Patent application title: Reconfigurable User Input/Output Device
Daniel Theobald (Sommerville, MA, US)
IPC8 Class: AG06F312FI
Class name: Facsimile and static presentation processing static presentation processing (e.g., processing data for printer, etc.) emulation or plural modes
Publication date: 2012-10-04
Patent application number: 20120250050
A readily reconfigurable self-contained self-service user input/output
including an input/output assembly accessible by a user, the assembly
being readily configurable to be used in more than one type of user
configuration or application and at least one peripheral device removably
secured in a desired position about the periphery of the assembly.
1. A readily reconfigurable self-contained self-service user input/output
device comprising: an input/output assembly accessible by a user, the
assembly being readily configurable to be used in more than one type of
user configuration or application; and at least one peripheral device
removably secured in a desired position about the periphery of the
2. The device as defined in claim 1, wherein the assembly can be readily configured to at least be used in either a wall mount application, a ceiling mount application, table top application or rolling cart application.
3. The device as defined in claim 1, including a wireless communication mechanism for connecting the device to at least one other device or system.
4. The device as defined in claim 1, wherein the at least one peripheral device can be removably secured in more than one position about the periphery of the assembly.
5. The device as defined in claim 1, including a plurality of peripheral devices wherein each peripheral device can be readily positioned at more than one position about the periphery of the assembly.
6. The device as defined in claim 1, including a plurality of peripheral devices removably secured about the periphery of the assembly wherein each peripheral device can readily be interchanged with a replacement of the same device or another peripheral device as desired.
7. The device as defined in claim 1, including electronic signage in operable communication with the assembly to at least provide a variety of messages.
8. The device as defined in claim 7, including two processors, at least one processor in operable communication with the electronic signage.
9. The device as defined in claim 1, including a pedestal for attaching to and positioning the assembly in a freestanding application.
10. The device as defined in claim 9, including a printer secured within the confines of the pedestal.
11. The device as defined in claim 10, wherein the printer is capable of confidentially providing a printout to the patient
12. The device as defined in claim 10, wherein the printer is a printer module releasably secured within the confines of the pedestal and readily can be removed by a customer and replaced with another printer module as desired.
13. The device as defined in claim 10, wherein the printer provides a print-out that is pulled back within the printer if the print-out is not removed within a predetermined time interval.
14. The device as defined in claim 1, wherein the peripheral device is selected from the group at least consisting of a card reader, a biometric identification device, a scanner, a handprint scanner, a headphone jack, a microphone jack, a proximity sensor, a camera, at least one speaker, at least one device input port, a keyboard, a stylus, a stylus pad, a cup holder, at least one privacy shield, a pin pad, a wireless transmitter, a printer, a wristband printer, a thermometer, a blood pressure device, and a pulse meter.
15. The device as defined in claim 1, wherein the assembly includes a touch screen.
16. The device as defined in claim 15, wherein the touch screen is substantially rectangular and the assembly further is reconfigurable so that the touch screen readily can be positioned in either a portrait or landscape position.
17. The device as defined in claim 1, wherein the peripheral device automatically captures at least one vital sign without contacting a user.
18. The device as defined in claim 17, wherein the peripheral device captures at least one of core temperature, pulse rate or respiratory rate of the user.
19. The device as defined in claim 17, wherein the peripheral device is an infrared sensor.
20. The device as defined in claim 1, wherein the at least one peripheral device is a proximity sensor to determine when a user no longer is in front of the device and prevent any information from being conveyed.
21. The device as defined in claim 1, wherein all necessary wiring or other types of connections are completely contained with the device and inaccessible from the exterior of the device and any necessary ports are also concealed and inaccessible from the exterior of the device.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates generally to input/output devices, and more particularly to a versatile input/output device for users at a facility.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 User input/output devices take on a variety of forms, provide a number of functions and are becoming increasingly popular among both customers and facility owners for customer check-in or similar activities. Such devices may be referred to as a "kiosk" or "terminal" and typically provide limited features or functionality, cannot be modified or customized in the field after leaving the factory and face significant down time if a malfunction occurs, among other concerns.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 A readily reconfigurable self-contained self-service user input/output device including an input/output assembly accessible by a user, the assembly being readily configurable to be used in more than one type of user configuration or application and at least one peripheral device removably secured in a desired position about the periphery of the assembly.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 The following detailed description will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings, in which there is shown one or more of the multiple embodiments of the present disclosure. It should be understood, however, that the various embodiments of the present disclosure are not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown in the drawings.
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view generally illustrating one embodiment of a reconfigurable user input/output device of the present invention;
 FIG. 2 generally illustrates one embodiment of a facility where the reconfigurable user input/output device of the present invention may be implemented;
 FIG. 3 is a perspective view generally illustrating another embodiment of a reconfigurable user input/output device of the present invention for use in a table top style of application;
 FIG. 4 is a perspective view generally illustrating another embodiment of a reconfigurable user input/output device of the present invention for use in a ceiling mount style of application;
 FIG. 5 is a perspective view generally illustrating another embodiment of a reconfigurable user input/output device of the present invention for use in a wall mount type of application;
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view generally illustrating another embodiment of a reconfigurable user input/output device of the present invention for use in a pedestal type of application and including one embodiment of potential signage that can be included;
 FIG. 7 is a perspective view generally illustrating another embodiment of a reconfigurable user input/output device of the present invention showing a display screen in a portrait orientation; and
 FIG. 8 is a perspective view generally illustrating another embodiment of a reconfigurable user input/output device of the present invention showing a display screen in a landscape orientation.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 The present invention will be described in detail with reference to embodiments that represent examples of the present invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention. Although specific elements and configurations are described to provide an understanding of the invention, it is to be understood that the specific embodiments, elements and configurations provided are for illustrative purposes only. Other configurations will be recognized by those of ordinary skill in the art without departing from the teachings of the present invention or the scope of the appended claims.
 Various facilities and organizations frequently require the presence of an individual, such as a customer, patient or the like, at the facility to obtain goods or services at the facility. Some examples of such facilities include, but are not limited to, a doctor's office, a medical clinic, a hospital, a bank, airline terminal, will-call desk, store, automotive service center, restaurant, veterinarians office, kennel or any other type of facility. It is to be understood that the particular facility itself can vary without departing from the teachings of the present invention.
 In many of these facilities, the customer or patient has an initial check-in phase followed by one or more subsequent service phases and may have a pre-arranged appointment. Although initial check-in at a facility typically is handled by an administrative person at the facility, use of self-service type check-in equipment is becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons.
 Self-service check-in equipment typically includes some type of user input/output device such as a kiosk, hand held device, cell phone, tablet PC or the like. Existing kiosks are usually quite limited in functional capabilities and are manufactured as bulky, immovable, stand-alone units with a set configuration and functional capability with little if any ability to make accommodations to the end users needs after it leaves the factory for customization or other purposes.
 Additionally, in the event of a malfunction the entire kiosk typically is shut down until an experienced technician can arrive at the facility to work on the kiosk and hopefully bring the kiosk back on-line quickly. If not, significant additional time is lost waiting for a replacement kiosk which can be days if not weeks costing the kiosk customer additional money while using valuable human resources in the interim with potential facility customer inconvenience or annoyance.
 As FIG. 1 illustrates, the user input/output device of present invention is designated generally by the reference numeral 10. The device 10 is designed as a self-contained self-service user input/output assembly that can include all necessary components, readily be adapted for a variety of needs, is easily reconfigurable on-site by the customer to suit a variety of applications or needs as well as repairs without factory tech support, and provide a completely enclosed and secure structure, among other features.
 The device 10 substantially includes a unique housing assembly 12 that serves to accommodate all of the desired electronics, hardware, software, wiring, ports and attachment mechanisms, including a CPU and various peripherals, for example. It is to be understood, however, that the present invention is not to be limited in any way by the particular hardware, software, peripherals or the like.
 The housing assembly 12 also enables orientation or mounting in a variety of readily interchangeable applications including, but not limited to, a desk or table top application as illustrated in FIG. 3, a ceiling mount application as illustrated in FIG. 4, a wall mount application as illustrated in FIG. 5, various pedestal applications as illustrated in FIGS. 1, 6, 7 and 8, and a mobile, rolling or wheeled cart application (not illustrated). Additional details of the versatile mounting of the housing 12 will be provided in more detail below.
 In FIG. 1, the device 10 is generally illustrated with three potential peripheral devices including a card reader 14, a scanner 16 including an associated card holder or positioner 16a and a printer 18. As described herein, any number of peripherals can be utilized with the device 10 without departing from the teachings of the present invention and the invention is not to be limited in any way to the particular peripherals that may be employed.
 As FIG. 2 illustrates, the device 10 typically is utilized with regard to a facility 20 which can be any type of facility desired. In this embodiment, the facility 20 is generally illustrated as some type of medical facility including a check-in area 22 having a check-in desk 24 and a waiting area 26, but can vary.
 As FIG. 1 generally illustrates, the device 10 typically includes a display 28 that serves as the main communication interface between the customer and the facility. The display 28 preferably is a touch screen type of display, but any other type of display and user input mechanism can be utilized if desired.
 FIGS. 3-8 illustrate a number of additional peripherals that may be included with the device 10 such as a camera 30, one or more speakers 32, a handprint scanner 34, a 2D barcode scanner and insurance card imager 36, and headphone and microphone jacks 38 and 40, to name a few. It is to be understood that the particular number and type of peripheral devices can vary without departing from the teachings of the present invention.
 It also is to be understood that peripherals can include any type of peripheral that measures a vital sign of a customer or patient, such as body temperature, blood pressure, pulse, weight, or any other type of vital peripheral. A thermal type of sensor may also be included to measure at least core body temperature and pulse rate, for example.
 It is to be noted that the present invention provides a unique secure device 10 with a compact, sleek appearance for use in smaller areas where existing kiosks can't fit. This design not only is appealing to customers and users, but enables placement in many more environments along with enabling more devices 10 to be placed in a designated area.
 Additionally, the modular design of the device 10 and various peripherals along with the method of attachment of these peripherals provides a distinct and highly desirable advantage over existing devices. More particularly, the design of the device 10 and attachment mechanisms used to secure the various peripherals to the device 10 are selected so that the peripherals can be secured in more than one position about the periphery of the device 10.
 For example, FIG. 7 illustrates a device 10 with the display 28 positioned in portrait mode where the camera 30 and speakers 32 are secured on the top, shorter side while the card reader 14 and handprint scanner 34 are secured on left and right longer sides, respectively. As FIG. 8 illustrates, the display 28 is positioned in landscape mode with the camera 30 and speakers 32 secured on the top, longer side while the card reader 14 and handprint scanner 34 are secured on left and right shorter sides, respectively.
 These unique features of the device 10, among other features, provide a novel versatility to user input/output devices that enable customers to not only customize the device 10 to their particular needs and desires when ordering but enables ready modification, upgrades and addition of more peripherals once installed at a facility by a technician or even the customer to meet changing needs. This versatility is one of many features that have enabled the device 10 to achieve rapid and extensive commercial success, including substantial usage by the U.S. government and top medical facilities.
 As mentioned above, this versatility enables significant improvement in the field repair of devices 10, including the display 28 and all peripherals, simply by replacing the desired component with a new component either stocked by the customer at the facility or provided by a service technician. This significantly reduces downtime of the device 10 to reduce costs and inconvenience of the customer. It also enables any self-diagnostic tools of the device 10 to identify potential peripherals for repair and replacement on site as well as enabling any help desk personnel to direct on-site customer personnel to effect repair and replacement on their own.
 The particular mounting of each peripheral to the device 10 varies and the claimed invention is not to be limited in any way by the type of mounting provided. The mounting may include particular brackets as well as stands, mounting structures and fasteners for the device 10, display 28 and any other peripheral, as well as brackets, stands and the like for mounting the housing 12 in various positions as desired so long as they provide the desired ready attachment and detachment and easy electrical connection when needed.
 To determine the presence of a customer at the kiosk for service, the device 10 may also include a proximity sensor 42, illustrated in FIGS. 6-8. Of course, the proximity sensor 42 can be positioned anywhere on the device 10 and may even be positioned on a mat (not illustrated) on the floor of the device 10 if desired. This feature enables potential power savings of the device, among other benefits, if desired.
 The printer 18 can be any type of printer so long as it provides the output desired to a patient. Additionally, for privacy reasons, the printer can be designed to pull the print out back into the device 10 if not retrieved by a customer in a desired time period and disposed of later. Additionally, a full size paper printer can also be included with the device 10 and if desired integrated in the pedestal in a pull out manner (not illustrated) to enable easy servicing and refilling of ink and paper as well as ready replacement of the printer unit if needed.
 The embodiments of the present disclosure may be implemented with any combination of hardware and software. If implemented as a computer-implemented apparatus, the embodiments of the present disclosure are implemented using means for performing all of the steps and functions described above.
 The embodiments of the present disclosure can be included in an article of manufacture (e.g., one or more computer program products) having, for instance, computer useable media. The media has embodied therein, for example, computer readable program code means for providing and facilitating the mechanisms of the embodiments of the present disclosure. The article of manufacture can be included as part of a computer system or sold separately.
 Although the description above contains many specific examples, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the embodiments of the present disclosure but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this disclosure. Thus, the scope of the embodiments of the disclosure should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.
 It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this disclosure is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but it is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the embodiments of the present disclosure.
Patent applications by Daniel Theobald, Sommerville, MA US
Patent applications in class Emulation or plural modes
Patent applications in all subclasses Emulation or plural modes