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INTEGRATED CHAT CLIENT WITH
RECEIVING PARTY CHOICE
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
This application is a continuation of copending U.S. utility application entitled, "Integrated Chat Client with Receiving Party Choice," having Ser. No. 11/755,399, filed May 30, 2007, which is entirely incorporated herein by reference, and 10 the application having Ser. No. 11/755,399 is a continuation of U.S. Pat. No. 7,245,715 entitled "Integrated Chat Client with Receiving Party Choice," having Ser. No. 11/222,063, filed Sep. 8, 2005, which is entirely incorporated herein by reference, and the application having Ser. No. 11/222,063 is a 15 continuation of U.S. Pat. No. 6,975,719 entitled "Integrated Chat Client with Called Party Choice," having Ser. No. 10/159,377, filed May 30, 2002, which is entirely incorporated herein by reference.
The present invention is generally related to telecommunications and more particularly to the integration of telephone systems and internet applications. 25
DESCRIPTION OF THE RELATED ART
The telecommunications industry has undergone rapid changes in the past several years. With the development of the 30 advanced intelligent network (AIN), telephone companies are poised to offer a multitude of new services to subscribers. Typically, AINs provide a more flexible handling of telephone calls. This flexibility is provided by a complex packetswitched network which allows for high speed communica- 35 tion and high volume traffic. One example of an AIN is further described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,701,301 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,838, 774, each of which is hereby incorporated by reference.
AIN embodiments in the United States use a signaling system 7 (SS7) protocol to transport messages. Instead of 40 circuit switching, the AIN relies on soft switching to provide high speed routing for telephone calls. The AIN comprises service switching points (SSPs), service nodes (SNs), signal transfer points (STPs), and service control points (SCPs). An SSP is typically an AIN-compatible switching office. The SN 45 is a smart termination device that assesses incoming call information and make appropriate connections. The SSPs are connected by a number of STPs which transfer data among the SSPs and between the SSPs and SCPs. The STPs can generally be described as the routers which read the packet 50 and transfer it to the called party SSP. Finally, the SCP is typically a fault tolerant computer that is coupled to a central database. This central database comprises a host of subscriber and routing information.
For better understanding a call routing sequence on an SS7 55 network will now be described. Typically, when a call is placed a calling party dials a telephone number and an SSP receives the place call request and routes it to the proper SSP associated with the called party. When the called party SSP receives the call request, it causes a trigger to fire. This trigger 60 then causes the SSP to send a query across the STPs to an SCP. The query typically comprises asking the SCP how the call should be handled, such as specific subscriber instructions and any other specific routing information that is necessary. After receiving handling information from the SCP, the SSP 65 uses these instructions to create a packet to send across the STPs to the called party SSP. The called party SSP then
triggers and asks the SCP for subscriber-specific handling information for the called party. Typically the SCP will merely instruct the SSP to connect the call, however, the called party may have special instructions for incoming calls.
As was noted above, the AIN allows for subscriber-specific handling instructions. However, there presently is no mechanism by which a called party can keep his/her side of the conversation private from others who may be present in the room. Therefore, there is a need for systems and methods that address these and/or other perceived shortcomings of the prior art.
One embodiment, among others, of the present disclosure provides systems and methods for an integrated chat client having a receiving party choice. A representative system includes a communication system having a first processing system element operable to check a chat server for accessibility of a sending party chat client associated with a sending party; and a second processing system element operable to prompt a receiving party to select to talk or chat.
An example method to connect communications includes: checking for accessibility of a sending party chat client associated with a sending party; and prompting a receiving party to choose to either talk or chat if the receiving party chat client is accessible.
Other systems, methods, features, and advantages of the present disclosure will be or become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following drawings and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features, and advantages included within this description and be within the scope of the present disclosure.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings. The components in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the present invention. Moreover, in the drawings, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.
FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a first embodiment, among others, of the present invention.
FIG. 2A is a flowchart showing the operation of the first embodiment of the present invention, among others.
FIG. 2B is a flowchart showing the operation by which a computer is made accessible with respect to FIG. 2A.
FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram illustrating one embodiment, among others, of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is a call flow diagram detailing the operation of the embodiment shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is a flowchart illustrating a method of using the integrated chat client shown in FIG. 1.
The invention now will be described more fully with reference to the accompanying drawings. The invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are intended to convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art. Furthermore, all "examples" given herein are intended to be non-limiting.
Referring now to FIG. 1, shown is a block diagram of one embodiment, among others, of the present invention. In this
embodiment a calling party location 100 preferably includes a standard plain-old telephone system (POTS) phone 101 operating substantially within the POTS frequency range. The POTS frequency range is typically defined as the frequency range of 0 to 4 kilohertz (kHz), which contains sub- 5 stantially the range of frequencies which are audible to the human ear. The phone 101 is typically connected to a switching system 102 by a connection 103. The switching system 102 routes calls placed by a calling party to a called party telephone 104, which is connected to the switching system 10 102 through a connection 105. The called party telephone 104 is preferably a standard POTS telephone and resides at a called party location 106. The switching system 102 generally includes a network of switches which are connected to a call processing system 107 through a connection 108. During 15 operation the switching system 102 receives call routing information which is stored on the call processing system 107. Further, the call processing system 107 can store any subscriber-specific information on call handling. In other words, for example, if the called party has subscribed to 20 caller-identification (caller-ID), the call processing system 107 instructs the switching system 102 to include a caller-ID information packet with a call attempt indication (ring) sent to the caller on line 105. The indication typically includes an aural prompt such as ringing, however, it can include other 25 sensory prompts, such as vibration, etc.
Another service that can be provided to the called party is an integrated chat client service, called party choice, which is embodied by the present invention. Generally, the switch associated with the called party will trigger a query to the call 30 processing system 107 when an incoming call is received. When the called party has subscribed to the integrated chat client service, the call processing system 107 contacts a network 109 through link 110 to searchnetwork computer accessibility. Specifically, the call processing system 107 searches 35 for the accessibility of a calling party computer 111 connected to the network 109 by link 112.
If a calling party computer 111 is not accessible, the call processing system 107 instructs the switching system 102 to attempt to connect the call by ringing the called party tele- 40 phone 104. However, if a calling party computer 111 is accessible, after the call processing system 107 instructs the switching system 102 to ring the called party telephone 104, the called party telephone 104 rings, and the called party telephone is answered, the call processing system 107 sends 45 a prompt, such as a recorded voice message from an interactive voice recording (IVR) system to the called party telephone 104. The prompt notifies the called party through the called party telephone 104 that the calling party computer 111 is accessible and prompts the called party to choose to chat 50 with the calling party or talk with the calling party.
If the called party chooses to talk, a voice connection is made between calling party telephone 101 and called party telephone 104 by the switching system 102 using instructions from the call processing system 107. However, if the called 55 party chooses to chat, the call processing system 107 retrieves network addresses of called party computer 113 and calling party computer 111. The call processing system 107 then sends a chat invitation to the network addresses corresponding to the calling party computer 111 and called party com- 60 puter 113 through a connection 114. The voice call may then be terminated, or alternatively, the call processing system 107 may send the calling party telephone 101 notification of the called party's election to chat rather than talk.
In alternative embodiments, the call processing system 107 65 may search for accessibility of calling party computer 111 and called party computer 113. However, one skilled in the art
will recognize that the called party is already aware of whether the called party computer 113 is accessible, and may choose to chat or not to chat, accordingly. Moreover, the called party might make the called party computer 113 accessible to chat with the calling party computer 111 upon learning that the calling party computer 111 is accessible.
One skilled in the art will immediately recognize an abundance of chat clients presently available that may be used in conjunction with the present invention. Some of the more popular of these chat clients include: MSN Messenger, available from Microsoft, Corp. of Redmond, Wash.; Yahoo! Messenger, available from Yahoo!, Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif; AOL Instant Messenger, available from America Online, Inc. of Dulles, Va.; and Jabber Instant Messenger, available from Jabber, Inc. of Denver, Colo. One skilled in the art will further recognize that the Jabber Instant Messenger comprises an open systems architecture. Open systems architectures generally allow a user to manipulate the source program to tailor the client to specific needs of each individual user. Used in this context, the open system architecture could facilitate the development of a custom application to be provided with the integrated chat client. One skilled in the art will further recognize the existence of UNIX and LINUX chat programs and other programs, such as text messaging on wireless phones, that allow text communication between two parties. In alternative embodiments, each of these alternative text communication applications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention. Generally, as understood herein, chat clients at least provide some type of text-based communication, in accordance with the preferred embodiment of the invention.
It should be further recognized that, presently, there is no interoperability of chat services. Each uses a different server and a different database to connect the plurality of users that use a particular chat client. It can be compared to a situation whereby customers of one phone company would be prevented from calling customers of another phone company. This could pose a problem, generally referred to as the network effect, to widespread acceptance of the integrated chat client service. The network effect generally refers to the situation whereby a service becomes more valuable to a consumer when more consumers subscribe to the same service, thereby forming a network.
The most straightforward solution to the network effect is to create interoperability between the numerous different chat services that exist. There is a push within the internet community to create a universal chat program and sharing of client databases, along with several proposals to create interoperability among chat clients, however, there remains no industry consensus. As is often the case, it is difficult to get competing entities to share customer information that may help competing service providers.
Another solution to the problem could be for the telephone service provider to provide a custom application to all of its subscribers. In this way, the telephone service provider can create an instant network of users. However, the telephone service provider would still have to compete with the other chat service providers. Moreover, a calling party could be inaccessible to the telephone service provider network, even though it may have an accessible chat client installed. The advantage to this solution is that the telephone service provider will have direct access to the chat server, which would likely be faster than requesting the chat information from a third party.
Yet another solution to the network effect could be to form alliances between the telephone service provider and chat service providers. This solutionis similar to the interoperabil