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COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS USING
This application is a divisional application of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/806,618 filed on Oct. 9, 2001, which is a national phase of PCT/IL99/00521 filed Oct. 1, 1999, which claims the benefit of U.S. provisional application 60/115,231, filed Jan. 8,1999,60/122,687, filedMar. 3,1999, 10 60/143,220, filed Jul. 9,1999, 60/145,342, filed Jul. 23, 1999 and 60/153,858, titled "Card for Interaction with a Computer", filed Sep. 14, 1999. PCT/IL99/00521 is also a continuation-in-part of PCT applications PCT/IL99/00470, filed Aug. 27, 1999 and PCT application PCT/IL99/00506, filed 15 Sep. 16, 1999. The disclosures of all of these applications are incorporated herein by reference.
FIELD OF INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to method of interaction with a computer and especially to methods that use acoustic signals for such communications.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 25
Computer network components that communicate using RF radiation, wires or IR radiation are well known. In addition, some home appliances are controlled using an ultrasonic remote control. Other types of dedicated ultrasonic acoustic 30 links are also known.
However, such dedicated communication mechanisms require that the computer network components have installed thereon specialized communication hardware. Installing such hardware on an existing computer may be expensive and/or 35 problematic. Further, some electronic and/or computer embedded devices, for example cellular telephones may be "sealed" products, to which it is impossible to add internal components.
PCT publications WO96/10880, W094/17498, W093/ 40 21720 and W093/11619, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference, describe an electronic device which transmits coded information to a microphone of a telephone using a DTMF-like encoding scheme. A WWW page addressed "http://www.encotone.com/html/tech_def- 45 .html", available on Feb. 1,1999 and predated, suggests using such a device to transmit audible DTMF-like tones to a personal computer using the computer's sound card.
Two way communications using audible DTMF-like tones, between a smart card and a telephone communication system 50 is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,583,933, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
One object of some preferred embodiments of the invention is to simplify interaction between electronic devices by removing a common requirement of installing dedicated communication hardware on the devices. Some suitable electronic devices include: computers (e.g., desktop and laptop), 60 televisions, watches, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant), organizers, electronic toys, electronic games, voice-responsive appliances, wireless communication devices, answering machines and desktop telephones. As used herein the term "electronic device" is used to encompass a broad range of 65 electronics-including devices. In some of the embodiments described below, a particular type of electronic device is
singled out, for example a computer or a toy, as some of the below-described embodiments are more useful for some types of electronic devices, than for other types of electronic devices. However, such examples are not meant to limit the scope of the invention.
An object of some preferred embodiments of the invention is allowing electronic devices to communicate using an input and/or output channel, preferably an acoustic channel, but possibly a visual channel, which was designed for communication with human users and not for communication with electronic devices. In other cases, the communication channel is not originally intended for communication with outside components at all, for example, a diskette drive.
An object of some preferred embodiments of the invention is to allow a smart card to be read by and written to using standard computer hardware without requiring an installation of specialized hardware. This is especially useful for electronic wallets and Internet commerce, where the cost of installing dedicated hardware may prevent wide acceptance of these commercial methods. Additionally, using a smart card can provide methods of solving the security and accountability issues entailed in electronic commerce.
An aspect of some preferred embodiments of the invention relates to communicating with a computer using a sound card installed on the computer. In some computer configurations the installation is permanent, for example as part of the motherboard chip-set. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, a device, preferably a smart card, transmits information to the sound card's microphone and receives information from the computer using the sound card's (or the computer's) loudspeaker. Preferably, the transmission uses non-audible acoustic frequencies, for example ultrasonic or infrasonic frequencies. It should be noted that standard music cards are designed for music generation, and specifically for audible audio frequencies, such as between 20 Hz and 16 kHz, however, they have a limited reception and transmission ability in the nearultrasonic (e.g., between 16 kHz and 50 kHz) and infrasonic (e.g., 0.01 Hz to 20 or 40 Hz) frequency ranges. The definition of audible frequencies will usually depend on the user and this, may, in some embodiments, impact on the selection of frequencies for use. Possibly, a personalization software for selecting the frequencies will be provided. Also, in some applications, the higher end of the audible range may be used, for example 14 kHz-16 kHz, as the sensitivity to these frequencies is quite low, even in those individuals that can detect them.
Ultrasonic communication has several advantages over audio communication:
(a) smaller transducers can be used;
(b) transmission is more efficient;
(c) lower noise levels are typical;
(d) resonant frequencies that have wavelengths on the order of a size of a credit card can be used; and
(e) higher data rates can be achieved.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the ultrasonic frequencies used are low ultrasonic frequencies or high audible frequencies, for example between 15 kHz and 24 kHz, more preferably between 17 kHz and 20 kHz and, in some preferred embodiments, between 21 and 23 kHz. Often, these frequencies can be transmitted and/or received using standard audio components. For this reason, lower frequencies may be preferred over higher frequencies, even though the lower frequencies typically afford a lower data rate and are more easily disrupted. These particular frequencies are suggested because they match industry standards for sampling in audio cards (e.g., "SoundBlaster"). If other sampling frequencies are available, the preferred frequency may
adjusted accordingly. Preferably, a minimum frequency used is selected so that it is inaudible to a human. In some cases, the frequency selection may depend on the age of the human.
A benefit of ultrasound over RF transmission is that the range of the ultrasonic transmission can easily be controlled 5 by varying its amplitude. Typically, ultrasonic transmissions do not pass through walls, potentially providing increased security by limiting eavesdropping and inference from outside the room. In addition, ultrasonic transmissions do not usually interfere with the operation of electronic equipment, 10 even when used at a high power setting. Thus, ultrasonic communication is better suited for people with pacemakers and for hospital settings. Another advantage of acoustic transmission is a reduced perceived and actual health danger to the user. 15
An aspect of some preferred embodiments of the invention relates to communication between electronic devices using acoustics. Alternatively or additionally to electronic devices communicating using RF; varying magnetic fields; IR; and visible light, electronic devices may communicate using 20 acoustics, in accordance with preferred embodiments of the invention. In some cases, one communication direction is acoustic and the other is non-acoustic, for example RF or IR, for example when communicating with a set-top box in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the invention (one way 25 acoustic from the TV and the other way IR, in the same manner as with an IR remote control). In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the acoustic waves used for communications are incorporated in sounds used for regular operation of the device which generates the sounds, for example by 30 modulating beeps. Alternatively or additionally, the sounds are inaudible, for example being ultrasonic, infrasonic, of a low amplitude and/or causing only small changes in amplitude and/or frequency of an existing sounded signal.
It is noted that many electronic devices include a microphone and/or a speaker. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the microphone and/or speaker are used to communicate with the device. In one example, an acoustic smart card (or an "electronic wallet" card) communicates with such 4Q a device using sound and/or ultrasound. Such a smart card may transmit information stored thereon. Possibly, the information is encrypted, for example, using RSA or DSA encryption.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, a smart card 45 may be "swiped" at many existing computers and electronic devices, possibly requiring a simple software installation, but no hardware installation (assuming some acoustic hardware exists). Such simple swiping should ease acceptance of the card by Internet browsing home shoppers. In some cases, the 50 swiping software may be downloaded as a Java Applet or as a script in a different network programming language.
In some embodiments other types of electronic devices communicate. For example, a cellular telephone and a PDA, each of which includes a microphone and a speaker, can 55 communicate. Another example is programming a cellular telephone with names and numbers stored in a PDA or for the cellular telephone to interrogate the PDA regarding a particular telephone number. Alternatively or additionally, a network may be formed of a plurality of such devices, possibly, with 60 one device forwarding messages from a first device to a second device. Alternatively or additionally, peripherals may be connected to a computer using an acoustic connection, without requiring wiring or special hardware. In some embodiments, a single acoustic transducer (microphone or 65 speaker) may be controllable to act as both a receiver and a transmitter, by suitably programming the electronic device.
Many computers are sold with a Sound-Blaster Compatible sound subsystem, stereo speakers and a microphone. Some computers are provided with other types of sound systems, which types also support the application of preferred embodiments of the invention, possibly with a variation in frequencies to account for different circuit or sampling characteristics. Typically, this sound system is designed for generating music and other audible sounds. In addition, many computers include an internal speaker and a modem speaker. Some computers use USB speakers that are connected directly to the USB (Universal Serial Bus).
It should be appreciated that in some embodiments of the invention the sound communication is directed at the device for its use, control and/or processing and is not meant for mere passing through the device. For example, a telephone may interpret computer-information encoding signals, rather than transmitting them on through the telephone network, as is done in the art. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, a wireless telephone is realized using ultrasonic communication between a base station and the hand set. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the base station is embodied in a computer, which communicates with the telephone. Possibly, the wireless communication uses the same loudspeaker and/or microphone as used for communication with a person using the telephone and/or the computer. Additionally or alternatively, the handset is used for Internet telephony, via the computer without a cradle or other special connection between the computer and the telephone.
An aspect of some preferred embodiments of the invention relates to interfacing a device (possibly a toy) with a computer system without installing special or dedicated hardware on the computer. Such interfacing may use EM-coupling into cables attached to the computer, detection of RF signals from a computer or direct input into a mouse or a keyboard. In one preferred embodiment, the loudspeakers, already installed on a computer, are used to interrogate an identification device, using ultrasound. Preferably, the computer's microphone is used to detect a response from the interrogated device. In some embodiments, especially for toys, the interrogation may comprise audible sounds. Thus, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, cheap and/or simple communication between a device and another device or a computer is feasible, since no special computer hardware is required. In addition, it becomes simpler to interface an input device with a computer program that responds to that input device. Additionally or alternatively, ultrasonic communications may be used to download a program and or music file to a toy or other devices. Possibly, the program and/or music file are directly downloaded from an Internet as sound files, possibly reducing or obviating the need for a dedicated toy (or device) programming software interface. Possibly, the toy and/or device generate sounds in response, which sounds are transmitted back through the Internet.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the acoustic waves used for communication or, possibly, another set of acoustic waves, may be used to determine the relative position and/or orientation of electronic devices. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, a touch screen is emulated by interrogating a transponder on a pointing implement, using built-in speakers of an electronic device, to detect the position, orientation and/or motion of the implement, thereby identifying a location which is "touched" or pointed to. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the transponder is embodied using a speaker and a microphone of the pointing implement, for example if the implement is a cellular telephone.