DATA PROCESSING AND
COMMUNICATIONS DEVICE WITH
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
(Claiming Benefit Under 35 U.S.C. 120)
This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 09/609,078 filed Jun. 30, 2000 now U.S. Pat. No. 6,431,951, which in turn is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/735,174 filed Oct. 22,1996 now abandoned, which in turn is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/277,559 filed Jul. 19, 1994 (now U.S. Pat. No. 5,567, 925), which in turn is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 08/071,555 filed Jun. 4, 1993 (now U.S. Pat. No. 5,331,136), which in turn is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 07/660,615 filed Feb. 25, 1991 (now U.S. Pat. No. 5,218,187).
INCORPORATION BY REFERENCE
The descriptive matter of U.S. application Ser. No. 07/476,096 filed Jan. 18,1990, now U.S. Pat. No. 5,052,020 is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety and made part of this application.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates generally to data systems, and more particularly to data collection and processing systems using portable, hand-held data terminals for collecting, selectively processing and for communicating collected data to other system elements. Typical collection processes may include reading data and manually keying in such read data. Typical automated processes may include scanning indicia of information with a scanner, for example a bar code reader. Data collected-by such terminals may become part of the data base of the system. Real time use of data collected by the data terminals may be implemented by communication interfaces within such data terminals.
Though host computers which as central processing stations of such data systems may control data bases and data flow, the hand-held data terminals are key elements for operating the data systems efficiently. Current data systems using hand-held data terminals have shown a correlation between the functionality of the hand-held data terminals and the overall effectiveness of the systems. While progress has already been made in improving efficiency and functionality of hand-held data terminals, there is nevertheless a need to provide hand-held data terminals which are readily adaptable to perform various functions and communicate with a variety of communications equipment.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
According to this invention, one of a plurality of special purpose data and communications modules is selectively combined with a base module or unit of the hand-held data terminal.
According to one particular aspect of the invention, a base unit includes a user interface in an upward directed surface which would typically be facing toward a person using the data terminal. The user interface typically features a keyboard adjacent a bottom end, and a liquid crystal display adjacent a top end of a substantially rectangular, elongate housing at the data terminal. The base unit provides for a data and communications module to be attached beneath the user interface and adjacent the top end of the housing.
According to another particular aspect of the invention, the data and communications module attachable to the base module includes a communications means of one type, such as a radio using spread spectrum modulation transmissions, 5 the data and communications module including provisions emulating data communications of a second type, the second type of communications and the respective protocol being compatible with data circuits of the base module.
In another particular aspect of the invention, the data and 10 communications module to be attached to the base module includes provisions for data communications and a data scanner provision for collecting data. In a more particular implementation of the invention, the base module includes data collection provisions, collected data being transferable via a cable mounted to the base unit. In combination with the data scanner module, the data and communications module includes provisions for selectively switching data collection operations between the data scanner provision of the data and communications module and the data collection provisions of the base module.
In yet another aspect of the invention the data and communications module may include a modem and typical telephone communications coupling either in lieu of a radio communications provision or in addition thereto. The
25 modem may be provided in the data and communications module with a data scanning device or with alternate data identification and collection provisions.
In one particular implementation including certain features of the invention, the data and communications module
30 is contemplated to include the combination of a radio frequency communications provision and a data identification and collection provision, and an antenna of radio frequency communications provision of the data and communications module may be pivotally mounted to be pivoted
35 to a position out of interfering relationship with the data identification and collection provision, while optimally receiving radio frequency communication.
In furtherance of efficient adaptability of data communications modules to base modules of the data terminals in
40 accordance with the invention, it is contemplated to provide an elastic hand strap on the downward facing surface of a data terminal for retaining manual engagement with the data terminal, the hand strap being attached at one end thereof to a base module of the data terminal. A second, opposite end
45 of the elastic strap is slidably inserted into engagement with a guide track disposed in an outer surface of the data and communications module. The direction of insertion is in the direction of the one end of the elastic hand strap, such that an elastic tension in the hand strap retains the slidable
50 engagement of the other elastic hand strap with the data and communications module of the data terminal. In accordance with the invention, the elastic strap is readily removed without tools by sliding the second end along the guide track in a direction against the tension of the elastic strap.
55 In a further embodiment according to the invention, in which a base unit includes a data and control interface for interacting with a data and communications module, an improvement in each of a plurality of data and communications modules includes a data and control interface pro
60 vision including data and control signal conversion provisions for communicating data between the data and communication module and the base module in accordance with a data protocol resident within the base unit.
Various other features and advantages of the data terminal
65 in accordance with the invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, which may be best understood when read with reference to the appended drawings.