SECURE ELECTRONIC MEDIA
DISTRIBUTION AND PRESENTATION
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED 5
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/050,093 filed on Feb. 3, 2005, which is a continuation of and claims the benefit of the filing of U.S. 10 patent application Ser. No. 09/758,833 filed Jan. 11, 2001 now abandoned.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to employee com- 15 munication programs, and, more particularly, to amethodand apparatus for publishing and distributing employee communications.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 20
Modern business management calls for effective communications between management and employees. Among various other techniques for communicating with employees, conventional employee communication programs have typi- 25 cally included providing a bulletin board upon which printed material, such as for example, posters including photographs, artwork, designs and/or slogans, and messages are displayed. Topics that may be the subject of employee communications are diverse and may involve safety, work quality, teamwork, 30 morale and self-motivation. For example, since safety is an important consideration in most working environments, a poster with a slogan relating to the exercise of caution in potentially dangerous situations may be displayed for impressing upon employees an employer's requirement for 35 observing on-the-job safety. Other examples of representative employee communications include news releases about the company, messages for boosting employee morale and/or messages relating to employee activities.
In conventional systems, graphic designers may develop 40 posters and other employee communications by hand or on a computer aided design system. Typically, they are printed as a large employee communication for display and then sent to a client for mounting to a bulletin board. The bulletin board may be relatively sophisticated and creatively organized for 45 efficiency and visual attention, such as a three-panel bulletin board on the order of 26 inches (66 centimeters) by 63 inches (160 centimeters). The posters are typically manually replaced to communicate corporate goals, news of interest and employee activities to employees. 50
At regular time intervals, such as once a month or once a week, clients may select new posters and messages and/orthe new posters and messages are automatically selected, printed and shipped periodically to each client. Because of the large number and variety of clients and the specific requirements 55 for certain users, there are significant inefficiencies associated with selecting, printing and shipping the employee communications. This is especially so where various bulletin boards located throughout a company's various facilities require different material to be posted on differing bulletin 60 boards.
In addition, achieving a relatively high degree of customization and selectivity with traditional manual bulletin board systems is economically problematic.
Accordingly, it is desired to provide an efficient system that 65 overcomes many of the deficiencies of prior art systems and services.
Briefly stated, the invention in a preferred form replaces the display of printed employee communications with a method and apparatus for distribution of electronic media. In one embodiment of the invention, electronic media replaces the physical posters and printed materials and the conventional bulletin board is replaced by an electronic display. Maintaining the employee communications in electronic form from creation to display significantly reduces costs, while at the same time, dramatically improves the flexibility of an employee communications program.
One advantageous embodiment may include an electronic communication display system transmitting media data to one or more remote client locations where the media is displayed, e.g. to employees. The electronic communication display system in this particular embodiment comprises an electronic display for displaying media, and a client computer that receives data corresponding to the media for display. A web server capable of communicating with the client computer for transmission of data thereto is also provided. The web server along with an application server, which may comprise one or more machines, communicating with the web server formulates the data for ultimate transmission to the client computer.
It is envisioned that a service provider of the workplace communications may maintain the web server and applications server. The provider may also design and store certain electronic employee communications suitable for a variety of business types, e.g., manufacturing, sales, service, etc. The electronic employee communications may be provided to businesses as, for example, a subscription service. A subscriber may be provided with the electronic display and client computer for display of electronic employee communications produced by the provider. Alternatively, the subscriber may utilize existing compatible equipment for receipt and display of the media. The subscriber provides information about his business to the provider to aid the provider's software in producing pertinent electronic employee communications. The subscriber is granted limited access to the provider's application server to enable the subscriber to choose, alter and/or generate new custom electronic employee communications, which are to be delivered to the subscriber's electronic display.
In one advantageous embodiment, a system is provided that allows for selection of pre-assembled media content, customization of the pre-assembled media content by the subscriber or generation of new media content by the subscriber. In this manner, the subscriber has full control over the media content supplied to the subscriber's employees. It is contemplated that the subscriber may categorize particular media content into collections, e.g. certain media content is be selected to be played on a display for maintenance personnel while other selected media content may be selected to be played on a display for management personnel. It is still further contemplated that the various collections may be linked to certain groups, e.g. it is determined that while the various maintenance personnel at the subscribers various complexes may not be presented with an identical presentation, there are particular media collections that will be displayed at all maintenance displays.
It is further contemplated that the subscriber may generate custom media content for display to its employees, whether by alteration of the pre-assembled media content or generation of entirely new media content. In some instances, the subscriber may not want confidential employee communications to be accessible to individuals outside of the subscrib