MEETING COORDINATOR

US 2009 83 377A1

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The present invention is a new system and method for enabling multiple users of computerized schedulers to automatically find a time for a meeting. According to embodiments of the present invention a user of the system sends a request to other participants of the meeting to coordinate the meeting via a centralized platform, such as a network server. Provided that the invitation is accepted by the other participants, the central network server receives from the computerizes scheduler of each of the participants the available time according to their prospective schedules and finds a time when all participants can meet. According to embodiments of the present invention users can define their preferred time for the meeting. Having found a time when all participants can meet the system sends each of the participants a notification concerning the meeting and a request to approve the selected time.

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Claims

wherein said central platform is connected to a wide area data communication network and said end units communicate with said central platform through said wide area network.

Show 7 dependent claims

wherein said central platform is connected to a wide area data communication network and said end units communicate with said central platform through said wide area network.

Show 7 dependent claims

Description

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates in general to the field of computerized schedulers, more particularly it relates to the field of computerized schedulers for automatically arranging multi-participant meetings.

BACKGROUND OF THE PRIOR ART

Coordinating a multi-participant meeting for people with busy schedules may prove to be a difficult and time consuming task. This is especially true if different meeting participants have different preferences concerning the time of the meeting. Known in the art are several systems and methods for addressing this issue. For instant, U.S. Pat. No. 7,108,173 discloses a scheduling agent which is responsible for coordinating meeting activities for its associated user. Upon receiving a meeting request, the scheduling agents of the different participants negotiate to schedule the requested meeting at a most suitable time for all attendees.

Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 6,101,480 discloses a system for scheduling time intervals for a plurality of users on a network. The system comprises a database in which a profile for each potential invitee is stored. The system further comprises request generators located remotely from the servers and connected over a network that generate a request for allocation of a time interval for one or more of the plurality of invitees. A device gathers the profiles for the invitees and determines whether they are available during the requested time interval. If not all invitees are available, a best fit determining system determines a next best time interval.

However there is a need for a web-based system and method which would allow users working in different organizations to automatically schedule a multi-participant meeting which would be best suited for the majority of its participants. Moreover, such a system and method should provide maximal security for its users by not exposing the content of their schedules to potential hackers and information leaks.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

Disclosed is a computerized method for the automatic scheduling of a meeting between at least two meeting participants, wherein the computerized schedule of the participants resides on an end unit and the automatic scheduling is performed on a central platform. The method comprises the steps of collecting the available time slots from the computerized schedule on the end units of the meeting participants and storing the available time slots on a storing unit of the central platform. The method also includes the steps of finding at least one time slot which suits the schedule of the meeting participants by the central platform and informing meeting participants of at least one possible time slot for the meeting. The central platform is connected to a wide area data communication network and the end units communicate with the central platform through the wide area network.

The method may also include the step of requesting the meeting participants to grade the found time slots for the meeting in accordance with the preferences of the meeting participants and select one time slot for the meeting in accordance with the preferences of meeting participants. The method may optionally include the step of automatically updating the scheduler on the end units of the meeting participants with meeting details. The collection of available time slots may be performed periodically, in accordance with predefined user preferences. The method may also include the step of requesting meeting participants to approve a request to schedule the meeting, and identifying the participants. The identification may be performed using a unique identifier, an email address or a full name.

Also disclosed is a computerized system for the automatic scheduling of a meeting between at least two meeting participants, wherein the computerized schedule of the participants resides on an end unit and the automatic scheduling is performed on a central platform. The system comprises a gathering module for collecting the available time slots from the computerized schedule on the end units of the meeting participants, and a storing unit for storing the available time slots, wherein the storing unit resides on the central platform. The system also comprises a matching module for finding at least one time slot which suits the schedule of the meeting participants, and a notification module for informing the meeting participants of at least one possible time slot for the meeting. The central platform is connected to a wide area data communication network and the end units communicate with the central platform through the wide area network.

The system may also include a grading interface through which the meeting participants are requested to grade the found time slots for the meeting in accordance with the preferences of the meeting participants. The matching module may select one time slot for the meeting in accordance with the preferences of the meeting participants. The notification module may update the scheduler on the end units of the meeting participants with meeting details. The gathering module may perform the collection of available time slots periodically; the periodic collection may be activated by the gathering module in accordance with predefined user preferences.

The notification module may request meeting participants to approve a request to schedule the meeting and may identify the participants. The identification of meeting participants may be performed using a unique identifier, an email address or a full name.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The subject matter regarded as the invention will become more clearly understood in light of the ensuing description of embodiments herein, given by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the present invention only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating the principal components of a meeting scheduling system in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a descending block diagram illustrating a meeting scheduling process in accordance with embodiments of the present invention.

The drawings together with the description make apparent to those skilled in the art how the invention may be embodied in practice.

No attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail than is necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention.

It will be appreciated that for simplicity and clarity of illustration, elements shown in the figures have not necessarily been drawn to scale. For example, the dimensions of some of the elements may be exaggerated relative to other elements for clarity. Further, where considered appropriate, reference numerals may be repeated among the figures to indicate corresponding or analogous elements.

DESCRIPTION OF SOME EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a new system and method for enabling multiple users of computerized schedulers to automatically find a time for a meeting. According to embodiments of the present invention a user of the system sends a request to other participants of the meeting to coordinate the meeting via a centralized platform, such as a network server. Provided that the invitation is accepted by the other participants, the central network server receives from the computerizes scheduler of each of the participants the available time according to their prospective schedules and finds a time when all participants can meet. According to embodiments of the present invention users can define their preferred time for the meeting. Having found a time when all participants can meet the system sends each of the participants a notification concerning the meeting and a request to approve the selected time.

An embodiment is an example or implementation of the inventions. The various appearances of one embodiment, an embodiment or some embodiments do not necessarily all refer to the same embodiments. Although various features of the invention may be described in the context of a single embodiment, the features may also be provided separately or in any suitable combination. Conversely, although the invention may be described herein in the context of separate embodiments for clarity, the invention may also be implemented in a single embodiment.

Reference in the specification to one embodiment, an embodiment, some embodiments or other embodiments means that a particular feature, structure, or characteristic described in connection with the embodiments is included in at least one embodiments, but not necessarily all embodiments, of the inventions. It is understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein is not to be construed as limiting and are for descriptive purpose only.

The principles and uses of the teachings of the present invention may be better understood with reference to the accompanying description, figures and examples. It is to be understood that the details set forth herein do not construe a limitation to an application of the invention. Furthermore, it is to be understood that the invention can be carried out or practiced in various ways and that the invention can be implemented in embodiments other than the ones outlined in the description below.

It is to be understood that the terms including, comprising, consisting and grammatical variants thereof do not preclude the addition of one or more components, features, steps, or integers or groups thereof and that the terms are to he construed as specifying components, features, steps or integers. The phrase consisting essentially of, and grammatical variants thereof, when used herein is not to be construed as excluding additional components, steps, features, integers or groups thereof but rather that the additional features, integers, steps, components or groups thereof do not materially alter the basic and novel characteristics of the claimed composition, device or method.

If the specification or claims refer to an additional element that does not preclude there being more than one of the additional element. It is to be understood that where the claims or specification refer to a or an element, such reference is not be construed that there is only one of that element. It is to be understood that where the specification states that a component, feature, structure, or characteristic may, might, can or could be included, that particular component, feature, structure, or characteristic is not required to be included.

Where applicable, although state diagrams, flow diagrams or both may be used to describe embodiments, the invention is not limited to those diagrams or to the corresponding descriptions. For example, flow need not move through each illustrated box or state, or in exactly the same order as illustrated and described.

Methods of the present invention may be implemented by performing or completing manually, automatically, or a combination thereof selected steps or tasks. The term method refers to manners, means, techniques and procedures for accomplishing a given task including, but not limited to, those manners, means, techniques and procedures either known to, or readily developed from known manners, means, techniques and procedures by practitioners of the art to which the invention belongs. The descriptions, examples, methods and materials presented in the claims and the specification are not to be construed as limiting but rather as illustrative only.

Meanings of technical and scientific terms used herein are to be commonly understood as by one of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention belongs, unless otherwise defined. The present invention can be implemented in the testing or practice with methods and materials equivalent or similar to those described herein.

Any publications, including patents, patent applications and articles, referenced or mentioned in this specification are herein incorporated in their entirety into the specification, to the same extent as if each individual publication was specifically and individually indicated to be incorporated herein. In addition, citation or identification of any reference in the description of some embodiments of the invention shall not be construed as an admission that such reference is available as prior art to the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating the principal components of a meeting scheduling system in accordance with embodiments of the present invention. A designated software component 100 is installed on an end unit 120 of user 10. Such end unit, can optionally be embodied, without limitations, by a cellular telephone, by a wireless telephone, by a Personal Communication Systems (PCS) device, by a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) device that incorporates a wireless communication device, by a tablet computer, by a server computer, by a personal computer, by a wireless communication station, by a mobile computer, by a notebook computer, by a desktop computer, by a laptop computer, by a PDA device, by a landline phone, a pager, by server, e.g. Short Message Service (SMS) server, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) server, internet server, and the like.

According to embodiments of the present invention software component 100 may be an independent scheduling application. According to additional embodiments of the present invention designated software component 100 communicates with a scheduling application on end unit 120 of user 110. Similarly, a designated software component 150 is installed on end unit 170 of user 160. When user 110 wishes to schedule a meeting with user 160, dedicated software component 100 sends a request to dedicated software component 150 on end unit 170 of user 160 through a centralized platform such as a web server 130. In order to schedule the meeting software components 100 of user 110 and software component 150 of user 170 each send the available times for the meeting to web server 130 according to the scheduling application 105 of user 110 and scheduling application 155 of user 150. For data security reasons, only the available time slots are sent to web server 130, and not the entire schedule.

Web server 130 receives requests from dedicated software component 100 of user 110 and dedicated software component 150 of user 160 and stores this information on storage unit 140. According to embodiments of the present invention storage unit 140 of server 130 holds all relevant information needed to perform the scheduling of the meeting. For instance, this information may include the time zones of the users, changes due to daylight saving times and the like. According to additional embodiments of the present invention, in order to determine the optimal time for the meeting server 130 may receive additional information about each of the users from dedicated software component 100 and dedicated software component 150. For instance, server 130 may receive information about the working hours of the users, their preferred time of day and day of the week for the meeting, and the like.

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