METHODS AND SYSTEMS FOR SETTING, SCHEDULING, OPTIMIZING, AND INITIATING PERSONAL COMMUNICATION AND PRIORITIZING COMMUNICATION CHANNELS AND DEVICES

US 2010 22 225A1

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The present invention discloses methods for electronically organizing an event among users having personal communication devices (PCDs), the method including the steps of: providing event details, defined by an initiator, of the event to a control unit, wherein the event details designate invited users and at least one suggested event time; transmitting, by the control unit, the event details in an event request to the invited users; indicating intentions, using the PCDs, of the invited users to participate in the event in responses from the invited users; designating, using the PCDs, a compatibility of the suggested event time with the invited users in the responses; dynamically interacting, by the control unit, with the initiator and the invited users to find an optimal event time; and conveying, by the control unit, the responses in a response report, wherein the response report indicates the optimal event time to the initiator.

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Claims

1. A method for electronically organizing an event among users having personal communication devices (PCDs), the method comprising the steps of:
(a) providing event details, defined by an initiator, of the event to a control unit, wherein said event details designate invited users and at least one suggested event time;
(b) transmitting, by said control unit, said event details in an event request to said invited users;
(c) indicating intentions, using the PCDs, of said invited users to participate in the event in responses from said invited users;
(d) designating, using the PCDs, a compatibility of said suggested event time with said invited users in said responses;
(e) dynamically interacting, by said control unit, with said initiator and said invited users to find an optimal event time; and
(f) conveying, by said control unit, said responses in a response report, wherein said response report indicates said optimal event time to said initiator.

Show 18 dependent claims

20. A computer-readable storage medium having computer-readable code embodied on the computer-readable storage medium, the computer-readable code comprising:
(a) program code for providing event details, defined by an initiator, of an event to a control unit, wherein said event details designate invited users and at least one suggested event time;
(b) program code for transmitting, by said control unit, said event details in an event request to said invited users;
(c) program code for indicating intentions, using PCDs, of said invited users to participate in the event in responses from said invited users;
(d) program code for designating, using said PCDs, a compatibility of said suggested event time with said invited users in said responses;
(e) dynamically interacting, by said control unit, with said initiator and said invited users to find an optimal event time; and
(f) program code for conveying, by said control unit, said responses in a response report, wherein said response report indicates said optimal event time to said initiator.

Description

FIELD AND BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to methods and systems for scheduling, initiating and conducting, and tracking the timing of, on-line communication using any kind of personal communication device (e.g. via cellular phones, telephones, smart phones, computers, and mobile devices) and face-to-face gathering (e.g. conversation, meeting, conferencing, chat, and social events).

Those skilled in the art of electronic commerce (eC), business to business commerce (B2B), mobile commerce (mC), on-line conference (oC), mobile software (mS), wireless software (wS), or chat software know that communication between people via PCDs (personal communication devices) can be done using two main approaches: (1) by a so-called try-and-trail process as depicted in FIG. 1A (e.g. contacting each user via a phone call to the user, sending instant messaging services, short messages service (SMS), multimedia service (MMS), or e-mail) in order to find out if those users are ready to be engaged in the specific call or event; and (2) by designating a scheduled time in advance for the event, and asking all users to join at the scheduled time (e.g. by a conference bridge), or reserving the appointment in a scheduling calendar (e.g. Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, and IBM Lotus Notes). In FIG. 1, an initiator 2 uses a cellular phone to call (via channels 4), invite, and schedule other users to participate in the event.

In the prior art, Jefferson et al, US Patent Publication No. 20060288099 A1 (hereinafter referred to as Jefferson '099), teaches a method and system for presence management in telecommunications for responding to inquiries regarding user presence with respect to various communication systems. Nelken, WO Patent Publication No. WO2006092790 (hereinafter referred to as Nelken '790), teaches an automatic scheduling method and apparatus for scheduling activities between users having on-line calendar information available to a network. Wu, U.S. Pat. No. 6,275,575 B1 (hereinafter referred to as Wu '575), teaches a method and system for coordinating and initiating cross-platform telephone conferences.

None of the prior-art systems mentioned above actively perform a dynamic priority-based scheduling procedure with the designated parties, nor does the prior art. offer a scheduling and initiating mechanism for the mobile and cellular phone environment. Such a procedure is necessary for situations in which an initiator wants to conduct communication with one or more users, and does not want to spend time to contact each user separately, or to deal with different time slot options per user. Furthermore, the initiator does not want to send a message that the initiator cannot use to manage the received answers regarding users' time availability and personal willingness to join the event. It can take an initiator an hour or more to schedule an event, even if the initiator wants to have just a short call. Moreover, none of the prior-art systems mentioned above actively set and schedule phone calls, one-on-one conversations, and conferences, initiated by mobile phones and cellular phones with or without access to the internet.

It would be desirable to have methods and systems for setting, scheduling, optimizing, and initiating personal communication, and prioritizing communication channels and devices that overcome the limitations of the prior art as described above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is the purpose of the present invention to provide methods and systems for setting, scheduling, optimizing, and initiating personal communication, and prioritizing communication channels and devices.

For the purpose of clarity, several terms which follow are specifically defined for use herein. The terms PCD and personal communication device are used herein to refer to any kind of communication device that is known in the art such as but not limited to a cellular phone, smart phone, mobile phone, blackberry phone, wired phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), pocket PC, mobile PC, and desktop PC. The term server is used herein to refer to a computer system that provides services to other computing and communication systems. The term user is used herein to refer to any person that uses a PCD. The term initiator is used herein to refer to a user that registers into the system, and subsequently, can initiate any kind of communication.

The terms invited user and IU are used herein to refer to a user that has been invited to any communication initiated by the initiator. The terms communication, interaction, collaboration, meeting, call, and event are used herein interchangeably to refer to any kind of communication that take place between people, such as but not limited to on-line one-on-one conversation, multi-user voice/web/data/video conferencing, chatting, instant-message sharing, and sending by users that use PCDs, or any kind of communication that take place between people in face-to-face one-on-one, multi-user, meetings or gatherings (e.g. conference-room meeting, seminar, team meeting, interview, group brainstorming, movie, board meeting, social event, and business event). The terms dynamic responses shared mechanism and DRSM are used herein to refer to a mechanism by which invited users' responses are generated in a shared template/window by all invited users. The system will try to find an optimal match between the suggested scheduling framework by initiator and the invited users' responses.

The term connection is used herein to refer to any kind of networking link between PCDs and/or servers such as but not limited to TCP/IP, UMTS, UMTS-TDD, GSM, CDMA, PSTN, TDMA, GPRS, Bluetooth, dial-up, ISDN, DSL, cable, fiber optic, power-line internet, SIP, H323, ISDN, IEEE 802.11, WiBro, WiMAX, HSDPA, EV-DO, satellite, and Wi-Fi. The term message is used herein to refer to a textual or verbal message that is exchanged between users via PCDs. The term location is used herein to refer to a communication channel that users use during an event (e.g. cellular phone over a wireless network, PC over an IP network, Blackberry over an IP network, wired telephone over a PSTN network, smart phone via a Wi-Fi network, and face-to-face in an office or outdoors).

The term SyncML stands for Synchronization Markup Language. The term PIM stands for Personal Information Manager. The term SLA stands for service level agreement. The term GUI stands for Graphical User Interface (ie. a graphics-based user interface). The term IVR stands for interactive voice response which is an automated telephone information-system that speaks to the caller with a combination of fixed-voice menus and data extracted from databases in real-time. The term DTMF stands for dual-tone multi-frequency signaling.

The term ad-hoc is used herein to refer to a spontaneous, immediate, or instant invitation to an event that can take place shortly after an event request is sent without setting any event time (e.g. an immediate phone-call event). The term delay time is used herein to refer to a time for which the event can start no later than. The term upon-free event time is used herein to refer to a time when a user, who is currently involved in a call, becomes available. The term PCD status is used herein to refer to the status of a user's PCD (e.g. PCD busy, PCD off, PCD non-responsive, PCD available, PCD unavailable, PCD on-vacation, PCD ready-to-receive, PCD in-meeting, PCD abroad, PCD home, and PCD driving). The term accept call is used herein to refer to a user accepting a call. The term delayed-accept call is used herein to refer to a user accepting a call after a specified amount of time has elapsed from responding (e.g. X minutes from now). The term upon-free call is used herein to refer to a user accepting a call after the user, who is currently involved in a call, becomes available.

Embodiments of the present invention facilitate the coordination and initiation of interactions, primarily, but not limited to, calls by mobile phones, much easier and faster than in current state-of-the-art systems. Embodiments of the present invention allow users to speak, chat, share, view, and/or meet each other without wasting time coordinating phone calls, scheduling meetings or conferences, missing calls, receiving unwanted calls, and waiting for calls at inconvenient times. An essential and novel feature of the present invention is the timing optimization of simple phone calls, either one-on-one or multi-user conference, among other types of events.

FIG. 2 is a simplified illustration of a conference initiation and optimization system, according to preferred embodiments of the present invention. In contrast to the prior-art configuration shown in FIG. 1, after the initiator has entered the suggested event details into an initiator PCD 6, initiator PCD 6 contacts a server 8. Server 8 acts as the hub for handling the coordination and execution of an event as opposed to the event initiator. Another significant difference from the prior-art scheme is that the present invention allows channels 4 to include many different communication means to communicate (e.g. to access, optimize, and select) with many types of IU PCDs 10, as shown in FIG. 2.

Typically, an initiator wants an event to take place as close as possible to the moment he/she decides to initiate the event. Since there are many communication channels 4 and PCDs 10 (e.g. wired telephones, cellular phones, smart phones, PDA, and PC) and many communication applications (e.g. simple one-on-one conversation, voice conferencing, instant messengers, voice-over-IP (VoIP), web conferencing, and video conferencing), the initiator cannot pick the channel, device, and application that the invited users prefer or are available.

FIG. 3 is a feature chart showing examples of the variables that the system can use to optimize event scheduling, according to preferred embodiments of the present invention. The system provides a mechanism for automatic scheduling of a conference (Feature 12) that analyzes different variables in order to optimize the communication between the IUs who are about to take part in the event.

Some of the features the system enables include: automatically initiate conversation or conference (Feature 14), interact with IU to set event time via DRSM (Feature 16), utilize IUs' open calendar slots (Feature 18), factor event load into scheduling decision (e.g. if a conference bridge is already heavily loaded, the system can open a new bridge) (Feature 20), and prioritize platforms (e.g. the pre-event configuration can set the platform to be used during the event, for example, cellular phones, but the system can optimize the platform selection by checking the IUs preferences) (Feature 22).

The following parameter options can be implemented both in client application (e.g. J2ME, Symbian, Brew, Win Mobile, or any other VM or embedded platform), or HTML/XHTML/WAP in server 8.

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