This patent application is assigned to
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "A MFD (Multi-Function Device) is a rendering device or office machine, which incorporates the functionality of multiple devices in one apparatus or system so as to have a smaller footprint in a home or small business setting, or to provide centralized document management/distribution/production in the context of, for example, a large-office setting. A typical MFD may provide a combination of some or all of the following capabilities: printer, scanner, photocopier, fax machine, e-mail capability, and so forth. A networked MFD generally can interact with an assemblage of varying rendering devices, client computers, servers, and other components that are connected to and communicate over a network.
"Various programs can be executed on a MFD to extend its functionality, offer user interface customization and integration between the MFD and other services based on a private enterprise network, or offered publically through the Internet. Extensibility applications, for example, can be configured and implemented via a MFD to take advantage of services offered by the MFD itself, such as the ability to execute a scan, copy or print job. Such services can be invoked by an application programmer as part of overall user experience offered, assuming that they are on the machine the application is executing on. Since the services are on the device itself, no network discovery or configuration is required when using the services (that is, they are always available on a local host). If the application wishes to utilize other hardware and resources, assuming that these can be reached over a network connection, special measures need to be taken to discover and establish communication with those services. Such an approach imposes a burden on the application subjecting it to configuration contingencies.
"A mobile communications device such as a Smartphone offers additional hardware, for example, sensors, storage, user data and services. MFD features can be controlled from a mobile communications device to perform composite operations, or vice-versa. Conventionally, the devices are disconnected and do not operate as a composite system, making it difficult to achieve a hybrid workflow.
"Based on the foregoing, it is believed that a need exists for an improved method and system for transparently extending a multi-function device onto a mobile communications device, as will be described in greater detail herein."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "The following summary is provided to facilitate an understanding of some of the innovative features unique to the disclosed embodiments and is not intended to be a full description. A full appreciation of the various aspects of the embodiments disclosed herein can be gained by taking the entire specification, claims, drawings, and abstract as a whole.
"It is, therefore, one aspect of the disclosed embodiments to provide for an improved method and system for managing a MFD.
"It is another aspect of the disclosed embodiments to provide for an improved method and system for transparently extending a multi-function device onto a mobile communications device.
"The aforementioned aspects and other objectives and advantages can now be achieved as described herein. Methods and systems for transparently extending a multi-function device onto a mobile communications device are disclosed herein. The mobile communications device and the multi-function device can be securely connected utilizing a random code (e.g., QR code/PIN number combination or a near-field communication (NFC) chip) displayed on a user interface, or attached to the body of the MFD. An extensibility application associated with the MFD can be transparently combined with an execution environment of the mobile communications device to offer a number of services (e.g., scan, copy, fax, voice recording, accelerometer reading, GPS positioning, and so on). A hardware and software resource of the MFD and the mobile communications device can be combined to perform composite operations involving data from both devices. The connection can expire after a period of inactivity and require physical proximity to be established to prevent unwanted access to the MFD. Such an approach establishes a shared extensibility framework for the multifunction device and the mobile communications device as a single execution environment.
"A random code can be displayed on a display screen associated with the MFD to invite the mobile communications device to form a hybrid device, if a button on the MFD is pressed. The mobile communications device can be elected to join by utilizing the displayed code on the MFD. A user can initiate an application on a mobile communications device to connect to the MFD. The mobile communications device utilizing an image-capturing unit associated with the mobile communications device can read the displayed code. The MFD extensibility application (or list of apps to launch) can be displayed on the user interface of the mobile communications device and/or the MFD.
"The MFD extensibility application (e.g., EIP extensibility application) can be executed and can have access to services on the MFD and services and sensors on the mobile communications device. When the extensibility application exits, the session may either be exited and/or permitted to expire due to inactivity, depending on a user preference. If the extensibility application is run on the MFD without involving the mobile communication, it simply loses access to an extra resource offered by the mobile communications device, and may degrade gracefully,
"In one implementation, the mobile communications device and the multi-function device can be indirectly connected via a shared rendezvous point (e.g., the Internet). When the extensibility application is executed, the application calls a reference service that is automatically run on hardware. The reference service can be transparently and automatically tunneled through the rendezvous point from the mobile communications device to the MFD. In another implementation, the mobile communications device and the MFD can be directly connected through a shared network if the device is too primitive to have an extensibility framework of its own (a so-called 'A4' device).
"The extensibility application can also run on the mobile communications device inside a web browser and transparently rewriting Extensibility API requests to the MFD services so that they are run on the MFD rather than on the mobile communications device. A network translation service can also be employed in combination with the web browser on the mobile communications device to perform URL rewriting on the extensibility application by correctly routing Extensibility API calls to a correct destination. The calls to mobile resources can be tunneled back through the rendezvous point to the mobile communications device and run there if the extensibility application is displayed on the MFD (rather than the mobile) screen so that the direction is reversed (the mobile augments the MFD rather than the MFD augments the mobile). The application can also utilize the GPS capabilities of the mobile communications device to set a SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) location configuration of the MFD to accurate values, acting on the GPS services.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
"The accompanying figures, in which like reference numerals refer to identical or functionally-similar elements throughout the separate views and which are incorporated in and form a part of the specification, further illustrate the present invention and, together with the detailed description of the invention, serve to explain the principles of the present invention.
"FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a multi-function device coupled to a data-processing apparatus through a network, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments;
"FIG. 2 illustrates a graphical representation of a device management system having a MFD extensibility application module associated with a network, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments;
"FIG. 3 illustrates a high level flow chart of operations illustrating logical operational steps of a method for transparently extending a MFD onto a mobile communications device, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments.
"FIG. 4 illustrates a block diagram of the device management system having the MFD indirectly connected to the mobile communications device via a shared rendezvous point, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments;
"FIG. 5 illustrates a block diagram of the device management system having the MFD directly connected to the mobile communications device, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments;
"FIG. 6 illustrates a block diagram of the device management system having the MFD connected to the mobile communications device via a translator, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments;
"FIG. 7 illustrates a GUI of the MFD showing a code to invite the mobile communications device to form a hybrid device, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments;
"FIG. 8 illustrates a GUI of the mobile communications device showing an application to connect to the MFD, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments;
"FIG. 9 illustrates a GUI of the mobile communications device showing the code, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments; and
"FIG. 10 illustrates a GUI of an extensibility application displayed on the mobile communications device and/or the MFD, in accordance with the disclosed embodiments."
URL and more information on this patent application, see: Tredoux, Gavan; Emmett, Phillip; Rajendran, Premkumar; Zehler, Peter. Methods and Systems for Transparently Extending a Multifunction Device to a Mobile Communications Device. Filed
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