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Publication numberUS20080168930 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/622,317
Publication dateJul 17, 2008
Filing dateJan 11, 2007
Priority dateJan 11, 2007
Publication number11622317, 622317, US 2008/0168930 A1, US 2008/168930 A1, US 20080168930 A1, US 20080168930A1, US 2008168930 A1, US 2008168930A1, US-A1-20080168930, US-A1-2008168930, US2008/0168930A1, US2008/168930A1, US20080168930 A1, US20080168930A1, US2008168930 A1, US2008168930A1
InventorsFederico A. Calero
Original AssigneeEnovateit, Llc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Privacy Protecting Wall-Mounted Workstation
US 20080168930 A1
Abstract
A computer workstation including a switch, a monitor outlet and an input device tray. The input device tray is configured to support at least one computer input device. The switch is operationally associated with the input device tray such that when the input device tray is moved from its operational position, the switch is actuated. The monitor outlet is conductively connected to the switch such that when the switch is actuated, power to the monitor outlet is eliminated. The switch may also restore power to the monitor outlet when the input device tray is returned to the operational position.
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Claims(17)
1. A computer workstation comprising:
a monitor outlet;
a switch operationally associated with said monitor outlet such that power to said monitor outlet is eliminated when said switch is actuated; and
a movable input device tray to receive at least one computer input device, said tray having an operational position and a closed position, said tray actuating said switch when said tray is moved from the operational position to the closed position.
2. The workstation of claim 1 wherein said input device tray actuates said switch to restore power to said monitor outlet when tray is moved from the closed position to the operational position.
3. The workstation of claim 2 wherein the operational position has said input device tray oriented to position the input devices stored thereon in such a way as to be operationally positioned for a user.
4. The workstation of claim 3 wherein said workstation further comprises a desk housing, said input device tray also having a closed position oriented relative to said desk housing such that said input device tray abuts said desk housing and an input device stored on said input device tray would be enclosed within said desk housing when said input device tray is in the closed position.
5. The workstation of claim 4 wherein said switch is located on said desk housing at a point communicating with said input device tray when said tray is moved from the operational position.
6. The workstation of claim 5 wherein said input device tray is biased to remain in the closed position.
7. The workstation of claim 6 wherein said input device tray further includes a lock, said lock preventing said input device tray being moved to the operational position when said lock is engaged.
8. The workstation of claim 7 wherein said desk housing further defines a lockable compartment adapted to contain computer components.
9. The workstation of claim 8 wherein said desk housing further includes a transparent protection window such that said desk housing may completely enclose the monitor while still being able to view the monitor through said window.
10. The workstation of claim 9 wherein said desk housing is adapted to be mounted to a non-horizontal surface.
11. A computer workstation comprising:
a desk housing;
an input device tray to receive at least one computer input device, said tray having a closed position where said input device tray is folded against said desk housing such that an input device located on said input device tray would be enclosed within said desk housing, said tray also having an operational position folded away from said desk housing such that an input device located on said input device tray would be oriented in a position suited for operation of the input device by a user;
a monitor outlet; and
a switch operationally associated with said input device tray such that when said input device tray is moved from the operational position, said switch is actuated eliminating power to said monitor outlet.
12. The workstation of claim 11 wherein said switch is also actuated when said input device tray is returned to the operational position restoring power to said monitor outlet.
13. The workstation of claim 12 wherein said input device tray is biased away from the operational position.
14. An computer workstation comprising:
a switch;
a monitor outlet; and
a movable input device tray to support at least one computer input device and operationally associated with said switch such that when said input device tray is moved said switch is actuated to control supply of power to said monitor outlet.
15. The workstation of claim 14 wherein said input device tray has an operational position such that when said input device tray is moved from the operational position, said switch is actuated eliminating power to said monitor outlet.
16. The workstation of claim 15 wherein said switch is actuated when said input device tray is returned to the operational position restoring power to said monitor outlet.
17. The workstation of claim 16 wherein said input device tray is biased away from the operational position.
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to computer workstations and, more particularly, to a wall-mounted computer workstation to protect against unauthorized viewing of confidential information displayed on a computer monitor.

Health care providers are mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to take reasonable steps to ensure the confidentiality of patient information. This task becomes especially daunting in the hectic and fast-paced environment of many hospitals and medical clinics. Increasingly, nurses and other medical practitioners enter patient information directly into a computer terminal located in the hallway outside examination rooms or at some other centralized location easily accessible to the public. As a result, other patients and third parties will come into close proximity with these computers and be able to view any confidential information displayed on the monitors.

Various methods have been utilized to prevent unauthorized parties from viewing computer screens after the medical practitioner has left the workstation. One of the simplest of such methods involves utilizing the basic hibernation mode included on most computers. After a specified period of inactivity, the computer either causes the monitor to go blank or display an innocuous screen saver containing no confidential information. The screen will only be restored to display access to the confidential information if a password is entered. One major failure of this method is that the confidential information remains on the screen for some period of time, unattended, after the practitioner has walked away. This creates a window of opportunity for an unauthorized party to gain access to confidential patient information.

As a result, more sophisticated technology was developed to ensure only authorized users had access. One such technology uses proximity sensors located at the site of the workstation. Software installed on the computer triggers the computer to enter a hibernation mode as described above when the proximity sensor indicates the user has moved away from the workstation. The computer is again brought out of hibernation only by entering a confidential password. This method was suffers in that an unauthorized party could gain access if that person quickly moved in front of the workstation after the authorized user walked away. Such behavior could easily go undetected in the hustle and bustle of a busy medical treatment facility. Additionally, this method requires loading additional software onto the computer to support the proximity sensor. Loading new software onto the computer can be difficult to integrate with existing software and can slow down the overall performance of the computer.

Another method used to prevent the unauthorized viewing of workstation monitors entails the employ of RFID technology included on employee identification badges or some other accessory. When a badge comes in close proximity to a sensor mounted at the site of the workstation, special software loaded onto the computer causes the computer to go into or out of hibernation. This method also has several significant shortcomings. If the RFID badges are lost or stolen, the person in possession of the badge has unfettered access to confidential patient information until the owner of the badge reports the loss. Further, someone carrying a RFID badge could inadvertently trigger the sensor, turning the monitor on, as they walked by the sensor or stood in close proximity to it. This could provide unauthorized access to confidential information for a party who was waiting to take advantage of such an occurrence. Additionally, this method again requires the loading of special software onto the workstation computer potentially causing problems with existing software loaded on the computer and generating added expense for the administration of this special software.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The aforementioned problems are overcome by the present invention wherein a workstation is provided with a moveable input device tray and a switch for automatically turning the computer monitor off when the input device tray is moved from the operational position. In one embodiment, the switch also turns the monitor back on when the input device tray is moved back into the operational position.

In one embodiment, the workstation includes an input device tray for supporting input devices for the computer. The input device tray is movable and has an operational position where the input devices are situated suitably for use by an operator and a closed position for storing the input devices when not in use. In one embodiment, the input device tray accommodates a keyboard and mouse, but in alternative embodiments, the input device tray may be adapted to support any type of input device including electronic tablets for instance.

In one embodiment, when the input device tray is moved from the operational position, the input device tray actuates a switch that eliminates the supply of power to the computer monitor. In one embodiment, the workstation includes a monitor outlet and this action eliminates the supply of power to the monitor outlet. This configuration causes a computer monitor plugged into the switched monitor outlet to be turned off contemporaneously with the input device tray being moved from the operational position, thereby preventing unauthorized parties from viewing the monitor after the input device tray is closed. The input device tray may be biased away from the operational position so that it automatically moves into the closed position in the absence of user interaction. For example, the tray may be spring-loaded or use a lift-assist gas cylinder to bias the tray in the closed position. Alternatively, biasing devices, such as a spring or gas cylinder, may be used to offset the weight of the tray and keyboard without providing sufficient force to automatically move the tray to the closed position.

The present invention provides a workstation that inhibits unauthorized party's access to confidential information through a computer located in a public area. The screen is immediately turned-off when an authorized user finishes using the computer and the input device tray is moved from the operational position leaving no opportunity for unlawful access to confidential medical information. Furthermore, unlawful access is curtailed without the need to install additional software on the computer or to issue RFID badges to all employees. In an embodiment including a desk housing, additional security may be provided by lockably enclosing the computer components within the desk housing. In embodiments in which movement of the tray turns on and off the computer monitor, security is provided without specifically turning the monitor on or off.

These and other objects, advantages, and features of the invention will be readily understood and appreciated by reference to the detailed description of the current embodiment and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the workstation in the closed position accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the workstation in the operational position with a portion broken away to show the power supply source and the switched monitor outlet.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of Area III of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective of a portion of the input device tray about to move to the closed position.

FIG. 5 is an electrical schematic diagram of the workstation.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an alternative configuration of the switch, monitor outlet, and workstation plug.

DESCRIPTION OF THE CURRENT EMBODIMENT

A privacy protecting computer workstation in accordance with an embodiment is illustrated in the drawings and generally designated 10. In the illustrated embodiment, the computer workstation 10 is configured to receive a computer monitor 28 and an input device, such as keyboard 18 or mouse 20. The workstation 10 generally includes a monitor outlet 16 for the computer monitor 28, a switch 12 for controlling the supply of power to the monitor outlet 16, and a movable input device tray 14 capable of actuating the switch 12. The input device tray 14 is movable between an operational position and a closed position. In use, movement of the input device tray 14 from the operational position actuates the switch 12 to eliminate the supply of power to the monitor outlet 16, and consequently to the monitor 28. As a result, the computer workstation 10 automatically turns off the monitor 28 when the input device tray 14 is moved from the operational position. For purpose of disclosure, the present invention is described in connection with a specific computer workstation housing. The present invention is well suited for use in essentially any workstation in which movement of an input device support can be used to control the supply of power to the computer monitor.

As noted above, the workstation 10 includes an input device tray 14. The input device tray 14 is configured to support at least one computer input device. In the embodiment illustrated in the figures, the input device tray 14 is configured to support both a keyboard 18 and a mouse 20, but the input device tray 14 could alternatively support essentially any type of input device, such as a digitizing pad or trackball. The illustrated input device tray 14 is generally planar, but the tray's design and configuration may be varied as desired to support essentially any input device. The input device tray 14 has an operational position such that when the tray 14 is in the operational position, the input devices 18, 20 supported on the tray 14 are oriented for operation by a workstation 10 user. In one embodiment, the input device tray 14 is height adjustable within the operational position to accommodate workstation 10 users of various stature. In another embodiment, the input device tray 14 is biased away from the operational position so that when pressure is removed from the input device tray 14 by the user, the tray 14 automatically moves to the closed position. Such automation may be accomplished by any device providing the desired performance. For example, a lift-assist gas cylinder may be connected to both the workstation housing and the tray 14 biasing the tray 14 to the closed position. Alternatively, biasing devices, such as a spring or gas cylinder, may be used to offset the weight of the tray 14 and/or input devices 18 and 20 without providing enough force to automatically move the tray 14 into the closed position. In one embodiment, the input device tray 14 may also be lockable preventing the tray 14 from being opened to the operational position by unauthorized users.

The workstation 10 includes a switch 12 for controlling the supply of power to the computer monitor 28. As shown in FIG. 2, the switch 12 of the illustrated embodiment is mounted to the workstation 10 at a point where the input device tray 14 abuts the desk housing 26 when the input device tray 14 is in the closed position. The switch 12 may be located in any position on the workstation 10 or the input device tray 14 where the switch 12 will be actuated when the input device tray 14 is moved between the operational position and the closed position. For example, the switch 12 may be located essentially anywhere along the path of the input device tray 14. As another example, the switch 12 may be integrated into or operably connected with the hinge 40 of the input device tray 14. In embodiments utilizing a gas cylinder (not shown), the switch 12 may be incorporated into the gas cylinder.

In the illustrated embodiment, the monitor outlet 16 is configured to receive power from a standard wall outlet, such as a conventional 110 volt wall outlet (not shown). In this embodiment, the switch 12 is connected between the wall outlet (not shown) and the monitor outlet 16 so that actuation of the switch 12 controls the flow of power to the monitor outlet 16. The switch 12 may be essentially any type of switch capable of selectively controlling the supply of wall power to the monitor outlet 16, including a rocker switch, toggle switch, push-button switch or infrared switch. In the illustrated embodiment, a biased, push-button switch 12 is used. The illustrated switch 12 is biased in the closed or “on” position so that when the input device tray 14 is moved from the closed position the switch 12 is automatically closed and power is restored to the monitor outlet 16. Alternatively, movement of the input device tray 14 may be used only to turn the monitor off. In this embodiment, manual actuation of the switch may be used to turn the monitor 28 back on when desired.

As noted above, the workstation 10 includes a monitor outlet 16 for supplying power to the computer monitor 28. In the illustrated embodiment, the monitor outlet 16 is a generally conventional electrical outlet configured for use with standard 110 volt AC power. Utilization of a conventional outlet affords straightforward connection of the monitor 28 to the monitor outlet 16 by simply inserting the monitor's 28 electrical plug 29 into the electrical receptacle 24 of the monitor outlet 16. In the illustrated embodiment, the monitor outlet 16 is located within the workstation 10 where it is conveniently positioned to receive the electrical plug 29 of the monitor 28 (See broken-away portion in FIG. 2). The monitor outlet 16 may be positioned in alternative locations as desired. The monitor outlet 16 may be replaced by other apparatus capable of supplying power to the monitor 28. For example, the monitor 28 could be hard wired to the switch 12.

In the illustrated embodiment, the monitor outlet 16 is connected to an external source of power, such as a wall outlet supplying 110 volt AC power. The monitor outlet 16 is connected to the external source of power using workstation plug 17 which is a generally conventional electrical plug for use with standard 110 volt AC power. As noted above, the switch 12 is connected between an external source of power (such as a wall outlet) and the monitor outlet 16 so that actuation of the switch 12 controls the supply of power to the monitor outlet 16. In the illustrated embodiment, the monitor outlet 16 includes two electrical receptacles 24, both of these receptacle's 24 power may be controlled by the operation of the switch 12. This configuration would be useful, for example, if the workstation 10 utilized two monitors or otherwise included two separate components to turn off when the tray 14 is closed. Alternatively, the second receptacle 24 could be powered independently from the switch 12. This configuration would be useful to receive the plug of a CPU used in the workstation so that the CPU is not shut down each time the switch 12 is actuated.

In the illustrated embodiment, the workstation 10 includes a desk housing 26 configured to enclose and/or support a computer system. In the embodiment illustrated in the figures, the desk housing 26 is configured to house the various elements of a computer system, including a monitor 28 and CPU (not shown). The computer monitor 28 is fully enclosed and rests upon a central shelf behind a transparent protection window 30. The window 30 can be fabricated from clear acrylic, glass or any other suitable transparent material. The CPU (not shown) is stored on an upper shelf located above the monitor 28 behind panel 42. Panel 42 may be hinged and may include a lock, if desired. The input device tray 14 is located below the monitor shelf and is configured to swing up and down between the operational position (swung down) and the closed position (swung up). In the illustrated embodiment, the input device tray 14 folds up into the desk housing 26 such that the tray 14 and any input device 18 and 20 stored on the tray 14 will be received into the desk housing 26 for storage. The input device tray 14 may also be lockable in the closed position providing additional security. The desk housing 26 can be fabricated of wood, plastic, metal or any other material (or combination of materials) providing suitable performance and the desired aesthetic.

As noted above, the present invention is well suited for use with workstations of a wide variety of shapes and styles. The desk housing 26 can be modified to accommodate various alternative computer configurations. If desired, the desk housing 26 may be configured such that the computer system rests on the desk housing 26 or the computer system may be enclosed by the desk housing 26.

In the illustrated embodiment, the desk housing 26 is configured to mount to a wall or some other suitable mounting surface. Alternatively, the desk housing could be constructed to rest on the floor, a desk, a table or other suitable surface. If desired, the desk housing can be freestanding. In an alternative embodiment not utilizing a full desk housing, the monitor 28 could be mounted to a wall or resting on some support surface with the input device tray 14 located in close proximity. In such a system, it may be desirable to locate the switch 12 on an external component, but the switch can be located essentially anywhere that provides the desired interaction with the input device tray 14 when the input device tray 14 is moved between the operational position and the closed position.

The electrical power assembly 55′ of an alternative embodiment is illustrated in FIG. 6. In this embodiment, the electrical power assembly 55′ includes a push-button switch 12′ mounted within an electrical cord 25.′ The electrical cord 25′ includes a workstation plug 17′ that can be inserted into a wall outlet (not shown) and a monitor outlet 16′ that can receive an electrical plug from the monitor 28. In this embodiment, the monitor outlet 17′ has a single electrical receptacle 24′. The switch 12′ may be a push-button switch or an alternative type of switch as described above. In one embodiment, the switch 12′ is wired into a conventional extension cord. The switch 12′ may be mounted on the desk housing 26 or at another location where it will interact properly to actuate the monitor 28 as the input device tray 14 is moved.

The above description is that of the current embodiment of the invention. Various alterations and changes can be made without departing from the spirit and broader aspects of the invention as defined in the appended claims, which are to be interpreted in accordance with the principles of patent law including the doctrine of equivalents. Any reference to claim elements in the singular, for example, using the articles “a,” “an,” “the” or “said,” is not to be construed as limiting the element to the singular.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US8218303 *Aug 14, 2009Jul 10, 2012Sony CorporationInformation processing apparatus and electronic apparatus system
US8441782Feb 28, 2011May 14, 2013Enovate ItWall-mounted computer work station
US8446723 *Nov 9, 2010May 21, 2013Roger GozaWall mounted modular workstation system and method
US8567735Jan 28, 2011Oct 29, 2013Rubbermaid IncorporatedWork station with height adjustment lock
US8616136Jan 28, 2011Dec 31, 2013Rubbermaid IncorporatedKeyboard tray tilt
US8662605Feb 15, 2012Mar 4, 2014Rubbermaid IncorporatedMobile technology cabinet
US8677911Feb 17, 2012Mar 25, 2014Rubbermaid IncorporatedTechnology cart
US20100053875 *Aug 14, 2009Mar 4, 2010Sony CorporationInformation processing apparatus and electronic apparatus system
US20110110026 *Nov 9, 2010May 12, 2011Roger GozaWall Mounted Modular Workstation System and Method
US20110235249 *Jan 28, 2011Sep 29, 2011Rubbermaid IncorporatedWork surface articulation
Classifications
U.S. Classification108/50.02
International ClassificationA47B37/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47B2200/0069, A47B81/06, A47B21/0314
European ClassificationA47B21/03B, A47B81/06
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jul 10, 2013ASAssignment
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:ENOVATEIT, LLC;REEL/FRAME:030782/0775
Effective date: 20130709
Owner name: FIFTH THIRD BANK, TENNESSEE
Jan 11, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: ENOVATEIT, LLC, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CALERO, FEDERICO A.;REEL/FRAME:018748/0913
Effective date: 20070110