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HIGH DATA DENSITY LABEL AND SYSTEM
RELATED APPLICATION 5
This application is related to a commonly owned application entitled "System and Method for Data Storage Management," U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/168,167, filed on even date herewith, the full disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference as if 10 reproduced in full below.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The invention relates generally to a labeling system, 15 and more particularly, to a labeling system which allows large amounts of data to be stored on labels which are physically small, tolerant of physical damage, tamper resistant, and whose information can be easily accessed and updated. 20
2. Related Art
Pre-printed labels made up of human readable alphanumerical characters or machine readable patterns are well known. Labels printed or scribed directly on an object to be identified are also well known. For many 25 classes of objects, including various kinds of machinery, vehicles, electronic equipment, shipping/storage containers and electronic data storage elements (i.e., magnetic tapes, optical tapes, magnetic disks, optical disks, etc.), variable alpha-numerical sequences such as serial 30 or identification numbers are used to distinguish identical or similar objects. Machine-readable variable patterns such as bar codes are used for the same purpose.
For objects such as a shipping/storage container or an electronic data storage element, the contents of the 35 container or data storage element is changeable. Thus, it is desirable to keep a separate record of the contents such objects. Such records are frequently maintained in a computer system. Whenever specific information about an object is required, manual or automated appa- 40 ratus "read" the object's identification label and feed this information to the computer system. The computer system then matches a stored data record with the object to identify the contents of the object.
The StorageTek Model 4410 Automated Cartridge 45 System (ACS), available from Storage Technology Corporation, Louisville, Colo., uses such a process. The ACS includes automated apparatus to read identification labels on tape cartridges. The identification labels include a bar coded identification number. A look-up 50 table in a host computer provides a cross-reference between the identification number and information pertaining to the contents of the tape cartridge.
When a tape cartridge is made accessible to more than one computer by the ACS, it is difficult to maintain 55 a single look-up table on one computer. This is further complicated by manual handling of cartridges outside of the ACS environment. It is desirable to keep a summary of the contents of data cartridges attached directly to the cartridge to alleviate these problems. 60
Similarly, it is desirable to keep a summary of the contents of any object with variable contents attached directly to the object. This will allow the identification information to be read and updated at any stage of handling and use. In the case of data cartridges, this has 65 been done in the past by writing a summary in digital form on the medium in the cartridge. The information in this summary is sometimes referred to as meta-data.
However, in order to access this summary, the tape cartridge must be loaded into a tape drive and the tape searched for the summary data. This is a time consuming process, especially when a large number of cartridges are being handled, as in the Storage Technology Corporation ACS.
What is needed is a mechanism for maintaining a summary of the contents of an objects such as a tape cartridge together with the object in a format which is directly machine readable and writable.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The invention is a label having a substrate portion for attachment to an object and an optical media portion configured to store data in an optical format. The optical media portion is disposed on the substrate portion. In the preferred embodiment, the optical media portion has a high areal density and is rewritable. In another embodiment, the optical media portion is implemented with read-only technology. In yet another embodiment, the optical media portion includes a read-only portion and a rewritable portion. The high data density of the label allows a large amount of information to stored directly on the label. The data can be quickly read from the label without requiring physical contact with the label.
The invention also includes a system for identifying and managing a plurality of objects. The system includes a plurality of labels. Each label is configured for physical attachment to one of the objects. Each label is optically readable and, preferrably, rewritable. A read means is provided for reading data from a selected label. A write means is provided for modifying the data in a selected label.
In a preferred embodiment, the labeling system is implemented in the environment of a Storage Technology Corporation automated cartridge systems (ACS). The labels are attached to physical volumes (e.g., tape cartridges) stored in the ACS. The labels are used to identify and manage information stored on the physical volumes as well as the physical volumes themselves.
The foregoing and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following, more particular description of the preferred embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
FIGS. 1A and IB illustrate a high data density level having an optical media portion in accordance with the present invention.
FIGS. 2A and 2B show an exploded cross-sectional view illustrating the construction of the label of FIGS. 1A and IB.
FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate optical storage of data in an optical media portion of a label in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 4 is a sectional side view illustrating an optical scanner for reading/writing data to an optical media portion of a label.
FIG. 5 is a sectional side view illustrating the optical scanner of FIG. 4 in greater detail.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a robotic hand assembly including an optical scanner in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 7 is a side view of the robotic hand assembly of FIG. 6.
FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a positioning cup for an optical scanner for use in a manual implementation of the system of the invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED ,
The preferred embodiments of the invention are discussed in detail below. While specific part numbers and configurations are discussed, it should be understood that this is done for illustration purposes only. A person 10 skilled in the relevant art will recognize that other components and configurations may be used without parting from the spirit and scope of the invention.
The preferred embodiments of the invention are now described with reference to the figures where like refer- 15 ence numbers indicate like elements. Also in the figures, the left most digits of each reference number corresponds to the figure in which the reference number is first used.
The invention is described in the environment of a 20 Storage Technology Corporation model 4410 automated cartridge system or ACS. An example of a Storage Technology Corporation ACS is described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,864,511, 4,928,245, and 4,932,826 to Moy et al., which are incorporated herein by reference. The 25 label of the invention, however, may be used with any object (e.g., package, container or electronic data storage element) in any environment.
The preferred embodiment of the label of the invention is configured for use with a tape cartridge (e.g., a 30 4480-type tape cartridge) in an ACS. Label 102 is shown in FIG. 1A. Label 102 is similar to a conventional tape cartridge label in that label 102 includes a substrate or body portion 103 upon which machinereadable symbols 104 (e.g., an optical bar code) and 35 human-readable symbols 106 (e.g., an alphanumeric identifier) are printed. Additionally, however, label 102 includes a high data density optical media portion 108 for storing data in an optical format. In an alternate embodiment, substrate portion 103 may be implemented 40 simply as an adhesive for optical media portion 108.
Optical media portion 108 is small relative to label 102. For example, optical media portion 108 may be approximately 0.225 mm wide by 9.0 mm long on a label that is approximately 10 mm wide by 95 mm long. Opti- 45 cal media portion 108 is shown in an expanded view in FIG. IB.
Conventional labels are capable of achieving areal densities less than 360 Kilobits per square inch (Kbits/in2). This theoretical value is approximated from the 50 fact that current laser printer technology allows a print resolution of 600x600 dots per square inch (DPI) or approximately 360,000 DPI. More practically, conventional labels generally have data densities several magnitudes lower than 360 Kbits/in2. This is especially true 55 when machine-readable symbols such as bar codes are used. In order to produce an alignment insensitive form factor for ease of reading, bar codes are generally produced in very low areal densities. For ease of discussion, the term "low data density" will be used to de- 60 scribe conventional labels in which the areal densities are generally much less than 360 Kbits/in2. The term "high data density" will be used to refer to the label of the invention in which data densities greater than 360 Kbits/in2 and preferably data densities greater than 1 65 Megabit/in2 are achieved.
Optical recording is a well-developed technology. It provides a high areal density (e.g., approximately 400
Mbits/in2) and a writability necessary to implement label 102. Various types of optical media are available for use in optical media portion 108 of label 102. Three functional types of optical media are generally available. These include read only; write once, read many (WORM); and re-writable.
The CD/ROM is an example of a read only medium. In the CD/ROM, a photo-resist master disk is prepared and used to injection-mold plastic replicas. A spiral mark or pit pattern is reproduced on each plastic replica or CD. This spiral mark or pit pattern can be read using a low-power laser with a servo-system position control. A similar technique is used to pre-format sector-header information in tracking servo-grooves on writable disks. These pre-formatting capabilities can be used in the design and manufacture of optical media portion 108.
In WORM disks, irreversible changes are used to record permanent marks on the optical media. The permanent marks include hole burning in metal films, pit ablation in dye-polymer films, crystallographic phase changes in semi-metal films (usually crystalline to amorphous), chemical reactions, photochromic transitions, bubble formation in metal and dye-polymer films, and melt-back of textured plastic films.
In rewritable disks, only two reversible mechanisms have been successfully used in commercial products. These include magnetic domain reversal and crystallographic phase change. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the crystallographic phase change method is used for optical media portion 108 of label 102. Magnetic domain reversal may be used but is more complex than the phase change method and is sensitive to stray magnetic fields.
Label 102, shown in FIG. 2A is shown in an exploded cross-sectional view in FIG. 2B. Label 102 includes an optically transparent or defocus layer 202, an adhesive layer 204, a conventional label portion 206, and an adhesive layer 208. Label 102 is configured to be adhered to cartridge body 216 in a recess portion 210. Optical media portion 108 is disposed on defocus layer 202. Optical media portion 108 includes a plurality of pregrooves 110 disposed on a protected side of defocus layer 202 (i.e., the side facing cartridge 216). Optical media portion 108 further includes an active layer 212 and a protective layer 214 laminated over grooves 110. Adhesive layer 204 adheres defocus layer 202 to the conventional label 206. Adhesive layer 208 adheres standard label 206 to body of cartridge 216 at recess portion 210. In the preferred embodiment, active layer 212 is formed from Ge—Te—Sb (germanium-telluriumantimony).
FIG. 3A illustrates an example of optical media portion 108. Optical media portion 108 has approximate dimensions of 0.225 mm wide by 9.0 mm long. A data area 300 is used to record, for example, 90 kilobytes of data. Pre-grooves 110 run perpendicular to the length of optical media portion 108. As shown in FIG. 3B, short data tracks 302 are recorded parallel to and between pre-grooves 110. Data tracks 302 are recorded by a laser beam which is rapidly scanned parallel to pregrooves 110 while an optical head is moved more slowly perpendicular to pre-grooves 110 along the length of optical media portion 108. Pre-grooves 110 are used to generate a track error signal by known methods. In this example, the pre-grooves 110 are formed with a spacing of 1.6 jam. That is, the track-totrack spacing for optical media portion 108 is 1.6 u,m.