|Publication number||USRE38127 E1|
|Application number||US 07/831,671|
|Publication date||May 27, 2003|
|Filing date||Feb 5, 1992|
|Priority date||Jan 19, 1989|
|Also published as||US4972457|
|Publication number||07831671, 831671, US RE38127 E1, US RE38127E1, US-E1-RE38127, USRE38127 E1, USRE38127E1|
|Inventors||Harry Michael O'Sullivan|
|Original Assignee||Mlr, Llc|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (41), Non-Patent Citations (22), Referenced by (35), Classifications (9), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
A microfiche appendix is attached. The total number of microfiche is 1 and the total number of frames is 79.
Technology offers the consumer many choices in communications hardware, allowing both data and voice transmission. These choices include portable computers with internal modems, hands-free speakerphones, landline telephones, and cellular telephones.
Modern portable computers may be equipped with an internal modem and data access arrangement that allows the internal modem to be connected through an RJ-11 connector to the Public Switched Telephone Network. Examples of this technology include portable computers manufactured by Zenith and NEC. These portable computers generally include a speaker used for call progress monitoring; and this speaker is used strictly as an analog output device. The internal modems are used only for sending and receiving modulated digital information through the public switched telephone network. Methods of modulation include the Bell 212, Bell 103 CCITT V.21, CCITT V.22 and CCITT v.22 bis standards.
Hands-free speakerphones can be found in many offices and homes. Generally, these speakerphones are used as an adjunct to a classical telephone which consists of a cradle and handset, and these speakerphones are used for analog voice communications over the public switched telephone network. Digital switching techniques are sometimes used within the speaker phone circuits to prevent analog feedback from microphone pickup of the speaker output.
Cellular telephones as currently manufactured by Motorola (USA), OKI (Japan) and others consist of a radio transceiver unit (TRU) and a control unit (CU), analogous to the cradle and handset of a conventional landline telephone. The transceiver unit is connected to the control unit with numerous wires, these wires transferring the analog information as in a conventional landline telephone, and also transferring digital information not used in a conventional landline telephone. This digital information may contain key press, display, and monitoring information, as well as cellular call set-up instructions. An example of this digital and analog connection can be found in AMPS based cellular telephones, as well as other functionally similar specifications. A complete description of the AMPS system is provided in “The Bell System Technical Journal”, 1979, V.1 58, No. 1, pages 1-269. Cellular phones may also provide a hands-free speakerphone, similar to speakerphones available for landline phones.
Landline and cellular telephones generally provide means of indicating to the user their current operating state. For example, when a key is pressed, an audible tone is heard, providing audio feedback, or, when an incoming call is sensed, an audible tone (RING) is heard.
There have been attempts in the prior art to combine some of the devices described above. For example, the addition of a modem to a cellular phone and means for controlling a cellular phone was disclosed by the present inventor in his U.S. Pat. No. 4,697,281. Although this patent provides for modem, transceiver unit and control unit analog and digital control, it does not provide a method for connecting numerous communication devices selectively to both land line and cellular telephone networks.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,718,080 shows a device which connects a standard landline telephone or modem to a cellular car phone, while U.S. Pat. No. 4,578,537 shows an interface which may connect a personal computer, a speakerphone, and a modem to one or more landlines. As a final example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,685,123 teaches a method of adapting one or more telephone lines for either data or voice communications.
None of these known devices or methods succeeds in achieving the functionality ultimately possible from the combination of a modem, portable computer, cellular phone, speakerphone, headset, and landline connection. Were these devices combined within a compact, portable package, the user could use the computer, transmit data, and/or place a cellular voice call, using speakerphone or headset, from any location served by a cellular network. Further, the user could bring the unit into home or office and connect it to the public switched telephone network. With both cellular and landline connections available, the user could place two calls at once, transmitting voice or data over either line. Significantly, the portable computer could initiate all these operations under program control. If all these devices could be combined in an integrated unit so that any pair of devices could function together, the result would be an uniquely valuable business and personal tool.
Prior to the invention disclosed herein, this combination was not conceived of in the art for a number of reasons, but primarily because the devices described were considered to be incompatible. For example, as explained in the inventor's prior U.S. Pat. No. 4,697,281, an ordinary modem loses data during cell handoffs, when operated over a cellular link. As another example, ordinary telephones do not provide the correct control signals to place calls on the cellular network, and cellular control units cannot be used as landline handsets. Thus, an integrated portable unit which combines a personal computer, cellular transmitter, modem and speaker phone with headset, cellular control unit, and land telephone connections could not be implemented by merely wiring known devices together.
It is a primary object of the present invention to provide a novel and improved portable hybrid communication system incorporating an integrated, portable unit which includes a personal computer, cellular transmitter, modem, and speakerphone, and which has external connections for a headset, cellular control unit, and land telephone line, such that any of these devices may be used with any other device. The invention further includes a novel and improved method and apparatus to switch the numerous analog and digital parts of landline telephones, cellular telephones and modems so that any parts of this unit may be used together. This is all accomplished with a control system mounted on a circuit card which fits in a modem slot or similar card receiving slot in a portable computer.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a novel and improved portable hybrid communication system which provides a personal computer with the means to command a specific pairing of a cellular transmitter, modem, and speakerphone, as well as external connections to a headset, cellular control unit and landline telephone line. This command may be sent by an automated program, or at the interactive request of the person using the personal computer.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a novel and improved portable hybrid communication system which can switch a modem onto either a landline or cellular telephone network.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a novel and improved portable hybrid communication system which controls the power to a cellular control unit as necessary, so that power to the control unit is available only when the control unit is to be used.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a novel and improved portable hybrid communication system which can sense the ON or OFF condition of the power to a transceiver unit.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a novel portable hybrid communication system which has complete control of a transceiver unit, providing the necessary signals to the transceiver unit for the transceiver unit to function properly, and sensing all of the signals generated by the transceiver unit, said control being possible without the need of a cellular control unit.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a novel portable hybrid communication system with complete control of a cellular control unit, providing the necessary signals to the control unit for the control unit to function properly, and sensing all of the signals generated by the control unit, allowing use of the cellular control unit.
A further object of the present invention is to provide a novel portable hybrid communication system that can sense whether of not a headset, cellular control unit, landline, or other device is connected to the invention.
A further object of the invention is to provide a novel portable hybrid communication system that selectively provides suitable control signals and data transfer protocols depending on the devices used and depending on whether cellular or land lines are being used.
A further object of the invention is to provide a novel portable hybrid communication control system that performs analog signal conditioning so that the analog signals of the speakerphone, headset, control unit, modem, tone generator, transceiver, and landline are matched in impedance and level according to definite standards.
A further object of the invention is to provide a novel portable hybrid communication system that can relay a cellular call over a land line or a land line call over a cellular network.
A further object of the invention is to provide a novel portable hybrid communication system that can simultaneously connect a modem or voice terminal device to the cellular network, while connecting another device (modem or terminal) to a landline, permitting simultaneous voice and data communications.
A further object of the invention is to provide a novel portable hybrid communication system which integrates a modem, portable computer, and cellular transmitter into a case, the case having a retractable cellular antenna.
These objects and others are achieved by providing a novel and improved portable hybrid communication system which is a laptop device including a personal computer, a cellular transceiver, a speakerphone, and a hybrid communications control unit. The device has connectors for attaching a headset, cellular control unit, land telephone line, and additional speakers and microphones.
The hybrid communications control unit is microprocessor controlled and includes a modem, a data access arrangement, and a tone generator as well as digital, analog, and power switches. The hybrid communications control unit switches the communications components and provides, under program control, the proper protocols, level, and impedance matching to connect the modem, speakerphone, headset, speaker/-microphone, or cellular control unit to the landline or to the cellular network via the transceiver.
Matching and switching operations are automatic and transparent to the user. The unit can also connect two of the terminal devices or connect the cellular and landlines for call relaying. Finally, the device is capable of connecting plural calls at the same time over different networks.
The hybrid communications control unit may be controlled by its internal firmware, by toggle switches, or by commands issued from the personal computer.
Other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the drawings, description, and claims herein.
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a typical cellular telephone, with reference to appropriate external connections;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a typical landline telephone, with reference to appropriate external connections;
FIG. 3,., is a block diagram of a typical speakerphone system; speakerphone,.
FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the invention, with typical externally connected devices shown;
FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram showing examples of the level and impedance matching circuitry associated with the analog switch of the present invention;
FIG. 6 is a cutaway view showing the installation of the hybrid communication control unit in the computer case;
FIG. 7 is a flow diagram showing the procedure for relaying an incoming cellular call to a landline;
FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of a port of the digital switch;
FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram of a typical method of digitally .sensing an analog signal; and
FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram showing how a toggle switch may simultaneously provide power to an external device and generate a digital logic signal.
The drawings of FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 show the inputs, outputs, and components of prior art cellular telephones, landline telephone and speakerphones.
In FIG. 1, a conventional cellular telephone is shown generally at 2. The cellular telephone includes a transceiver unit 4, with an external power line 6 which obtains power from an external power supply 8. The transceiver unit 4 uses an external antenna 10 to send and receive analog voice and modulated digital instructions relative to a cellular network 12 having an antenna 32. These cellular network instructions include call set-up instructions, incoming call instructions and other cellular network control instructions. A cellular control unit 14 comprises a display 16, a keypad 18, a speaker 20, and a microphone 22. The transceiver unit 4 communicates with the cellular control unit 14 using a bus 24 consisting of numerous wires including analog wires 26, digital wires 28, and power wires 30. It is important to note that without this bus (collection of numerous wires) between the transceiver unit and the control unit, neither the transceiver unit nor the control unit will function properly. The analog voice signals present at the control unit 14 can be obtained from the analog wires 26, or can be generated by the microphone 22 to be sent through the analog wires. The digital information that occurs when a key is pressed on the key pad 18 is sent through the digital wires 28. Also digital information may be received over the digital wires 28. The power that is necessary to the proper functioning of the control unit 14 is obtained from the transceiver unit 4 through the power wires 30. The transceiver unit 4 communicates with the cellular telephone network 12 using radio waves, these waves being transmitted and received using antennas 10 and 32.
In FIG. 2 a conventional landline telephone is shown generally at 34. This telephone 34 consists of a cradle 36 and a handset 38. The telephone 34 is connected to a public switched telephone network 40 by analog wires 41 which carry analog telephone signals. The cradle 36 includes Data Access Arrangement (DAA) section 42, keypad 44, and ringer circuit 46, while the handset 38 includes speaker 48 and microphone 50. Data Access Arrangement section 42 contains the analog filters and protection devices required to connect to the public switched telephone network 40. The key pad 44 is used to provide the number to be called to the public switched telephone network 40, and ringer circuit 46 and associated signalling means are provided to inform the user when there is an incoming call.
FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a conventional speakerphone, shown generally at 52. It consists of a microphone 54 and speaker 56 connected respectively by analog transmitting lines 58 and analog receiving lines 60 to an analog feedback prevention switch 62. Analog signals are sent via analog wires 64 between the speakerphone 52 and other devices and networks (not shown). If the speakerphone 52 needs a power source, it is provided through power wires 66.
The novel means for connecting and controlling these prior art devices will now be described with particular reference to FIG. 4. In this figure, units previously described are given like reference numerals. The hybrid communications control unit of the present invention is shown generally at 68. The hybrid communications control unit contains a microprocessor 70 with RAM and ROM memory and input and output ports, an analog switch 72, a digital switch 74, a power arbitration unit 76, a computer interface 78, a tone generator 80, a modem 82, a data access arrangement 42, and end user accessible toggle switches 86. All power to the unit and its parts is obtained from an external power supply 88. A portable personal computer 90 is connected to the unit 60 through the computer interface 78.
The power supply 88 is preferably the battery of the portable computer 90, or an external power supply for the portable computer, but the power supply 88 may also be any other source of power.
The microprocessor 70 may preferably be a Toshiba Z84—C15, which incorporates a Zilog Z80 processor, Z80—PI0 parallel port, Z80—SIO serial port, and Z80—CTC. As explained previously, both random access and readonly memories are connected to the microprocessor for data and software storage. The read-only memory preferably contains operating software which is the machine-code equivalent of the source code contained in the microfiche appendix attached to this specification.
The portable personal computer 90 may be any programmable computing device, such as a hand-held calculator or portable computer. One suitable model is an ITC CAT 286 which uses the MS-DOS operating system and is compatible with the IBM personal computer AT.
The hybrid communications control unit 68 connects to the public switched telephone network 40 using wires 41 and data access arrangement circuit 42, which are the essential components of the landline telephone 34 of FIG. 2. The physical connection is preferably by means of a conventional RJ-11 modular telephone connector. Analog lines 92 connect from the data access arrangement 42 to analog switch 72, where the analog signals may be switched or conditioned using methods which will be described later in more detail. This switching and conditioning allows the analog lines from the data access arrangement 42 to be selectively connected by the analog switch with the analog lines of any other connected device, such as speakerphone 52. This selective connections is controlled by the microprocessor 70, either as a result of a user request made known to the microprocessor 70 through toggle switches 86 or because of a request from the portable personal computer 90 transmitted through the computer interface 78.
The toggle switches 86 are connected to input ports of microprocessor 70. They may be of the type that can be sensed directly by the microprocessor 70, that is of a 5 volt DC logic level, or they may require debouncing or other conditioning before being sensed by the microprocessor 70. Preferably, four toggle switches are provided. The first switch can be manually actuated to signal the microprocessor 70 that the cellular control unit 14 is inserted. The second toggle switch, when manually activated, signals the microprocessor that the user wishes to mute the output of a microphone 103 in use during a voice communication. The third toggle switch provides power to the cellular control unit 14, and the last toggle switch both controls power to the cellular transceiver 4 and provides a logic signal to the microprocessor 70 in the manner explained below. The power control functions of these last two toggle switches may occur directly, with the toggle switch making or breaking a connection between the power supply and the controlled unit as shown in FIG. 10, or the toggle switch may cause the microprocessor to control the provision of power to the controlled unit.
As shown in FIG. 10, any of the toggle switches may be used to provide high current 12V DC power to an external device. In this figure, power is provided to control unit 14. External power supply 88 producing 12 VDC is connected to one of the toggle switches 86, which is connected to control unit 14 by power line 85. A conventional emitter follower voltage regulator circuit 87 is connected between power line 85 and an input port of microprocessor 70. Voltage regulator circuit 87 provides approximately 5 volts DC to microprocessor 70 when toggle switch 86 is closed, and zero volts when toggle switch 86 is open. Of course, any other voltage regulator circuit could be used in place of the circuit shown. In this way, high current 12V DC power may be switched and at the same time presented to the microprocessor as a low current, 5 volt logic level so that the microprocessor can sense the position of toggle switch 86.
Of course, a larger number of toggle switches may be provided depending on the preference of the end user. These additional switches might initiate any function performed by the present invention.
The hybrid communication control unit 68 is preferably constructed on a circuit card about four inches wide by five inches long. In the preferred embodiment, as shown in FIG. 6, this card containing the hybrid communications control unit is of an appropriate configuration to fit in a modem slot 89 of personal computer 90. The card is provided with an appropriate conventional connector 95 which mates with a conventional modem card connector 91 mounted on the motherboard 93 of computer 90, allowing transfer of signals between the computer interface 78 of hybrid communication control unit 68 and portable computer 90.
The type of connector 95 used depends on the computer selected for construction of the present invention. The connector might be any multi-pin male, multi-pin female, or EIA connector. Alternatively, the card containing hybrid communication control unit 68 might be provided with edge contacts to mate with a printed circuit board edge connector in the computer 90. While the most common and desirable connection means have been described herein, those skilled in the art will recognize that other known connections means could be used.
In addition, the card of hybrid communications control unit 68 could be installed in computer 90 in many locations other than modem slot 89. For example, the card could be installed in a memory expansion or other expansion slot of computer 90. The card could also be located externally to the case of computer 90, either mounted on the case or designed as a separate unit to be cabled to computer 90. Similarly, the card could be located in any available space inside the computer case and connected by cable to the modem connector, an expansion connector, or another connector provided on the motherboard 93 of computer 90.
Since the hybrid communications control unit 68 may be installed in the computer 90, it should be recognized that, for so me applications, the microprocessor 70 can be eliminated and its functions can then be performed by the computer 90. For this type of operation, the computer interface 78 would be connected back into an input port of the computer 90 and the input-output ports of the computer 90 would be connected to other components in the hybrid communications control unit 68 in the same manner as are the input-output ports of the microprocessors 70. For this type of operation, the computer 90 must have RAM and ROM memory and the capability to operate in response to a program which performs the functions of the program in Appendix A.
A cellular antenna 10 may be extended from or retracted into a compartment 97 of the portable computer case so as to protect the antenna when not in use and so as to increase the functionality and aesthetic appeal of the computer case when the system is used but cellular access is not desired. In the embodiment shown, the antenna moves in a linear fashion in and out of the compartment. Locking means (not shown) may hold the antenna in a fixed position. For example, ball-and-socket or frictional locks could be used. Alternatively, the antenna could be retracted by folding about a hinge into a recess in the portable computer case. In another embodiment, an external jack for connection of a roof-mount or other antenna could be provided.
The card bearing the hybrid communication control unit 68 is also provided with several other connectors. A first of these connectors on the card forms a connector for the speakerphone 52 and has three pins which provide transmit, receive, and signal ground lines. A second connector on the card is for the cellular transceiver and provides a pin for each line in the cellular bus 24 (shown in FIG. 1). This connector must be compatible with the cellular control unit jack of the cellular transceiver selected, and may be provided with an extension cable to facilitate the connection. A third connector of the card allows external connection of the cellular control unit 14 to the card, and is of the type that mates with the second connector previously described. A fourth connector allows external connection of additional speakers and microphones. This connector preferably takes the form of a headset jack. A final connector accepts the RJ-11 plug of the public switched telephone network as described previously. Additional connectors may be provided for additional speakers or other known telephone and computing equipment.
The computer interface 78 is preferably of the type that converses directly with a central logic bus of the portable computer 90, using the Signetics INS 8250 universal asynchronous receiver and transmitter and conventional techniques. Of course, the device might also converse with the portable computer using RS-232 C or another known standard.
The data access arrangement 42 (DAA) may be a standalone DAA, such as Midcom part number 681—0012. A slight reduction in construction costs can be obtained by assembling a DAA out of components using techniques well-known in the art, so as to provide the protection required to connect to the public switched telephone network. This method is preferred. Digital DAA control lines 94 connect the DAA 42 to the input/output ports of microprocessor 70, and the control lines include a ringing line. The DAA 42 may be controlled directly by the microprocessor 70 using the DAA digital control lines 94. This control prompts the data access arrangement to issue appropriate signaling directions to, and relay directions from, the public switched telephone network. Such signalling directions include Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF) dialing, on-hook and off-hook conditions, timed on/off hook sequences used for pulse dialing, and ringing sense. When ringing on the public switched telephone network line 41 is detected by the DAA 42, the DAA preferably causes an interrupt in the program sequence of microprocessor 70. Alternatively, the ringing line of the DAA control lines 94 can be latched and then polled by the microprocessor periodically.
The DTMF signals are obtained from the tone generator 80 which is shown as a separate entity but may also be located either within the data access arrangement 42 or within the modem 82. The tone generator 80 is connected to the analog switch by analog lines 96 and to the microprocessor 70 by tone control lines 98. The tone generator operates in response to control signals from the microprocessor transmitted through the tone control lines 98. The microprocessor may obtain the sequence of tones to be transmitted from control unit 14 or portable computer 90 in a manner that will be explained further. Analog signals of the tone generator may be passed to the data access arrangement 42 through the analog switch 72.
The analog switch 72 may be a 4053 manufactured by Toshiba, and a number of devices are connected to this analog switch 72. The connections internal to the hybrid communications control unit 68 will be described first. As explained previously, DAA 42 is connected to analog switch 72 by analog line 92. Tone generator 80 is connected to the analog switch 72 by analog lines 96, and modem 82 is connected to analog switch 72 by analog lines 102. Analog switch control lines 100 connect the analog switch 72 to microprocessor 70. The analog switch 72 accepts digital commands from the microprocessor 70 through analog switch control lines 100 to connect and disconnect the attached devices.
Next, the connections of the analog switch to devices external to the hybrid communications control unit 68 will be described. An optional microphone 103 may be connected to analog switch 72 by analog lines 104, while an optional speaker 105 may be connected to the analog switch by analog lines 106. The speakerphone 52 may be connected to the analog switch by analog lines 64, and the cellular transceiver 4 is connected to the analog switch by analog lines 108. The cellular control unit 14 is connected to the analog switch by analog lines 110.
As shown in FIG. 5, additional components connected at the analog switch 72 provide the level conditioning (amplification or attenuation) and impedence matching appropriate to each device. These components comprise operational amplifiers with associated resistors and capacitors. A similar circuit is used for each input and output connection of the analog switch 72, the only variation being the valves of the components, which are selected depending on the signal characteristics of the devices connected to the analog switch 72. The output and input signals are standardized according to a unique and novel scheme. This standardization is essential if the system is to be capable of operably connecting any two devices. In explaining these standards, reference will be made to terminal devices and line devices, the terminal devices being the DTMF tone generator 80, modem 82, control unit 14, speakerphone 52, microphone 103, and speaker 105. The line devices are the DAA 42 and transceiver 4.
Preferably, the output signals of all terminal devices, such as the microphone signal, are converted to a low-impedance, −10 DbV signal as part of the connection to analog switch 72. This signal is suitable for direct input to DAA 42, and is converted appropriately at the analog switch connection for input to other line devices, such as the cellular transceiver. The input signals of all connected terminal devices, such as the external speaker input, are provided at the analog switch connection with circuitry which converts a medium-impedance −10 DbV signal, as produced by DAA 42, to a signal with the characteristics required for input to the individual terminal device. The analog outputs of other line devices, such as transceiver 4, are converted at their analog switch connections to produce a signal with the same level and impedance characteristics as the signal produced by DAA 42.
Of course, other standard impedances and signal levels could be chosen within the scope of the invention. In another preferred embodiment, standards for terminal and line devices could be made the same to facilitate implementation of call relaying and connection of terminal devices to other terminal devices.
FIG. 5 shows two examples of the level and impedance matching circuits used in the preferred embodiments of the device of the present invention.
In the first example, the output of microphone 103, which may be a high-impedance (greater than 10 K Ohms), −40 DbV signal, is converted by op-amp circuit 112 to a low-impedance (less than 1K Ohms), −10 DbV signal suitable for direct switching to the DAA 42. O-amp circuit 114 converts this same low-impedance, −10 dBV signal to a −20 dBV low-impedance signal suitable for input to cellular transceiver 4.
In the second example shown in FIG. 5, the medium impedance (1-10 K Ohms), −10 dBV output signal of DAA 42 is converted by op amp circuit 116 to a low-impedance, 0 dBV signal appropriate for input to speaker 105. The analog output of cellular transceiver 4 is converted by op-amp circuit 118 to produce a signal with the same level and impedance characteristics as the analog output signal of DAA 42.
The following chart shows typical input and output impedance and level values for devices included in the present invention. Naturally, these values will vary depending on the specific devices selected.
−10 TO −40
−10 TO −40
Referring again to FIG. 4, when a signal appears on one of the lines 104, 106, 64, 108, or 110, circuitry parallel to with the analog switch 72 generates a service request to the microprocessor 70. FIG. 9 shows how this service request is generated in response to an analog transmission from any of the lines noted above, and for purposes of explanation, an analog signal from cellular transceiver 4 will be used in FIG. 9, Referring now to FIG. 9, the transceiver 4 is connected to analog line 108, which is connected to an input of an amplifier 120 which has an output 121. The output 121 of amplifier 120 is connected to a capacitor and resistor circuit 122 having an output 123. This output 123 is connected to the base of a transistor 124 having an emitter tied to ground and a collector 126 which provides an output. Collector 126 is connected to an RC network 128 having a resistor connected between collector 126 and +5 VDC, and a capacitor connected between collector 126 and ground. The RC network 128 is connected to a sensing line of the analog switch control lines 100. The service request is created by taking the low level analog signal provided at analog line 108 and amplifying it to a very high level voltage with the amplifier 120. This high level signal will alternately charge and discharge the capacitor and resistor circuit 122 in accordance with the period of the analog signal on analog line 108. This charging and discharging of the circuit 122 will turn the transistor 124 off and on, and this transistor switching can be used to provide a digital level signal directly to the microprocessor. Preferably, however, the signal is further conditioned by the RC network 128 to provide a signal which is easily sensed by the microprocessor. The microprocessor can record in RAM memory the condition of signals received in this manner, or the processor can poll the outputs 100 when it is necessary to know which devices are connected. The circuit of FIG. 9 thus allows the microprocessor to keep track of the devices that are connected to the portable hybrid communications system in an unique and novel manner.
The analog switch 72 acts as a cross-point switch, so that it is possible for more than one pair of analog signals to be connected at once without interference. For example, the cellular transceiver 4 could be connected to the speakerphone 52 while the data access arrangement 42 is connected to the modem 82, allowing simultaneous voice and data communications. This operation is made possible in part by the unique circuit disclosed and the standardization of analog levels of the present invention.
The modem 82 is directed by the microprocessor 70 using a modem control line 129. These directives include turning on and off the various stages of the modem's modulation and demodulation circuits. The analog signals produced by modem 82 are connected to the analog switch 72 so that the analog signals are available for switching, in a manner similar to the analog connection of the data access arrangement 42 to the analog switch 72. The microprocessor preferably receives and retransmits data to and from modem 82 and computer interface 78. Alternatively, a direct data connection or connection switchable manually or under the control of microprocessor 70 may be provided.
The operation of the power arbitration unit 76 will now be described. Input/output ports of microprocessor 70 are connected by power arbitration control lines 94 to the power arbitration unit 76. The power arbitration unit 76 contains circuitry which responds to the digital signals of microprocessor 70 to connect and disconnect external power from external power supply 88 to control unit 14 and transceiver 4. This power arbitration uses conventional microprocessor controlled switching units and techniques and the microprocessor signals are used at the request of the user or by the microprocessor's own internal program. Power wires 162 are provided between the control unit 14 and power arbitration unit 76. These wires provide the control unit 14 with power for operation, and are controlled by the microprocessor 70 using the power arbitration unit 76, thus giving the microprocessor 70 control of signal and power availability to the control unit 14. Power line 132 and external power line 134 connect power arbitration 76 and transceiver 4 so that the power arbitration unit 76 can control power to transceiver 4 in response to signals from microprocessor 70. The microprocessor 70 may store the status of power to the control unit and transceiver in random access memory for use as described later.
Digital switch 74 is connected to microprocessor 70 by digital switch control line 135 and digital data line 136. The digital switch is also connected to the cellular transceiver 4 by digital lines 130 and to the control unit 14 by digital lines 131. The digital signals provided by the transceiver unit 4 and control unit 14 are presented to the digital switch 74 of the hybrid control unit where they may be conditioned as necessary before being presented to the microprocessor 70.
FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram of a portion of digital switch 74. Only the circuit for one pair of digital data lines 131 and 130 is shown. There are actually a plurality of digital data lines 131 and 130, so that a plurality of the circuits illustrated in FIG. 8 are used in the system, one for each digital data line pair 130 and 131. Depending on the control unit and transceiver selected, some of the digital lines 130 and 131 may need only some of the digital switch functions. For example, a line may only require sensing by the processor. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the entire circuit shown need not be provided for such lines. The circuit shown consists of a control unit pull down transistor 138, a control unit-to-transceiver pass thru transistor 140, a transceiver pull down transistor 142, each transistor having a base, emitter, and collector, and associated resistors. Transistors 138, 140 and 142 may preferably be Motorola 2N2222A types.
Specifically, the digital switch control line 135 is connected to a control unit-to-transceiver pass thru control line 148 which is connected through a resistor to the base of the control-unit to-transceiver pass thru transistor 140. The collector of transistor 140 is connected to digital data line 131, while the emitter of transistor 140 is connected to digital data line 130.
Digital data line 131 is connected through a resistor to a control unit sense line 156, which is connected through an internal input/output bus 160 to one of the digital data lines 136. Likewise, digital data line 130 is connected through a resistor to a transceiver sense line 158, which is also connected through the bus 160 to a different digital data line 136.
Two additional digital data lines 136 are connected through bus 160 to a control unit assert line 152 and a transceiver assert line 154 respectively. Control unit assert line 152 is connected through a resistor to the base of the control unit pulldown transistor 138. The collector of this transistor 138 is connected directly to digital data line 131, while its emitter is connected directly to ground. Likewise, transceiver assert line 154 is connected through a resistor to this base of the transceiver pulldown transistor 142. The collector of the transistor 142 is connected directly to digital data line 130, while its emitter is connected directly to ground.
The digital lines 131 of the control unit 14 and digital lines 130 of the transceiver 4 are, in the preferred embodiment, open-collector type lines. Inside the transceiver 4 and control unit 14 are pull-up resistors 144 and 146 that provide the voltage used to sense the logic level when the digital lines 131 and 130 are in their open collector state. These pull-ups may be placed within the digital switch 74 when not provided by the control unit 14 and transceiver 4. When the microprocessor asserts digital switch and control 135, the control unit-to-transceiver pass thru control line 148 is asserted, turning on the control unit-to-receiver pass thru transistor 140 thus connecting the control unit digital line 131 to the transceiver digital line 130 and allowing data to flow between the control unit 14 and transceiver 4. When the control unit-to-transceiver pass thru transistor 140 is turned off, the control unit 14 and transceiver 4 cannot exchange digital information.
The control unit and transceiver may be used independent of each other if proper digital information is provided to them. The microprocessor can provide the proper digital information by using its digital data lines 166. A plurality of digital lines 136 are used to enable assertion and sensing of each pair of digital data lines 130 and 131. These asserting and sensing lines are bussed internally to the digital switch 74 on the internal Input/Output Bus 160. When asserted, the appropriate digital data line 136 asserts the control unit assert line 152 or transceiver assert line 154 to turn on respectively control unit pull down transistor 138 or transceiver pull down transistor 142. This will change the state respectively of the control unit digital line 131 or transceiver digital line 130 from their open collector pulled up (high) condition to an asserted pulled down (ground) condition, thus allowing transmission of digital signals between the microprocessor 70 and the control unit 14 or transceiver 4 respectively. Any digital signals present on the digital lines 131 or 130 are sensed by the microprocessor through the control unit sense line 156 or the transceiver sense line 158, which are connected through bus 160 to appropriate digital data lines 136. Preferably, individual digital switch control lines 135 and digital data lines 136 are provided from the input/output ports of the microprocessor. If sufficient ports are not available, additional multiplexing circuits may be interposed between microprocessor 70 and digital switch 74 in a manner well known in the art.
Of course, methods of digital signaling other than the open collector method could have been chosen for the signaling used between the control unit 4 and transceiver 4, such as open-emitter, with pulldown resistors and pullup transistors, or methods where no open circuit conditions exist.
Referring again to FIG. 4, all required digital signals necessary to the proper functioning of the transceiver unit 4 are provided by directives issued from the microprocessor 70 through digital data lines 136, through the digital switch 74, through the digital wires 130 to the transceiver unit 4. An example of a necessary digital signal of this type is an ON/OFF signal, this signal being conventionally given to the transceiver unit 4 by user keystrokes on the key pad of the cellular control unit. These necessary signals may be directed by the microprocessor 70 as a result of its own internal program, or at the request of the user. User requests may be obtained through the portable computer 90 and computer interface 78 or by the user setting one of the toggle switches 86.
The relationship and connections of conventional devices to the hybrid communications control unit will now be described. The speakerphone 52 is preferably built into a case holding the portable computer 90. The hybrid communications control unit obtains access to the analog signals of the speakerphone 52 using the analog wires 64 included in the speakerphone 80, which terminate in a three-pin connector which mates with the speakerphone connector on the hybrid communications control unit board. The microprocessor 70 controls switching and conditioning of the analog signals using the analog switch 72, in a manner similar to the switching of the data access arrangement signals by analog switch 72.
The invention may incorporate other optional speakers 105 and microphones 103, with their analog signals connected to the analog switch 72 using analog wires 106 and 104, respectively, in a manner similar to that used with the analog signals of the data access arrangement 42 or speakerphone 52. An external speaker and microphone in the form of a telephone headset is preferably used in the present invention.
The cellular transceiver unit 4 is preferably built into the personal computer case in a space which might otherwise be occupied by a disk drive. The transceiver is connected to the invention by wires similar to those in the transceiver unit bus 24 (shown in FIG. 1), specifically analog wires 108, digital wires 130, power wires 132 and external power wires 134. All analog signals present at the transceiver unit 4 are switched and conditioned by the analog switch 72.
Thus, the total operating condition of the transceiver unit 4 is known and may be controlled by the microprocessor 70. Control signals may be initiated through the microprocessor's internal program or by user interaction with the microprocessor, either through the toggle switches 86 or through the portable computer 90. The microprocessor 70 can switch the analog signals of the transceiver unit 4 onto any of the remaining analog paths by controlling the operating state of the analog switch 72. The microprocessor 70 can selectively apply or remove external power to the transceiver unit 4 using the power arbitration unit 76.
The cellular control unit 14 preferably connects to a jack on the portable computer case, this jack being connected to the hybrid communications control unit board through a cable and connector which mates with the appropriate connector on the board (previously described). The analog wires 110 are connected to the analog switch 72, thus providing the microprocessor with the ability to switch the analog signals of the control unit as required. The digital wires 131 are connected to the digital switch 74, thus providing the microprocessor 70 with status sense and digital control of the control unit 14 as described previously, and the power wires 162 are connected to the power arbitration unit 76, providing the microprocessor with the ability to control the power to the control unit 14 as explained previously. Thus, the microprocessor 70 has complete control of the functioning of the control unit 14 as it has with the transceiver unit 4.
In the first mode of operation, voice calls can be placed and received on the public switched telephone network. At the request of the user communicated by toggle switches 86 or as a result of a user- or software-generated signal from the portable computer 90 sensed through computer interface 78, the microprocessor 70 instructs the data access arrangement 42 through the digital control lines 94 to take the public line off-hook.
If tone dialing is to be used, the microprocessor directs the analog switch 72 to connect data access arrangement 42 and tone generator 80, whereupon the microprocessor transmits tone commands for the number to be dialed to tone generator 80 through tone control line s 98. If pulse dialing is desired, the microprocessor transmits the proper series of on- and off- hook signals to the data access arrangement 42 using DAA control lines 94.
After dialing, the microprocessor commands the analog switch 72 to connect the analog wires 92 of the data access arrangement 42 to the analog wires 64 of the speakerphone 52 thus providing the user with speakerphone access to the public switched telephone network 40.
On completion of the call, the user can instruct the microprocessor to disconnect the public telephone line using the switch or computer means previously described. The microprocessor will then instruct the data access arrangement to place the landline on-hook, and instruct the analog switch to disconnect the voice device and data access arrangement.
When the public switched telephone network signals to the data access arrangement 42 that an incoming call is present, that condition (ringing) is sensed by the microprocessor through the ringing line of data access arrangement control lines 94, either through an interrupt or by polling the circuit. The microprocessor makes the user or portable computer aware of this condition by sending a message through the computer interface 78 or by placing an audible tone generated by the data access arrangement 42 or elsewhere (such as the tone generator 80) on any speaker analog path (such as an optional speaker 105 by means of wires 106). The user may then elect to answer or ignore the call. This decision is sent to the microprocessor 70 by the user using the portable computer 90. Alternatively, a toggle switch could be provided for this purpose. In addition, the microprocessor 70 may be instructed any time prior to the ringing condition to always answer the call (auto-answer mode).
For incoming calls, the microprocessor 70 selects the device to be connected in a novel manner, based on the devices connected and programmed priorities. The microprocessor knows the present power-on condition of the transceiver unit 4 and control unit 14 by monitoring the power arbitration unit 76. The presence of optional speakers 105 can be sensed at the optional speaker connection, using the toggle switch method similar to that previously described for the high current external power switch for the transceiver unit. The presence of public switched telephone network 40 can be sensed using the data access arrangement 86 and analog switch 72 as described previously with reference to FIG. 9. The microprocessor can then choose, based on the availability of speakers and microphones and based on its preprogrammed priorities, the most appropriate analog path to use for all analog signals. Preferably, the microprocessor will first check for the presence of a headset, connecting the incoming call thereto if the headset is present. If there is no headset present, the microprocessor will direct that the incoming call be connected to the speakerphone. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that these priorities could be modified and that other devices could be included in the priority. While the priority is preferably built into the firmware, priorities could also be modifiable by the end user, either by sending a command from the personal computer or by adjusting toggle or dual-inline-pin switches.
The device of the present invention may also place and answer calls over the public switched telephone network 40 using analog devices that are not part of the speakerphone 52, such as speaker 105 and microphone 103 which are preferably embodied in a unitary headset which plugs into the hybrid communications control unit board.
In a second mode of operation, the modem 82 can be used to send and receive data over the public switched telephone network 40 using the data access arrangement 42 in a manner similar to that previously described using the speakerphone 52, except that the analog switch 72 connects the modem 82 to the data access arrangement 42 rather than connecting the speakerphone. After the call is set up, the microprocessor 70 directs modem 82 to transmit data using standard protocols and error checking that are well-known in the art. Data is transmitted to and received from the microprocessor 70 by the portable computer 90 through computer interface 78. The microprocessor 70 retransmits the transmitted data to the modem 82, where the digital data is converted to a modulated analog signal and transmitted over the public switched telephone network. The microprocessor receives incoming data from the modem and retransmits this received data to the portable computer 90.
In a third mode of operation, the system can place and receive calls over the cellular telephone network. Cellular calls may be placed using the speakerphone 52 or the headset comprising speaker 105 and microphone 103, but in a manner different from that previously described for placing and receiving speakerphone calls over the public switched telephone network. Microprocessor 70 first sends the proper digital signals to transceiver 4 through digital data lines 136, digital switch 74, and digital data lines 130, instructing the transceiver to initiate a call to the desired number. The microprocessor then instructs analog switch 72 to connect the analog wires 108 of the transceiver unit 4 and the analog wires 64 of the speakerphone 52. When the user indicates to the microprocessor that the call is complete, disconnect instructions are transmitted to the transceiver and analog switch.
When there is an incoming call on the cellular network, the system processes the incoming call in a novel and unique manner. The processing required depends on the type of transceiver used. For example, Motorola brand transceivers generate a digital signal to alert the user to ringing, while OKI brand transceivers generate an alternating series of analog tones. The OKI transceiver also uses analog tones to indicate busy, ringing, and out-of-service area signals. These signals differ from the incoming call signal.
If the transceiver used produces digital signals, an incoming call will be signalled on digital line 130, causing the digital switch 74 to request service from the microprocessor 70. The microprocessor will read the data from the transceiver; if the data indicates an incoming call, the microprocessor will inform the user and may connect the call to the speakerphone, headset, or other device.
If the transceiver produces an analog signal to announce an incoming call, this signal will appear on analog data line 108. Analog switch 72 will generate a service request to microprocessor 70 using the circuitry described earlier and shown in FIG. 9. The microprocessor will evaluate the cadence or period of the signal to determine whether it is actually an incoming call signal, rather than one of the other signals described previously. On confirmation of an incoming call condition, the microprocessor will inform the user and take action as described previously.
In a fourth mode of operation, the invention allows the modem 82 to be used during a cellular telephone network call placed using the transceiver unit 4. The microprocessor first signals the transceiver 4 to initiate the call as described in the procedure for placing a cellular voice call. Next, the processor directs analog switch 72 to connect transceiver 4 to modem 82 using analog lines 108 and analog lines 102, respectively. The microprocessor 70 then accepts data from the portable computer 90 through interface 78 for retransmission. The microprocessor then selects a special protocol for use on the cellular network, this automatic protocol selection being novel and unique. Rather than using standard data transfer methods as with the landline, the microprocessor will preferably retransmit the data through the modem in variable-sized packets with special protocols and error checking appropriate to a cellular environment. These methods are described in detail in the inventor's U.S. Pat. No. 4,697,281, which disclosure is incorporated herein by reference. Data received from the cellular link will be demodulated by the modem 82 and checked by the processor, which will remove the overhead bits needed for error checking and then retransmit the data to the portable computer 90. As in the other operating modes described, the setup process is reversed when the call is complete.
In a fifth mode of operation, the microprocessor 70 can cause the control unit 14 to assume its “original” function of placing and receiving calls over the cellular telephone network. The microprocessor 70 sends controlling information to the power arbitration unit, analog switch 72, and digital switch 74 directing these devices to connect all control unit wires and paths to their corresponding transceiver unit ires and paths. Transceiver functions can then be controlled directly by the control unit.
In a sixth mode of operation, the cellular control unit 14 can be used to place calls on the public telephone network. This mode of operation provides novel and unique functionality since cellular control units cannot normally be used with public telephone network lines. In this operation mode, the speaker and microphone of the cellular control unit are used in conjunction with the data access arrangement 42 to place and receive calls over the public switched telephone network 40 in a manner similar to that shown for placing and receiving calls over the public switched telephone network using the speakerphone 52.
The keypad 18 (shown in FIG. 1) of control unit 14 can be used to direct the microprocessor 70, rather than using the toggle switches 86 or portable computer 90. As described previously, the digital switch 74 makes data available to the microprocessor when a connected device transmits. This signal can be used as an interrupt or can be latched and polled by the processor. Through digital data line 131, digital switch 74, and digital data line 136, the microprocessor can then accept data representative of the keys pressed on the control unit. Thus, dialing instructions may be obtained from the key pad 18 of the control unit 14. Note that the control unit 14 does not provide any internally generated audible feedback when a key is pressed on the key pad 18. This audible feedback is normally provided by the transceiver unit 4 when the control unit 14 is used with the transceiver unit 4 as in FIG. 1. Therefore, audible feedback must be provided by other means. When a key is pressed on the key pad 18 of the control unit 14, the microprocessor may instruct the tone generator 80 to produce a specific frequency and cadence analog signal that is transmitted through the analog switch to any available speaker, such as the optional speaker 105.
Further, as the control unit 14 contains a display, audible signals and digital messages previously described that originate from microprocessor 70 may be augmented by a visual message on that display, shown at 16 in FIG. 1. The microprocessor 70 produces the visual message by sending the appropriate digital commands through the digital switch 74 means to the control unit 14 and thus to its display 16.
Also, as the control unit may not always have its microphone 22 and speaker 20 enabled, the microprocessor 70 ma issue appropriate directives to the control unit 14 through digital data line 136 to enable the control unit's microphone and speaker. Disabling of the speaker and microphone can be directed in a like manner.
As the key pad of the control unit 14 contains an ON/OFF switch, said switch may be used as a toggle switch 86 in a manner similar to that of the previously described high current power switch for the transceiver unit 4.
Additional functions possible with minor modifications to the preferred embodiment include connections that are not commonly desired such as speakerphone to control unit.
The present device can also relay calls in a novel and unique manner by connecting the data access arrangement to the transceiver unit. While the software in the attached microfiche appendix does not implement this feature, the flow diagram of FIG. 7 shows the required steps for relaying a cellular call to a landline.
Referring now to FIG. 7, a cellular ringing condition initiates the process. The microprocessor sends signals to the transceiver, directing the transceiver to answer the cellular call. The microprocessor then determines whether the user would like the call connected to the speakerphone or headset, or to the modem. The user can give instructions at the time of call receipt, or the instructions may have been given at an earlier time. If no connection to a terminal device is desired, the microprocessor waits for a landline phone number. This number can be entered from the personal computer 90, from the control unit 14, or may have been entered at an earlier time. When the number is ready, the microprocessor follows the steps required to place a landline call, including taking the line off hook, connecting tone generator 80 to DAA 42, and generating DT MF t ones. The microprocessor then instructs the analog switch to connect the transceiver 4 and DAA 42. The microprocessor then waits until the cellular call is terminated, either by the caller or by the user. The microprocessor then signals the DAA to place the landline on-hook and signals the analog switch to disconnect the TRU and DAA.
This same general procedure can be used to relay calls from landline to cellular.
In addition, those skilled in the art will appreciate that more than one of the functions described hereto can be performed simultaneously so long as the analog switch chosen is capable of connecting more than a single pair of devices. Thus, in a novel and unique manner, the system can either provide voice and data channels at the same time, or provide two voice channels at the same time, one channel being over the public telephone network and one channel being over the cellular network.
The present invention relates to communications in the portable environment generally, and more specifically to the cellular and landline telephone networks, and their access using both voice and data methods a well as portable computer control of that access.
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|International Classification||G06F1/16, H04M1/76, H04W88/02|
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|Oct 28, 1999||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MLR PATNERS - SALVATORE MARINO, NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SPECTRUM INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:010327/0981
Effective date: 19990927
Owner name: LEEDOM, CHARLES M., JR., VIRGINIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:SPECTRUM INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES, INC.;REEL/FRAME:010327/0981
Effective date: 19990927
Owner name: ROBINSON, ERIC J., VIRGINIA
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Effective date: 19990927
|Oct 23, 2000||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MLR, LLC, VIRGINIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:MLR PARTNERS;REEL/FRAME:011213/0268
Effective date: 20000920
|Mar 8, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: MLR, LLC (A LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY OF VIRGINIA)
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