The assignee for this patent application is
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates generally to mobile devices and, in particular, to techniques for providing end users of such devices with real-time situation-aware data.
"Mobile devices such as the Blackberry.RTM. phone have become ubiquitous in today's society. In addition to providing basic wireless telephone service, such devices are Internet-accessible and include highly-efficient processors and display functionality for rendering rich graphical information that is available to be downloaded to the device over the Internet. These devices also include personal information manager (PIM) functions, such as appointment calendars, address books, and the like.
"Web sites such as Google Maps provide end users with the capability of obtaining map data defining a navigation route. A recently-added feature to Google Maps enables the end user to view real-time traffic conditions along a desired route.
"Vehicle-mounted navigation devices also are well-known in the prior art. These devices interact with global positioning systems (GPS) to provide an end user with up-to-date location information as an end user drives the vehicle along a given route."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "The subject disclosure is a technique for providing a mobile device user with a 'when to leave' alarm on his or her mobile device so that the user may depart for a desired destination in sufficient time to arrive for a scheduled appointment in a timely manner. In a representative embodiment, a system comprises an end user mobile device that is connectable to a server hosted in or managed by a service provider. The user has scheduled an appointment at a given time and location in the user's personal information manager (PIM) executing on the mobile device. A representative PIM is a calendar on the mobile device (or on a calendar in another device that is then synchronized to the mobile device calendar). According to one aspect of the invention, a 'when to leave' alarm is provided to the end user in the form of a display widget (or 'countdown alarm') that automatically activates a given time (e.g., 30 minutes) before a latest departure time for an event in the user's PIM.
"In one embodiment, the 'when to leave' alarm is generated as follows. The mobile device current time and location is compared with the time and location of the end user's next appointment as defined in the PIM (or the like). Using the location data, a fastest route from the current location to the destination location is determined or obtained, preferably taking into consideration traffic conditions. At a given time, a display on the mobile device of the 'when to leave' screen is initiated. The 'when to leave' screen preferably includes a map of the end user's current location, which changes to a route map, displaying the route ahead a given time period (e.g., 5 minutes) before anticipated departure. The route map preferably shows the fastest route. On the mobile device, a countdown alarm is displayed, preferably in the form of a first color bar concatenated with a second color bar. In a preferred embodiment, the travel time to the destination is shown in red, and a 'cushion'--a time between a current time and a latest departure time--is displayed in green. As time elapses, the green portion of the bar shrinks, and the red portion of the bar fluctuates according to real-time and predicted traffic conditions on the route.
"Preferably, the countdown alarm is a display widget, which includes a timeline running along a given display axis (e.g. horizontally). As described above, the countdown alarm is, in effect, a timer. A first item on the timeline represents a current time on the mobile device. Next on the timeline is the cushion portion (e.g., shown as a green bar), followed by a travel (or 'commute') portion (e.g., shown as a red bar). The length of the cushion (along the timeline) is calculated according to the following algorithm: given an appointment time and the current time, the cushion is equal to [(appointment time-current time)-commute time]. The quantity within the parenthetical is sometimes referred to as the buffer. The commute time is typically provided from a server, which also provides a route map for the commute. After the commute portion, typically a last item on the timeline is the appointment time itself.
"The commute portion of the timer typically takes into consideration various types of traffic and travel time. These traffic types include, for example, real-time traffic, historic traffic, and predicted traffic. Real-time traffic typically refers to a check of the traffic along a route at a given time or instant. Historic traffic refers to traffic by time of day and day of week for a given portion of the route. Predicted traffic refers to a blend of real-time and historic traffic, and typically refers to a prediction of how non-recurring traffic will dissipate by the time the traveler arrives at a given segment of the route (e.g., following an accident, which by then might have cleared).
"The foregoing has outlined some of the more pertinent features of the invention. These features should be construed to be merely illustrative. Many other beneficial results can be attained by applying the disclosed invention in a different manner or by modifying the invention as will be described.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"For a more complete understanding of the present invention and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
"FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the system components in a preferred embodiment of the invention;
"FIG. 2 illustrates a representative countdown widget that is displayed in conjunction with a route map according to the situation-aware functionality described herein;
"FIG. 3 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the countdown widget that is displayed in conjunction with a route map according to the situation-aware functionality;
"FIG. 4 illustrates the widget of FIG. 3 during the end user's travel along the route;
"FIG. 5 illustrates the widget modified to display an alert to the end user;
"FIG. 6 illustrates the display widget and associated temporal variables;
"FIG. 7 illustrates a route map with a weather data overlay that is time- and location-specific;
"FIG. 8 illustrates mobile device displays showing alternative departure and arrival time options adjacent to times, as well as associated fuel consumption;
"FIG. 9 illustrates a display showing the countdown alarm that includes a portion representing a break time."
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