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Accessory device for mobile host device

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Accessory device for mobile host device

A method and apparatus for an accessory device for a mobile host device is disclosed. An accessory device for interfacing with a mobile host device includes a communication channel designed to establish a bi-directional communication link between the accessory device and the host device. In some embodiments, the accessory device allows walkie-talkie communication between an accessory device and a mobile host device as well as control by the accessory device of functions of the mobile host device. In some embodiments, the accessory device allows simplified speed dial control of a mobile phone host device. In other embodiments, accessory devices provide walkie-talkie communication with a mobile host device and provide positioning information to a mobile host device so that an application on the mobile host device can track locations of a plurality of accessory devices. These and other embodiments are more fully disclosed herein.
Related Terms: Ion Channel Mobile Phone Communication Channel Directional Communication

Browse recent Zeemote Technology Inc. patents - Taipei, TW
Inventors: Rob PODOLOFF, Lorraine WHEELER, Elaine CHEN, Beth MARCUS
USPTO Applicaton #: #20130012241 - Class: 4554566 (USPTO) - 01/10/13 - Class 455 
Telecommunications > Radiotelephone System >Zoned Or Cellular Telephone System >Location Monitoring >At Remote Station (i.e., Mobile Station)


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20130012241, Accessory device for mobile host device.

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This application is a continuation of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/301,689, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/693,398 (now U.S. Pat. No. 8,063,880), filed on Jan. 25, 2010, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/519,435, filed on Sep. 11, 2006 (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,652,660), which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/249,009, filed on Oct. 11, 2005 (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,280,097). The contents of these applications are incorporated herein in their entirety by reference. This application is also related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/699,555, filed on Oct. 31, 2003 (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,218,313), and U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/221,412, filed Sep. 6, 2005 (now U.S. Pat. No. 7,669,770).


The following description relates to hand-held input acceleration devices for interfacing with electronic devices, such as cellular phones, personal digital assistants (“PDAs”), pocket personal computers, smart phones, hand-held game devices, bar code readers, MP3 players and other similar input devices having a keypad or one or more input elements, and also relates to human interface and input systems for use with the hand-held acceleration devices.

Electronic devices have become increasingly sophisticated and physically smaller due in part to a decrease in the price of processing power and a concurrent increase in demand by consumers for smaller devices. Such devices, however, tend to be limited in function and utility by the user\'s ability to interface with the device for data input (e.g., text, numeric, and functional input) and/or device control, which becomes increasingly more difficult to do as the available space on the device\'s surface for positioning the input elements, which are used for data input and/or device control, continues to decrease.

Moreover, as the use of applications such as text centric applications (e.g., inputting data for e-mail, instant messaging, SMS, and MMS), list navigation applications (e.g. 1-D or 2-D navigation such as scrolling down a long list of songs to choose a song), and game applications (e.g. steering a car in a first person driving game) increases, the keypad on electronic devices, such as a cellular phone, is increasingly becoming a bottleneck to speed, accuracy and ease of data entry, playing games, picking items from long lists, web browsing, and launching applications.

For example, many hand-held electronic devices, in particular cellular phones, typically use a D-pad as the primary way to navigate up and down a list of items, such as a list of songs, on an item-by-item basis. Such item-by-item scrolling, however, is typically inefficient in navigating from the first item in the list to the last item in the list, especially if the list includes hundreds of items. Although most of these electronic devices provide the user with page up and page down functionality, which permits the user the scroll a number of items at once, e.g., some applications may associate ten items per page, often times such page up and page down functionality must be executed through multiple taps or presses of one or more input elements, typically those making up the keypad. The particular number of taps or number of input elements required to evoke such page up and down functionality typically depends on the application developer\'s preference, and therefore often differ from application to application within the same electronic device. Even the same application may be implemented using different user interfaces in different hand-held electronic devices.

Various human interface and input systems and techniques for hand-held electronic devices have been developed for data input and device control. These include miniature keyboards and keypads used in combination with chordal input techniques, modal input techniques and/or smart keys; and touch screens used in combination with on-screen keyboard or keypad software or hand-writing recognition software. Additionally, for gaming, some hand-held electronic devices, such as cellular phones, have incorporated miniature thumb joysticks on the face of the device itself in lieu of the directional navigation pad (D-pad).

Keyboard or Key Pad Used with Chordal, Modal and Smart Key Techniques

Miniature keyboards and keypads are similar to their standard full-size versions—i.e., a keyboard generally has a full set or substantially full set of numeric, character, and functional input elements, while key pads typically have a reduced set of numeric, character and/or functional input elements compared to keyboards. These miniature input devices typically are designed to fit the available space on one surface of a hand-held electronic device or are designed as small, easily transportable, external plug-in devices. Thus, as hand-held electronic devices become smaller, the size of the input elements typically has been reduced in order for the desired number of input elements to fit on one surface of the electronic device.

For data input and device control, miniature keyboards and keypads typically either require one of two input techniques—use of one or more thumbs or fingers to press the desired input elements or use of a stylus to “peck” the desired input elements (which is usually done where the input element is of smaller size). Various techniques, such as chordal input techniques, modal input techniques and smart keys, have been developed and implemented to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of using miniature keyboards and keypads.

Chordal Input Techniques

Chordal input techniques generally are based upon the principle that characters, symbols, words, phrases or concepts can be represented by a reduced set of input elements. Thus, by only having to press a reduced combination of input elements, functionality can be increased and quicker and more accurate data input can be realized. Chordal input techniques can be used on any keyboard or keypad configuration or any device having more than one input element, and typically results in fewer input elements or more functions compared to conventional keyboards or keypads. An example of an electronic device using two-handed chordal input techniques is a court reporter or stenographer\'s typewriter. One chordal input technique using a keypad to decrease the number of actuations to achieve a large number of functions is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,973,621 to Levy, entitled “Compact Keyed Input Device,” which is incorporated herein by reference.

Modal Input Techniques

Modal input techniques are based on the concept that functions of the electronic device, e.g., text messaging in a cell-phone or PDA, can be accessed by pressing a particular input element (or combination of elements) on a keyboard or keypad. Once that particular input element is pressed, the functionality of all or a portion of the input elements on the keyboard or keypad may change. Modal techniques typically are used in calculators, cellular phones, and PDAs. For example, in cellular phones, a modal technique called multi-tap is common, in which individual input elements on the keypad are associated with multiple symbols, such as characters, letters, numbers, icons or other types of symbols, which tends to reduce the number of input elements required to achieve the desired functions, e.g., a twelve-input-element keypad can be used to represent all letters of the English alphabet and the decimal digits. A user can input a desired symbol within a set of symbols associated with a certain input element by tapping on that particular input element with a thumb, finger, or stylus, one or more times to input the desired character. Thus, if a user desires to send a text message, the user may press a functional input element, e.g., a mode key, to access the text messaging functionality of the cellular phone and then tap an individual input element one or more times to select the associated symbol for input. The number of taps needed to input a particular symbol may differ depending on the language character set chosen. For example, Japanese keypad or keyboards typically require a minimum set of 46 characters for text input, while English or American keyboards and keypads usually require a minimum set of 26 characters for text input. These modal input techniques have gained some popularity as users perform more text functions, but these techniques can be cumbersome because to access some letters or characters, an input element on the keypad may have to be tapped three or four times. Also, in hand-held devices with a keypad, such as a cellular phone, these modal input techniques typically rely on the user\'s thumb, which is not generally as dexterous as the user\'s fingers.

Smart Keys

Smart keys are typically used on keypads and refer to a single key or combination of keys that, when pressed, predict the users next logical action. Some implementations work better than others and some applications reduce the number of keystrokes required to complete a function better than others. Word-predictor software, for example, attempts to predict the word or character the user intends to input based upon one or more letters inputted by the user and the likely probabilities within a given language. The probability of the software guessing correctly increases with the length of the word or number of letters or characters inputted. In a device using smart keys on the keypad, a user may tap the keys 2, 2 and 8 in sequence to generate the word “cat” and the device would display that word first because it is usually the most common combination, whereas the word “bat,” which can be generated by pressing the same keys, would not be displayed first because it is not as common. Also, the word “cat” may be displayed after pressing the 2 key the second time based on a guess by the word-predictor software.

Smart keys also are typically used for Japanese data input where a user phonetically inputs letters representing the sound of the Japanese character (e.g., a Kanji character). Based on the inputted letters, the predictor software guesses the Japanese character. To select the character, a user would press the accept button or use the scrolling function to go to the next character with a similar set of phonetic inputs.

Touch Screen Using On-Screen Keyboard or Handwriting Recognition Software

Using on-screen keyboard or keypad software with a touch screen offers users the ability to enter data with fingers or thumbs on a screen-sized keyboard or buttons, allowing faster data input without a stylus or physical keyboard or keypad accessory; while using handwriting recognition software with a touch screen, such as Graffiti™ on the Palm operating system, offers users the ability to enter text with a stylus by writing the text directly on the touch screen. Touch screens usually consume more power and are more expensive than non-touch-sensitive screens. This higher power consumption can be a problem for hand-held electronic devices, which typically have limited power resources. Moreover, touch screens usually require the user to use both hands (e.g., one hand is used to hold and steady the device while the other hand is used to grasp the stylus), which is generally undesirable for interfacing with and controlling one handed hand-held electronic device, such as cellular phones. Handwriting recognition software has improved the slowness and awkwardness inherent in stylus, finger or thumb input but other drawbacks still remain, such as high power consumption, the necessity to use both hands, and lack of tactile feedback to inform a user when an input element has been. Moreover, recognition software requires training to use properly, and, even then, still results in a high error rate.

Game Control

For game control, many of the above approaches have been used, but in most hand-held electronic devices, a user typically controls game play through the use of some form of input element, such as on a miniature keypad and/or D-pad, which typically is located on the front surface of the device. Game control on some hand-held electronic devices, such as cellular phones, is inherently one handed or at most two thumbed because of the size of the device, while game control on other hand-held electronic devices, such as PDAs and conventional game console controllers, is typically two-handed. The input elements associated with game control on these devices are typically digital, particularly the D-pad, even though analog input elements have been used on game controllers for PC and console game systems, such as Microsoft\'s Xbox or Sony\'s Play Station 2.

Child-Friendly Mobile Devices

Some of the mobile handset manufacturers have designed special mobile handsets designed for children. These handsets typically limit the number of available buttons. For example, in lieu of a full numeric keypad, navigation keys, and other user input elements, these handsets tend to have just a few buttons to execute certain functions. For example, the FireFly™ child phone has a “mommy” and “daddy” button, a phone book button that stores a few numbers, as well as keys for starting and ending a call. The LG Migo™ and the Wherifone™ phones have four or five programmable keys to allow the parent to program in a phone number for the child to use. The Tic Talk™ phone has no buttons on the face of the phone. The parent typically can set up a list of people or phones (with phone numbers attached) for the child to call, and the child simply scrolls through a list using two input elements on the side to select the person to call. These products tend to be designed with bright attractive colors that are appropriate for the age group they are being marketed to. The Tic Talk™ phone also is provided with preloaded games that the child can play.

Alternatively, a conventional mobile handset can be obtained from cellular operators that can be limited in functionality and usage. A parent can program a child\'s handset with a list of phone numbers to restrict the outbound calls from the child\'s handset to the phone numbers on the list. For example, the child may dial 911, and the numbers of their parents and grandparents, but they may not dial anyone else\'s number even if the child dialed the number manually on the keypad. The parent may also lock out access to the phone during certain periods of time in the day. For example, the parent can set up the phone such that the child may not dial or send text messages to any number except 911 during the time the child is supposed to be in school. Disney® Mobile is an example of a family oriented service that specifically caters to parents who wish to monitor or manage the mobile handset usage of their children.

There are also non-handset products that are designed for children. The ChatNow™ handset from Hasbro® is essentially a walkie talkie that provides voice communication and text messaging without the expense of a service plan. The ChatNow handset is designed to look and work like a mobile handset but uses radio communications with an operating range of a two mile radius.


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Application #
US 20130012241 A1
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File Date
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International Class

Ion Channel
Mobile Phone
Communication Channel
Directional Communication

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