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Publication numberUS20050239037 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/818,638
Publication dateOct 27, 2005
Filing dateApr 6, 2004
Priority dateApr 6, 2004
Publication number10818638, 818638, US 2005/0239037 A1, US 2005/239037 A1, US 20050239037 A1, US 20050239037A1, US 2005239037 A1, US 2005239037A1, US-A1-20050239037, US-A1-2005239037, US2005/0239037A1, US2005/239037A1, US20050239037 A1, US20050239037A1, US2005239037 A1, US2005239037A1
InventorsSurapong Lertsithichai, Patrick Chiu, Jonathan Foote, Qiong Liu, Donald Kimber
Original AssigneeSurapong Lertsithichai, Patrick Chiu, Foote Jonathan T, Qiong Liu, Kimber Donald G
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Convertible podium system
US 20050239037 A1
Abstract
Systems and methods in accordance with embodiments of the present invention can include a convertible podium having a compact and lightweight design that can provide multiple functionalities by converting its form. A system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention can convert from an interactive podium to other presentation devices including (but not limited to) an imaging device, a remote avatar for a presenter, an interactive whiteboard, and an information board. The system includes one or more configurable controls for controlling one or both of a presentation and a presentation environment.
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Claims(24)
1. A system to be positioned in a locale having an audience for improving a presentation to the audience and for improving control of an environment of the locale, the system comprising:
a frame;
a device for displaying information connected with said frame;
one or more controls for adjusting one or both of the environment and the presentation; and
one or more configurable positions connected with said frame and adapted to communicate with said one or more controls.
2. The system of claim 1, wherein said one or more controls for adjusting the environment can adjust one or more of lighting, volume and temperature.
3. The system of claim 1, wherein the presentation includes slides; and
wherein said one or more controls for adjusting the presentation can adjust one or more of slide advancement, slide reversal, and slide selection.
4. The system of claim 1 further comprising one or more gesture sensors connected with the frame to detect a gesture from a presenter.
5. The system of claim 1, further comprising one or more proximity sensors to detect a presence of a presenter.
6. The system of claim 1, wherein said device for displaying is adapted to be repositioned such that said device for displaying is viewable by the audience.
7. The system of claim 6, wherein said device for displaying is connected with said frame by one or more hinges; and
wherein said device for displaying is repositioned by pivoting said device for displaying.
8. The system of claim 6, wherein the information displayed on said device for displaying is controllable from a remote location.
9. The system of claim 6, wherein when said device for displaying is repositioned, the information can be written directly to said device for displaying by contacting said device for displaying.
10. The system of claim 6, wherein when said device for displaying is repositioned, the information displayed on said device for displaying includes one or both of graphical and textual information selected by a presenter.
11. The system of claim 8, wherein the information displayed is an image of a presenter.
12. The system of claim 8, further comprising:
an interface for controlling the information displayed on said device for displaying.
13. The system of claim 1, wherein said device for displaying is adapted to be repositioned such that an undersurface is accessible.
14. The system of claim 13, wherein said device for displaying is connected with said frame by one or more hinges; and
wherein said device for displaying is repositioned by pivoting the device for displaying.
15. The system of claim 13, wherein the undersurface is a scanner surface.
16. The system of claim 13, wherein when one of a document and an object is place on said undersurface, the one of a document and an object can be imaged.
17. A system for facilitating a presentation by a user to an audience in an environment, comprising:
a frame having a proximal end and a distal end;
a means for displaying information to the user, the means being connected with the distal end;
one or more configurable controls connected with the frame;
wherein one or more of the configurable controls can be used to adjust one or both of the presentation and the environment.
18. The system of claim 17, wherein said means for displaying is adapted to be repositioned such that said means for displaying is viewable by the audience.
19. The system of claim 18, wherein the information displayed on said device for displaying is controllable from a remote location.
20. The system of claim 18, wherein when said device for displaying is repositioned, the information can be written directly to said device for displaying by contacting said device for displaying.
21. The system of claim 18, wherein when said device for displaying is repositioned, the information displayed on said device for displaying includes one or both of graphical and textual information selected by a presenter.
22. The system of claim 17, wherein said device for displaying is adapted to be repositioned such that an undersurface is accessible; and
wherein the undersurface is a scanner surface.
23. The system of claim 18, wherein said means for displaying can be repositioned from a remote location.
24. A method of converting a device having a frame and a display screen pivotally connected with the frame from a podium for a local presenter to address an audience to an avatar of a remote presenter directed at the audience, the method comprising:
receiving a command from an interface to convert the device;
pivoting the display screen such that the display screen is visible to the audience;
receiving an image of the remote presenter from the interface;
displaying the image on the display screen;
receiving an audio signal of the remote presenter from the interface; and
communicating the audio signal to the audience.
Description
    TECHNICAL FIELD
  • [0001]
    The present invention relates to presentation facilitation equipment.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    Commercial podiums in the market today are mostly podium enclosures designed to accommodate a variety of equipment that is used to facilitate different presentation needs of a user. A typical podium designed for multimedia presentations is equipped with devices ranging from large devices such as a PC, a display, or a document camera to small add-on devices such as light visors, microphones, or an AN switching device. Each stand alone device has a specific function and requires a dedicated space for installation. Packaging all devices into a single podium requires a bulky and heavy enclosure with several tethered cables making it difficult to move the podium from one room to another.
  • SUMMARY
  • [0003]
    Systems and methods in accordance with the present invention can include a convertible podium having a compact and lightweight design that can provide multiple functionalities by converting its form. A system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention can convert from an interactive podium to other presentation devices including a capturing device, a remote avatar for a presenter, an interactive whiteboard, and an information board. Conversion is made possible by integrating devices into a frame structure of the podium and assigning multiple functionalities to some devices depending on the interaction mode of the podium.
  • [0004]
    A presenter can interact with the convertible podium in three modes. In the interactive podium mode, a local presenter can use the podium to make presentations as well as control environmental settings of the room. In the capture mode, the presenter can use the podium as a scanner or camera capturing documents and/or objects to be projected to the audience, for example. In the third mode, the podium can be used as a remote avatar, an interactive whiteboard, or an information board. As an avatar, a presenter can access the podium remotely from a desktop, a laptop, another convertible podium, or some other remote device and use the display and internal speakers from the podium to output live video and audio of the presenter. Alternatively, when in a discussion, a local presenter can use the display as an interactive whiteboard to capture annotations and notes contributed by participants in the room. If the podium is not actively used by a presenter, it can also be placed in front of a room and used as an information board to display asynchronous messages similar to a bulletin board.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0005]
    Further details of embodiments of the present invention are explained with the help of the attached drawings in which:
  • [0006]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a convertible podium system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0007]
    FIG. 2 is a close-up of a modular controller tray connected with the convertible podium system of FIG. 1.
  • [0008]
    FIG. 3 illustrates a presenter gesturing to communicate a command to the convertible podium system of FIG. 1.
  • [0009]
    FIG. 4 a is a perspective view of the convertible podium system of FIG. 1 in an interactivel podium mode.
  • [0010]
    FIG. 4 b is a perspective view of the convertible podium system of FIG. 4 a in a capture mode.
  • [0011]
    FIG. 4 c is a perspective view of the convertible podium system of FIG. 4 a in a remote user mode.
  • [0012]
    FIG. 5 is a close-up of a document positioned to be captured by a scanner or document camera associated with the convertible podium system of FIG. 1.
  • [0013]
    FIG. 6 a is a close-up of a display panel mounted to the convertible podium system configured as a white board as shown in FIG. 4 c.
  • [0014]
    FIG. 6 b is a close-up of the display panel mounted to the convertible podium system configured in a remote user mode as shown in FIG. 4 c.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 6 c illustrates one embodiment of a remote user interface as displayed to a presenter at a remote site.
  • [0016]
    FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the convertible podium system of FIG. 1, having proximity sensors mounted on the frame and the base of the convertible podium system.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0017]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a convertible podium system 100 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The convertible podium system 100 comprises an interactive display panel 106 supported by a frame 102 which is mounted on a base 104. The frame 102 comprises a lower portion and an upper portion. The lower portion includes two legs, one or both of the legs being hollow along at least a portion of a vertical length of the leg(s) so as to provide a conduit for wires connected within the convertible podium system 100. As shown, each leg has a rectangular cross-section which is substantially uniform in shape along its vertical length (i.e., the major axis of the leg). In other embodiments one or both of the legs can have some other cross-sectional shape. For example, the legs can have a triangular, elliptical or cylindrical cross-section. In still other embodiments, the legs can have a more complex shape. Further, a leg need not be hollow along the leg's entire length, and can optionally vary in cross-section, for example, such that the leg tapers. Each leg can be made of a lightweight material having sufficiently high tensile and compressive strength to support the display panel and the upper portion, which apply a load force and torque on the lower portion. For example, in an embodiment the legs can be made of aluminum. In other embodiments, the frame can be made from one or more of high strength steel, magnesium, metal and polymer composites, titanium, intermetallic alloys, and other lightweight, high strength material.
  • [0018]
    The legs of the lower portion of the frame can be sized and positioned so that a space or gap exists between the legs. For example, as shown in FIG. 1 the legs are separated by a distance approximately the width of the display panel 106. A transparent acrylic panel 112 can be connected between the legs, for example to create an impression that the convertible podium system 100 is lightweight and non-bulky, as well as to minimize visual obstruction of a presenter to the audience. In this way, the presenter can avoid feeling and appearing overwhelmed by the podium. In other embodiments, the panel can comprise a material other than acrylic and need not be transparent. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) can be embedded or positioned along the length or a portion of the length of one or both legs so that the acrylic panel can be lit. Lighting the podium can serve a variety of purposes. For example, lighting the podium can draw the audience's attention to the presenter, indicate to the presenter the interaction mode of the podium (as is described in detail below), or simply provide a pleasing aesthetic for enhancing a presentation. The operation of the LEDs can be programmable, for example to allow the podium to be customized to suit a presenter, or the LEDs can be hard-coded to predictably respond to an interaction mode of the podium, or a function of the podium, etc. The LEDs can be colored to allow a multiplicity of visual cues to be indicated by the podium.
  • [0019]
    The lower portion is connected at a first end with the base 104 so that the legs of the lower portion are substantially vertical. The base 104 can be made of a material similar to the material of the lower portion—i.e., a lightweight material having high tensile and compressive strength. The base 104 is shaped so that the frame 102 is balanced and supported, preventing the podium from tipping or collapsing from the weight of the upper portion. As shown in FIG. 1, the weight of the upper portion and the display panel 106 creates a moment force (i.e., torque) at the junction of the lower portion and the upper portion. Further, torque is created at the junction of the lower portion and the base 104. The base 104 extends away from the presenter so that the base resists the torque applied by the frame 102 at the base 104. As shown, the base 104 has a butterfly shape with two corners of the base 104 facing away from the presenter, extending diagonally to improve lateral stability as well as forward stability. Much of the torque created at the base is balanced by the shape of the base 104 extending away from the presenter; therefore, the corners of the base 104 nearest the presenter can be much shorter so as not to intrude into a space occupied by the presenter. In this way, the shape of the base 104 can influence the usability of the convertible podium system 100. The base 104 can further include caster wheels 110 so that the convertible podium system 100 can be rolled from one location to another location. Alternatively, the base 104 can include motorized wheels, allowing the podium to move from location to location on command. The caster wheels 110 can be positioned at the corners of the base 104 to maximize the stability provided by the shape of the base 104. A base 104 for use in alternative embodiments of the present invention need not be shaped as shown. For example, in other embodiments, the base can be trapezoidal or rectangular, while in still other embodiments the base can be elliptical or circular shaped. In still more embodiments, the base can have an ornate or complex shape. Further, the base 104 need not include caster wheels. One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciate the myriad different shapes with which the base 104 can be made.
  • [0020]
    The base can optionally house or be connected with a battery pack, such as a dry cell battery pack, for providing power to the convertible podium system 100. A battery pack can be optionally usable where a podium is located in a room lacking a convenient power source or outlet, for example. In one embodiment, the battery pack can be mounted on the underside of the base in a gap between a floor and the bottom of the base created by the height of the wheels, thereby at least partially concealing the battery pack. A power cord can be run through a hollow leg to electrically connect the battery with the display panel or some other component of the podium. In other embodiments, the battery pack can be housed within a leg in the lower portion of the frame. In still other embodiments, the battery pack can be positioned on the topside of the base, or the base can be shaped to house and optionally conceal the battery pack.
  • [0021]
    The upper portion of the frame is connected with the lower portion and comprises two support structures for supporting the display panel 106. As shown in FIG. 1, the support structures are extended from the substantially vertical legs of the lower portion at an oblique angle to the lower portion such that a display surface of the display panel 106—located in a plane formed between the support structures—is conveniently accessible both physically and visually to a presenter. For example, where a distal end of the lower portion extends to a height of 44 inches, the support structures can form an oblique angle of sixty degrees from vertical. An upper portion that extends an additional twenty inches in length brings the distal end of the frame to an overall height of approximately 54 inches. A presenter, for example having a height of 5′9″, can fix her gaze over the podium and on the audience, and with a slight tilt of her head can shift her gaze to the surface of the display screen. The ability of the presenter to access the display screen as desired, without the display screen obstructing her view is a benefit that can be provided by the present invention. Any dimensions provided in this description are merely exemplary and should in no way limit the size and/or shape of the invention.
  • [0022]
    One or both of the support structures can have a uniform, rectangular cross-section along a plane perpendicular to the major axis of the support structure. As with the lower portion, the support structures can alternatively have some other cross-sectional shape, and can vary in size and/or shape along the major axis of the support structure, e.g., the support structure can taper. The support structures can be made of the same or a similar material used to make one or both of the lower portion and the base, i.e., a lightweight material having high tensile and compressive strength. As shown, each leg is a single piece extending from the base 104 at a proximal end of the frame, and terminating at a distal end of the frame. Each leg is extruded, cast or otherwise formed as a single piece comprising the lower portion and the upper portion. In other embodiments, the upper portion can comprise a separate structure from the lower portion fixedly connected with the lower portion (e.g., by welding) or removably connected with the lower portion (e.g., using bolts, screws, or other fasteners). In still other embodiments, the lower portion can be formed of two telescoping sections, with an upper section being integrally formed or connected with the upper portion, thereby allowing the upper portion and the display screen to be raised or lowered to vary the height of the podium to suit the presenter. Further, the telescoping sections can be joined and motorized and optionally associated with sensors so that the podium automatically adjusts to the height of the presenter.
  • [0023]
    Numerous different frame configurations can be employed without deviating from the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, where the display panel 106 is relatively light—incorporating a thin, light LED screen—the frame can include a single, ornamentally shaped support structure connected with a base. One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciate the various combinations of support structures for forming a frame capable of supporting and/or positioning a display panel 106.
  • [0024]
    The interactive display panel 106 comprises an LCD display screen and a thin computer, the thin computer controlling the display screen and optionally a portion of the functions of the convertible podium system 100. It should be noted that the display screen need not be limited to LCD technology. In other embodiments the screen can be a plasma, LED, front projection, rear projection or tablet PC screen. In still other embodiments, the screen can rely on some other display technology. The interactive display panel 106 is pivotally connected with the upper portion by one or more hinges 122 located near a distal end of the frame 102. As shown, two hinges are connected to the display panel 106, one hinge on each side. The thin computer includes a media drive (e.g., a CD-ROM drive, DVD-ROM drive, CDRW drive, DVD-rewritable drive, etc.) accessible from the underside of the display panel 106. Power and data cables can be routed through at least one of the hinges 122 and to the thin computer from components of the podium not connected with the interactive display panel 106 (such as the battery pack). The hinge 122 can be at least partially hollow to accommodate such wiring. Alternatively, the thin computer can have a self contained battery, connectable directly from the interactive display panel 106 to an external power source. Further, the thin computer can be wirelessly connected with components of the podium (such as a modular controller tray, as described below), as well as to a network for allowing the convertible podium system 100 to access environmental controls, to access files saved on the server, and to access a Web server, etc. In this way, wiring need not be routed through the upper portion and hinge, reducing the complexity of such components. Alternatively, a computer can be associated with the base (placed beneath, atop, or within the base) rather than associated with the interactive display panel, with all wires and cables from external components routed to the computer through the frame.
  • [0025]
    The hinges 122 allow the display panel 106 to be pivoted upward and away from a cross brace of the frame 102 so that a lower surface beneath the display panel 106 is revealed. In one embodiment, the lower surface can include a scanner surface of a hi-resolution flatbed scanner (e.g., an HP scanjet 4600 series). Documents and objects can be positioned on the scanner surface, and optionally scanned for display. The scanned image can be displayed on the display screen, on a second display screen (e.g., on a second podium or on some other device), or the scanned image can be projected to an audience (locally or remotely). Alternatively, the scanned image can be saved, for example to a server, for retrieval by the presenter, an audience member, or some other person. Further, the scanner can be used to fax the scanned document and/or image. The convertible podium system 100 can optionally include an integrated printer connected with the frame, for example, and in electrical communication with the scanner, allowing the scanner to effectively act as a copier. The printer further allows a presenter to distribute print-outs of virtually any information accessible to the podium (for example, via the network) or able to be scanned. The scanner can be connected with the support structures as known in the art, for example, by adhesives or fasteners, or by positioning in slots or cavities formed within the support structures and optionally connected with the support structures. The printer can be integrated with the scanner or positioned, for example, within one of the support structures, or within the lower portion of the cross-bar, producing print-outs below the modular controller tray 108. One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciate the myriad different arrangements for connecting a scanner and/or printer with the convertible podium system 100.
  • [0026]
    In other embodiments, the lower surface can include an acrylic panel connected between the support structures of the upper portion. In still other embodiments the panel can comprise some other material, and need not be transparent. Where an acrylic panel is used, the acrylic panel has a thickness such that the acrylic panel is sufficiently rigid so that objects placed on the acrylic panel for imaging by a high resolution camera do not cause deformation, yet thin enough that when the display panel 106 is fully closed, the display panel 106 is substantially flush with an upper surface of the support structures while being nested between the support structures.
  • [0027]
    The cross brace is positioned between the legs of the frame 102, near a junction of the upper portion and lower portion of the frame 102. The cross brace fixes the left leg in position relative to the right leg and provides rigidity and support to the frame, thereby preventing lateral movement. A handle 124 is attached with the front of the cross brace or alternatively between the legs of the frame 102 to provide a hand grip for easy transfer of the convertible podium system 100 between locations. Further, one or more cup holder drawers 116 can be selectably extendable from the cross-brace for the convenience of the presenter.
  • [0028]
    Referring now to FIG. 2, a modular controller tray 108 is connected with the cross brace and positioned below the display panel 106. The modular controller tray 108 includes nine configurable positions 230 for fitting one or more modular control units 232. The modular controller tray 108 can include more or fewer configurable positions—as many as can be accommodated along the width of the cross brace, and as few as is desired. A modular control unit 232 can comprise a button, knob, slide or other control mechanism, or a combination of control mechanisms, e.g., a touch-sensitive wheel having pushbuttons positioned beneath the wheel. The modular control unit 232 can be fitted to any of the configurable positions 230 on the modular controller tray 108. The modular control unit 232 and a corresponding configurable position 230 can include contact pins so that when fitted together, control bits complete a switch and modulate output in the switch. Alternatively, the modular control unit 232 and configurable position 230 can include magnetic contact surfaces. The modular control unit 232 can be readily interchanged with any other modular control unit. Each configurable position 230 and each modular control unit 232 has an associated ID. An intelligent agent maps the ID and location of the modular control units 232 and determines which applications are associated with which modular control units 232. The applications can include different aspects of the presentation or conditions of the room environment (e.g., lighting, temperature, presentation volume). The applications are activated so that the applications are controlled by associated modular control units 232 regardless of the arrangement of the modular control units 232 in the tray 108. For example, in one arrangement a slide mechanism associated with room lighting can be positioned at the far right of the tray 108 allowing the presenter to dim or raise the lights by manipulating the slide mechanism with a right hand, a knob associated with a volume of the speaker system can positioned on the far left of the tray 108, allowing the presenter to raise or lower the volume by twisting the knob with a left hand, and a button associated with a microphone mute can be positioned in the center of a tray 108 so that the presenter can mute the microphone by locating and pressing the button. The control mechanisms are selected and arranged according to the preference of the presenter, placing frequently used controls in accessible locations, and allowing the presenter to arrange the controls as is convenient to the presenter. A second presenter may choose to associate a slide mechanism with the volume of the speaker system, a knob with the lighting levels, and a toggle switch with the microphone mute, and further may choose to position the slide mechanism in the center of the tray. One presenter's preferences may be very different from another presenter's preferences.
  • [0029]
    The configurability of the modular controller tray 108 allows the presenter to customize podium controls to suit his or her tastes and preferences, regardless of whether the presenter is familiar with the particular podium. The controls of the convertible podium system 100 of the present invention are fully customizable. As described above, the presenter can customize a preferred control mechanism for a particular application. Further, in some embodiments modular control units can be aesthetically or tactilely customized. For example, a distinguished presenter can have her modular control units 220 monogrammed or otherwise personalized to reflect her style or taste, as well as to avoid loss or confusion over ownership, or the presenter can possess modular control units 220 having special texture, for example, as provided by a coating such as rubber. In other embodiments, the modular controller tray can comprise a virtual control panel including a touch screen display along at least a portion of the width of the cross-bar. The touch screen display can display graphical controls that can be configured, modified, and updated via software upgrades and can mimic the look and feel of physical controls. As with the physical modular controller tray, the virtual control panel can be fully customizable.
  • [0030]
    A connection unit 224 is positioned along the crossbar and adjacent to the modular control tray 108. The connection unit 224 includes connection points or input jacks for connecting external devices such as a laptop or flash memory card. For example, the connection unit 224 can include one or more of A/V network connections, power connections, a USB data transfer port, a Firewire data transfer port, and a multi card reader (e.g., compact flash, smart media, MMC, SD, memory stick, micro drive, etc.). Further, the convertible podium system 100 can access Web servers, an Intranet, and/or other sources of information through the network connection (note that this can also be accomplished wirelessly as described above). The connection unit 224 is positioned to the left of the modular controller tray 108 but in other embodiments, the connection unit 224 can be positioned elsewhere on the podium, for example to the right of the modular controller tray 108, or below the modular controller tray on the cross-bar, etc. In still other embodiments, the connection unit 224 can be positioned on the frame 102 or on the base 104. In addition a shelf can be attached, or removably attachable to the frame or base for supporting an external device, such as a laptop or tablet PC, for connection with the connection unit 224.
  • [0031]
    A portion of the display panel 106 can be seen in FIG. 2 positioned above the modular controller tray 108. The images displayed on the screen of the display panel 106 can be simple, such as presentation slides as projected for viewing by the audience, or more advantageously the display screen can display multiple sources of information simultaneously, for example using a graphical user interface (GUI) having one or more frames or windows, each capable of displaying content. Those skilled in the art will find that the system and methods of the present invention may be advantageously embodied on a variety of different platforms, including Windows XP, MacOS X, UNIX X11, Linux 2.6.0, etc. By displaying multiple frames or windows, a single frame or window can include the projected image, while other frames or windows include other useful information. For example the presenter can display a seating chart having a name and picture of each person in attendance. By having multiple frames or windows, a presenter can further accompany a presentation with prepared notes or ancillary documents, located as desired by the presenter (e.g., by dragging a window to a desired location on the display panel). The convertible podium system 100 allows the presenter to attend a presentation unaccompanied by loosely bound notes. Rather the presenter is provided with digital copies of notes previously drafted or documents previously assembled.
  • [0032]
    One or more modular controller units can be associated with a cursor or icon on the desktop, allowing the presenter to manipulate the desktop. For example, one modular controller unit can include a joystick or trackball for locating the cursor, while a second modular controller unit can include a selection button or other control mechanism. Further, as described above, one or more modular control units can be associated with a highlighted or active window or frame. For example, when a window displaying a presenter's notes is active, the presenter can activate, advance, or reverse a pages of the notes using the modular control units, thereby relieving the presenter of the burden of typing on a keyboard, or positioning and manipulating a cumbersome mouse.
  • [0033]
    Alternatively, the display panel 106 can include a control overlay allowing a presenter to simply touch controls displayed on the screen to operate podium features or to manipulate the desktop. For example, the presenter can relocate a window or frame by touching and dragging the window—e.g., with a stylus, wand, pen, or even a finger—to another location. Or, for example, where a model seating chart is positioned in one portion of the display panel, the presenter can tap a seating position that can then pop-up to display an audience member, including the member's name, photo, and mini-biography. The presenter can then recognize and identify individuals within the audience, allowing the presenter to call on particular persons, or allow the presenter to personalize interaction, for example during question and answer sessions. Further, the control overlay can be used to wholly deactivate the desktop, for example when a laptop or other device is placed on the display screen.
  • [0034]
    A fully networked convertible podium system 100 can provide the presenter with the ability to access custom files from a presenters desktop, tablet, laptop computer, personal digital assistant, etc. The display panel 106 can display information other than the information described herein, and each window can be sized to accommodate more or less information within the display panel 106. Applications launched on the desktop, or otherwise displayed on the display screen can be manipulated a number of different ways, including, as described above, using the modular control tray or a control overlay. In other embodiments, the desktop can be manipulated using a mouse or keyboard integrated with the podium, or removably connected with the podium, for example via the connection unit. One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciated the myriad different ways in which content displayed on the display screen and presented to an audience from the podium can be manipulated.
  • [0035]
    In addition to the versatile display screen, two microphones 250 are positioned at opposite ends near the bottom of the display panel 106, and a high resolution digital camera 114 is pivotally connected with the display panel 106 approximately between the microphones. In one embodiment, the microphones 250 are omni-directional microphones. The microphones allow the presenter to project his voice over a speaker system in a local user mode, and as will be described below, to pick-up audience noise in remote podium user mode. Optionally, a pair of thin speakers 252 can border the display screen on the left and right side of the display screen to provide sound through the podium from a presenter in remote podium user mode, where the presenter cannot interface with a speaker system at the presentation site
  • [0036]
    Further, one or more gesture sensors 354 can be connected with one or both of the display panel 106 and the frame 102 so that gestures made by the presenter can affect the progression and/or content of the presentation. For example, as shown in the overhead view of FIG. 3, when the presenter waves an arm from left to right across the field of view of the gesture sensor(s) 354, the content projected and displayed for the audience (e.g., a slide, a video image, a camera view, etc.) can be incrementally advanced, and when the presenter waves an arm from right to left across the field of view of the gesture sensor 354, the content can be incrementally reversed. One or more gestures can trigger corresponding actions or functions related to the presentation, or related to the presentation environment. The convertible podium system 100 can be programmed to respond to a gesture in any particular way by the presenter. For example, the convertible podium system 100 can be programmed such that when the presenter claps his hands like a cymbal the lights can dim. One or more gesture sensors 354 can supplant one or more of the modular control units 222 or expand the functionality of the modular controller tray 108, expanding the ability of the presenter to control the presentation. For example, common commands, such as advancing a presentation slide, can be programmed to respond to gestures so that a modular control unit 222 associated with presentation advancement, can be programmed for a different task, such as cueing music, or muting a microphone. In some embodiments, the high resolution digital camera 114 can be used as a gesture sensor, for example when the convertible podium system 100 is operated in conventional podium mode, thereby obviating the need for separate gesture sensors and reducing the cost and complexity of the podium.
  • [0037]
    Repositioning the display panel 106 can allow the convertible podium system 100 to be used in other interactive modes. As shown in FIGS. 4 a through 4 c, the convertible podium 100 can be used in at least three different modes. FIG. 4 a illustrates the podium 100 as described above in a typical local use by a presenter positioned behind the podium in view of the display panel 106. When the display panel 106 is pivoted to an intermediate position as shown in FIG. 4 b, the scanner surface (or acrylic panel) is revealed and the podium converts to a capturing device mode. The surface is recessed so that documents and objects can be positioned to be scanned or photographed, and displayed on a projection screen. A visor light is positioned near a perimeter of the underside of the display panel 106 and illuminates the space on which the document and/or object is positioned. In one embodiment, the visor light can comprise a light emitting diode (LED). As can be seen in FIG. 5, the scanner surface can include markings to indicate proper positioning to ensure that the document and/or object are appropriately centered. Where the lower surface is an acrylic or other panel, appropriate markings can be used to ensure that the document and/or object are in full frame. The high resolution digital camera 226 is pivoted so that the field of view of the high resolution camera 226 substantially captures the space indicated by the markings on the acrylic panel. As described above, the document and/or object can optionally be captured and projected onto a screen, or in some way display for viewing by the audience as a still photo and/or live video.
  • [0038]
    The display panel 106 is supported in its intermediate and fully upright position by a pair of support braces—one brace positioned on each side of the upper portion of the frame 102—and a latch mechanism. A slot can be formed in each support structure in which a support brace is slidably connected at a first end of the support brace so that the first end slides along the slot toward the modular controller tray as the display panel 106 collapses, and slides along the slot toward the hinge as the display panel 106 is raised. The support brace is pivotally connected with the display panel 106 at a second end so that as the first end slides along the slot, the support brace is free to pivot. The display panel 106 includes a recess for receiving the support brace when the display panel 106 is collapsed. The latch mechanism inside the hinge includes a spring loaded pin allows the panel to be locked when the pin slides into one of three notches along a cylinder of the hinge. The three notches correspond to the respective modes of the convertible system 100. A spring loaded release button can unlock the pins from the notches. In other embodiments, the display panel 106 can include one or more braces having different a different configuration, for example the brace can fold, or each brace can include a pneumatic mechanism. In still other embodiments, the display panel 106 can be supported without any braces by using internal springs hidden inside the side frames or the display panel support frames (similar to a spring mechanism of a multifunction printer). One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciate the different configurations for supporting the display panel 106 at different positions.
  • [0039]
    A spring is hidden inside the hinge, a first end of the spring being attached to the display panel and a second end being attached to the hinge, and applies torque to the display panel, reducing the amount of force required by a user (or a motor) to raise the display panel. The spring further lessens the weight applied to the support brace positioned on either side of the display panel 106. Further, the spring force resists collapsing of the display panel 106 when lowered, so that the display panel 106 can be eased into position with less risk of a damaging drop. The spring need not be included, for example where the brace includes a pneumatic mechanism. Further, a motorized mechanism can be implemented so that pivoting of the display panel 106 can be controlled electronically for example through a remote interface.
  • [0040]
    As can be seen in FIG. 4 c, the display panel can further be pivoted to a fully upright position. When in a fully upright position, the display screen can serve as an interactive white board, or an information board. The white board feature is activated by a program that accepts free-hand input by touching the touch-sensitive screen with a finger or a stylus, converting the input into digital “ink”. The white board feature can be activated automatically when the podium is in the fully upright position, or when commanded by the presenter (or some other user), or when some other criterion is met. If the white board feature is activated when the podium is in local use mode, a user can “write” on the display screen and afterward reconfigure the podium such that the display panel is fully upright. As shown in FIG. 6 a, the image displayed is inverted so that the image appears right-side up to a person positioned in front of the display screen. Additionally, when the display panel is fully upright, the user can write on the display screen. For example, a first user can draw a diagram to illustrate a concept or idea, while a second user can add additional information to build on the concept or idea. In this way the display screen acts as a traditional white board. However, the information can be saved via software for future access and reference. Further, each addition can be recorded, allowing the users to selectively erase the white board. Actions can be segmented based on an amount of time lapsed between input actions, or based on use of certain styluses or wands. The users can scroll through the saved screens from multiple sessions or through the recorded strokes from a single session. One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciate the myriad different ways of capturing and/or displaying information written to the white board.
  • [0041]
    When used as an information board, information can be electronically delivered to the podium rather than locally written to the display screen. For example, a professor can send a sick note from home announcing to her class that she will be out for the day, or the professor can post course grades from her vacation spot in Tuscany. Such a feature could provide benefits over email. For example, if the professor's illness is sudden, she can be assured that her illness will be communicated to the entire classroom, or if student email accounts expire, she can be sure that information is accessible. Further, the information board can display information for general public viewing, such as schedule changes, etc.
  • [0042]
    Alternatively, when in a fully upright position, the display panel 106 can act as an avatar for a presenter. In a remote podium user mode, presentation controls and optionally environmental controls are controlled remotely by the presenter from a user interface. FIG. 6 b is a close up of the display panel 106 configured in a remote podium user mode. As can be seen, a shoulder and head shot of the presenter is displayed on the display panel 106. The high resolution digital camera 226 is pivoted in place (manually or by motors within the hinge) so that the camera captures an image of the audience from the perspective of a presenter positioned behind the podium. The image of the audience is sent via some remote transfer protocol to a remote desktop, as shown in FIG. 6 c. Further, the microphones 250 positioned on either side of the now top of the screen pick up sounds from the audience, which are also sent via the remote transfer protocol to the presenter. The presenter can thus fully gauge a level of attention of the audience and interact with the audience, for example in a question-and-answer session. In one embodiment, the convertible podium system 100 is sized so that when the display panel 106 is displayed in an upright fashion, the size of the podium from floor to full height is about 6′. Thus, the convertible podium system 100 presents an image of the remote presenter similar in size to a live presenter, providing an anthropomorphic quality to the convertible podium system 100. Speakers 252 on either side of the display screen enhance the effect when used in addition to, or in substitution of, a speaker system connected with the room. Whether used in avatar mode, or white board mode, the image displayed on the display screen is flipped as the display panel is pivoted to an upright position.
  • [0043]
    As shown in FIG. 6 c the user interface can include multiple windows or frames providing multiple sources of information. The user interface can be displayed on a desktop PC, a laptop, or another podium. The portion of the screen surrounded by the dashed line in FIG. 6 c is the remote podium user interface, which includes a desktop display and a remote site environmental control frame with hot spots. The desktop display appears as it would on the display screen of the podium if the presenter were present at the podium. The desktop shown in the figure includes a presentation window displaying a slide from the presentation. The remote site environmental control frame provides an image or model of the remote site, including aspects of the environment that can be remotely controlled by the presenter, e.g., the lighting, the projection or display screen, the speaker system. The right side of the user interface displays live camera images. The top window displays an image captured by the high resolution digital camera connected with the display panel 106. For example, the image shown in FIG. 6 c is of the target audience for the presentation. The second image displayed below the remote audience image is an image of the presenter as shown on the display screen of the display panel 106. Controls provided for controlling the podium camera and a position of the display panel 106 are provided in the lower right hand corner. The user interface shown in FIG. 6 c is only one example of how information can be organized and displayed. In other embodiments, more or fewer windows or frames can be displayed. For example, where a much larger monitor is used for the user interface, additional windows can be provided to display additional camera views of a single audience, or multiple audience views for appearing on multiple podiums at multiple presentation sites.
  • [0044]
    In one embodiment the user interface can include a control overlay allowing a presenter to simply touch the displayed controls to operate remotely the podium features for which the controls are associated. Further, with a control overlay the presenter need only touch an object displayed on the remote site environmental control frame to control the object. For example, the presenter can touch the speakers to gain control of the presentation volume at the remote site. In other embodiment a presenter can use a mouse to activate controls displayed on the user interface. In still other embodiments, remote podium and camera controls can be operated via a keyboard or some other input. One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciate the myriad different ways of remotely controlling the podium and podium camera.
  • [0045]
    In addition to the features described above, the convertible podium system 100 can have numerous other features to enhance the professional appearance of a presentation. For example, FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the convertible podium system 100 having a plurality of proximity sensors positioned on the frame and/or base of the convertible podium system 100. A proximity sensor can comprise an optical LED sensor triggered by the presence or absence of a presenter. In other embodiments, the proximity sensors can comprise an RF or other type sensor, that can be triggered, for example, by a pin worn by the presenter when the presenter comes within a certain range (and direction) of the podium. The proximity sensors can operate such that when a presenter triggers the proximity sensor the convertible podium system can activate a speaker system, activate a microphone, and/or activate certain control circuitry. When the presenter physically leaves the area, and after a time has passed with no activity detected by the proximity sensors, the microphones, speaker system, etc. can be deactivated. Alternatively, once the proximity sensors detect the presenter, the functions activated can stay activated until the presenter manually reactivates a “sleep mode”. There are myriad different ways in which proximity sensors can be employed to enhance a presentation. For example, as the presenter approaches, a signal from the proximity sensors can be programmed to dim the lights in the auditorium, and raise the LED lights of the lower portion. The features activated by the proximity sensors, just as with the modular control units, can be fully customized to activate and respond in a particular way for a particular presenter. Where the proximity sensors are activated by a pin or other token, such a token can be programmed to identify the presenter to the podium, thereby allowing the podium to activate features as desired by the presenter. One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciate the myriad ways in which features of the podium can be integrated and controlled to produce a tight, well executed presentation.
  • [0046]
    The foregoing description of preferred embodiments of the present invention has been provided for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many modifications and variations will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the relevant arts. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, thereby enabling others skilled in the art to understand the invention for various embodiments and with various modifications that are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims and their equivalence.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification434/365
International ClassificationA47B19/10, G09B5/10, H04N7/15, A47G23/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47B19/10
European ClassificationA47B19/10
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Aug 19, 2004ASAssignment
Owner name: FUJI XEROX CO., LTD., JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:LERTSITHICHAI, SURAPONG;CHIU, PATRICK;FOOTE, JONATHAN T.;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:015695/0001
Effective date: 20040507