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Publication numberWO2007109461 A2
Publication typeApplication
Application numberPCT/US2007/063918
Publication date27 Sep 2007
Filing date13 Mar 2007
Priority date17 Mar 2006
Also published asWO2007109461A3
Publication numberPCT/2007/63918, PCT/US/2007/063918, PCT/US/2007/63918, PCT/US/7/063918, PCT/US/7/63918, PCT/US2007/063918, PCT/US2007/63918, PCT/US2007063918, PCT/US200763918, PCT/US7/063918, PCT/US7/63918, PCT/US7063918, PCT/US763918, WO 2007/109461 A2, WO 2007109461 A2, WO 2007109461A2, WO-A2-2007109461, WO2007/109461A2, WO2007109461 A2, WO2007109461A2
InventorsJohn Paff, Mark L. Tucker, Jeremy Bruestle, Dennis Edwards
ApplicantCoco Communications Corp.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet
Multifunction personal communication devices and associated systems and methods
WO 2007109461 A2
Abstract
Multifunction personal communication devices and associated systems and methods are disclosed. In one embodiment, a personal communication device comprises a handheld computing device and a housing configured to receive and releasably carry the handheld computing device. The housing can include a visual display panel configured to display information to a user and a keypad configured to receive input from the user. The housing can also include one or more geometrically-shaped keys programmed to perform preset functions upon activation and a microphone positioned to receive voice input from the user. The housing can further include integrated circuitry electrically coupled to the handheld computing device and one or more components of the housing and a power supply configured to provide power to both the housing and the handheld computing device.
Claims  (OCR text may contain errors)
CLAIMSI/We claim:
1. A personal communication device, comprising: a handheld computing device; and a housing configured to receive and releasably carry the handheld computing device, wherein the housing includes — a visual display panel configured to display information to a user; a keypad configured to receive input from the user; one or more geometrically-shaped keys programmed to perform preset functions upon activation; integrated circuitry electrically coupled to the handheld computing device and one or more components of the housing; and a power supply configured to provide power to both the housing and the handheld computing device.
2. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the housing includes a ruggedized, environmentally-sound enclosure configured to isolate the handheld computing device from the outside environment.
3. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the housing includes one or more internal shock mounting structures configured to releasably carry the handheld computing device.
4. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the handheld computing device includes at least one of a personal digital assistant, a cellular telephone, and a radio.
5. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the handheld computing device is configured to support multiple communication protocols, including cellular, WiFi, WAN, LAN, RSS, SMS, and video communications.
6. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the housing further includes a multi-axis selector switch configured to receive input from the user.
7. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the keypad includes a numeric keypad.
8. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the power supply is configured to operate with at least one of the following: conventional batteries, rechargeable batteries, manually operated devices, A/C power, automobile batteries, generators, and solar cells.
9. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the housing has a form factor corresponding to a form factor of a land mobile radio.
10. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the housing further comprises a global positioning system (GPS) device.
11. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the housing further comprises a microphone positioned to receive voice input from the user.
12. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the housing further comprises one or more biometric input features configured to receive biometric data from the user.
13. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein one or more components of the housing are configured to receive signals from and transfer signals to the handheld computing device.
14. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the handheld computing device has a first form factor, and wherein the housing has a second form factor generally similar to the first form factor.
15. The personal communication device of claim 1 wherein the housing further comprises one or more antennas.
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

MULTIFUNCTION PERSONAL COMMUNICATION DEVICES AND ASSOCIATED SYSTEMS AND METHODS

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/783,626, filed March 17, 2006, and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/799,450, filed May 10, 2006, both of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] The present invention is directed generally toward multifunction personal communication devices and associated systems and methods.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Most current users of communications systems and devices (e.g., military, emergency services, industrial/commercial and/or consumers) who want and need the ability to communicate in and across multiple media, modes, and networks (e.g., cellular and landline phones, radios, satellite, video, text, data, SMS, or other Internet-related technologies) face a number of limitations including:

(1) The need to purchase, maintain, and carry multiple devices including, for example, multiple application-specific, medium-specific, and/or network-specific devices to perform various communications tasks;

(2) The inability to adapt individual devices to additional modes and/or future modes and types of communications media and networks;

(3) Single mode, network/provider, and/or infrastructure dependencies with single points of failure. For example, most conventional user devices are limited to — and totally dependent upon the health and state of— a single and specific type of communications technology, communications infrastructure, mode, medium and/or network/service provider;

(4) The complete inability to interoperate across all modes and types and media of communication devices and networks; and (5) The lack of high-level crypto-strong assurance of trust, integrity, authentication, and security with respect to users, communication content, and transaction across all media and types of communications.

Accordingly, there is a need for an improved personal communications system and platform to provide high assurance, secure, adaptable, trustable, universal, and interoperable, all-mode communications.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0004] Figure 1 is a partially exploded isometric view of a multifunctional personal communication device including an electronic device and a carrier enclosure configured in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.

[0005] Figure 2 is an isometric view of the multifunctional personal communication device of Figure 1 after the electronic device has been received within the carrier enclosure.

[0006] Figure 3 is a front plan view of the multifunctional personal communication device of Figure 2.

[0007] Figure 4 is a back plan view of the multifunctional personal communication device of Figure 2.

[0008] Figure 5 is a right elevational view of the multifunctional personal communication device of Figure 2.

[0009] Figure 6 is a left elevational view of the multifunctional personal communication device of Figure 2.

[0010] Figure 7 is a top end view of the multifunctional personal communication device of Figure 2.

[0011] Figure 8 is a bottom end view of the multifunctional personal communication device of Figure 2.

[0012] Figure 9 is an isometric view of an electrical connector for electrically coupling the information appliance to the carrier enclosure in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. [0013] Figure 10 is a back plan view of a multifunctional personal communication device configured in accordance with another embodiment of the invention.

[0014] Figure 11 is a front plan view of a multifunctional personal communication device including an electronic device and a carrier enclosure configured in accordance with another still another embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0015] The present disclosure describes multifunctional personal communication devices and associated systems and methods. A device configured in accordance with one embodiment of the invention can include, for example, a ruggedized, exoskeleton-like carrier enclosure into which a hand-held computer device or electronic device (e.g., a mobile phone, PDA, or other suitable information appliance) is docked. The ergonomically-designed carrier enclosure can include hardware, software, firmware, and other electronic components that enable the carrier enclosure and docked core electronic device to effectively operate together in a wide variety of operating conditions and environments to meet a varying range of military emergency services, commercial, industrial, and/or consumer needs.

[0016] Many specific details of certain embodiments of the invention are set forth in the following description and in Figures 1-11 to provide a thorough understanding of these embodiments. A person skilled in the art, however, will understand that the invention may be practiced without several of these details or additional details can be added to the invention. Well-known structures and functions have not been shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the description of the embodiments of the invention. Where the context permits, singular or plural terms may also include the plural or singular term, respectively. Moreover, unless the word "or" is expressly limited to mean only a single item exclusive from the other items in reference to a list of two or more items, then the use of "or" in such a list is to be interpreted as including (a) any single item in the list, (b) all of the items in the list, or (c) any combination of the items in the list. Additionally, the term "comprising" is used throughout to mean including at least the recited feature(s) such that any greater number of the same feature and/or additional types of features are not precluded. [0017] The terminology used in the description presented below is intended to be interpreted in its broadest reasonable manner, even though it is being used in conjunction with a detailed description of certain specific embodiments of the invention. Certain terms may even be emphasized below; however, any terminology intended to be interpreted in any restricted manner will be overtly and specifically defined as such in this Detailed Description section.

A. Embodiments of Multifunctional Personal Communication Devices and Associated Systems and Methods

[0018] Figure 1 is a partially exploded isometric view of a multifunctional personal communication device or assembly 100 configured in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The device 100 includes a hand-held computing device or information appliance 110 and an exoskeleton or carrier enclosure 120 (hereinafter referred to as an "exodock") configured to receive and releasably hold the information appliance 110 (as shown by the arrow A). The information appliance 110 is operable as a stand-alone device and can include, for example, a small form- factor, multi-function, multimedia, and multi-mode communications electronic device. In other embodiments, however, the information appliance 110 can include other suitable devices and/or can have different configurations. In several embodiments, for example, the information appliance 110 can include suitable PDAs, cellular or wireless devices, entertainment devices (e.g., MP3 players, portable gaming devices), radios, or other such devices.

[0019] The information appliance 110 is configured to support multiple communications technologies and networks (e.g., cellular, WiFi, WAN, LAN, data, video, text, RSS and SMS communications or conferencing, and/or other suitable communication modes). In the illustrated embodiment, the information appliance 110 is further configured to support software, firmware, and hardware technologies enabling the device to function as part of an ultra-high assurance and availability, secure, adaptable, trustable, interoperable, all-mode, ad-hoc mesh communication networks suitable for demanding military, security, emergency services, and/or commercial needs. Examples of such communication networks and associated methods are disclosed in several currently pending patent applications assigned to the assignee of the present application. [0020] As discussed previously, the exodock 120 is configured to receive the information appliance 110 such that the information appliance is a "core" device within the exodock 120. Figure 2, for example, is an isometric view of the multifunctional personal communication device 100 after docking the information appliance 110 within the exodock 120. Referring to Figures 1 and 2 together, the exodock 120 includes a housing 122 and a section 124 (i.e., a door or hatch) movable relative to the housing 122 to define an opening 126 configured to receive the information appliance 110 and provide secure and accurate placement of the information appliance 110 relative to the exodock for docking. After inserting the information appliance 110 at least partially within the exodock 120, the section 124 is configured to sealably close against the housing 122 (as shown in Figure 2) to protect and isolate the information appliance 110 from environmental and physical damage. In several embodiments, the exodock 120 can include a latch or other securing device (not shown) to releasably hold the section 124 in place against the housing 122. Further details regarding the exodock 120 are described in greater detail below with reference to Figures 3-8.

[0021] In one aspect of this embodiment, the information appliance 110 includes an electrical connector 112 (shown schematically) configured to mate or otherwise connect with a corresponding electrical connector 128 (shown schematically in broken lines) of the exodock 120 to electrically couple the information appliance 110 to the exodock 120. Examples of suitable electrical connectors are described below with reference to Figure 9. In other embodiments, however, the electrical connectors can have different features and/or have other arrangements. In still further embodiments, the information appliance 110 can be operably coupled to the exodock 120 using other arrangements.

[0022] Figures 3 and 4 are front and back plan views, respectively, of the multifunction personal communication device 100 (including the core information appliance 110 (Figure 1) docked within the exodock 120). Referring to Figure 3, the exodock includes the relatively small, ergonomically designed, ruggedized housing 122 for carrying the information appliance 110. As discussed above, the housing 122 provides an environmentally-sound enclosure to protect the docked information appliance 110 from adverse environmental conditions (e.g., dust, moisture, chemicals, radiation, etc.). The exodock 120 further includes internal shock mounting to protect the information appliance 110 from physical damage. The housing 122 can include rubberized grips 129 and specially located brackets (not shown) designed to support a broad range of human, vehicle, and other mounting options. In this way, the exodock 120 is relatively easy for a user to grasp and small enough for single-handed operation. In several embodiments, the exodock 120 can also include one or more biometric inputs 130 positioned to receive biometric input (e.g., a thumb print) from the user to authenticate the user before and/or during operation of the device 100.

[0023] The exodock 120 can include a screen 132 to provide visual data to the user and one or more ruggedized, geometrically-shaped keys (four are shown in the illustrated embodiment as keys 134a-d) programmed to perform preset functions upon activation. The unique geometric shape of each key 134a-d provides for immediate tactile identification of a particular key without requiring visual identification and during both gloved and ungloved operation. As such, the keys 134a-d are suitable for anything from rugged military or industrial applications to use by a small child. The keys 134a-d are further configured to provide non-electrical keying operation for intrinsically safe operation of the device 100 in potentially hazardous conditions. In other embodiment, the exodock 120 can have a different number of keys 134a-d and/or the keys can have a different arrangement.

[0024] The exodock 120 can further include (a) a multiaxis selector switch or stick 136 for providing input, (b) a user-activated push-to-talk button 138, and (c) a microphone 139 to provide voice input. More specifically, the multiaxis selector switch 136 allows a user to move a cursor or other pointer device around the screen 132 to select certain options. The push-to-talk button 138 allows a user to operate the device 100 as a walkie-talkie. The keys 134a-d, multiaxis selector switch 136, push-to-talk button 138, and microphone 139 can accordingly simplify operation for the user and provide an effective substitute for the typical undocked touch screen operation of the information appliance 110. In other embodiments, the keys 134a-d, multiaxis selector switch 136, push-to-talk button 138, and/or microphone 139 can have a different arrangement and/or the exodock 120 can include different features.

[0025] Referring to Figure 4, the exodock 120 can include a membrane keypad 140 that can be configured, for example, as a telephone keypad for entering data. The keypad 140 further includes a screen portion 142 configured to provide visual data to the user. In the illustrated embodiment, for example, the screen portion 142 is an LED for use in phone operations, secure text/SMS messaging, and/or military or commercial "challenge and response" operation. In other embodiments, the keypad 140 can have other arrangements (e.g., a QWERTY keypad) and/or the screen portion 142 can have a different configuration. The exodock 120 can further include a camera 150 to capture image and/or video data. The camera 150 can be configured for operation in a number of different environments (e.g., night vision, infrared, etc.).

[0026] Figures 5-8 are right, left, top, and bottom views, respectively, of the device 100. Referring to Figures 3-8 together, the exodock 120 further includes a power supply subsystem 160 configured to power the exodock 120 and the docked information appliance 110. The power subsystem 160 is a highly adaptable system configured to use a number of different power sources, including high-endurance rechargeable batteries, conventional batteries, a manually operated device (e.g., hand cranked magneto system 162), as well as external connections 164 for external power sources such as A/C power, automobile batteries, generators, solar cells, or other suitable power sources.

[0027] The exodock 120 further includes a number of internal electronic circuit boards and corresponding circuitry (not shown) that allow the device's communications and other functions, features, and capabilities to be adapted and extended to include any desired type of radio communications frequency or modulation type (e.g., HF, VHF, UHF or Satellite, AM, FM, spread spectrum or burst, and other suitable modes). The device can also include a GPS system, environmental sensors, such as sensors for nuclear, biological, or chemical detection, and/or other suitable sensors.

[0028] The device 100 can also include a number of other features. For example, the device 100 can include support for multifactor device and user authentication systems, such as an insertable, programmable smartcard-like device for use in combination with one or more biometric input components on the device 100 (e.g., a fingerprint reader, a retinal scan component, voice and facial identification features using the built-in camera 150, etc.). Furthermore, the device 100 can include credit card on chip features and can be interoperable with IC credit/debit cards, ATMs, and the like. This feature can allow a user to "charge up" the device 100 with credit and then use the device 100 as a credit/debit instrument in financial transactions. The biometric security features can be configured to provide any desired level of security and authentication for the device 100, thus enabling the device to be used for a wide range of applications (e.g., military, security, industrial, consumer, etc.). In other embodiments, the device 100 can include a number of other security and/or authentication features.

[0029] Figure 9 is an isometric view of an electrical connector 200 for electrically coupling the information appliance 110 (Figure 1) to the exodock 120 in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. The electrical connector 200 can include a number of blades 210 and pins 220 configured to both mate or otherwise interconnect with corresponding portions of another connector. In other embodiments, the electrical connector 200 can include different features and/or the features can have a different arrangement.

[0030] From the foregoing, it will be appreciated that specific embodiments of the invention have been described herein for purposes of illustration, but that various modifications may be made without deviating from the invention. For example, the keypad on the back of the exodock may have other configurations. Referring to Figure 10, a device 300 configured in accordance with another embodiment of the invention can include a keypad 340 having a different arrangement than the keypad 140 described above.

[0031] In still other embodiments, the exodock and/or information appliance may have other configurations or form factors. For example, as illustrated in Figure 11 , a device 400 configured in accordance with still another embodiment of the invention can include an exodock 420 having a form factor generally similar to a land mobile radio (LMR). A suitable information appliance 410 can be docked within the exodock 420 and a section 424 of the exodock's housing can be closed (as shown by the arrow B) against the exodock's housing to protect the core information appliance. One advantage of this arrangement is that it would be suitable for fire departments, emergency services, and other suitable organizations that require or prefer the conventional "brick" shaped LMR form factor. Accordingly, the device 400 could easily be used in most conventional holsters, carriers, and mounts currently used for LMRs. In other embodiments, the exodock can different form factors corresponding to other electronic devices (e.g., MP3 devices, cellular or wireless devices, other types of radios, or any other suitable portable electronic device).

[0032] In yet another embodiment, the exodock 120 can include one or more antennas (as illustrated in Figure 2) operably coupled to the housing 122 to further facilitate the communication abilities of the device. Aspects of the invention described in the context of particular embodiments may be combined or eliminated in other embodiments. For example, the various features of the exodock 120 described above can be have different arrangements and/or the exodock 120 can include a different combination of features. Further, while advantages associated with certain embodiments of the invention have been described in the context of those embodiments, other embodiments may also exhibit such advantages, and not all embodiments need necessarily exhibit such advantages to fall within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is not limited except as by the appended claims.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
WO2014060714A2 *16 Oct 201324 Apr 2014Thomson James LA case for a mobile communications device
WO2014060714A3 *16 Oct 20137 Aug 2014Thomson James LA case for a mobile communications device
US20150280769 *16 Oct 20131 Oct 2015SATcase Ltd.Case for a mobile communications device
Classifications
International ClassificationH04N1/21
Cooperative ClassificationH04M1/0254, G06F1/1632, G06F1/182, G06F1/1626
European ClassificationG06F1/18E2, G06F1/16P6
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