual locations.
Although the invention has been described with reference to a particular embodiment, this description is not meant to be construed in a limiting sense. Various modifications of the disclosed embodiments as well as alternative embodiments of the invention will become apparent to persons skilled in the art upon reference to the description of the invention. It is therefore contemplated that the appended claims will cover any such modifications or embodiments that fall within the scope of the invention.
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|U.S. Classification||455/558, 707/E17.109, 455/557|
|International Classification||G06Q30/06, G01S19/02, H04L29/06, H04L12/56, H04M1/725, H04L29/08, H04M1/02, G06F1/16, G06F17/30, H04L12/28, H04W8/18, H04W28/06, H04W72/12, H04W4/02, G01S5/02, G01S19/13, G01S19/49, G01S19/35, G01S5/14|
|Cooperative Classification||H04L67/306, H04L67/18, H04L69/329, H04M1/0233, G06F1/1664, H04M1/0235, G06F1/1624, G06F1/1616, H04M1/72547, G06F1/1626, G06F1/1656, G06F1/1632, G01S19/46, H04W8/18, G01S19/14, G06Q30/06, H04L29/06, H04M1/0214, G01S5/02, G06F1/1662, G06F1/1698, H04M1/0247, H04W4/02, H04M1/0225, H04W28/06, G06F1/169, G06F1/1613, G06F17/30867, G06F1/1622|
|European Classification||G06F1/16P9P6, G06F1/16P9K, G06F1/16P9E, G06F1/16P9P9, G06F1/16P1R, G06F1/16P1F, G06F1/16P1S, G06Q30/06, G06F1/16P6, H04M1/02A2B6S, G06F1/16P9K2, H04L29/06, G06F17/30W1F, H04M1/725F1M, H04M1/02A2B8, H04M1/02A2P, H04M1/02A2B4, G01S5/02, H04L29/08N17, H04M1/02A2B6, G06F1/16P, G06F1/16P3, H04L29/08N29U|