|Publication number||USRE39059 E1|
|Application number||US 10/403,454|
|Publication date||Apr 4, 2006|
|Filing date||Mar 31, 2003|
|Priority date||Jul 7, 1997|
|Also published as||US6211870|
|Publication number||10403454, 403454, US RE39059 E1, US RE39059E1, US-E1-RE39059, USRE39059 E1, USRE39059E1|
|Inventors||William J. Foster|
|Original Assignee||Universal Electronics Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (24), Non-Patent Citations (3), Referenced by (52), Classifications (20), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 60/051,848 filed Jul. 7, 1997, now expired, entitled “Computer Programmable Remote Control System,” which is incorporated herein by reference.
A portion of the disclosure of this patent document contains material which is subject to copyright protection. This patent document may show and/or describe matter which is or may become trade dress of the owner. The copyright and trade dress owner has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright and trade dress rights whatsoever.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to remote control devices for electronics products.
2. Description of Related Art
The modern home may have a wide array of consumer electronics devices. These may include nearly any type of audio or video entertainment product, such as televisions, video cassette recorders, audio cassette recorders, audio/video receivers and preamps, cable boxes, laser disc players and camcorders.
Consumer electronics devices typically utilize hand-held remote control units to permit a user to rapidly and efficiently control selected functions from a distance. Early mechanical/ultrasonic remote control units were fairly limited and generally permitted only one or two functions to be controlled. For example, television remote control units utilizing mechanical/ultrasonic technology generally permitted a user to turn the power on to the television and to cycle through each channel in a preselected rotation. For some time, remote control units have been available which transmit control signals by way of infrared or radio frequency transmitters. These wireless remote control units have freed the user to move about a room or even about their home and to control the device from wherever it is most convenient to the user.
Consumer electronics devices and systems have become very complex and loaded with functionality. Particularly, with the expanding use of microprocessor-based devices and the ability to interconnect audio systems, video systems, security system, home automation systems and personal computers, the possible ways to interconnect and operate device has grown significantly. Remote control units have correspondingly become highly complex. A number of manufacturers sell remote control units which include as many as one hundred small buttons or keys, resulting in a severe decrease in the usability of these devices. This is remarkable, considering the huge number of consumers who cannot set the time on their VCR. Furthermore, the number and complexity of remote control units typically found in a home have reached a level where the convenience provided by the remote control units is often overcome by the difficulty in locating and operating them.
Thus, several problems have arisen. First, there is the problem of how to allow the user to control a huge number of features from a remote control unit. Second, there is the problem of how to avoid overwhelming the user with controls on a remote control unit which the user will never use. Third, there is the problem of users having to deal with multiple remote control units with overlapping operability. Fourth, there is the problem of the considerable amount of space which an aggregation of remote control units often occupy.
One solution which has found some acceptance in the market is the universal remote control unit. A universal remote control unit consolidates multiple remote control units and, it is hoped, improves their usability. Typical universal remote control units can learn the commands of other Remote control units, either through pre-programmed lists of consumer electronics devices or by teaching the universal remote control unit each command which the user might wish to have available on the universal Remote control unit. One of the problems with universal remote control units has been that their generic keypads are often cumbersome and not particularly intuitive in layout or labeling. Furthermore, the designers of these devices must compromise between having separate buttons for each possible command and small button sizes.
With the advent of home theater systems, the complexity of controls has advanced to an even greater plateau. Now, the remote must not only control the TV, the VCR, the cable box and the stereo, it must be able to control the surround sound quality, turn on multiple devices at the same time, and issue a series of commands to multiple devices to accomplish a single task. Naturally, the consumer electronics industry has developed products to serve this new need in the marketplace. These more advanced universal remote control units are exemplified by the Home Producer 8 from Universal Electronics, Inc. (Tustin, Calif.), the RC 2000 from Marantz (Roselle, Ill.), the RR990 from Rotel (North Reading, Mass.), and the RC-R0905 from Kenwood.
There has also been an increasing desire to integrate consumer electronics with security systems and to provide some control from a remote control unit of the home environment. For example, it is desirable that, when a user wishes to watch a cable program, not only is the TV set powered on and set to receive the video input, the A/V receiver is powered on and set to play the cable program at a reasonable loudness, the cable decoder is powered on and set to a favorite channel, but also the room's lighting is dimmed, the air conditioner is set to a comfortable level and the home security system is armed against perimeter violations. Some products (not necessarily Remote control units) are available which can be programmed to do these kinds of things. These products include the HAS-1350 Home Vision Intelligent Home Controller available from Home Automation Systems, Inc. (Irvine, Calif.), the ISR TronArch Intelligent Home Automation System, the BrightTouch from Crestron, the TheaterLink from Vantage, and the Landmark System from PHAST, the IntelliControl from Niles, and the 700T from Lexicon.
One of the common problems with universal remote control units, and a problem which is especially severe with the most flexible and programmable remote control units, is programming. A universal remote control unit simply cannot be factory-programmed with every possible configuration. The user is left with poor choices—do without some functions, spend many hours programming and reprogramming their programmable remote control unit, suffer through a remote control unit which is not programmed in a memorable manner, or paying a professional to program the remote control unit. Despite the availability of programmable remote control units, the best remote control unit for a multimedia processing unit is usually the one which is provided with a multimedia processing unit. It is very difficult to overcome this one-to-one correspondence of remote control units and multimedia processing units. These problems have resulted in the marketplace largely rejecting the more advanced universal remote control units.
The previously described problems are solved in a remote control unit which has the ability to control nearly any device controllable from a remote, yet is easily programmed. These benefits are obtained from a remote control unit which is programmable from a PC using an advanced, object-oriented user interface. The remote control unit's programming is easily modified from the PC. The user may quickly and easily build a full range of capabilities into the remote control unit, including the issuance of multiple commands with a single key press. Furthermore, because the remote control unit has a large memory, the user may focus on functionality, rather than the efficiency or compactness of the programs.
The present invention, together with additional features and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying illustrative drawings.
Further objects of this invention, together with additional features contributing thereto and advantages accruing therefrom, will be apparent from the following description of a preferred embodiment of the present invention which is shown in the accompanying drawings with like reference numerals indicating corresponding parts throughout and which is to be read in conjunction with the following drawings, wherein:
These and additional embodiments of the invention may now be better understood by turning to the following detailed description wherein an illustrated embodiment is described.
Throughout this description, the preferred embodiment and examples shown should be considered as exemplars, rather than limitations on the apparatus and methods of the present invention.
The Components of the System
Referring now to
The multimedia processing unit 300 includes a receiver 310 through which the multimedia processing unit may receive commands.
The general purpose computer 100 includes a processor 155 which preferably from Intel Corporation (San Jose, Calif.) and runs a Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, Wash.) Windows operating system. In conjunction with the processor 155, the general purpose computer 100 has a short term memory 150 (preferably RAM) and a long term memory 180 (preferably a hard disk) as known in the art. The general purpose computer 100 further includes a graphics display 105, a user input device preferably comprising a keyboard 120a and mouse 120b, an IO interface 115, a power supply 125 and a bus 110 as known in the art. From the user's perspective, the docking station 130 once connected to the general purpose computer 100 is a component of the general purpose computer 100.
The programmable remote control unit 200 includes a processor 260 and preferably runs Microsoft Corporation's (Redmond, Wash.) Windows CE operating system. In conjunction with the processor 260, the programmable remote control unit 200 has a short term memory 270 and a long term memory 250 as known in the art. The processor 260 is preferably a microprocessor, but may be an ASIC, logic processor or other type of processor which can operate in accordance with a program. The long term memory 250 is preferably comprised of EEPROM, but may also be a magnetic disk drive, an optical disk drive, and MO disk drive, NVRAM, SRAM, chemical storage device or other type of rewritable, non-volatile memory. The short term memory 270 is preferably a RAM. The programmable remote control unit 200 further includes a bus 210, an I/O processor 230, a power management unit 280 and a battery 285, all as known in the art.
For interfacing with a user, the programmable remote control unit 200 further includes a panel 220. The panel 220 comprises various user input devices 222, 223, 224 and a graphic display 221. The graphic display 221 may be an LCD panel, an LED panel, a holographic projection, a cathode ray tube or other compact display device which can display graphics. The user input devices preferably include fixed keys 224, programmable keys 223 and a touch screen overlay 222.
The programmable keys 223 and fixed keys 224 may be comprised of buttons—mechanical, electromechanical or solid state. As shown in
The fixed keys 224 have functions which cannot be changed. The fixed keys 224 preferably include a key 224a for toggling a back light on the display 221, keys 224b, 224c for scrolling to the next and previous screen, and a power key 224d.
The touch screen overlay 222, in conjunction with the graphic display 221, allows the programmable remote control unit 200 to be programmed with soft keys.
For interfacing with the multimedia processing unit 300 and the general purpose computer 100, the programmable remote control unit 200 includes a communications transceiver 235. The communications transceiver 235 may be electro mechanical, but is preferably wireless and conforms to the IrDA specification and consumer IR standards, and also includes an infrared transceiver and an RF transceiver which permit the programmable remote control unit 200 to control a wide range of multimedia processing units. Alternatively, the functions of communicating with the general purpose computer 100 and the multimedia precessing unit may be embodied as separate units.
The docking station 130 preferably comprises a cup-like unit into which the programmable remote control unit 200 may be inserted and which has a shape adapted to receive and firmly hold the programmable remote control unit 200.
As an alternative to the docking station 350, the communications transceiver 235 of the programmable remote control unit 200 may include a USB port or similar means which can be connected directly to a USB port in the general purpose computer 100.
The communications transceiver 135 of the docking station preferably includes an infrared receiver and an RF receiver which permit the docking station 130 to recognize the commands which are recognized by a wide range of multimedia processing units.
The Method of the Invention
Methods of the invention includes a learning phase, a development phase, a transfer phase and a use phase. The description of these phases is accompanied by an example of how the commands issued from a prior art programmed remote control unit 200A shown in
The exemplary programmed remote control unit 200A is of a common variety for controlling a television, which is the multimedia processing unit of the example. Similar programmed remote control units are provided with other multimedia processing units, such as cable boxes. The programmed remote control unit 200A includes a number of keys, each resulting in a designated command as shown in Table I below. Typical TVs generate an appropriate display when a key is pressed and the TV recognizes the command. Other multimedia processing units also have similar capabilities, though this is not described further herein.
toggle the TV's speaker on and off
toggle power to the TV on and off
after one or more numbers keys has been
pressed, cause the TV to recognize the
corresponding entered number
enter the number 1
enter the number 2
enter the number 3
enter the number 4
enter the number 5
enter the number 6
enter the number 7
enter the number 8
enter the number 9
enter the number 0
change the displayed TV station to the
station next lower in a predefined order
change the displayed TV station to the
station next higher in the predefined
toggle an information display of such
things as currently tuned station, volume,
and the time
decrease the speaker volume by a
increase the speaker volume by a
In setting up the system of the invention, the user first connects the docking station 130 to the general purpose computer 100. Preferably, the docking station 130 includes a serial communications cable which may be connected to an open serial port of the I/O interface 115, or a USB cable which may be connected to an open USB port. The user then installs remote control development software on the hard drive 180. The remote control development software preferably detects the docking station 130 and determines if the docking station 130 is working correctly. Next, a configuration wizard prompts the user to insert the programmable remote control unit 200 into the docking station 130 and begin the learning phase.
Referring now to
The remote control development software provides the user with the ability to create, edit, delete and download to the programmable remote control unit 200 one or more “screen objects.” A screen object comprises a screen layout definition, soft key objects and programmable key objects, altogether which provide for a single screen which occupies the display 222 and the commands associated therewith. A “soft key object” comprises a graphic or pointer to a graphic representing a soft key which will be displayed on the display 221, a text label for the graphic, a location on the display 221 for the graphic, and a tagname for command which the programmable remote control unit 200 will issue when the soft key is pressed by the user. A “programmable key object” preferably comprises an identifier of one of the programmable keys 223 and a tagname for a command which the programmable remote control unit 200 will issue when the identified programmable key 223 is pressed by the user.
The remote control development software preferably stores screen objects in a database. The remote control development software preferably is provided with a number of preconfigured screen objects, and during installation of the remote control development software, a database of the preconfigured screen objects is preferably created. Preconfigured screen objects provide a short cut to programming the programmable remote control unit 200, and may be used as templates in the development phase, discussed below. The preconfigured screen objects can come from an image table or dynamically created by software based upon functionality of the remote and its purpose. The database preferably can differentiate preconfigured screen objects from custom screen objects, and deter the user from editing them.
The publisher of the remote control development software preferably makes available new preconfigured screen objects as new multimedia processing units are put on the market to further increase the ease-of-programming of the programmable remote control unit of the invention. The preconfigured screen objects may also be obtained in the aftermarket from third parties, such as the vendors of multimedia processing units.
In the learning phase, the commands for the multimedia processing unit 300 are obtained by the remote control development software and used to prepare a screen object corresponding to the programmed remote control unit 200A of the multimedia processing unit 300. It should be appreciated, however, that the remote control development software can be used to learn commands from multipurpose, universal and programmable remote control units as well as single-purpose programmed remote control units as shown in the example.
In step 1210, the user starts the remote control development software and activates the wizard for learning the commands for a multimedia processing unit. A screen 300 such as that shown in
The screen 300 includes a prominent dialog 320. The dialog 320 includes descriptive text and a list of multimedia processing unit types 325. The dialog 320 also includes a Cancel button 322 and a Help 323 which will be self-evident to those of skill in the art, as well as a Look Up button 324 and a Learn button 325. A row of radio buttons 321 is provided to permit the user to select the multimedia processing unit type, and there is preferably a free-form field 326 as well. In step 1230, the user selects one of the displayed multimedia processing unit types or enters a free-form name. As shown further below, the multimedia processing unit type selected here, or the name entered in field 326, will be used by the remote control development software as a prefix name for the screen object and for the tagnames for the commands in the screen object.
After the user has selected the multimedia processing unit type, the commands of the multimedia processing unit 300 are learned. If the user clicks on the Look Up button 324 (step 1290), the remote control development software allows the user to select the multimedia programming unit from the database of screen objects (step 1295). Accordingly, the remote control development software displays a list of preconfigured screen objects, sorted or limited according to characteristics such as multimedia processing unit type, manufacturer, and date of manufacture. The user may then select one of the preconfigured screen objects, and learning of the commands of the multimedia processing unit 300 is complete (step 1280).
If the user clicks on the Learn button, the individual keys of the programmed remote control 200A will be learned (steps 1240-1265). In this regard for example, the remote control development software displays a dialog 420 as shown in FIG. 4. The dialog 420 includes the buttons 322, 323 as well as a Back button 424 and a Next button 425.
The user now enters the name of the multimedia processing unit 300 whose commands are to be learned (step 1240). Dialog 420 includes a prompt 425 and a data entry field 435 where the user enters the name of the multimedia processing unit 300. The remote control development software preferably provides a default name for the multimedia processing unit 300 in the field 435. This default name preferably comprises the type of multimedia processing unit selected in step 1210, plus a sequential number for each multimedia processing unit of the type learned. The remote control development software also preferably utilizes the multimedia processing unit type in the prompt 425.
Preferably, remote control development software is intelligent enough to save the user from teaching every key of the programmed remote control unit 200A. In this regard, after the user teaches the remote control development software each new key, the remote control development software attempts to correlate the learned key commands against those in the database, and to select the multimedia processing unit which appears to be that being taught.
In another convenient aspect, the remote control development software preferably includes, for each multimedia processing unit type, a list of command types which that type of multimedia processing unit normally will recognize. For example, all typical TVs recognize commands for power control, volume control, and number keys, and all typical VCRs recognize commands for play, stop, pause, rewind and fast forward. When learning keys of the programmed remote control 200A, the remote control development software preferably asks the user to teach commands of expect command types first, and then, if no match in the database has been found, then non-standard commands.
After the user clicks on the Next button 425, a dialog 520 as shown in
After the user clicks on the Next button 425, a dialog 620 as shown in
If the remote control development software has identified the user's multimedia processing unit and selected the corresponding preconfigured screen object, the remote control development software preferably shows a representation of the screen object as exemplified by the screen shot of FIG. 7.
The right pane 720 shows a representation 726 of the programmable remote control unit 200, with a representation 721 of the appearance of the screen object in the programmable remote control unit's display 221, the programmable keys 723 and the fixed keys 724. The representation 721 includes the multimedia processing unit's name 766 as entered by the user in step 1240. The representation 721 also includes soft keys 722 corresponding to the keys 201A-275A of the multimedia processing unit's programmed remote 200A (FIG. 2A). The representation 721 preferably precisely mimics the key sizes and locations of the multimedia processing unit's programmed remote control unit 200A.
The left pane 710 is a display of screen object information. The left pane 710 shows the screen object's name 711, plus a list 712 of tagnames of the commands in the screen object. Those of skill in the art will appreciate the correspondence between the tagnames 712 of commands, the soft keys 722 and commands. For preconfigured screen objects, programmable key objects for controlling speaker volume and channel rotation are preferably also mapped to the programmable keys 723/223 as discussed above. Soft key objects may include these mappings.
The left pane 710 preferably is for displaying information about all available screen objects. This display is preferably hierarchical, and a user may toggle the display of the component objects of a screen object by clicking on a ‘+’ (to display) or ‘−’ (to hide) to the tagnames 712. A scroll bar 715 allows the user to scroll through the list of screen objects and their respective components (if displayed).
The right pane 720 preferably is for displaying all available screen object representations. A scroll bar 725 allows the user to scroll through the screen object representations.
In the case where the user is teaching the remote control development software the commands of a multimedia processing unit for which the remote control development software lacks a preconfigured screen object, the user will need to create the screen object's layout manually. This is performed in the Development Phase. The user may also modify edit screen objects and even create new screen objects by copying layout information, soft key objects and programmable key objects from existing screen objects.
In the development phase, a user may add, edit, delete or reorder screen objects. Each of these functions preferably may be activated by the user from a Tools menu 920 as shown in FIG. 9. There are preferably also short-cut keys or tool bar buttons for accessing this feature in the manner known in the art.
As shown in
If a new screen object is to be created, the user selects an Add Screen command 941 from the Tools menu 940. As shown in
The remote control development software preferably provides drag and drop tools for the user to create and edit the screen object, and displays a tool box 1050 having a number of object creating and editing tools for the user to use. For example, the user could create a new soft key object by dragging a button tool 1052 to the display area 721 of the representation 726 of the programmable remote control unit 200. A mouse cursor 1260 is shown in
The soft key objects and programmable key objects preferably may include more than one command. Tagnames may be dragged from the left pane 710 and dropped onto representations of the desired object in the right pane 720. Preferably, if the user moves the mouse cursor 1060 over the representation of an object in the right pane 720, the remote control development software displays the commands associated with that representation. By double-clicking on the representation of the object, an edit window is preferably displayed so that the order of tagnames may be rearranged and sequence controls, such as if-else and for-next structures, may be inserted. Preferably, a user may assign commands to a screen object directly, so that when the screen object is selected from the programmable remote control unit 200, the commands assigned to the screen object directly are automatically issued by the programmable remote control unit 200.
Referring now to
This screen object demonstrates one of the significant benefits of the system and method of the invention. The soft key object 1161 has been programmed with a series of commands for turning on the TV and cable box, then tuning the TV to receive from the cable box, then tuning the cable box to Dad's favorite cable channel, ESPN. The soft key object 1162 has been programmed with a series of commands for turning on the stereo receiver, then tuning the stereo receiver to Dad's favorite radio station, KTWY.
After the user is satisfied with his screen objects, he then downloads them from the general purpose computer 100 to the programmable remote control unit 200. The first step in this process is for the user to insert the programmable remote control unit 200 into the docking station 130, as shown in FIG. 8. Once docked, software in the programmable remote control unit 200 and general purpose computer 100 logically connect the devices and test the connection.
Next, the user uses the general purpose computer 100 to select the screen objects stored in the database to be downloaded, and the user activates a download command from the general purpose computer 100. As shown by example in
Once the programmable remote control unit 200 is loaded with screen objects, the programmable remote control unit 200 may be removed from the docking station 130 and is ready for use to control the multimedia processing unit 300.
It should be appreciated that the general purpose computer 100 may be used to create and edit screen objects apart from any remote control units and without having the programmable remote control unit 200 in the docking station 130.
Once loaded with screen objects, the programmable remote control unit 200 is ready for use. When powered on, the programmable remote control 200 unit preferably automatically loads one of the stored screen objects. The user may scroll through loaded screen objects using the fixed keys 224b, 224c. The programmable remote control unit 200 generates displays of soft keys and other features of the screen object on the display 221, and generates the commands of the soft key objects and programmable key objects when the corresponding soft keys or programmable keys are pressed.
Although exemplary embodiments of the present invention have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those having ordinary skill in the art that a number of changes, modifications, or alterations to the invention as described herein may be made, none of which depart from the spirit of the present invention. All such changes, modifications and alterations should therefore be seen as within the scope of the present invention.
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|U.S. Classification||715/744, 715/840, 715/716, 715/827|
|International Classification||H04N21/47, G06F3/048, G09G5/00, G06F3/033, H04B1/20, G08C19/28, H03J1/00|
|Cooperative Classification||H04N21/47, H03J2200/26, H03J1/0025, G06F3/04886, H04B1/202, G08C19/28|
|European Classification||G06F3/0488T, H03J1/00A2, G08C19/28|
|Sep 26, 2008||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|Sep 24, 2012||AS||Assignment|
Effective date: 20120914
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:UNIVERSAL ELECTRONICS INC.;REEL/FRAME:029010/0735
Owner name: U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS ADMINISTRATIVE
|Oct 3, 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 12
|Sep 2, 2014||IPR||Aia trial proceeding filed before the patent and appeal board: inter partes review|
Effective date: 20140702
Free format text: TRIAL NO: IPR2014-01112
Opponent name: UNIVERSAL REMOTE CONTROL, INC.