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Publication numberUS20060073815 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/203,666
Publication dateApr 6, 2006
Filing dateAug 12, 2005
Priority dateSep 25, 2003
Also published asDE10344464A1, DE502004003112D1, EP1518758A2, EP1518758A3, EP1518758B1, US8358206, US20050242666
Publication number11203666, 203666, US 2006/0073815 A1, US 2006/073815 A1, US 20060073815 A1, US 20060073815A1, US 2006073815 A1, US 2006073815A1, US-A1-20060073815, US-A1-2006073815, US2006/0073815A1, US2006/073815A1, US20060073815 A1, US20060073815A1, US2006073815 A1, US2006073815A1
InventorsRobert Pines, Christine Baumeister, Michael Bates
Original AssigneeRobert Pines, Christine Baumeister, Michael Bates
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Enhanced directory assistance system with download features
US 20060073815 A1
Abstract
An enhanced directory assistance system has a directory assistance platform, configured to receive a verbal request from a requester for a desired downloadable item among a plurality of downloadable items. A download features module coupled to the directory assistance platform, where the download features module is configured to retrieve information corresponding to the plurality of downloadable items in response to the verbal request, such that the download features module causes the desired downloadable item to be delivered to a telephone device of the requester.
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Claims(27)
1. An enhanced directory assistance system comprising:
a directory assistance platform, configured to receive a verbal request from a requester for a desired downloadable item among a plurality of downloadable items; and
a download features module coupled to said directory assistance platform, wherein said download features module is configured to retrieve information corresponding to said plurality of downloadable items in response to said verbal request, such that said download features module causes said desired downloadable item to be delivered to a telephone device of said requester.
2. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said directory assistance platform handles said verbal requests from said requester by either one of a CSR (Customer Service Representative) or a VRU (Voice Response Unit).
3. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said downloadable item is any one of a cellular ringtone, an audio file, a video file a video game or a map.
4. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 1, further comprises a storage module for storing said plurality of download items.
5. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 4, wherein said plurality of download items are retrieved by said storage module from two or more third party databases.
6. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said download features module provides instructions to third parties storing said downloadable item, to forward said downloadable item to said telephone device of said requester.
7. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said downloadable item is sent to said requester's telephone device as an electronic message via any one of e-mail, SMS, WAP, and HTTP, including a link to said downloadable item.
8. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 7, wherein said electronic message, further includes a link to be re-connected to said directory assistance platform in the event that the delivered downloadable item is incorrect.
9. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said download feature module further includes a top requested listing table configured to include the most requested download items based on recent requests.
10. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 9, wherein said top requested listing table is displayable and announcable via said directory assistance platform in order to shorten the time required to respond to said requester.
11. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 9, wherein said top requested listing table includes a category identifier, such that when a category is selected, said top requested listing table provides said most frequently requested download items for said category.
12. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 11, wherein said categories may be selected from any one of most requested download, most requested ring tone, most requested video game, most requested movie trailer, most requested music video, most requested sound (music) clip, most requested by type of music, most requested artists, most requested albums, most requested by time frame.
13. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 1 1, wherein said top requested listing table may provide multiple category results simultaneously.
14. An enhanced directory assistance system comprising:
a directory assistance platform, configured to receive a request from a requester for a desired downloadable item among a plurality of downloadable items; and
a download features module coupled to said directory assistance platform, wherein said download features module is configured to interface with a plurality of third party databases in order to obtain said plurality of downloadable items.
15. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 14, wherein said download features module causes said desired downloadable item to be delivered to a telephone device of said requester.
16. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 14, wherein 16 wherein when said desired download item is not among said plurality of stored items, said download features module delivers to requester information on how to obtain said desired listing.
17. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said directory assistance platform handles said verbal requests from said requester by either one of a CSR (Customer Service Representative) or a VRU (Voice Response Unit).
18. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 14, wherein said downloadable item is sent to said requester's telephone device as an electronic message via any one of e-mail SMS, WAP, and HTTP, including a link to said downloadable item.
19. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 18, wherein said electronic message, further includes a link to be re-connected to said directory assistance platform in the event that the delivered downloadable item is incorrect.
20. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 14, wherein said downloadable item is any one of a cellular ringtone, an audio file, a video file a video game or a map.
21. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 14, wherein said download feature module further includes a top requested listing table configured to include the most requested download listings based on recent requests.
22. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 21, wherein said top requested listing table is displayable and announcable via said directory assistance platform in order to shorten the time required to respond to said requester.
23. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 21, wherein said top requested listing table includes a category identifier, such that when a category is selected, said top requested listing table provides said most frequently requested download listings for said category.
24. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 23, wherein said categories may be selected from any one of most requested download, most requested ring tone, most requested video game, most requested movie trailer, most requested music video, most requested sound (music) clip, most requested by type of music, most requested artists, most requested albums, most requested by time frame.
25. The enhanced directory assistance system as claimed in claim 23, wherein said top requested listing table may provide multiple category results simultaneously.
26. A method for providing enhanced directory assistance services said method comprising the steps of:
receiving a verbal request from a requester at a directory assistance platform for a desired downloadable item among a plurality of downloadable items;
retrieving information corresponding to said plurality of downloadable items in response to said verbal request at a download features module coupled to said directory assistance platform; and
said download features module causing said desired downloadable item to be delivered to a telephone device of said requester.
27. A method for providing enhanced directory assistance services said method comprising the steps of:
receiving a request from a requester at a directory assistance platform for a desired downloadable item among a plurality of downloadable items;
interfacing, by a download features module coupled to said directory assistance platform, with a plurality of third party databases in order to obtain said plurality of downloadable items.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an enhanced directory assistance system. More particularly, the present invention relates to an enhanced directory assistance system with download features.

BACKGROUND

The use of wireless communications, including cell phone conversations, wireless e-mail, SMS and other similar forms of communication has been steadily increasing over time. This is particularly true among the younger population. In fact, in some instances, many users both young and old have forgone landline communications, entirely opting to handle all of their communications in wireless format.

This significant increase in usage, has given rise to the need to develop corresponding wireless directory assistance services. These directory assistance services for the most part mirror traditional landline directory assistance, allowing a requester to request contact information, such as a wireless number, for a party they wish to reach. In addition to the newer wireless directory assistance services, both landline and wireless directory assistance systems have added new features including the ability to request reservations, obtain movie times, and request driving directions.

The wireless devices handling these communications generally have additional functional abilities that are not commonly present in landline phones. Because wireless devices, such as cell phones and PDAs, nearly universally have a microprocessor and associated memory units, these devices can store and play video and audio clips, they can change ring tones, take store and send pictures, surf the internet etc . . . Each of these functions is further facilitated through the wireless capability, allowing the data and programs to be downloaded directly to the devices.

For example, cell phones were first created with the ability to change ring tones within a given set, stored within the phone. However, recently this has been greatly augmented by the ability to download new ring tones that mimic or even directly play, popular music clips or popular sound bytes from a movie. Such additional ring tones are either downloaded or forwarded to the phone directly in wireless format. This industry alone is currently estimated at a value of 3 billion dollars worldwide. Yet another new feature prevalent in the wireless communication industry is the ability to download full movie/TV clips or even video games to the user's wireless device.

Although there are a significant number of media items to be downloaded to wireless devices, there is currently no single source for the items. Ring tones for example, may be made available to users of a particular cell phone type, a particular service provider, a subscriber to a particular third party service, or even to the general public. Furthermore, the storage locations for these downloads are dispersed throughout the internet and wireless world. These dispersed locations are not always commonly known to the wireless communication community. Currently there are no means for locating and obtaining these various media download items other than blind searching, being given the download information directly from the provider, or through word of mouth.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the drawbacks associated with the prior art and provides a wireless directory assistance system that, in addition to providing wireless contact information, also provides contact information for downloadable media items, such as the location for obtaining the media and the requirements for downloading the media. Additionally, the present invention, further allows the user to download the requested media directly from the directory assistance system.

To this end, the present invention is directed to an enhanced directory assistance system. The system includes a download features module configured to store download listings corresponding to a plurality of downloadable items. A directory assistance platform, coupled to the download features module receives a request from a requester for a downloadable item among the plurality of downloadable items. The directory assistance platform retrieves from the download features module a download listing corresponding to the requested download item so as to enable delivery of said downloadable item to a telephone device of said requester.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there are shown in the drawings several forms, which are presently preferred, it being understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a communication assistance system of the present invention in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a diagram of a download features module of the system illustrated in FIG. 1, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a diagram of a download table listing, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a most requested download item table, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a flow chart for the request and delivery of a download item, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a flow chart for the request and delivery of a download item from an outside provider, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 7 is a flow chart for the request and delivery of a download item, in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As illustrated in FIG. 1, an enhanced directory assistance system 10 is shown for use by a requester 20. In the present description, requester 20 is described as a user having a standard cell phone in order to demonstrate the salient features of the present invention. However, it is understood that requester 20 may include but is not limited to a user employing a VoIP phone, personal computer, PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), landline phone or any other personal communication device capable of handling a requested downloaded item.

A connectivity element 22 is disposed between requester 20 and system 10 in order to facilitate communications between the two. In the case of the present invention, connectivity element 22 is described as being a cellular service provider for requester 20, for exemplary purposes. However, it is understood that connectivity element 22 may refer to any intermediate communication medium capable of handling communications between system 10 and requester 20, including the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). For example, in the case where requester 20 is operating a VoIP phone or other such internet based communication technology, connectivity element 22 may simply be the Internet.

Although FIG. 1 illustrates only a single enhanced directory assistance system 10, it is understood that a number of systems 10 may be interconnected with one another over widely spaced geographic locations for handling requests at all times of the day, for handling request overflow, and for backup redundancy.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, enhanced directory assistance system 10 maintains a directory assistance platform 30. DA platform 30 is configured to be the primary component for receiving and processing incoming requests from requester 20. It is understood that DA platform 30 may be comprised of a single component or more commonly comprised of a series of interlinked switches, ACD (Automatic Call Distribution) modules, operator terminals and other connectivity equipment. Furthermore, it is understood that DA platform may employ live operators at operator terminals, complete automated response platforms, or a combination of the two for handling all of the features disclosed herein.

In addition to adding automated response options to DA platform 30, system 10 may also employ voice recognition of requester 20. In this instance, DA platform 30 offers a series of automated options to select from, and requester 20 may respond verbally. Furthermore, employing voice recognition, a particular requester 20 may be recognized as a frequent caller to which DA platform 30 may respond by automatically retrieving past download requests from the same requester 20, as well as developing suggestions for new downloads.

In an alternative arrangement, DA platform 30 may employ an ANI based recognition ability, such that a particular requester 20 may be recognized as a frequent caller based on the number from which the dial. Likewise, DA platform 30 may respond by automatically retrieving past download requests from the same requester 20, as well as developing suggestions for new downloads using the ANI recognition. In either arrangement, DA platform may provide such enhanced services to requester 20 to assist them or the attending customer service representative in quickly retrieving a desired download content.

DA platform 30 is connected first to a listing database 32. Listing database 32 is configured to store the necessary data to handle standard requests from requester 20, such as requests for telephone numbers or other such connectivity information.

DA platform 30 is further connected to an enhanced services module 34. Enhanced services module 34 is configured to track certain advanced directory assistance services such as direction requests, reservation services, movie listings or other similar information services not directly related to connectivity.

Both listing database 32 and enhanced services module 34 are shown as single units within the confines of system 10. However it is understood that such databases and modules may both be employed as a physical array of devices and further may be handled off site or even by third party vendors.

In one embodiment of the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 1, DA platform 30 of system 10 further maintains a download features module 36. Download features module 36 is configured to store data associated with requests for downloadable data items.

For the purposes of illustration, the present invention, when referring to downloadable data items, will describe downloadable ring tones for cellular telephones. However, it is understood that downloadable data items may include any number of downloadable context including but not limited to ring tones, voice /sound clips, video clips, pictures, websites, video games, or any other type of downloadable data item that is at least partially available to the public. Other such downloadable items may include maps, such as subway maps, bus maps, train maps or road maps.

Also, illustrated in FIG. 1 system 10 maintains a billing database 37 for maintaining and storing billing records related to the search for and delivery of downloadable data items from download feature module 36. Billing database 37 can store information related to the use of download feature module 36 on either a per requester 20 basis, on a service provider basis, or on any other billing scheme that is used to support the download of items from system 10.

In one embodiment of the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 2, download features module 36 contains a download availability database 38 and a download storage module 40. Download storage module 40 is for example, a data repository for storing downloadable items for delivery through system 10 to requester 20. Although download storage module 40 is shown within download features module 36 it is understood that this data repository may be located anywhere within system 10 or even outside of system 10, maintained by a third party vendor.

Download availability database 38 of download feature module 36 is configured to store various download table listings 50. Download listings 50 are configured to each maintain the relevant identifying and information data for each downloadable data item that system 10 can service to a requester 20.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, table listing 50 maintains a first title field 52 indicating the title, abbreviated title or recognized title of the downloadable item. A second size field 54 indicates the size of the downloadable item, for example in megabytes.

A third system requirements field 56 includes information related to the system requirements that need to be met by the device of requester 20 in order to handle the downloadable item. For example, if the downloadable item is a video game, there may be system requirements in order to properly play the game. In yet another example, video clips may be playable on certain cell phones of a first manufacturer but not on a second manufacturer. Any such system requirements would be stored in field 56.

A fourth availability field 58 includes a particular downloadable item availability status for requester 20. In a first arrangement, the information contained in availability field 58 is generic to all requesters. For example, availability field may simply contain a list of service providers or other third parties that offer the downloadable item. This information can then be conveyed to requester 20 through DA platform 30.

Alternatively, availability field 58 may be dynamically controlled by system 10 in order to list the availability to the particular requester 20. For example, using ANI (Automatic Number Identifier), DA platform 30 is able to recognize the service provider of requester 20. This information is then used when download features module 36 is queried such that availability field simply states “available to this requester” or “not available to this requester.” It is understood that a combination of both arrangements may be used as well.

Further illustrated in FIG. 3, a downloadable item location field 60 is also included in table listing 50 configured to indicate to download feature module 36 the location of the particular download item. In the present invention system 10 is configured to store information for downloadable items that are stored within system 10 such as in storage module 40, stored within external databases discussed below, and even for downloadable items that are no longer available. When the downloadable item is located directly in storage module 40, DA platform 30 can deliver the download item directly to requester 20.

In one embodiment of the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 1, DA platform 30 of the present invention, in addition to be connected to download features module 36, is also connected to service provider databases 70 and third party databases 80. For example, service provider databases 70 may refer to storage locations of downloadable items directly handled by a particular service provider. Third party databases 80 refer to any other type of third party database for downloadable items such as movie studios, recording studios and advertising firms.

If upon a query to downloadable features module 36, DA platform 30 recognizes from location field 60, that a particular item is located for download from a service provider database 70, DA platform 30 is configured to retrieve the download item from service provider database 70 and deliver it to requester 20. Alternatively, system 10 may not directly retrieve the download item from service provider database 70, but instead may send instructions to database 70 to deliver it directly to requester 20. In yet another alternative, system 10 may simply provide instructions to requester 20 on how to retrieve the download item from service provider database 70 in the event that the item can not be automatically forwarded.

Likewise, if a query to downloadable features module 36, DA platform 30 recognizes from item location field 60 that the download item is stored in a third party database 80, DA platform 30 is configured to retrieve the download item from third party database 80 and deliver it to requester 20. Again, alternative arrangements may be made to send instructions to the third party database 80 to automatically forward the item to requester 20 or instructions may be given to requester 20 to initiate the retrieval on their own.

In the event that a requested download item is listed as unavailable in the availability field, DA platform 30 may provide this information to requester 20 along with any of the other information contained in table listing 50.

In the case of a download being sent to requester 20 by some form of electronic means such as SMS, WAP, HTTP, e-mail or other such electronic deliveries it is possible to include a hyperlink within the message itself such that if the information retrieved is not accurate, requester 20 may be able to link back to DA platform 30. In such an instance, DA platform 30 will track the content of the electronic request with said DA platform so that when requester 20 presses said hyperlink they can be connected to DA platform, such as with a live operator, such that their operator terminal is automatically populated with the stored contents of the electronic message. This allows requester 20 to quickly return to DA platform 30 in the case of an errant or incomplete response to their request, while simultaneously allowing the operator at DA platform 30 to skip over the portion of the search that has already been conducted.

In one embodiment of the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 4, in addition to direct requests for a particular download item, download availability database 38 of download features module 36 maintains a most requested table download item table 100 to cater to requesters 20 who are not looking for a specific item, but rather are simply looking for popular download items.

Most requested download table 100 maintains a category field 102. Upon request, DA platform 30 sets the field category 102 according to the request. Examples of categories for most requested table 100, include but are not limited to: most requested download, most requested ring tone, most requested video game, most requested movie trailer, most requested music video, most requested sound (music) clip, etc . . .

Other manners for settings in category field 102 may include ranking of downloads by specific type of music (hip hop, rock, R&B, country etc . . . ), ranking by artists, albums, time frame (such as last month or last week top downloads), or even showing rankings of multiple categories simultaneously.

Once category field 102 is selected, a ranking field 104 and listing field 106 are auto-populated by download features module 36. Ranking field 104 lists the download items from the top most requested and so forth down to an arbitrary list size number such as “top 25.” Listing field 106 lists the name of each of these ranked download item as listed in that item's associated title field 52 from its down load table listing 50. DA platform 30 can then either read these listings to requester 20 or otherwise forward the information directly to the device of requester 20 for selection.

For example, if requester 20 knows that a new ring tone has just been released, but they are unfamiliar with the exact name, requester 20, may ask DA platform 30 to retrieve most requested download table 100, using top requested ring tones in the category field 102. Upon seeing or hearing the top 25 ring tones listed in listing field 106, requester 20 may recognize the desired download item and proceed accordingly to retrieve the item.

It is understood that in all instances of searching whether directly in availability database 38 or in most requested listing table 100, any number of criteria may be used for the basis of the search including the name of the requested download, the artist, the size the release date or any other searchable attribute. Furthermore, an added feature of playing a brief version of an audio track to requester 20 by DA platform 30 may also be used to confirm that the requester is receiving the correct information and download item.

Turning to the operation of system 10, in one embodiment of the present invention as illustrated in flow chart FIG. 5, in the situation where the requested download item is stored within system 10, at first step 200, requester 20 initiates contact with system 10. As noted previously, this request may be handled verbally between requester 20 and a live operator at DA platform 30 or it may be handled by an automated platform and voice recognition of requester 20.

Upon making contact, at step 202, DA platform 30 accepts a query from requester 20 and initiates a look up sequence with download features module 36. It is understood that the functionality performing the search within availability database 38 may be handed by DA platform 30 or directly by download features module 36 or some combination thereof. Likewise, for this and the following examples of the operation of system 10, it is understood that communications between requester 20 and DA platform 30, whether automated or manned by a live operator, may be conducted as two-way back and forth communications.

At step 204, DA platform searches availability database 38 of download features module 36 for a listing which meets the query. Assuming database 38 has such a listing, at step 206, download features module 36 retrieves download table listing 50 and submits the information to DA platform 30.

If requester 20 desires simply to know information about the down load item, then at a nest step 208, DA platform recites or delivers the requested information to requester 20 and then either terminates the call or holds requester 20 should they wish to obtain other information from system 10 such as standard directory assistance.

Alternatively, if requester 20 wishes to have the download item delivered to them, DA platform 30, obtaining the location from location field 60, at step 210 retrieves the download item from download storage module 40. At step 212, the download item is delivered to requester 20 in a desired format.

In one embodiment of the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 6, an alternative sequence is shown where the stored download item is located outside of system 10. Thus, at first step 300, requester 20 initiates contact with system 10. Upon making contact, at step 302, DA platform 30 accepts a query from requester 20 and initiates a look up sequence with download features module 36.

At step 304, DA platform searches availability database 38 of download features module 36 for a listing which meets the query. Assuming database 38 has such a listing, at step 306, download features module 36 retrieves download table listing 50 and submits the information to DA platform 30.

If requester 20 desires simply to know information about the down load item, then at a nest step 308, DA platform recites or delivers the requested information to requester 20 and then either terminates the call or holds requester 20 should they wish to obtain other information from system 10 such as standard directory assistance.

Alternatively, if requester 20 wishes to have the download item delivered to them, DA platform 30, after obtaining the location from location field 60, at step 310 instructs download features module 36 to retrieve the download item from either service provider databases 70 or third party service provider databases 80. At step 312, the download item, after being retrieved from an outside party, is delivered to requester 20 in a desired format.

In another embodiment of the present invention, illustrated in FIG. 7, a requester 20 may request a download item from a source outside system 10, where system 10 rather than obtaining the item for requester 20, instead sends a message to the outside location prompting it to deliver the item to requester 20 automatically.

For example in an exemplary step 400, requester 20 initiates contact with system 10. Upon making contact, at step 402, DA platform 30 accepts a query from requester 20 and initiates a look up sequence with download features module 36.

At step 404, DA platform searches availability database 38 of download features module 36 for a listing which meets the query. Assuming database 38 has such a listing, at step 406, download features module 36 retrieves download table listing 50 and submits the information to DA platform 30.

If requester 20 wishes to have the download item delivered to them, DA platform 30, after obtaining the location from location field 60, at step 408 instructs download features module 36 deliver a notification to service provider databases 70 or third party service provider databases 80 to directly deliver the item to requester 20 in a desired format. Such a feature may be supplemented by DA platform 30 by providing the third party with the necessary information for the delivery such as the e-mail address, ANI or other location and delivery information for requester 20.

Although the present invention has been described in relation to particular embodiments thereof, many other variations and modifications and other uses will become apparent to those skilled in the art. It is preferred, therefore, that the present invention be limited not by the specific disclosure herein, but only by the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7664736 *Jan 18, 2005Feb 16, 2010Searete LlcObtaining user assistance
US7694881Feb 18, 2005Apr 13, 2010Searete LlcSupply-chain side assistance
US7798401Jan 18, 2005Sep 21, 2010Invention Science Fund 1, LlcObtaining user assistance
US8341522Oct 27, 2004Dec 25, 2012The Invention Science Fund I, LlcEnhanced contextual user assistance
Classifications
U.S. Classification455/414.1, 455/466
International ClassificationH04Q7/38, B60R16/02, B60R16/023
Cooperative ClassificationB60R16/0207, B60R16/0232
European ClassificationB60R16/023D3, B60R16/02C