Browse Prior Art Database

Exchangeable Smart Input/Output Modules of a Wireless Device having a Constant Form Factor

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000130454D
Publication Date: 2005-Nov-09
Document File: 4 page(s) / 38K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Problems: 1. A user typically purchases a given device based on which device comes closest to the user’s "feature list" needs. A user may want specific core built-in functionality within a device, e.g. Bluetooth, MP3, voice-activated dialing, etc and may compromise his preferred input/navigation method. Having a device that supports swappable input modules allows the user to personalize and have flexibility with his device purchase. Input module is defined as navigation and keypad. An output module or display typically would only be exchanged when damaged. However, there is a significant cost difference between display technologies, e.g., a 2.5" CSTN LCD module is around $20.00 US less expensive (double the cost to the user) than 2.5" TFT. So, there could be an opportunity for manufacturer which then translates to user savings. Another reality primarily due to growing demand for LCD displays is sourcing and availability. Having a changeable output module approach allows a device manufacturer to more readily switch to another display source. Another variance to this invention would be to have modules that are "hot-swappable". This implies that the device would not have to be powered off or battery removed in order to swap-in different modules. Typically this is done only for memory interfaces or more mission critical instrumentation in demanding environments, but could be applicable in this instance to such customers as the military. It could also be implemented in designs where the battery is "built-in" (i.e. non-replaceable). 2. Even though most input (navigation/keypad) and output (LCD) modules require common respective hardware signal interfaces, most do not conform to a common pin-out or connector arrangement. This invention allows for a universal interface for an input module and a universal interface for an output module. This could potentially drive standardization and allow an equivalent to an open systems design approach. This could extend to third parties that wish to develop their own custom input module to target a specific application. 3. The output and input modules of many wireless devices usually have the highest mortality rate of all components of a device. Many people do not wish to give up a slighted damaged wireless device and sometimes live with a display blemish. Having these parts field-replaceable or at least detachable to send a replacement module allows for more efficient expedition of repair. Also, as far as design and testing, the radio and core processing is not typically a problem. The difficult areas and time consuming design areas tend to be the display and keypad/navigation. Decoupling these design efforts from a base system or core board would also make sense from design and manufacturing engineering cost standpoint. 4. Future extensibility. Currently if a user wishes to upgrade the device, he typically has to purchase a whole new device. The old device (if there's no recycling exchange program by the manufacturer) may end up in a landfill site. By replacing just the input and/or output modules the user can now obtain a new look/feel for the device. As new input techniques become available, they can be adapted to support the universal/generic interface of the input module. Same goes for the output module. A simple analogy would be to upgrade from a monochrome display module to a colour display module. Now that displays are more standardized to colour, with the evolution of displays the user can step up to higher resolution colour screens or new LCD technologies as they become available. 5. With replaceable modules of any system, the issue becomes traceability of new modules. With this system, the input/output modules would be intelligent by having an EEPROM or an analogous jumperable configuration to allow the system to know what module was engaged. 6. The problem to allow various input/output modules is one of software configuration. How does the software load the correct driver? Or how does the software provide skins/menus that are more usable and intuitive with the type of navigation device/keypad arrangement found? To resolve this case, in the initial start-up routines, the modules are polled. At point of sale location, the correct software could be loaded if required. The module information can also be sent over the air, and new software driver and application software sent to the device over the air.

This text was extracted from a Microsoft Word document.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 30% of the total text.

EXCHANGEABLE SMART INPUT / OUTPUT MODULES

Exchangeable Smart Input/Output Modules of a Wireless Device having a Constant Form Factor

Disclosed Anonymously

Problems:

1. A user typically purchases a given device based on which device comes closest to the user’s "feature list" needs. A user may want specific core built-in functionality within a device, e.g. Bluetooth, MP3, voice-activated dialing, etc and may compromise his preferred input/navigation method. Having a device that supports swappable input modules allows the user to personalize and have flexibility with his device purchase. Input module is defined as navigation and keypad. An output module or display typically would only be exchanged when damaged. However, there is a significant cost difference between display technologies, e.g., a 2.5" CSTN LCD module is around $20.00 US less expensive (double the cost to the user) than 2.5" TFT.  So, there could be an opportunity for manufacturer which then translates to user savings. Another reality primarily due to growing demand for LCD displays is sourcing and availability. Having a changeable output module approach allows a device manufacturer to more readily switch to another display source.

Another variance to this invention would be to have modules that are "hot-swappable". This implies that the device would not have to be powered off or battery removed in order to swap-in different modules. Typically this is done only for memory interfaces or more mission critical instrumentation in demanding environments, but could be applicable in this instance to such customers as the military. It could also be implemented in designs where the battery is "built-in" (i.e. non-replaceable).

2. Even though most input (navigation/keypad) and output (LCD) modules require common respective hardware signal interfaces, most do not conform to a common pin-out or connector arrangement. This invention allows for a universal interface for an input module and a universal interface for an output module. This could potentially drive standardization and allow an equivalent to an open systems design approach.  This could extend to third parties that wish to develop their own custom input module to target a specific application.

3. The output and input modules of many wireless devices usually have the highest mortality rate of all components of a device. Many people do not wish to give up a slighted damaged wireless device and sometimes live with a display blemish. Having these parts field-replaceable or at least detachable to send a replacement module allows for more efficient expedition of repair. Also, as far as design and testing, the radio and core processing is not typically a problem. The difficult areas and time consuming design areas tend to be the display and keypad/navigation. Decoupling these design efforts from a base system or core board would also make sense from design and manufacturing engineering cost standpoint.

4. Future extensibility. Currently...