Patent 07440774 - Wireless enabled memory module > Description
A wireless-enabled memory module (WEMM) in accordance with the invention provides devices access to a memory via a standard memory interface and further incorporates embedded processing capability and a wireless network capability. This card can be used in any host device providing a compatible memory card controller and interface. Host devices equipped with a WEMM become wireless-memory enabled devices (WMED). WEMMs and WMEDs can communicate with any other remote device enabled for compatible wireless communications. Remote devices so enabled are referred to herein as Remote Wireless-enabled Devices (RWED).
The wireless network capability and embedded processing of the WEMM provides RWEDs (such as a mobile phone, PDA, or PC) read and write access to the contents of the memory in the WEMM via a wireless connection, such as a BlueTooth connection in an illustrative embodiment. As an implementation option, the memory of the WEMM may be embedded, may be a removable flash memory card, or both.
The RWED can use this wireless access provided by the WEMM to perform selective data transfers between the WEMM\'s memory and internal storage within the RWED. Additionally, by e-mail or MMS attachments sent via an additional network, the RWED may act as an intermediary to transfer data (in either direction) between the WEMM\'s memory and the Internet. For example, a BlueTooth-enabled mobile phone user could access a WEMM that is inserted in a digital camera host. The user could send a friend one or more photos as an e-mail message. The e-mail would result in the transfer of some or all of the stored images from the camera host over the BlueTooth connection to the remote mobile phone, and then to the Internet via the mobile phone network. Similarly, received attachments may be stored to the WEMM.
As a further implementation option, the embedded processing on the WEMM may include a media-scaling engine that can scale the contents to different sizes before transmission over the wireless connection. This enables the user to browse the memory contents in thumbnail form quickly and easily from the remote device. It also permits the user to retrieve a version of the selected content that has been scaled appropriately for the bandwidth capabilities of the BlueTooth connection or mobile network. In a preferred embodiment, the media-scaling engine is implemented using signal processing hardware. However, some or all of its functionality may be also implemented via firmware in the processor sub-system.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
FIG. 1is a block diagram of a wireless-enabled memory module (WEMM) 1000, physically and electrically compatible with the Compact Flash expansion module standard, and in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2is a diagram of a system 2000, in accordance with the present invention, illustrating how data on a host device 2100 equipped with a WEMM 1000 may be transmitted over a variety of networks (including 2300, 2500, and 2700).
FIG. 3is a block diagram of a WED 3000, physically and electrically compatible with the Secure Digital expansion module standard, and in accordance with the present invention.
FIGS. 4A and 4Bdepict further illustrative embodiments or the present invention, 4000 and 4300 respectively, in which power is supplied to the WEMM either from a customer Portable Server or from an onboard Power Source.
Table 1 identifies and expands the abbreviations used in
In the illustrative embodiment of
FIG. 1, the WEMM 1000 and interface (1700, 1710, and 1800) to the host are compatible with the Compact Flash industry standard. The WEMM\'s memory includes both embedded flash memory 1200 and removable flash memory 1100 compatible with the Secure Digital (SD) industry standard. The wireless network is a Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) compatible with the Bluetooth industry standard.
As will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, the specifics of each implementation will dictate the particular requirements of the wireless interface. In an illustrative embodiment intended primarily for use with mobile phones, a low-speed, low-cost, Bluetooth interface 1500 is used. In another illustrative embodiment intended primarily for use with computing devices, such as PCs, a higher-speed, higher-cost, Bluetooth interface is used. The higher speed interface will reduce the time required to transfer a given file and will make the transfer of larger multimedia objects (e.g. higher resolution images and higher quality music) more practical. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the baseband functions of the radio may be stored in the WEMM\'s integral firmware and performed via the WEMM\'s integral processor.
Note that the WEMM 1000 constitutes a first-level removable module and the removable flash memory 1100 constitutes a second-level removable module. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that there are a number of choices for each of these miniature-form-factor standard interfaces. Thus the WEMM 1000 is not restricted to the CF standard, and the removable flash memory 1100 is not restricted to the SD standard.
A first system application of the WEMM is the wireless transfer of digital photos between a camera and a mobile phone, for associated transfer via the mobile phone network. There is a large installed base of digital cameras that use standard removable memory cards, but do not have I/O expandability or wireless network functionality. These cameras can be augmented with a wireless-enabled memory module, in accordance with the present invention, to send photos via a mobile phone or any other compatibly enabled wireless communications device.
Table 2 identifies and expands the abbreviations used in
A general application for the invention is the illustrative system 2000 of
FIG. 2illustrates a host device having no native integral wireless capability (such as a camera or a portable audio device) into which a WEMM 1000 is inserted. The resulting combination being a WMED 2100 as previously defined. A WMED communicates with an RWED (e.g. mobile phone) having at least one wireless interface. In
FIG. 2, the WMED 2100 communicates with the RWED 2200 over a WX1AN 2300 (a wireless area network of a first type), such as the BlueTooth Wireless Personal Area Network (WPAN) standard. To illustrate a more general system, the RWED 2200 of
FIG. 2is a Dual WX1AN/WX2AN device (i.e., it has two wireless interfaces), such as a mobile phone or wireless-enabled PDA.
In many applications, the WMED 2100 and its associated user interface will be unaware of the capabilities of the WEMM 1000 and offer no means to control it. In an illustrative embodiment, the WX1AN 2300 connection enables the RWED 2200 to access the content within the memory of the WEMM 1000 through a browser-server relationship. The server functionality 1635, which has an associated implementation of the WAP-over-BlueTooth protocol, is stored in the WEMM\'s integral firmware 1630 and is performed via the WEMM\'s integral processor 1610. (WAP is the Wireless Application Protocol.)
Thus the user interface to the WEMM 1000 is accomplished via an embedded WAP/Web server 1635 within the WEMM 1000 communicating with a WAP browser on the RWED 2200. The RWED browser-based interface allows the user to:
- Browse the contents of the memory (as discussed below, either/both of 1100 or/and 1200) in the WEMM, viewing thumbnail size versions created by an embedded media scaling engine 1300;
- Send a multimedia object (e.g., a photograph), optionally scaled to one of a number of sizes via the scaling engine, as an MMS (Multimedia Message Service, a multimedia extension of SMS) or email attachment via a cell phone; and
- Load a received attachment into the WEMM for storage or for use (e.g., viewing on a camera).
In an alternate embodiment, the user interface makes use of the knowledge of the memory controller of the last file written to allow short cuts, such as â€œsend the last photograph takenâ€ .
In an alternate embodiment, the remote device implements a custom user interface created with the SmartPhone2002 or J2ME Java engines instead of the generic WAP browser.
The Dual WX1AN/WX2AN RWED 2200 is in turn connected to a WX2AN system 2500 (a wireless area network of a second type), such as the GSM Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) standard, which in turn connects through a Gateway 2600 to the Internet 2700. The RWED 2200 can then retrieve content from the memory (either/both of 1100 or/and 1200) in the WEMM 1000 via the WX1AN 2300 and send it (for example in e-mail or MMS form) via the WX2AN 2500 through a Gateway 2600 to the Internet 2700.
To accommodate the lower-speed interfaces that may be employed, either between the WEMM 1000 and the remote device 2200, or between the remote device 2200 and its WXAN 2500, the WEMM additionally includes processing functionality to scale the size of an individual media item that is sent to the remote device. When the user wishes to browse the content of the memory in the WEMM from the remote device, the WEMM 1000 would send â€œthumbnailâ€ scaled versions through the BlueTooth connection 2300, for quick browsing. When a media item is selected, it can be sent to the remote device 2200 in one of a number of larger scaling levels, depending on the wireless bandwidths involved.
In an illustrative embodiment using a low-speed Bluetooth interface, camera owners will be able to send postcard versions of snapshots via a mobile phone, using cameras that do not have integral wireless network capability. The invention thus will enable and expand the market for sending and receiving snapshots over wireless networks.
In an illustrative embodiment using a high-speed Bluetooth interface, large high-resolution files may be transferred between a camera equipped with the wireless-enabled memory module and a PC. The invention thus will enable and expand the market for PC-based digital photography, including storage, backup, and archiving of digital photographs.
Other system applications of the wireless-enabled memory module enable other devices to communicate via a mobile phone or to computing devices such as PCs. An example is transfer of MP3 files between an MP3 player and a mobile phone, for associated transfer via the mobile phone network, by equipping the MP3 player with a wireless-enabled memory module having a low-speed Bluetooth implementation. Another example is transfer of large music files between an audio device (e.g. a home entertainment system) and a PC, by equipping the audio device with a wireless-enabled memory module having a high-speed Bluetooth implementation.
As an implementation option, the memory capability of the WEMM 1000 is implemented using an embedded fixed size memory 1200, a removable memory 1100 (for example a removable SD memory device), or both. In an illustrative embodiment, the removable memory is a second-level module and the wireless-enabled memory module is a first-level module, such as those disclosed by U.S. Pat. No. 6,353,870, CLOSED CASE REMOVABLE EXPANSION CARD HAVING INTERCONNECT AND ADAPTER CIRCUITRY FOR BOTH I/O AND REMOVEABLE MEMORY.
Table 3 identifies and expands the abbreviations used in
An alternative embodiment is shown in
FIG. 3, a block diagram of a WEMM 3000 according to the invention as implemented in an SD form factor. A custom ASIC 3100, as shown, could be optionally implemented, including e.g., the microprocessor 1600, memory interface 3110, media scaling engine 1300 and memory controller 1400 all on one chip.
In an illustrative embodiment, the WEMM 3000 processing capability includes the ability to rescale the media objects, including JPEG images and MP3 audio stored in the modules memory on the fly. This allows the WAP/Web interface to provide thumbnail images and highly compressed audio versions of the contents of the WEMM 3000 and to rescale media objects, including photos and audio recordings, to an appropriate size and quality for transmission over the wireless network.
Media objects (images and audio) are sent as an email message either via the phone\'s built in email capability or using an embedded SMTP/PPP stack over the phone\'s IP network connection (e.g. GPRS). In another embodiment, the images may be sent as an MMS message.
Two alternative embodiments, illustrated in
FIGS. 4A and 4B, show how a WEMM (4200 in
FIG. 4A, 4300 in
FIG. 4B) can be used separately from the host device, when the host device does not require access to the memory.
FIG. 4Ashows an embodiment of a combination 4000 in which a special â€œholderâ€ 4100 containing a power source 4110 is used in place of the full-function host, acting as a portable storage server and providing power to the WEMM 4200. Alternatively,
FIG. 4Billustrates an embodiment in which a WEMM 4300 itself incorporates a power source 4360.
Table 4 identifies and expands the abbreviations used in
FIGS. 4A and 4B.
FIGS. 4A and 4Balso illustrate that the WEMM has at least one Function-key (F-key, i.e. a button with an associated configurable function). The F-key(s) are identified as 4230 in
FIG. 4Aand as 4330 in
FIG. 4B. Example key functions include (a) e-mailing the last-taken photo to a pre-configured address, and (b) transferring the last-taken photo to the mobile phone in preparation for manual addressing and sending.
Although the present invention has been described using particular illustrative embodiments, it will be understood that many variations in construction, arrangement and use are possible consistent with the teachings and within the scope of the invention. Functionally equivalent techniques known to those skilled in the art may be employed instead of those illustrated to implement various components or sub-systems. It is also understood that many design functional aspects may be carried out in either hardware (i.e., generally dedicated circuitry) or software (i.e., via some manner of programmed controller or processor), as a function of implementation dependent design constraints and the technology trends of faster processing (which facilitates migration of functions previously in hardware into software) and higher integration density (which facilitates migration of functions previously in software into hardware).
All such variations in design comprise insubstantial changes over the teachings conveyed by the illustrative embodiments. The names given to interconnect and logic are illustrative, and should not be construed as limiting the invention. It is also understood that the invention has broad applicability to other applications, and is not limited to the particular application or industry of the illustrated embodiments. The present invention is thus to be construed as including all possible modifications and variations encompassed within the scope of the appended claims.'