Browse Prior Art Database

Personal Computer Environmental Control Via a Proximity Sensor

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000105558D
Original Publication Date: 1993-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-20
Document File: 4 page(s) / 136K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Appino, PA: AUTHOR [+4]

Abstract

This article describes the addition of a proximity sensor to personal computers and laptop computers. We collectively refer to each of these computers, as well as similar workstations and terminals, as PCs. The purpose of the proximity sensor is to detect (a) the distance the user is away from the PC or (b) whether the user is absent and (c) pass this information to the central processing unit (CPU) of the PC. Via this proximity sensor, the computer can adjust its font size proportional to the distance the user is away from the screen. The PC may also determine whether the user is absent. During periods of user absence, the PC can place itself on "autopilot" and accomplish many important tasks.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 40% of the total text.

Personal Computer Environmental Control Via a Proximity Sensor

      This article describes the addition of a proximity sensor to
personal computers and laptop computers.  We collectively refer to
each of these computers, as well as similar workstations and
terminals, as PCs.  The purpose of the proximity sensor is to detect
(a) the distance the user is away from the PC or (b) whether the user
is absent and (c) pass this information to the central processing
unit (CPU) of the PC.  Via this proximity sensor, the computer can
adjust its font size proportional to the distance the user is away
from the screen.  The PC may also determine whether the user is
absent.  During periods of user absence, the PC can place itself on
"autopilot" and accomplish many important tasks.

      Self-Optimizing Fonts and Audio - The proximity sensor could be
interactive with the user.  The font size displayed on the video
display could change as the distance between the user and the PC
display changed.  If the user moved further away, the font would get
bigger.  As the user comes closer, the font would get proportionally
smaller, allowing more text on the screen.  The degree to which the
font changed could be user controllable.  A slider icon could be used
to set the font size desired at the extremes of user position from
the screen of the PC.  The PC can then perform a linear interpolation
between these extremes to adjust the font size proportional to the
user's position from the screen.

      It is preferred that adjustments to the font size be made based
on a threshold change in user position, such as a minimum distance
change of 2" (50 mm) required before a font takes effect.  This
minimum distance change could be user selectable via a menu.  A value
of 0" (0 mm) would result in continual updates to the screen of the
PC; 2" (50 mm), infrequent updates.  A value beyond the maximum range
of the sensor would results in no updates to the font size.

      Similar to the self-optimizing font application would be a
proximity audio volume control.  This volume control could adjust the
PC audio output to be less loud when a user or kiosk viewer
approaches and be more loud when the user is across the room or far
from the kiosk.

      Applications When The User Is Absent - There are many reasons
why it is useful for a PC to be able to tell whether a user is
present.  When the proximity sensor detects a user, the computer
would give top priority to maintaining and monitoring the user
interface, and would keep all resources available for immediate use.
When proximity sensor no longer detects a user, any of the following
actions may be taken by the PC:

o   The PC could initiate low-priority or background jobs/threads
    when the user is away.

o   The PC could enter a housekeeping mode.  This could include
    defragmenting the PC's DASD or magneto-optical disks for better
    performance once the user returned.  Checks...