This page summarizes Lynn's patents for inventions in system architecture and user interfaces for interactive visual communications and control. The U.S. Patent number hyperlinks connect to each patent's entry in the U.S. Patent Office website database.

These inventions have applications in on-site interactive presentations/collaborations, teleconferencing, remote coaching and remote control. They build on and exploit the emerging hybridized internet/broadband-cable communications environment and the associated rapid increases in communications bandwidth and connectivity. It is conceivable that these inventions could find wide application sometime in the future, as the overall visual communications infrastructure passes certain critical thresholds in scale.

For example, one of the inventions, called "video mirroring" (with applications in videophone technology), allows users to coach, guide and train other people at remote teleconference sites by "mirroring back" transmitted video images and overlaying them with pointers and instructional information that can assist in the task being performed. In the future, video mirroring could be used to help rural physicians perform surgery or diagnose diseases with the help of surgeons at a major medical center. Other applications in fields such as engineering, education and construction, are also possible.

Video mirroring is very easily understood and exploited by the average user. It is low in added cost and easy to implement within existing systems.

However, this concept is so basic, subtle and simple in nature, that it hasn't yet been identified as a "requirement" within traditional teleconferencing technology. Thus we find a paradigm challenge to the early adoption of this useful innovation.

I find such paradigm challenges to be quite interesting. I have generated several more such simple inventions, as discussed below, to further clarify an interesting zone of visual-communications/control user-interface technology that seems to have been overlooked in teleconferencing technology, due to past traditional practices. Taken together, the following patents on these inventions help to characterize some of the research territory we are currently exploring. It would be fun to find some more of these things!


Teleautonomous System and Method Employing Time/Position Synchrony/Desynchrony
U. S. Patent 5,046,022  (images)
Issued 9-3-91
Lynn Conway, Richard Volz and Michael Walker

This invention provides means for effectively controlling remote systems through a time delay, based on local simulation and a simple user interface. It builds on the classic forward-simulation invention of Prof. Tom Sheridan of M.I.T., by introducing novel user controls including the "time clutch", the "position clutch", and the "time brake". These controls will enable users to better cope with the many nuisance time delays that will be encountered in future two-way video links due to compression/decompression time delays, satellite link delays, etc. [see also our paper on "teleautonomous systems " ]


System and Method for Teleinteraction
U. S. Patent 5,444,476  (page images)
Issued 8-22-95
Lynn Conway

Video "feedback", or "mirroring" is exploited in this invention to point at things in remote environments, providing a simple, intuitive means to interact with remote users and reference things in their environments. Can be used as the basis for applications such as "remote coaching and training" [see also our paper on "video mirroring - - " ]


Apparatus and Method for Remote Control Using a Visual Information Stream
U. S. Patent 5,652,849   (page images) 
Issued 7-29-97
Lynn Conway and Charles Cohen

This invention builds on 5,444,476 and provides a means to control remote systems via video feedback containing pointers and other visual gestural-control icons. These icons are interpretable by a remote visual interpreters in remote environments, with respect to those environments. [see also our papers on "video mirroring" and "gestural control" ]


Visual Control Selection of Remote Mechanisms
U. S. Patent 5,719,622  (page images)
Issued 2-17-98
Lynn Conway

This invention provides a simple, intuitive means of unambiguously selecting things to be controlled in remote environments, by pointing at them and obtaining visual feedback from a "visual transponder" indicating that they are selected.


Method and System for Organizing and Presenting Audio/Visual Information
U. S. Patent 5,745,782  (page images)
Issued 4-28-98
Lynn Conway

This invention provides the simplest possible user interface for rapidly storing and accessing visual media, with associative links embedded into simple text files or other working files. Applications include quick, informal management of large numbers of images from digital cameras.


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