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Method for automated machine interaction with human forms based applications

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000030467D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Aug-17
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Aug-17
Document File: 4 page(s) / 63K

Publishing Venue



Very often systems rely on a human interaction to begin the workflow sequence to complete a task. Typically, a form (or set of forms) is used to begin this process. In recent times, such systems have often been built on web technologies such as HTTP and markup vocabularies (XHTML, XForms and so on). There are situations however where a particular piece of workflow be invoked either by a human or by a mechanical device.

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Method for automated machine interaction with human forms based applications

Consider an incident reporting scenario where a human can log a defect with a particular system or piece of hardware. The reporting of the defect relies on human observation of the errant behaviour and therefore human input of the details. Latterly, devices have become increasingly "smarter" and it is possible to integrate embedded devices into the application. However, this generally involves some development effort to integrate the incoming information or events from the remote device (e.g. SCADA type devices) into the overall application. Indeed the availability of both a human (web) interface as well as automated integration of embedded devices may be required. If one considers the often evolutionary nature of such applications, it is not unreasonable to assume that there will be scenarios whereby a web system exists and the SCADA style integration of devices will follow at some later time. Once built, it is natural that interactions from both humans and devices (where the actor type is interchangeable) would be required to follow a common set of logging, audit and fulfilment processes. For each device to be integrated into the application, currently it would be necessary to undertake a development effort to integrate each device into the web system.

    Crucially, the scenarios outlined above assume that the developer has control over both the device and the web application. Now consider the scenario where the developer may have control over the device but does not (for whatever reason) have sufficient control over the web application that it could be modified (e.g. it may be owned by a third party) to integrate the device better. Frustratingly, they may be receiving SCADA type information from the remote device but are limited to keying the information through a browser rather than integrating the device into the system. Similarly, the web system may be "legacy" and not able to be flexibly extended to integrate the device.

A previous invention publication describes a linear transcoding engine that is able to render a web forms document across channels such as SMS text, instant message, teletype terminals and so on. The linear forms engine renders each control in an interactive sequence with the user until the form is complete. The key to this component is that the source form is equally fit for purpose on the web and is referenced using a standard URI.

This invention consists of a system whereby a pub/sub transport layer is applied to this linear forms component such that it can be integrated with any arbitrary device capable of pub/sub interaction. In this way, a web form can be completed over any such transport layer and therefore integrate the web system with a variety of alternative channels. The crux of the disclosure is that if the device owner understands what the prompts are for the form, they are able to configure the device to send the data me...