The invention may be embedded in products or services that contain a microprocessor and a facility for communication. The resulting two-way interactive media enables relationships to be built with individual customers and groups of customers throughout a product's or service's life cycle. Customers may also be provided with automatic, portable in-use access to constantly updated information during product use, to increase user success and reduce costly and error-filled processes of acquiring product expertise. The invention may interact with customers, gather information from customers, communicate customer information securely to a vendor or external third party(ies), construct and transmit new pre-programmed interactions to the customer communications system in the product, and analyze and report customer information. This new medium provides a worldwide way to transform the use of products and services into interactive two-way dialogues; add in-product performance measures and...
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1. A system for use with units of a computer product that are in use respectively by different users, comprising
- a user interface which is part of each of the units of the computer product and provides a medium for two-way local interaction between the user and the unit of the product,
- interaction scripts that mediate two-way interaction between each of the users and the corresponding unit of the product via the user interface, each of the interaction scripts causing information and questions about use of the unit of the product to be conveyed to the user from the unit of the product and enabling information and questions about use of the unit of the product to be conveyed from the user to the product, different ones of the interaction scripts being suitable for users who are at different levels of experience or functionality in using the product,
- a triggering element arranged to trigger appropriate ones of the interaction scripts between the user and the unit of the product based on usage information accumulated at the unit of the product about use of the unit of the product by the user,
- a communication element that carries the interaction scripts and results of triggered interactions between the units of the products and one or more remote third parties, and
- a generation element that enables generation of new interaction scripts based on the results of previously triggered interactions occurring at more than one of the units of the product.
2. The system of claim 1 further comprising
- an authoring system for use by one or more of the remote parties for managing the content of the product information and questions.
3. The system of claim 1 further comprising
- an analyzer of results of triggered interaction scripts received at one or more of the remote parties, and
- means for controlling the taking of action with respect to the product or the user interface in response to the analyzer.
4. The system of claim 3 wherein the analyzer analyzes results of triggered interaction scripts received at the remote party from multiple users with respect to multiple products.
5. The system of claim 1 wherein the product information and questions include new interface elements and are communicated from one or more of the remote parties to the product.
6. The system of claim 1 wherein the user interface comprises a product module which may be disabled and enabled selectively.
7. The system of claim 1 wherein the triggering element is initiated locally at the product.
8. The system of claim 1 wherein the triggering element is initiated by one or more of the remote parties.
9. The system of claim 1 wherein the user interface comprises one or more of a display screen, a keyboard, a microphone, and a speaker.
10. The system of claim 1 wherein the communication element comprises one or more of broadcast transmission, wire, or a removable memory device.
11. The system of claim 1 wherein the user interface includes a natural language component.
12. The system of claim 11 wherein the user interface includes multiple natural languages, selectable by the user.
13. The system of claim 1 wherein the interaction scripts are controlled by the user.
14. The system of claim 13 further comprising an element with which a user may terminate an interaction script with the product at will.
15. The system of claim 1 wherein the user interface includes a user control for selectively enabling or disabling the user interface.
16. The system of claim 1 in which the computer comprises software.
17. A method for aiding design of a product comprising
- creating a first version of the product,
- including with the first version an interactive user feedback element that permits two-way communication between a user of the product and a designer of the product and which accumulates information on use of the product by a user, the user feedback element including a user control for selectively enabling or disabling the user feedback element,
- engaging in a two-way communication between the user and the designer, under control of the user, including recovering the information from the user feedback element,
- the two-way communication being initiated by the product based on usage information accumulated at the product about use of the product by the user,
- analyzing the information, and
- redesigning the product in accordance with the results of the analyzing step.
18. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes information provided by the user with respect to problems in use of the product.
19. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes information provided by the user with respect to solutions to problems in use of the product.
20. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes information provided by the user with respect to usability of the product.
21. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes demographic marketing information about the user of the product.
22. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes information about the user's use patterns for the product.
23. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes information about business processes using the product.
24. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes analysis of tasks performed by the user with the product.
25. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes analysis of the performance of the user with the product.
26. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes business transactions performed by the user with the product.
27. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes user-suggested expansion of business relationships.
28. The method of claim 17 wherein the information includes user-suggested improvements of processes.
29. The method of claim 17 further comprising
- enabling the user to set a priority for response to information entered by the user.
30. The method of claim 17 wherein the information recovered from the user feedback element comprises information developed in the course of interactive learning by the user.
31. The method of claim 17 further comprising, prior to redesigning the product,
- delivering to the user via the feedback element, proposed redesigns of the product, and
- recovering information about the proposed redesigns via the feedback element.
32. The method of claim 17 further comprising
- electronically sharing the information from the user feedback element with a third party.
33. The method of claim 17 further comprising
- providing a mechanism for compensating a user for information accumulated in the feedback element.
34. The method of claim 17 further comprising
- providing a mechanism for buying and selling results of the analyzing step.
35. The method of claim 17 further comprising giving access to the feeback element to a third party.
36. A system for use with units of a computer product that are in use respectively by different users, the system comprising
- a user interface which is part of each of the units of the computer product and provides a medium for two-way local interaction between the user and the unit of the product, the user interface including a user control for selectively enabling or disabling the user interface,
- interaction scripts that are controlled by the user and mediate two-way interaction between each of the users and the corresponding unit of the product via the user interface, each of the interaction scripts causing product information and questions about use of the unit of the product to be conveyed to the user from the unit of the product and causing information and questions about usage of the unit of the product to be conveyed from the user to the product, different ones of the interaction scripts being suitable for users who are at different levels of experience or functionality in using the product,
- a triggering element arranged to trigger appropriate ones of the interaction scripts between the user and the unit of the product based on usage information accumulated at the product about use of the unit of the product by the user,
- an electronic communication element that carries the interaction scripts and results of triggered interaction scripts between the units of the products and one or more remote third parties,
- an element that enables generation of new interaction elements based on the results of previously triggered interaction scripts occurring at more than one of the units of the product,
- an authoring system for use by one or more of the remote parties for managing the content of the interaction scripts, and
- an analyzer of results of triggered interaction scripts received at one or more of the remote parties from multiple users with respect to multiple products.
37. A system for managing information about a value to users of units of a computer product that are in use by the users, the system comprising
- in each of the units of the computer product, a user interface which provides a medium for two-way local interaction between the user and the unit of the product,
- interaction scripts that mediate two-way interaction between each of the users and the corresponding unit of the product via the user interface, each of the interaction scripts carrying information about the value to users of using the product,
- a value information server accessible via a public communication network from each of the units of the computer product and by a vendor of the computer product, the value information server storing interaction scripts and the value information that results from the interaction scripts, and
- a communication element that carries the interaction scripts and the information that results from the interaction scripts between the units of the products and the value information server, and between the value information server and the vendor.