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Publication numberUS20060075050 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/023,617
Publication dateApr 6, 2006
Filing dateDec 29, 2004
Priority dateSep 29, 2004
Also published asUS7387234, US7753260, US8156330, US20060065707, US20060065708, US20060075231
Publication number023617, 11023617, US 2006/0075050 A1, US 2006/075050 A1, US 20060075050 A1, US 20060075050A1, US 2006075050 A1, US 2006075050A1, US-A1-20060075050, US-A1-2006075050, US2006/0075050A1, US2006/075050A1, US20060075050 A1, US20060075050A1, US2006075050 A1, US2006075050A1
InventorsRyogo Kanatani, Yasuhiko Mori
Original AssigneeMicrosoft Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Business card exchange system
US 20060075050 A1
Abstract
When a PC receives an electronic business card from other PCs in a business card exchange system, the PC stores the electronic business card in a database and stores personal information described in the electronic business card in a directory by a manual instruction. The directory is linked to a contact record shown by the electronic business card, wherein a display screen of the directory and a display screen of the contact record can be changed over.
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Claims(8)
1. A business card exchange system for exchanging business cards among a plurality of computers, in which each of the plurality of computers comprises:
address book storing means for storing an address book;
means for extracting information described in the business card received by another computer; and
means for registering the extracted information from the address book stored in said address book storing means.
2. The business card exchange system as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the plurality of computers further includes contact record storing means for storing at least a name and an e-mail address in the received business card as a contact record;
wherein the record stored in said contact record storing means and the information stored in said address book storing means corresponding thereto are linked.
3. A computer in a business card exchange system for exchanging a business card with another computer comprising:
address book storing means for storing an address book;
means for extracting information described in the business card received from said another computer; and
means for registering the extracted information from the address book stored in said address book storing means.
4. The computer as claimed in claim 3, further comprising means for storing at least names and mail addresses of the received business cards as a contact record,
wherein the contact record stored in said contact record storing means and the information stored in said address book storing means corresponding thereto are linked.
5. A method of a computer in a business card exchange system for exchanging a business card with another computer comprising steps of:
an address book storing step for storing an address book in an address book in address book storing means;
a steps for extracting information described in the business card received from said another computer; and
a step for registering the extracted information in the address book stored in said address book storing step.
6. The method as claimed in claim 5, further comprising a contact record storing step for storing at least names and mail addresses of the received business cards as a contact record in contact recording means;
wherein the record stored in said contact record storing means and the information stored in said address book storing means corresponding thereto are linked.
7. A computer readable medium of a computer in a business card exchange system for exchanging a business card with another computer, a program recorded thereon comprising steps of:
an address book storing step for storing an address book in an address book in address book storing means;
a steps for extracting information described in the business card received from said another computer; and
a step for registering the extracted information from the address book stored in said address book storing step.
8. The computer readable medium as claimed in claim 7, wherein said program further comprises a contact record storing step for storing at least names and mail addresses of the received business cards as a contact record in contact record storing means;
wherein the record stored in said contact record storing means and the information stored in said address book storing means corresponding thereto are linked.
Description

The present invention claims priority to U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/614,435 filed Sep. 29, 2004, and incorporated herein in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a business card exchange system by which an electronic business card is exchanged among computers.

2. Description of the Related Art

Instead of giving another person a business card in a paper form, usually, personal information (hereinafter, referred to as business card information) including a name, an organization name, a telephone number, etc., described in the business card is brought to other person by using an electronic mail through the Internet. As a data format of the business card information used in Internet communications, “RFC 2426-vCard MIME Directory Profile” is well known.

The business card information to be transmitted in this data format includes a business card image and a plurality of sets of character strings of personal information to be composed with the image. For example, a business card is displayed on the display screen of a receiving side computer as shown in FIG. 1.

In FIG. 1, reference number 100 denotes the image of a business card, 101 denotes the company name. 102 denotes a title. 103 denotes a personal name. 104 denotes a zip code, 105 denotes a company address. 106 denotes an e-mail address, 107 denotes a telephone number, and 108 denotes an URL address. Information 101 through 108 is received by a computer at the receiving side in the form of character codes. After the character codes are converted to an image by the computer at the receiving side, the converted image is combined with the image 100 of the business card, and is displayed on the display screen.

Such standardization of business card information has been able to contribute to the enhancement of the convenience of users in electronic commerce and trade.

Such a service has already begun, in which users register the above-described business card information in a server computer and registered business cards are exchanged among client computers of the registered users through the server. (Japanese Patent Application Laid-open No. 2000-32033).

However, a system for exchanging the business card information as described above does not attain the level in which exchanged business cards are effectively utilized.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a business card exchange system capable of effectively utilizing exchanged business card information.

When a personal computer (PC) receives an electronic business card from another PC in the business card exchange system, the PC saves the business card in a database and stores personal information described in the electronic business card into a directory (address book) by manual operations. The directory and correspondence record shown in the electronic business card are linked to each other, wherein the display screen of the directory and display screen of the correspondence record can be changed over.

In further detail, according to a first embodiment of the present invention, a business card exchange system for exchanging business cards among a plurality of computers, in which each of the plurality of computers may comprise:

address book storing means for storing an address book;

means for extracting information described in the business card received by another computer; and

means for registering the extracted information from the address book stored in said address book storing means.

According to a second embodiment of the present invention, the business card exchange system may be characterized in that each of the plurality of computers further includes contact record storing means for storing at least a name and an e-mail address in the received business card as a contact record;

wherein the record stored in said contact record storing means and the information stored in said address book storing means corresponding thereto are linked.

The above and other objects, effects, features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description of embodiments thereof taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an explanatory drawing for describing a prior art electronic business card;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram showing a configuration of the entire system according to a first embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a flowchart showing a procedure for processing for making an electronic business card;

FIG. 4 is an explanatory drawing showing a graphical user interface for editing personal information of an electronic business card;

FIG. 5 is an explanatory drawing showing a graphical user interface for setting a design of an electronic business card;

FIG. 6 is an explanatory drawing of a graphical user interface for notifying a proposal (recommended item) related to an electronic business card.

FIG. 7 is an explanatory drawing showing a graphical user interface for instructing a transmission of an updated electronic business card;

FIG. 8 is a diagram showing the relationship of FIGS. 8A and 8B.

FIGS. 8A and 8B are flowchart showing a processing procedure for updating personal information of an electronic business card;

FIG. 9 is an explanatory drawing showing the contents of a directory table;

FIG. 10 is an explanatory drawing showing a graphical user interface for notifying a received business card;

FIG. 11 is descriptive view showing a graphical user interface for displaying a received business card;

FIG. 12 is an explanatory drawing showing a graphical user interface for informing duplication; and

FIG. 13 is a flowchart showing a processing procedure for registering or filing business card information.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Hereinafter, embodiments of the invention are described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings.

Embodiment 1

FIG. 2 shows a configuration of a business card exchange system to which the present invention is applied.

In FIG. 2, reference number 200 denotes a personal computer (hereinafter called a PC 200).

Since the PC 200 may be available from personal computers on the market, only a brief description is given of the hardware configuration thereof. The PC 200 includes a hard disk 210, a CPU 221, a system memory 222, a display 223, an input device 224, and a communications device 225 such as a modem.

The CPU 221 executes various types of programs. The system memory 222 stores input and output information with respect to the CPU 221. The display 223 displays data processing results of the CPU 221 and input information from the input device 224 on the display screen under control of the CPU 221. The input device 224 includes a pointing device such as a mouse and a keyboard, and inputs data into the CPU 221.

The communications device 225 transmits electronic mail to and receives the same from a mail server 260 in a provider via a communications system of the provider. Also, the communications device 225 is connected to a communications network 250 and carries out communications with other personal computers. The mail server 260 transfers electronic mails to and receives the same from other mail servers 260 via the communications network 250.

The following objects (data and programs) related to the invention are stored in the hard disk 210. Reference number 210 denotes an electronic business card made (created) by a business card processing program 202 and an electronic business card received from another PC 200. The electronic business card 201 is a data set (aggregation of a plurality of data) including character strings in the form of character codes and image data of a background image of the business card. Reference number 202 denotes a business card processing program having a function for making the electronic business card and various types of functions related to the invention, which are described below. The business card processing program 202 is installed in the hard disk 210 from a recording medium such as a CDROM and a floppy (registered trademark) disk. Reference number 203 denotes a database that stores information (Hereinafter called management information) form an aging made electronic business cards and received electronic business cards and various types of information (hereinafter called related information. Management information is also included in the concept of the related information.) related to electronic business cards.

Reference number 204 denotes a communications program for transmitting (sending) the electronic business card to another PC 200. In this configuration, a description is given with an electronic mail software taken as an example, wherein other programs capable of transmitting data, for example, various types of communications programs such as a communications program using a file transfer protocol (FTP) may be used in accordance with applications. However, electronic mail is most preferable if versatility is considered first.

Reference number 205 denotes personal information picked up from received business card information, that is, a directory in which information such as a name, an address, etc., are stored. In the present embodiment, the directory 205 is a file in the table format.

The hard disk 210 further incorporates an OS (Operating System) program. Herein, an OS available on the market has been well known, and no detailed description is required. Also, background images used for making of electronic business cards and various types of data necessary for processing of business cards are stored in the hard disk 210.

[Electronic Business Card Processing Program]

The business card processing program has the following functions. A detailed description is given later of the functions related to the invention.

(1) Function for Making the Electronic Business Card

With this function, the (electronic) business card in the format of an image is made and edited.

(2) Updating Function of Electronic Business Card Information

Where the electronic business card information is changed by this function, the change is detected, an electronic business card after being changed is transmitted again to the persons to whom the electronic business card before the change was transmitted. Also, where the after-changed electronic business card which was transmitted again is received, the management information in the database 203 is automatically updated.

(3) Function for Sharing the Electronic Business Cards

A plurality of users can commonly share electronic business cards. If the function for sharing is instructed for electronic business cards that one user manages, the electronic business cards are shared by a plurality of users belonging to a predetermined group.

(4) Function for Making an Event List

With this function, a request message regarding an event is transmitted to a plurality of specified persons who have exchanged business card information, and at the same time, response messages transmitted from the persons in response to the above-described request message are collected to prepare an event list. In addition, when a request message regarding the event from other PC 200 is received, the response message thereto is made by the function.

(5) Propose According to Contact History

An inspection responsive to an action can be carried out by this function. For example, where no electronic business card is transmitted to a person from whom an electronic business card is received, a proposal is carried out by detecting this.

(6) Introduction Request Function of Personal Information

Utilizing the point in which an electronic business card shows personal information and electronic business cards are accumulated, introduction of personal information to another computer is requested to another PC 200 by this function.

(7) Registering Function into Directory

(8) Other Functions

A fundamental information processing method is described below in order to achieve the above-described functions.

[Database 203]

Information to be managed by being stored in the database 203 includes the following information.

(1) Supplemental Information Such as Date of Making of an Electronic Business Card, Type Thereof, Place of Storage Thereof, and Setting of Security Level of the Electronic Business Cards

(2) A Contact Record Regarding Electronic Business Cards

The contact record includes the dates of received electronic business cards, electronic mail addresses of senders, names of senders, dates of transmitted electronic business cards, electronic mail addresses of persons to whom an electronic mail was transmitted, and communications records of names of transmitters. Further, various types of contact records that a user inputs by using a keyboard and relates to correspondence with persons shown by respective electronic business cards are included in the contact records as related information of the invention.

The correspondence information includes, for example, information showing receipt of new year's cards, receipt of Christmas cards, receipt of year-end gifts, and information showing when and where a meeting is held, etc. The contact records are stored in the database 203.

(3) Directory Made on the Basis of Personal Information Obtained from Electronic Business Cards

(4) Other Business Card-Related Information (Information Showing an Event which is Carried Out Card by Card)

Such information is stored in the database 203 in association with electronic business cards managed by the unit, wherein the above-described plurality of types of data may be stored in the database 203 as one record (data set) or the above-described plurality of types of information may be stored in the database 203 type by type.

Hereinafter, a description is first given of the contents of fundamental processing related to business cards. The information processing is carried out by the business card processing program 202.

[Function for Making the Electronic Business Card]

The processing contents for making of electronic business cards has been publicly known. Therefore, only a brief description is given below.

FIG. 3 shows processing contents of the electronic business card making program included in the business card processing program 202.

In FIG. 3, if a user selects an electronic business card making menu on the display image information, the processing program shown in FIG. 3 is executed by the CPU 221. The user selects a business card image for a desired background image from a business card design file made in the hard disk 210 in advance, and opens the business card image (that is, temporarily stores the same in the system memory 222 and simultaneously displays it on the display screen of the display 223) (Process 301). The business card design files are categorized into three intended uses of company, home, and convenience, and a user can select a desired image from the design files for the desired use.

Next, a user gives an instruction to the CPU 221 in order to read his own personal information preliminarily registered in the database 203. In response to the instruction, the CPU 221 reads the user's personal information (in the format of character codes) from the database 210 and temporarily stores the same in the system memory 222 (Process 302).

The CPU 221 converts the personal information, which is temporarily stored in the system memory 222, that is, the personal information in the format of character codes, to an image. The CPU 221 composes the converted image and business card image for a background image, which is selected in the process 301, in the system memory 222, and displays the same in the display screen (Process 303).

Using a mouse, the user designates (point out) the position of the personal information on the display screen, the CPU 221 moves the personal information to the designated position. In detail, the CPU 221 recomposes a new business card image by disposing the personal information image, which is disposed at the position instructed by the user, on the business card image for background image in the system memory 222, and displays the recomposed business card image on the display screen of the display 223.

As composition of the electronic business card image is finished, the user inputs data to be registered as a part of the management information, for example, type and remarks of the electronic business card in the database 203.

When the user gives a finish instruction by using a mouse or keyboard, the CPU 221 prepares a data set in the data format of the standard (for example, RFC 2426) of electronic business cards such as personal information, its disposed position and background image data, etc., and stores the same in an exclusive memory area in the hard disk 210. In addition, management information regarding the made electronic business card information is registered in the database 203 (Process 304). Date of making, personal information (in the format of character codes), identification name of business card image for background image, and information (type of business card and remarks) inputted by the user may be used as the management information when making the electronic business cards. However, the management information may be adequately determined by a program designer.

[Updating Function of Electronic Business Card Information]

A description is given of an example of updating one's own business card information with reference to FIG. 4 through FIG. 8.

FIG. 4 shows one example of a graphical user interface to edit one's own information. The graphical user interface is displayed when a user instructs an editing process of a business card when the electronic business card processing program 202 is carried out. One's own information is inputted in advance by a user using a keyboard and is stored in the hard disk 210 as a user's electronic business card. As execution of the editing process of the business card is instructed by a user, the CPU 221 reads the personal information from the user's electronic business card and displays the same in the format of a screen shown in FIG. 4 as a default.

The user changes the prescribed display on the basis of information input from the keyboard. With the change instruction by the user (that is, operation of the OK button), the CPU 221 compares the personal information available when the default display is made with the personal information when the OK button is pressed. Where judgment of coincidence is obtained, the CPU 221 determines that there is no change, wherein no change process is carried out in the database 203. On the other hand, where judgment of inconsistency is obtained, the CPU 221 determines that there is a change and changes the personal information of the electronic business card (that is, text data portions) to the personal information available when the OK button is pressed.

Also, after the change is made, recommendation items as shown in FIG. 6 are displayed.

In the configuration, three types of electronic business cards are available, which are a professional business card, a private visiting card, and a convenience-purpose visiting card. The professional business card is used for business activities, the private visiting card is used for private purposes, and the convenience-purpose visiting card is used for purposes other than the above. It is possible to selectively set the design of a business card in the screen of FIG. 5.

Using a pull-down menu which is shown with an inverted triangle-shaped mark, a desired candidate is selected by a plurality of candidates for selection or the display content is changed by directly inputting characters using the keyboard. After the change is finished, a user operates the OK button. In response to operation of the OK button, the CPU 221 updates the related information of the database 203 by the changed information. Where the background image is changed, the image data of a one's own electronic business card is updated by the changed image data.

[Change Notification Function of the Electronic Business Card]

The change detecting program of the business card processing program is interrupted periodically (for example, once a day) or is instantaneously carried out after a change is made, and the CPU 221 compares one's own electronic business card in the database 203 with an electronic business card based on new information, and judges whether or not a change has been made. Where it is judged that a change was made, the name [Taro Nippon], for which the change was made, an updating message [Updating of professional business card], and date of updating are displayed on the display screen as shown in FIG. 6. Also, the recommendation items described later are made and are stored in the hard disk 210.

If a user clicks the portion of a line, in which the changed message is displayed, by using a mouse, made recommendation items are displayed as shown in FIG. 7.

The recommendation items that are referred to herein mean general information including the names of persons to which an electronic business card was previously transmitted, electronic mail addresses 701, image of the changed electronic business card (image 704 in which the character strings of personal information and background image are composed), personal information 705 contained in the electronic business card, type 702 of the electronic business card and other related information (Refer to FIG. 7).

The CPU 221 prepares recommendation items in accordance with the processing procedure in FIG. 8.

In detail, it is judged in Steps (hereinafter called “S”) 810, S820 and S830 to which one of the professional business card, private visiting card or convenience-purpose visiting card the type of the changed (edit) electronic business card belongs.

Information of the recommendation items (for example, electronic mail address, etc.) is obtained from the information related to business card in the database 203 corresponding to the type of the judged business card. And, the information thus obtained is stored in an exclusive area in the hard disk 210 (S811 through S816, S821 through S826, and S831 through S836).

A detailed description is given of the above-described process with reference to the professional business card. A provisional electronic business card in which the changed information is used is made (S811). The made electronic business card is compared with the provisional electronic business card made last time (S812). In the case of coincidence judgment (that is, YES in S812), since the change is a change for the same information, the procedure jumps from S812 to other processes of S850.

On the other hand, where the electronic business card made this time is different from the provisional electronic business card made last time, it is judged that the change is new, wherein the procedure advances from S812 to S813. Herein, it is judged whether or not [Recommendation of updating the professional business card] is presently displayed. If [Recommendation of updating the professional business card] is displayed, the displayed [Recommendation of updating the professional business card] is deleted from the display screen, and at the same time, a new [Recommendation of updating the professional business card] is made and is displayed in the display screen (S814 S815).

If the judgment result in S813 is that the [Recommendation of updating the professional business card] is not displayed, the procedure advances from S813 to S815, wherein a new [Recommendation of updating the professional business card] is made and displayed in the display screen.

Finally, the provisional professional business card made this time is stored in the hard disk 210 as the next time provisional professional business card made last time (S816). With respect to the private visiting card and convenience-purpose visiting card, processes similar to those for the professional business card are carried out in S821 through S826 and in S831 through S836.

The stored provisional business card information is displayed, as shown in FIG. 7, by clicking the line of the change notification message in FIG. 6 by means of a mouse. In addition, if a user deletes a specified electronic mail address of a person, to whom an electronic business card was transmitted in the past, in the display screen in FIG. 7, the CPU 221 deletes the corresponding electronic mail address and name in the hard disk 210. And, if a user operates the transmission button 706 in FIG. 7, the CPU 221 prepares a transmission candidate list of transmission persons indicated by the electronic mail addresses in the recommendation items stored in the hard disk 210, and distributes the changed electronic business card to the transmission person shown by the made candidate list by electronic mail in the format of communications data in accordance with the communications standard (S840→S841→S845). At this time, the communications data may include information (name, etc.) which specifies data showing a change of the electronic business card or electronic business card data transmitted in the past.

The PC 200 that receives the changed electronic business card through a mail server 260 (Refer to FIG. 1) retrieves the database 203 in regard to the data regarding a sender of the same electronic business card, for example, the name, etc., on the basis of the data showing the change, and obtains a memory address of the electronic business card received in the past. The electronic business card stored in the memory address is updated to the electronic business card received immediately before. Also, a receipt history (receiving date, mail address of the sender, etc.) are registered in the database 203.

Thus, since, in the present embodiment, individual PC 200 store the electronic mail addresses of persons, to whom an electronic business card was sent in the past, in the database 203 and the changed electronic business card is transmitted to the electronic mail addresses, to which an electronic business card was sent in the past when the electronic business card was updated, by an electronic mail, the changed electronic business card can be automatically transmitted to all related persons without use of any exclusive server by which electronic business cards are exchanged.

[Management Function of Contact Records]

Where a newly made or updated electronic business card is transmitted and where an electronic business card is received from another PC 200, the transmission record and receiving record are stored in the database 203 as contact records. The communications record contained in the contact record includes information such as electronic business card addresses of a person (where an electronic business card is transmitted) to whom an electronic business card is transmitted and a sender of the electronic business card (where an electronic business card is received), and the transmission and receiving date, name, etc.

[Registration Function of Directory]

The directory 205 is a directory (address book) of persons who carried out transmission (sending) and receiving of electronic business cards. It is possible to use a directory utilized by an application for E-mail as the directory 205. The personal information extracted from the electronic business card information, that is, name, address, telephone and number etc. is described in the directory 205. The database 203 for contact record and directory 203 are linked. It is possible to store personal information described in the electronic business card into both of the directory 203 and the database 203 for contact record in response to an automatic or manual instruction. In this embodiment, The personal information described in the electronic business card is firstly stored into the database 203 for contact record automatically and in response to a manual instruction for registration to the directory 205 from user, the personal information described in the electronic business card and stored in the database 203 for contact record.

FIG. 9 shows a configuration of the data of the directory 205. In FIG. 9, reference number 900 denotes a directory in the table format. The directory 900 has a plurality of fields, and respective fields store personal information corresponding to the respective fields. For example, the field of company names stores information of company names of the received business card information. The directory differs from a prior art directory in that the directory 900 according to the present embodiment has a field 901 for a storing memory address in the database 203 having a communications record stored therein in order to link with the communications record in the contact record. By storing the memory address in the directory 900, the contact record in database 203 and the personal information in directory 205 are linked to each other.

Memory addresses in the database 203 may be used as the memory addresses, and memory addresses in the hard disk 210 in which the database 203 is stored may be used.

Although described later, display of the directory (Refer to FIG. 13) and display of the contact record (in the mode, communications record, refer to FIG. 12) may be alternately changed over by using the memory addresses stored in the field 901.

A description is given of information processing in regard to the directory with reference to FIG. 10 through FIG. 16.

FIG. 10 shows a graphical user interface for notifying received business cards. If a user gives an instruction of displaying received items by selecting a menu by means of a mouse, the CPU 221 uses the graphical user interface shown in FIG. 10 for display on the basis of the business card processing program 202.

Electronic business cards periodically received from the mail server 260 by the communications program 204 are stored in the database 203. Electronic business cards stored in the database 203 are displayed on the display 223 in the order from the latest one as shown in FIG. 10.

If a user selects a received item 1000 on the display screen of the display 223 by using a mouse, the CPU 221 displays an electronic business card corresponding to the received item 1000 on the display screen of the display 203 as shown in FIG. 11 on the basis of the business card processing program 202.

In further detail, the CPU 221 takes out the electronic business card information corresponding to the selected received item from the database 203. Using FIG. 1, since the electronic business card information has personal information in format text, background image of the electronic business card, and position information of the above-described types of information as described above, the CPU 221 composes an image of the electronic business card for display in the system memory 222 by using the above-described types of information. The image of the composed electronic business card is displayed in the display area 1102 in FIG. 11.

Similarly, a mail address of a sender and date of transmission are converted from text data to image data, and are displayed in the display area 1003 in FIG. 11 as communications records.

Reference number 1001 denotes a button (import button) for instructing registration in the directory 203. If a user operates the button 1001 by using a mouse, the CPU 221 stores personal information in the presently displayed electronic business card, that is, the personal information in the format of text data (information displayed in a display area 1104), which is stored in the system memory 222, in the corresponding field in the directory 205.

FIG. 13 shows a detailed procedure of the directory registration process of the business card processing program 202.

In addition, it is assumed that electronic business cards which the PC 200 received from another PC 200 through the mail server 260 are stored in the database 203.

When a user selects the graphical user interface shown in FIG. 10, the CPU 221 takes out a name of a transmission person and date of receipt from the electronic business cards and another received items, which are stored in the database 203, and displays a type (card, introduction, etc.) of the received items and messages defined in advance as shown in FIG. 10. In further detail, the CPU 221 prepares received items, that is, a table having character information in text format, position to be displayed in the display screen, and corresponding memory addresses of the database 203. Next, the CPU 221 converts the character information to a display image in the system memory 22 and then displays the same on the display screen of the display 223 (S1401 through S1402).

When item selection made by a user is received in S1403, the CPU 221 obtains a received item corresponding to the position information on the display screen, for which a mouse is operated, from the above-described table.

In S1404, the CPU 221 judges whether or not the selected received item is an electronic business card.

Where the judgment is NO, the procedure advances to S1408, wherein the CPU 221 executes other processes not related to the invention.

Where the judgment is YES, the CPU 221 causes the procedure to advance to S1405.

The CPU 221 takes out an electronic business card corresponding to the selected received item from the database 203 on the basis of the memory addresses described in the above-described table, and displays the same on the display screen of the display 223 as shown in FIG. 11 (S1405).

In detail, after the personal information in the text format, which is picked up from the database 203, is stored in the system memory 222, it is converted to an image in the system memory 222, and then is displayed.

In S1406, the CPU 221 judges whether or not the button 1601 is operated (that is, whether or not registration in the directory is instructed). Where the button 1601 is operated (that is, registration in the directory is instructed), the display becomes as shown in the display screen of FIG. 11, wherein the personal information (name, address, electronic mail address, etc.) of an electronic business card stored in the system memory 222 is registered in the directory 205 by the CPU 221 (S1407).

On the other hand, in S1406, where it is judged that the button is not operated (no instruction in the directory is instructed), the procedure advances from S1406 to S1408, and another process is executed.

In the registration to the directory 205, it is possible to add a next function. The CPU 221 determines whether or not same personal information as one to be registered is stored in the directory 205 before registration. When same personal information was stored, a graphical user interface is displayed as shown in FIG. 12. The user selects anyone of the followings by operation of the mouse.

  • (a) Make a new contact
  • (b) Select the contact to overwrite
  • (c) Do not the duplicated contact

The following embodiments may be available in addition to the above-described embodiment.

1). In the above-described embodiment, a description was given of a method for providing the PC 200 with an electronic business card processing feature, the invention may be applicable to various types of computers such as, for example, a server, a portable or mobile terminal unit like a mobile telephone set other than the PC.

2). The business card processing program may be installed in a PC 200 from other than a portable recording medium such as a CDROM, and may be downloaded from another computer via the Internet.

3). In the above-described embodiment, a mouse and a menu are used as instructing means in order to change over the display of directory and that of contact record. However, instructing means such as a command input from a keyboard may be employed.

4). In the above-described embodiment, received electronic business cards are registered in the directory by a manual instruction. However, the registration in the directory can be automatically carried out. In addition, by provision of manual instruction mode and automatic registration mode, a user may select a desired mode.

5) A business card exchange system according to the above-described embodiment includes a function of updating electronic business cards. Therefore, where an updated electronic business card is received, it is a matter of course that the personal information in the corresponding directory may be updated by a manual or an automatic instruction.

In the above, several embodiments are described for better understanding of the invention. However, the invention is not limited to these embodiments. The invention may be subjected to various types of improvement and substitutions on the basis of the technical thought of the invention. It is a matter of course that these modes will be within the technical scope of the invention.

6) The above described embodiment shows the direct registration of the electronic business card to the database 203 for contact. In alternative embodiment, a database for storing temporally the electronic business card (activity database) may be prepared. The electronic business card stored temporally in the database may be transferred to the database 203 for contact and directory 205 later.

7) In the above described embodiment directory for Email is used commonly for the directory of (electronic business card). Another directory may be used for electronic business card too.

8) As described the above, since personal information in directory 205 and the electronic business card in database 203 for contact are linked, when the PC displays the personal information of the directory 205, corresponding electronic business card information (images of the electronic business card, described text information and communication record information) may be displayed on another window screen. In this case, a button is displayed on a screen for directory 205 by controlling of the CPU 221. Responding user's button operation, the CPU 221 reads the electronic business card information in the database 203 for contact based on the communications record 901 added to one set of personal information in the directory 205. Next, the CPU 221 controls to display the extracted electronic business card information on another window screen.

The present invention has been described in detail with respect to preferred embodiments, and it will now be apparent from the foregoing to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the invention in its broader aspect, and it is the intention, therefore, in the apparent claims to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit of the invention.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification709/206, 235/375
International ClassificationG06F17/21, G06F21/64, G06F15/16, G06F17/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06F17/212, G06Q20/3821, G06Q10/10
European ClassificationG06Q10/10, G06Q20/3821, H04L9/32T, G06F17/21F2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Apr 4, 2005ASAssignment
Owner name: MICROSOFT CORPORATION, WASHINGTON
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KANATANI, RYOGO;MORI, YASUHIKO;REEL/FRAME:016006/0930
Effective date: 20050323