METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR PROVIDING CONFERENCING SERVICES

US 2012 117 153A1

drawing #0

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An approach is provided for supporting multi-media conferencing. Textual information (e.g., text associated with a presentation) is received for display during a conference session to multiple participants. For a particular participant, configuration information corresponding to the participant specifies language assistance for the textual information. Language assistance involves augmenting the textual information according to the configuration information for comprehension of the textual information by the particular participant. In one embodiment, the augmented textual information includes language translation of the textual information. Additionally, the augmented textual information can encompass definitions of terms, including acronyms. The augmented textual information is forwarded for display to the participant during the conference session.

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Claims

1. A method comprising:
determining that textual information corresponds to a predetermined term and associated supplemental information that includes a definition of the term, wherein the textual information is to be presented to one of a plurality of participants of a conference session;
marking the textual information to notify the one participant that the supplemental information is available for presentation based on the determination; and
forwarding the textual information having the marking to the one participant for presentation during the conference session.

Show 9 dependent claims

11. An apparatus comprising:
at least one processor; and
at least one memory including computer program code for one or more programs,
the at least one memory and the computer program code configured to, with the at least one processor, cause the apparatus to perform at least the following,
determine that textual information corresponds to a predetermined term and associated supplemental information that includes a definition of the term, wherein the textual information is to be presented to one of a plurality of participants of a conference session,
mark the textual information to notify the one participant that the supplemental information is available for presentation based on the determination, and
forward the textual information having the marking to the one participant for presentation during the conference session.

Show 9 dependent claims

21. A system comprising:
a first processor configured to determine that textual information corresponds to a predetermined term and associated supplemental information that includes a definition of the term, wherein the textual information is to be presented to one of a plurality of participants of a conference session; and
a second processor configured to mark the textual information to notify the one participant that the supplemental information is available for presentation based on the determination,
wherein the textual information having the marking is presented to the one participant during the conference session.

Show dependent claim

Description

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/903,590 which is related to, and claims the benefit of the earlier filing date under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of, U.S. Provisional Patent Application filed Aug. 5, 2003 (Ser. No. 60/492,597; Attorney Docket: CDR03001 PR), entitled Conferencing Communications System; the entireties of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to communications systems, and more particularly, to conferencing systems.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Network service providers recognize the key role that conferencing services play in the conduct of modern business. Despite the evolution in communications infrastructure and associated services, advancements in conferencing facilities have remained relatively stagnant, with the focus on improving audio conferencing systems. Collaborative applications, such as whiteboarding, have emerged as tools that are helpful in supporting productive meetings. However, these applications have largely been implemented at the end user level, with little or no coordination with the conferencing facilities.

Conventionally, the approach to scheduling conferences among many participants is performed in an ad hoc manner, and is manually intensive. For example, when a manager wants to set up a meeting with his team members who are geographically dispersed, the manager typically instructs an assistant to contact each of the potential participants either through e-mail or telephone. Generally, this invitation and response process is performed several times until the assistant can establish a time that is suitable for all of the team members. Thereafter, the assistant can schedule a time slot with the service provider for reserving the conference bridge. Generally, this conference bridge is reserved well in advance of the actual meeting date. Even up to this point in the process, scheduling and coordinating calendars can be overly cumbersome, particularly if the number of participants is large. Moreover, during the time period between the set up and the meeting date, invariably one or more of the team members will have a conflict that arises, thereby necessitating rescheduling of the meeting. Consequently, the assistant will need to begin this process anew to schedule the meeting; otherwise absenteeism can hinder the productivity of the meeting or render it all together ineffective, especially if the key members are not there to provide input.

Additionally, after the extensive effort at scheduling the conference, traditional conference facilities provide no services that assist with improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the meeting. That is, the provider of the conferencing services now merely supplies circuits and ports on the conference bridge.

Therefore, there is a need for providing enhanced conferencing services to facilitate the scheduling and conducting of the meeting.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

These and other needs are addressed by the present invention, in which an approach for providing multi-media conferencing supplies enhanced services to the participants of the conference session. The scheduling of the conference can be conducted collaboratively in a communications environment that supports a variety of media (e.g., e-mail, page, instant messaging, and Internet Protocol (IP) telephony). During the conference or meeting, a language assistance application can be invoked to augment textual information for comprehension of the textual information. For a particular participant, configuration information corresponding to the participant specifies the nature of the language assistance requested. Language assistance involves augmenting the textual information according to the configuration information, wherein the augmented textual information can include language translation of the textual information, as well as assistive or supplemental information for the textual information. In an exemplary embodiment, the supplemental information conveys definitions of terms, which can include acronyms and abbreviations. The augmented textual information is forwarded for display to the participant during the conference session. By supplying augmented textual information, the participants are less likely to interrupt the flow of the conference session, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the meeting. The above arrangement advantageously improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the conference session by conveying information tailored to individual participates. The above approach also permits the service providers to enhance their communication service offerings, thereby providing new sources of revenue.

According to one aspect of the present invention, a method for providing multi-media conferencing is disclosed. The method includes receiving textual information for display during a conference session among a plurality of participants. The method also includes retrieving configuration information specifying language assistance for the textual information, wherein the configuration information is associated with one of the participants. Additionally, the method includes augmenting the textual information according to the configuration information for comprehension of the textual information by the one participant. Further, the method includes forwarding the augmented textual information for display to the one participant during the conference session.

According to another aspect of the present invention, a system for providing multi-media conferencing is disclosed. The system includes a conference scheduling application configured to receive textual information for display during a conference session among a plurality of participants, and to retrieve configuration information specifying language assistance for the textual information, wherein the configuration information is associated with one of the participants. Also, the system includes a language assistance application configured to augment the textual information according to the configuration information for comprehension of the textual information by the one participant, wherein the augmented textual information is forwarded for display to the one participant during the conference session.

According to yet another aspect of the present invention, a computer-readable medium carrying one or more sequences of one or more instructions for providing multi-media conferencing is disclosed. The one or more sequences of one or more instructions including instructions which, when executed by one or more processors, cause the one or more processors to perform the steps of receiving textual information for display during a conference session among a plurality of participants; and retrieving configuration information specifying language assistance for the textual information. The configuration information is associated with one of the participants. Further steps include augmenting the textual information according to the configuration information for comprehension of the textual information by the one participant; and forwarding the augmented textual information for display to the one participant during the conference session.

Still other aspects, features, and advantages of the present invention are readily apparent from the following detailed description, simply by illustrating a number of particular embodiments and implementations, including the best mode contemplated for carrying out the present invention. The present invention is also capable of other and different embodiments, and its several details can be modified in various obvious respects, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the drawing and description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature, and not as restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is illustrated by way of example, and not by way of limitation, in the figures of the accompanying drawings and in which like reference numerals refer to similar elements and in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a communication system providing multi-media conferencing services, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a diagram of a billing system supporting multi-media conferencing services, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a diagram of a conference scheduling application utilizing invitation messages to establish a conference, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a diagram of a response process supported by the conference scheduling application, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a diagram of a graphical user interface (GUI) for displaying of an invitation response status, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a flowchart of a process for determining the state of the conference, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a diagram of an exemplary calendar user interface showing conference status information, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a diagram of a workstation capable of accessing personal scheduling information to perform group scheduling, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a diagram of a telephone session supporting media crossover of a conference session, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a diagram of conferencing system components for providing customized presentation output for a variety of devices, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a flowchart of a process for providing language assistance in a conference session, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a flowchart of a process for activating language assistance supplemental information, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 13A and 13B are diagrams of processes for recording and playback, respectively, of conference media, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a flowchart of a process for providing e-mail, workflow, and presence integration, according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 15 is a flowchart of a process performed by a redirect server or location server to provide differentiated responses, according to an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 16 is a diagram of a computer system that can be used to implement an embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A system, method, and software for providing multi-media conferencing are described. In the following description, for the purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It is apparent, however, to one skilled in the art that the present invention can be practiced without these specific details or with an equivalent arrangement. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the present invention.

Although the present invention is explained with respect to a specific communication and signaling protocols, the present invention also has applicability to other equivalent protocols. By way of example, these specific protocols include the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) as specified in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request For Comment (RFC) 3261, the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP) according to RFC 2705, and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Recommendations H.323 and H.248; all of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a communication system providing multi-media conferencing services, according to an embodiment of the present invention. Various elements shown in FIG. 1 cooperate to provide communication services among parties, including telephony, multi-party conferencing and collaborative communications. By way of example, conferencing services are supported by a network service provider, which supplies a conference scheduling application 101 that operates with a telephone conference bridge 103 and an Internet Protocol (IP) conference bridge 105. The bridges 103, 105 represent collections of resources that are allocated to various conferencing tasks. Although not shown, a video conferencing system may also be commercially operated by the service provider. This type of resource can be similarly allocated in support of conferencing services.

The conference scheduling application 101 provides resource management of both the telephone conference bridge 103 and the IP conference bridge 105. A service provider may have an overall capacity of hundreds or thousands of conferencing portsreferring to the number of separate connections that are supported at any one time. The conference scheduling application 101 processes requests to schedule a conference for a certain data and time, as well as a specified number of ports. The conference scheduling application 101 determines whether the request can be fulfilled and reserves (or allocates) the appropriate conferencing facilities. Additionally, the functions of the conference scheduling application 101 includes verifying schedules of physical facilities or equipment, as well as participants' individual schedules.

The conference scheduling application 101 also interacts with a calendar sharing application 107 and collaborative applications 109. These applications 109 can include a presentation sharing application 109a, a language assistance application 109b, an application integration and sharing program 109c, and a logging and recording application 109d.

These collaborative applications 109, according to one embodiment of the present invention, can run on servers (not shown) and are implemented as commercially hosted web services or are implemented as enterprise applications serving users within an enterprise or those who are able to access an enterprise network through, for example, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) arrangement.

Further, any one or all of these applications 109 can support a web-accessible interface and can be hosted as a service on server facilities independent from the network service provider (e.g., a third party apart from the network service provider and the enterprise). This type of service relates to so-called web services, which are web-accessible applications hosted on, for example, server hardware of a first company and made available for use by, or on behalf of, a second company. In an exemplary embodiment, the conference scheduling application 101 can be accessible by web browser applications. In addition, the conference scheduling application 101 can also be a proprietary client-server application that enables users to conveniently schedule conferences.

The service provider can deploy a web server (not shown) as an interface between systems external to the service provider and those systems that are internal to the service provider. It is contemplated that the web server supports adequate privacy and security measures via user authentication. The web server can provide the user with the following functions: checking of status of a meeting, obtaining status on acknowledgement of participating parties, obtaining status on attendance confirmation of participating parties, modifying parameters set by the conference wizard (can be offered only for the initiator of the conference or a super user), and reviewing (and selecting and modifying) the list of services/resources available for the meeting.

The collaborative applications 109 allow multiple parties using web browsers or specialized applications to simultaneously view and/or act upon a common view of a document, presentation or other data object. An example of a collaborative application is a document editor wherein multiple parties can view a common document and provide editing input, or even share editing control, to modify the document while viewing it. Another example is a common whiteboard wherein multiple parties can view a graphical workspace and may take turns modifying or adding to the content. Other advanced tools include collaborative computer-aided design (CAD) tools, whereby engineers working at different locations may collaboratively design and view manufacturable parts or data models. The collaborative applications 109 can also provide for parallel text messaging and audio conferencing as part of the communication session, as well as support live video to provide face-to-face interaction. Also, these collaborative applications 109 can provide for a session owner or moderator, who exercises control over the session, to delegate editing control to other parties.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, the application integration and sharing 109c is a server process for enabling collaboration among multiple client application instances.

The conference logging and recording application 109d allows for logging of events pertaining to a conference session and recording of the conduct of the session as well as the content of the session. Logging of events include, for example, start time, stop time, sign-on and sign-off times of each participant, along with indexing markers or annotations inserted during the session by a presenter or participants. The recording process, for instance, includes recording video, audio, textual messaging conversations, presentations and collaborative work as well as data items, such as documents or images, which are introduced by participants in the course of the meeting. Recording may also involve manual or automatic note taking, vote tallies, meeting minutes or meeting transcripts.

The conference scheduling application 101 accesses data from a database 111, which stores records of allocated conferencing resources and other pertinent data. The database 111 also connects to a billing system 113 that provides Rating, Billing, and Authorization (RBA) functions. Thus, the billing system 113 can use the database 111 to store account information or records of billing-related events received from other elements. The rating, billing, and authorization functions measure the usage of the communication services offered by the network service provider and determine billing for the usage. The billing system 113 receives notifications from other network elements indicating the nature and amount of services provided, such as the duration of telephone calls or video conferences. The billing system 113 can also be involved in determining whether to honor requests for service based upon the ability of parties accessing the system to arrange for payment to the service provider.

The network service provider employs a service management system 115 in support of various management functions for controlling the conferencing services.

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