|Publication number||USRE42714 E1|
|Application number||US 10/962,388|
|Publication date||20 Sep 2011|
|Filing date||8 Oct 2004|
|Priority date||22 Apr 1999|
|Also published as||US6778662|
|Publication number||10962388, 962388, US RE42714 E1, US RE42714E1, US-E1-RE42714, USRE42714 E1, USRE42714E1|
|Inventors||Phillip M. DeLaine, Jr.|
|Original Assignee||Delaine Jr Phillip M|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (10), Classifications (7), Legal Events (8)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is based on, claims priority to and incorporates by reference a U.S. Provisional Application dated Apr. 22, 1999, entitled “Point Card”, Provisional Patent Application No. 60/130,545 to Delaine.
1. Field of the Invention
The invention herein is related to computers, and particularly to computer telephony.
2. Description of Related Art
Companies usually have several pieces of office equipment that are critical to their operations. This equipment includes telephones, fax machines, answering machines and computers with modems. A common requirement of this equipment is telephone lines. Companies usually connect each piece of equipment to a dedicated telephone line so that the equipment can operate independently and simultaneously. This configuration results in maximum flexibility and efficiency of company operations.
Many large companies have sophisticated telephone networks to support such office equipment. However, in the Small Office Home Office (SOHO) environment where the financial resources and the number of telephone lines are limited, connection of the equipment has often meant compromises in flexibility, utility and efficiency.
Many SOHO environments have 2 or 3 telephone lines available for use. Since the telephone system usually takes priority, 1 or 2 telephone lines are dedicated to it. This usually means that the rest of the office equipment shares a telephone line. To enable telephone line sharing, many businesses use a device called a “Fax Switch”. An example of a Fax Switch is the Radio Shack Model AFX-400 Three-Device Home Fax Switch. This device has a facility to connect a telephone line to a telephone, a computer modem, a fax machine, and an answering machine. For incoming calls, this device analyzes the incoming call on the telephone line and automatically routes the call to the appropriate piece of equipment. For out going calls, this device provides the equipment with access to the telephone line. This device is beneficial because it allows all of the equipment to operate on a telephone line. The problem with this configuration is that when one piece of equipment is in use, the remaining equipment cannot be used. This lack of flexibility is often frustrating to many small businesses, especially when a business opportunity requires simultaneous operations. Some companies address the problem by changing the telephone line connections so that the desired operations can be performed. However, this process is cumbersome and often comes at the expense of other equipment operation.
The modem industry has attempted to provide a solution by integrating data, voice, fax and answering machine functions into a single device. However, the computer modem has disadvantages similar to the fax switch. The modem usually operates on one telephone line and is thus limited in the functions that it can perform simultaneously. Currently, with the proper telephone line service connected, the modem can simultaneously perform voice telephony and a data connection, to the Internet for example. This restriction could be resolved by the use of multiple modems, however, this solution has a redundancy and complexity of operation that is not practical for most small businesses. In addition, the computer modem offers little or no connectivity to other pieces of office equipment. The computer modem does provide some level of integration of equipment functions onto a telephone line, however its inability to perform the required office operations simultaneously indicates that it is not the optimum solution.
With no practical alternatives, many small companies continue to use telephones for voice communications and fax switches for their office equipment. What is needed is a device that provides multiple telephone line management and device connectivity such that office operations can be performed efficiently and simultaneously through the available telephone lines.
According to the principles of the invention, there is provided a computer telephony device with a telephone line distribution system. The invention enables simultaneous operations of computer telephony and connected equipment. The connected equipment can be modems, telephones, fax machines, answering machines or any other device that needs access to a telephone line. Priorities for telephone line usage by the equipment or the routing of incoming calls to the equipment can be set by the user via software selection. The invention can work in digital and analog environments, and if necessary, perform digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital conversions.
The invention herein is a computer telephone line distribution system. The invention enables simultaneous operations of computer telephony and connected equipment. The connected equipment can be modems, telephones, fax machines, answering machines or any other device that needs access to a telephone line. The invention can accommodate several telephone lines and pieces of equipment. Priorities for telephone line usage by the equipment or the routing of incoming calls to the equipment can be set via software.
The invention can take the form of a peripheral card that can be added to a computer or on the fly) or be built into and made an integral part of a computerized system.
The foregoing and other objects and advantages of the invention will be appreciated more fully from the following further description thereof, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
The invention herein provides a multi-function peripheral device that has connection facilities for telephone lines and equipment which uses telephone lines.
In an embodiment of the invention, telephone lines may be connected to connection points 5 and 6, devices may be connected to connection points 7 and 8, and a telephone base may be connected to connection point 9. Each RJ-11 type connection provides four wire contacts. With the use of a Y-adapter, two pieces of equipment can connect at each connection point. Thus, in this embodiment, the invention may accommodate four telephone lines, four devices, and two telephone bases.
The invention can accept a variety of telephone lines. The telephone lines can carry analog or digital signals. The telephone lines can operate on a variety of networks including Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN), Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line (SDSL), Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL), or any other Digital Subscriber Line (xDSL). Optionally, the invention can accept a variety of other communication lines, including Private Branch Exchange (PBX), Analog and Digital (Hybrid), Cable, Fiber Optic, and Ethernet. Hereafter, unless otherwise specified, the communication lines and telephone lines that can connect to a connection point according to the invention will be generically referred to as “communication lines”. As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, a device according to the invention may be fitted with a suitable connector type to accommodate a desired communication line.
The invention can be configured to the communication lines via software.
A device according to the invention can accept connection of devices that can include telephones, fax machines, modems, answering machines, satellite dish control units, alarm systems, or any combination thereof, or any other device that requires access to a communication line. As shown in
A device according to the invention can be fitted with circuitry to perform telephony operations. Telephony operational codes are specified by TAPI and the Hayes Computer AT Command Set. Additionally, U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,152 describes telephony circuits and controlling software. These technologies are well known to a person of reasonable knowledge and ordinary skill, so there will be little attempt to restate them here. The telephony audio signals can be made to pass through a computer's audio sound card, or through a connected telephone base. Optionally, a device according to the invention can be fitted with a camera so that video conferencing functions can be performed.
The setup screen in
A device according to the invention processes outgoing calls in accordance with a Communication Line Use Priority (CLUP) setting. The CLUP establishes a priority in which communication lines are accessed by a device.
In a second line priority 41, a line request by Device 1 will be connected to line 2 if available, and then to line 1, if available. In a third line priority 42, Device 1 will only be connected to line 1. In a fourth line priority 43, Device 1 will only be connected to line 2. In a fifth line priority 44, Device 1 will seize line 1, and line 1 will be withdrawn from availability for other devices until the CLUP for Device 1 is subsequently changed. In a sixth line priority 45, Device 1 will seize line 2, and line 2 will be withdrawn from availability for other devices until the CLUP for Device 1 is subsequently changed. In a seventh line priority 46, no line priority is provided for Device 1.
Line priority settings may be provided for other devices using the outgoing call setup screen. Thus line priorities may be assigned using Device 2 line priorities 50-56, Telephony line priorities 60-66, and Modem line priorities 70-76.
A system according to the invention may process incoming calls in accordance with a Device Order (DO) setting. The DO establishes the order in which the devices are signaled by a communications line.
Optionally, the invention can be fitted with a discrimination circuit that can detect the type of call and automatically route the communication line to the corresponding DO. In an embodiment of the invention, a system may handle three types of calls: voice, data and facsimile (“fax”). DO for a data call is shown in a selection area 107, and DO for a fax call is shown in a selection area 108. In an embodiment of the invention, the same devices may be available to handle the above incoming call that are available for a voice call, as shown in a device list 106. A system according to the invention may be fitted with ring simulation circuitry that probes the devices in the DO after the type of call is detected.
The efficiency and flexibility of the invention is dependent on the number of communication lines connected to it. If four standard PSTN lines are connected to the invention, then four connected devices can operate simultaneously. If the number of PSTN lines drops to two, then only two operations can be conducted simultaneously. It should be noted that even with two communication lines the invention still improves line utilization due to the CLUP and DO settings. However, more communication lines provide better efficiency and flexibility. In one embodiment of the invention, digital communication lines may be used, such as DSL or ADSL. Such a digital line can provide several logical communication channels through one physical line.
Communications over a digital line may require the transmission of account numbers and passwords in order to access telecommunication services and other services.
A device according to the invention may include circuitry to perform analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog signal processing as needed. Such signal conversions may be used to allow a PSTN (analog) compatible device to operate over a digital communications line. For example, such signal conversions would permit a PSTN-compatible fax machine to communicate over a digital ISDN line. The setup shown in
A device according to the invention can be fitted with modem like circuitry to provide the user with access to the Internet. This modem function is identified in
The benefits of the wireless configuration can be greatly expanded by the integration of a wireless phone system into the RU. The communication lines used by the wireless phones can be controlled by the CLUP and DO. This configuration provides the office environment with the best efficiency and flexibility of operations.
A device according to the invention can be controlled by an on board microprocessor or the microprocessor of the host machine.
While the invention has been disclosed in connection with the preferred embodiments shown and described in detail, various modifications and improvements thereon will become readily apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, the spirit and scope of the present invention is to be limited only by the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||379/333, 379/93.09, 379/399.01|
|International Classification||H04L12/66, H04M7/00|
|22 Nov 2011||CC||Certificate of correction|
|2 Apr 2012||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|19 Aug 2012||REIN||Reinstatement after maintenance fee payment confirmed|
|19 Aug 2012||LAPS||Lapse for failure to pay maintenance fees|
|7 Sep 2012||SULP||Surcharge for late payment|
|7 Sep 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8
|15 Oct 2012||PRDP||Patent reinstated due to the acceptance of a late maintenance fee|
Effective date: 20121015
|7 Nov 2012||AS||Assignment|
Effective date: 20121106
Owner name: DEEP GREEN WIRELESS LLC, FLORIDA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:DELAINE, PHILLIP M, JR;REEL/FRAME:029257/0615