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A method for the unobtrusive warning of an instant messaging peer -- "Someone's watching!"

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000125714D
Original Publication Date: 2005-Jun-14
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Jun-14
Document File: 3 page(s) / 62K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Instant messaging has now become an almost ubiquitous technology in the connected world. It is simple, easy to use and its leverage of the Internet and related technologies has meant that remote working and collaboration has become a reality. However, with instant messaging replacing face to face interactions, the problem arises that one is unaware of the environment at the remote peer, in particular if the peer user suddenly has someone arrive at their desk. If the conversation in progress is of a particularly sensitive nature (or indeed the subject of discussion is the person looking at the screen), it would be useful to warn the peer that they should exercise particular caution in what they send next.

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A method for the unobtrusive warning of an instant messaging peer -- "Someone's watching!"

Instant messaging has now become an almost ubiquitous technology in the connected world. It is simple, easy to use and its leverage of the Internet and related technologies has meant that remote working and collaboration has become a reality. However, with instant messaging replacing face to face interactions, the problem arises that one is unaware of the environment at the remote peer, in particular if the peer user suddenly has someone arrive at their desk. If the conversation in progress is of a particularly sensitive nature (or indeed the subject of discussion is the person looking at the screen), it would be useful to warn the peer that they should exercise particular caution in what they send next.

    There are some well known ways of dealing with this situation. One is to indeed send a warning message to the peer and quickly close a window or simply minimize the window. However, in the first case this may result in the earlier conversation being lost and also if the peer responds anyway, a new window appearing with the full desktop focus in the middle of the screen. In the second case, whilst the conversation cannot be seen by the watching person, the peer is not aware why the person they are messaging is not responding and may abort the conversation.

    A further known technique is the "manager button" which allows the user to set a keyboard shortcut that automatically switches the user's online status to "Busy". Whilst this is useful, it is rather a blanket approach in that it sets the user's status for every other user. It may be, for example, that we only want to tell this user that someone is there without closing ourselves off to everyone else. Furthermore, we may want to send a different message depending on who it is we are talking to. The system described herein can deal with notifications specifically targeted at individual peers and for individual "eavesdroppers".

The system comprises:

An input trigger device, which could be as simple as a "hot key" to notify the


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instant messaging client that there is someone watching. There may be multiple inputs to further specify exactly who is watching. A complex embodiment can even involve an automated system using RFID or similar such that when a person walks up to the machine, the RFID tag is picked up and fires the event trigger in the software (a well known technique).

A lookup table of messages to be sent to the peer user on receipt of a trigger


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from the trigger device. This table in its simplest form is a combination of the peer ID as a key and a message to be sent. A more complex embodiment can have additional keys such as the peer ID combined with an identifier of the person who has started watching the screen (to continue the example above, this might be the serial number of an RFID tag). This means that different messages can be sent to different peers depending on who is wat...