User Interface in Automated Scheduling System

US 2007 276 719A1

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Provided is a method of providing an interactive user interface to an automated meeting system. The method comprises storing meeting data including user identifications representing a set of users associated with a meeting and generating for presentation via a user device at least a portion of the meeting data, including one or more of the user identifications. And the method includes generating for presentation via the user device one or more communication mechanisms configured to enable double-blind communication with at least one user corresponding to at least one of the user identifications, wherein the one or more communication mechanisms includes mechanisms configured to generate a semi-formatted message, from a set of selectable semi-formatted messages, for transmission to the at least one user.

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Claims

1. A method of providing an interactive user interface to an automated meeting system, the method comprising:
storing meeting data including user identifications representing a set of users associated with a meeting;
generating for presentation via a user device at least a portion of the meeting data, including one or more of the user identifications; and
generating for presentation via the user device one or more communication mechanisms configured to enable double-blind communication with at least one user corresponding to at least one of the user identifications, wherein the one or more communication mechanisms includes mechanisms configured to generate a semi-formatted message, from a set of selectable semi-formatted messages, for transmission to the at least one user.

Show 9 dependent claims

11. An interactive user interface system configured to generate automated meeting scheduling outputs, the system comprising:
one or more data storage devices coupled to one or more computer processors that are accessible via a network;
a computer program product stored in the one or more storage devices and configured to be executed by the one or more computer processors to perform a method comprising:
storing meeting data including user identifications representing a set of users associated with a meeting;
generating for presentation via a user device at least a portion of the meeting data, including one or more of the user identifications; and
generating for presentation via the user device one or more communication mechanisms configured to enable double-blind communication with at least one user corresponding to at least one of the user identifications, wherein the one or more communication mechanisms includes mechanisms configured to generate a semi-formatted message, from a set of selectable semi-formatted messages, for transmission to the at least one user.

Show 9 dependent claims

Description

This application claims the benefit of priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) from co-pending, commonly owned U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/803,251, entitled SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR SCHEDULING MEETINGS, filed May 26, 2006, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates to systems and method used for scheduling meetings and, more particularly, to on-line systems and methods for scheduling meetings without extensive user time and effort.

BACKGROUND

With the evolution of the Internet, personal communications and information sharing has been expanded to unprecedented levels. Additionally, Internet-based applications have evolved from traditional industries to exploit the vast connectivity provided by the Internet. For example, several Internet-based services now exist that provide some form of social networking. Traditional social networking sites are generally account-based websites that facilitate meetings through mutual affirmation, negotiation, or opt-in, approaches. That is, the parties must each assent to the meeting beforehand and then arrange a meeting at some later point in time. Therefore, this requires some interaction among the meeting members prior to assenting to the meeting and prior to, or as a means for, those individuals scheduling a meeting. In other words, such services and Web sites are not truly real-time, since there is a variety of user activity that must take place before a meeting be can scheduled and take place.

Although not exclusively, a common form of social clustering services are on-line dating or matchmaking websites. Generally, these are merely semi-automated approaches to what had been done before. In their most common forms, on-line dating requires paid membership, wherein each member stores a profile of personal information (or wish list) via the website. These profiles are intended to be used to increase the likelihood of a compatible match, or at least a mutually satisfactory meeting (i.e., date). On-line dating services use various algorithms and methodologies to potentially match people, as at least a partial function of the profiles. Age, common interests, and other types of parameters can form part of such profiles and, thus, can be used to identify potential matches in a general geographic region, although without explicit attention to geographical specifics. A user provided profile can include data associated with these parameters and can be created when the user registers with the on-line dating service.

Often, the creation of a user profile can require considerable amount of time and effort from the user. For some on-line dating services, uploading a picture of the user can be requested for inclusion in their personal profile. Additionally, creation of a personal profile can include the user answering an extensive list of survey questions to characterize the user. Once the profile is completed, the profile data is used to identify a group of potential matches and this group is provided to the user. Reviewing the group, the user can decide to contact one or more of the potential matches to explore the possibility of dating and establishing a relationship. As can be expected, a considerable amount of user time is needed: from generating a profile, reviewing potential matches, and interacting with one or more potential matches to plan and schedule a date, and finally to meet one of the potential matches. Such dating sites include Date.com, Match.com, Matchmaker.com, PerfectMatch.com, Great-Expectations, eHarmony and Personals.Yahoo.com, to name a few.

Other forms of social networking might not have the end goal of dating, but can be similar in that they can also require a considerable amount of user time for scheduling social meetings. For instance, scheduling meetings for business networking or meetings for people that have a common interest (e.g., same type of job, hobby, sports fan, etc.) can take daysand require a considerable amount of user interaction with the scheduling system. These can first require the collection of user information from potential attendees, gauging of interest, and coordinating the meeting based thereon. Furthermore, scheduling complexity increases for social meetings in which attendees are traveling from different geographic locationsand such systems typically give no consideration to the location of the possible meeting members. Again, semi-automation is used to improve the efficiency of prior processes, but there is nothing particularly new about such services or systems. In fact, at some level, such systems and methods are inherently inefficient and limited, and certainly do not enable real-time meetings. These often presume the user will find a way to attend the meeting, since they do not take user location into consideration.

Yet another popular social networking site is Myspace.com, which has gained huge popularity and is not geared toward dating. Rather, this site provides a forum for individuals to interact over the Internet. Such sites allow individuals to make and interact with new friends, as well as existing friends. Such sites do not, however, provide mechanisms for arranging meetings and, in fact, the users can be so geographically dispersed that meetings could be impractical in the majority of instances. In any event, such system do nothing more than provide a forum of user interaction, not meeting scheduling. Rather, with these types of sites, the meeting really is online, rather than in person.

So called flash mobs can be construed as a form of social networking. Flash mobs typically are prearranged meetings of large numbers of individuals. For example, such meetings can be the result of one or more blast e-mails or cell phone text messages to individuals at a set of known addresses or phone numbers. The goal is to get as many people as possible to show up at the same place at the same time, e.g., at a political rally, protest, or the like. This is typically accomplished by a succession of messages, where each recipient invites people he or she knows, and then those recipients invite people they know and so on. Thus, the invitees and their addresses or phone numbers are known beforehand, by at least one person in the chain of messages.

While each of the above types of approaches and websites provide some utility in their selected areas of social networking, their focuses are relatively narrow. There is no true real-time networking ability and they tend to rely on a certain level of a priori knowledge about the invitees beforehand. Additionally, a significant amount of user interaction with a system and/or with each other is required.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, provided is a method of providing an interactive user interface to an automated meeting system. The method comprises storing meeting data including user identifications representing a set of users associated with a meeting and generating for presentation via a user device at least a portion of the meeting data, including one or more of the user identifications. And the method includes generating for presentation via the user device one or more communication mechanisms configured to enable double-blind communication with at least one user corresponding to at least one of the user identifications, wherein the one or more communication mechanisms includes mechanisms configured to generate a semi-formatted message, from a set of selectable semi-formatted messages, for transmission to the at least one user.

The method can include generating for presentation via the user device a blocking mechanism configured to enable the user to identify one or more of the set of users from which communications are to be prevented.

The double-blind communication can include one or more of an e-mail, an instant message, a Web posting, a voice call, and a voice mail.

The semi-formatted message cab be a preformatted invitation to a subsequent meeting.

The semi-formatted message can include editable text.

The semi-formatted message can include a reference to the meeting.

The communication can include an image of the user sending the communication.

Each of the one or more user identifications can include an image of a corresponding user.

The method can further include generating for presentation meeting data including meeting history information of a user, the meeting history data including, for each meeting attended by the user, user identifications of other users that also attended each meeting.

The user identifications can be provided as selectable icons, and the method can include generating for presentation options for selecting the semi-formatted message addressed to an intended recipient, from the set of semi-formatted messages, in response to the user selecting an icon representing the intended recipient from the selectable icons.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, provided is an interactive user interface system configured to generate automated meeting scheduling outputs. The system comprises one or more data storage devices coupled to one or more computer processors that are accessible via a network. A computer program product is stored in the one or more storage devices and configured to be executed by the one or more computer processors to perform a method. The method comprises: storing meeting data including user identifications representing a set of users associated with a meeting; generating for presentation via a user device at least a portion of the meeting data, including one or more of the user identifications; and generating for presentation via the user device one or more communication mechanisms configured to enable double-blind communication with at least one user corresponding to at least one of the user identifications, wherein the one or more communication mechanisms includes mechanisms configured to generate a semi-formatted message, from a set of selectable semi-formatted messages, for transmission to the at least one user.

The method executed by the system can further comprise generating for presentation via the user device a blocking mechanism configured to enable the user to identify one or more of the set of users from which communications are to be prevented.

The double-blind communication can include one or more of an e-mail, an instant message, a Web posting, a voice call, and a voice mail.

The semi-formatted messages can be a preformatted invitation to a subsequent meeting.

The semi-formatted message can include editable text.

The semi-formatted message can include a reference to the meeting.

The communication can include an image of the user sending the communication.

Each of the one or more user identifications can include an image of a corresponding user.

The method executed by the system can further comprise generating for presentation meeting data including meeting history information of a user, the meeting history data including, for each meeting attended by the user, user identifications of other users that also attended each meeting.

The user identifications can be provided as selectable icons, and the method can include generating for presentation options for selecting the semi-formatted message addressed to an intended recipient, from the set of semi-formatted messages, in response to the user selecting an icon representing the intended recipient from the selectable icons.

Additional advantages and aspects of the present disclosure will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, wherein embodiments of the present invention are shown and described, simply by way of illustration of the best mode contemplated for practicing the present invention. As will be described, the present disclosure is capable of other and different embodiments, and its several details are susceptible of modification in various obvious respects, all without departing from the spirit of the present disclosure. Accordingly, the drawings and description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature, and not as limitative.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of users and locations that could be used for planning meetings.

FIG. 2A is a block diagram of a network of devices that could be used by the users of FIG. 1 for accessing a clustering system for planning meetings.

FIG. 2B is a block diagram of a possible embodiment of the clustering system of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 2C is a diagram illustrating some of the types of meetings that could be planned using the clustering system of FIG. 2B.

FIG. 3 is a flow chart that represents some operations of the clustering system of FIG. 2B.

FIGS. 4, 5 and 6 are representations of graphical user interfaces that can be presented on at least some of the digital devices shown in FIG. 2A, in response to communications by the clustering system of FIG. 2B.

FIG. 7 provides an embodiment of a meeting confirmation that can be generated by the clustering system of FIG. 2B.

FIGS. 8A and 8B provide an embodiment of communication screens that can be used to enable a user to communicate with a user that also attended a prior meeting.

FIG. 9 is an embodiment of a invitation screen that enables a user to invite other users to a meeting.

FIG. 10 is a flowchart depicting an embodiment of a clustering method in accordance with the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

It will be understood that, although the terms first, second, etc. may be used herein to describe various elements, these elements should not be limited by these terms. These terms are used to distinguish one element from another, but not to imply a required sequence of elements. For example, a first element can be termed a second element, and, similarly, a second element can be termed a first element, without departing from the scope of the present invention. As used herein, the term and/or includes any and all combinations of one or more of the associated listed items.

It will be understood that when an element is referred to as being on or connected or coupled to another element, it can be directly on or connected or coupled to the other element or intervening elements may be present. In contrast, when an element is referred to as being directly on or directly connected or directly coupled to another element, there are no intervening elements present. Other words used to describe the relationship between elements should be interpreted in a like fashion (e.g., between versus directly between, adjacent versus directly adjacent, etc.).

The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting of the invention. As used herein, the singular forms a, an and the are intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. It will be further understood that the terms comprises, comprising, includes and/or including, when used herein, specify the presence of stated features, steps, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, steps, operations, elements, components, and/or groups thereof.

In accordance with aspects of the present invention, provided is a network-based social clustering system and method that do not require any user-to-user interaction to schedule or arrange physical meetings between people already known to each other, people previously unknown to each other, or a combination thereof. People that know each other could be families, classmates, club members, teammates, co-workers, group members, church members, and so on. The clustering system is configured to schedule one or more meetings between two or more users at a mutually accessible public or private location based on a common denominator (or meeting purpose) and the geographic locations or areas of those users, as well as the geographic location of the meeting place. The system is not inherently limited to the number or types of meetings that can be scheduled.

The concept of a meeting purpose can be broadly interpreted. At a high level, a meeting purpose can be a social, business, political, professional, financial, educational, cultural, spiritual, charitable, recreational, therapeutic, or athletic purposeas examples. In more specific examples, a meeting purpose can include at least one of a date, a singles gathering, a friends gathering, a business meeting, a special event gathering, a social gathering, an event-oriented social gathering, a sports participation event, a sport viewing event, a political meeting or rally, a religious gathering, or a gathering of people sharing a hobby or an interest. Again, these are representative examples.

Any type of location or venue can be selected as a meeting location, for example, restaurants, parks, ball fields, street intersections, or other locations can be meeting locations represented with geographic coordinates or a street address, as examples. As specific examples, a meeting and meeting location could be a singles night at a bar, a golf outing at a country club, a business networking meeting at conference, a gathering of art enthusiast at a museum, a pick-up volleyball game at a beach, or a ski outing on a mountain. Other specific meeting examples include a gathering of two people on a blind date at a restaurant, a university's alumni in the same city at a nightclub, sports enthusiasts at a sports bar to watch the Super Bowl, hikers at a trailhead, a flash mob for a political rally at a landmark, or a family reunion at private residence. Motorcycle or car rally groups, cyclists, or runners could use the clustering system and method for arranging a meeting in a specific GPS location on or off road. A group of parents and children meeting at a playground and a group of people in a carpool meeting in a parking lot are other examples of specific meetings. In a carpool scenario, a destination location can also be determined for each user as a meeting constraint. And users could be clustered twice, around their starting locations and around their destination locations. Non-limiting examples of types of clustering meetings are provided in FIG. 2C, as discussed hereinafter.

A user can provide an input to the clustering system that expresses a desire to participate in a meeting having an identified meeting purpose, and may include (or be used to determine) additional meeting constraints, user information, or both. The input can include a set of entries provided by the user during a session, e.g., Web session, IVR session, e-mail session, or the like. The user's input to the clustering system, which can take the form of a reservation, is preferably the only meeting specific input required by the user in the preferred embodiment. Using that input, a meeting can be scheduled that includes the user. The meeting could be scheduled in real-time and for the same day or for a future date. In some situations, a user can be added to a meeting that has already begun, e.g., if a meeting having a purpose consistent with the user's purpose is in-progress in the user's geographic area.

A meeting can be scheduled around a posted meeting purpose, which can be posted by a user or the system. The user's input can be a posting of a meeting purpose to the clustering system to initiate the scheduling of a meeting. Otherwise, the user's reservation can be an input that indicates a desire to participate in a meeting already posted. Meetings are formed and scheduled by clustering users interested in a meeting having the corresponding meeting purposes and in the same geographic areareferred to as geographic clustering. After the single reservation input by the user, the next communication received by the user is typically a meeting confirmation indicating the meeting location and time. No negotiation among the users is required. The confirmation can include directions to the meeting location, the meeting time, and identifications of the other meeting participants.

The clustering system can also be configured to make a reservation at the meeting location, for the meeting time and the corresponding number of users (i.e., participants). And the clustering system can optionally enable remote check-in by the users, e.g., near meeting start time or during the meeting. Meetings can be scheduled where the clustered users (as meeting participants) self-assemble at a meeting locationwithout any receptionist, host, supervisor, or sponsor. In other embodiments, the meeting format could be structured to include those elements as well.

In the preferred embodiments, the geographic clustering is used to determine two or more users from a plurality of users in the same geographic area that have the corresponding meeting purposes. The determination of the users is, therefore, based on the locations of the two or more users. The input of each user can include or be used to determine a user location used to perform the geographic clustering. A user location could be represented by or derived from one or more of a latitude and a longitude, an altitude, a zip code, a street address, an intersection, a transportation stop, an area code, a telephone exchange, a mapped location, a venue, a landmark, a cell of a cell phone network, GPS coordinates, or a wireless fidelity (WiFi) cell. For example, a user location can be a park, a hiking trail, a mountain, a lake or a river, a city, town, county or state, a building (e.g., public, private, or government), a subway stop, or a tourist attraction. As examples, a building could be a stadium, a hotel, a restaurant, a museum, a concert hall, a theater, a tavern, a residence, a train station, or airport.

Beyond geographic clustering, users can optionally be further selected for a meeting using various types of personal information. Such personal information can have been input by the user, gleaned from past information submitted by the user (or learned about the user), or a combination thereof. For example, the personal information, such as interests, background, traits and other characteristics, can be analyzed among potential meeting participants to determine an actual or potential match for a meeting.

As described in greater detail below, the clustering system is a network accessible system that can be configured to be accessed via any known or hereafter developed type of networks and by any known or hereafter developed types of network enabled devices, whether wired, wireless or some combination thereof.

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