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A method for providing availability information in on-line calendars Disclosure Number: IPCOM000202701D
Publication Date: 2010-Dec-23
Document File: 6 page(s) / 120K

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The Prior Art Database


This article describes a method for providing availability information in on-line calendars. Firstly, via a new type of calendar entry called "Availability" users can specify when they will be available for particular types of meeting (e.g. face-to-face, telephone call or instant message). When a meeting chair sets up a meeting they use the availability information to determine the type of meeting to be held in addition to when the meeting should take place. This allows the meeting chair to choose the time of meeting when all participants can participate in a particular type of meeting (e.g. face-to-face). Alternatively the meeting chair could fix a time for the meeting and then determine which type of meeting (e.g. telephone call) all participants could satisfy and set up that type of meeting accordingly.

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A method for providing availability information in on -line calendars

Disclosed is a method which allows users to specify their availability in on-line calendars at finer grained level than either available or not available. For example, available for telephone calls but unavailable for face-to-face meetings. This information can be used by meeting chairs when setting up a meeting to determine the type of meeting they need to hold based upon the participants' availability. For example if they wanted to hold a meeting next Tuesday then it would have to be via phone call as not everyone would be available for a face-to-face meeting. Alternatively if a specific type of meeting (e.g. face-to-face) is required then the meeting chair could determine the earliest time when all participants could be available for such a meeting.


    On-line calendar systems provide a powerful mechanism for managing time. One feature of such systems is that a user is able to set up a meeting invite with other users. The system indicates the times when users are all available so that a meeting can be created at a mutually convenient time when all participants can attend. Meetings take many different forms, for example face-to-face, telephone conference, instant messaging, web conference. Each type of meeting places upon it different criteria which need to be met in order to allow the meeting to happen. For example, a face-to-face meeting requires that all participants need to be in the same location in order to meet. A telephone conference does not impose such a restriction but will require a user to dial in to the call.

    The problem here is that on-line calendars don't provide such availability information. This results in, for example, a user setting up a face-to-face meeting only to be told by a participant that they are "working from home" on that day and won't be able to attend. The user then has to rearrange the meeting to a day when the participants are all available for a face-to-face meeting. Some, participants try to alleviate this by blocking out slots in their calendar with, for example, a "Work at Home" entry. This marks the whole period as unavailable which would ensure that a face-to-face meeting isn't created when the user is working at home. However, this doesn't let the meeting arranger know that the user could be available for a telephone conference. The only way the user can find this out is by speaking to the participant directly. This can be time consuming and difficult, particularly when trying to arrange meetings with a number of people across multiple timezones.

    Additionally, when setting up a meeting certain pieces of information need to be provided to allow the meeting to go ahead. The problem here is that what is required is dependent upon the meeting type. So for example, a face-to-face meeting requires a meeting location, a telephone call requires a telephone number and a web conference requires a web URL to be provided...