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Apple may let iPhones share data over voice channels

post #1 of 26
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Apple Inc. has done some conceptual work on software technology that would allow an iPhone to vocalized multimedia data -- such as text -- and then send that vocalized data via a walkie-talkie-like voice channel to a second iPhone where it would then be output as audio or transcribed back into text.

The concept was originally outlined in a January 24, 2006 patent filing with the United States Trademark Office by Apple iPod chief Tony Fadell and published for the first time on Thursday.

Given the rapid deployment, proliferation, and technical advancement of mobile personal communication devices like cell phones, users of those devices are presented with any number of ways to communicate with other users, Fadell explained in the filing.

"For example, a user can send type a text message using, for example, Short Message Service-Point to Point (SMS-PP) protocol as defined in GSM recommendation 03.40 where messages are sent via a store-and forward mechanism to a Short Message Service Center (SMSC), which will attempt to send the message to the recipient and possibly retry if the user is not reachable at a given moment," he wrote. "Therefore, SMS-PP requires the use of a backend server to provide the necessary support for transmission of data between sender and receiver."

On the other hand, Fadell's concept calls for a mechanism whereby data is passed between a sender and receiver unit by way of voice channel only, therefore bypassing use of the data channel used in conventional arrangements.

"In this way, a sender can select that data which he/she desires to send to a receiver unit using by first converting the data into an appropriate vocal/voice format which is then forwarded to a receiver unit by way of the voice channel," he wrote. "Once received at the receiver unit, the vocalized data can be converted to an audio signal, which is then output by way of an audio output device (such as a speaker, earphone, etc.)."



Fadell explains that the concept is particularly well suited for people having visual problems or in those situations where viewing the data on a small display screen is problematic.

According to the filing, once the vocalized data -- such as a vocalized phone number -- has been sent to and received at the second cell phone, processing of that data can be performed based upon a prompted user request or based upon a pre-selected protocol.



"For example," Fadell wrote, "once received at the cell phone, the vocalized phone number can be passed to an audio output device that (in the case of a speaker) generates an audible rendition of the vocalized phone number. In another case, the vocalized phone number is forwarded to a voice mail server where the receiver records the vocalized phone number as a voice mail message for subsequent playback."

In the filing, the Apple iPod chief also describes a method where vocalized text data could be received and then transformed back into text, effectively allowing for walkie-talkie like text messaging between iPhones without the need for a backend server.
post #2 of 26
This is interesting.
post #3 of 26
If the phone has text-to-speech capability, I'm not sure I understand why you'd want to convert on the send side rather than the receive side. Seems wasteful, bandwidth wise.
post #4 of 26
I disagree. I think this patent is related to some work apple was doing at one point (and has another patent related to - filed recently) a specific iPhone custom ringtone scheme, where you get to send data (text is a red herring here) to the phone before you call it. The theory here is that you take a picture of yourself calling the person, so they get the picture at the same time you care calling. Re-read that patent filing for incorporating pictures into voice feeds, not only is it for Garageband's recoding of iChat's conversations for podcasts, but it also can be applied here.

I suspect A. it's not ready, and B. since it will be an iPhone specific feature, Apple may be waiting to see if the iPhone becomes ubiquitous enough to incorporate that feature.

Quote:
"once received at the cell phone, the vocalized phone number can be passed to an audio output device that (in the case of a speaker) generates an audible rendition of the vocalized phone number. In another case, the vocalized phone number is forwarded to a voice mail server where the receiver records the vocalized phone number as a voice mail message for subsequent playback."

"vocalized phone number" could be anything. "Calling you from 555-1212" could just be as easily "hey! it's AlexJ! pickup!" in case I don't want to go all photographic on you.
---alexJ
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChevalierMalFet View Post

If the phone has text-to-speech capability, I'm not sure I understand why you'd want to convert on the send side rather than the receive side. Seems wasteful, bandwidth wise.

I think this means It avoids the unreliability of the store and forward server by using voicemail so the receiver doesn't have to wait for second attempts at delivery if they are out of range. They can just go and get the message when it is convenient.

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post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by plowking View Post

I disagree. I think this patent is related to some work apple was doing at one point (and has another patent related to - filed recently) a specific iPhone custom ringtone scheme, where you get to send data (text is a red herring here) to the phone before you call it. The theory here is that you take a picture of yourself calling the person, so they get the picture at the same time you care calling. Re-read that patent filing for incorporating pictures into voice feeds, not only is it for Garageband's recoding of iChat's conversations for podcasts, but it also can be applied here.

I suspect A. it's not ready, and B. since it will be an iPhone specific feature, Apple may be waiting to see if the iPhone becomes ubiquitous enough to incorporate that feature.

"vocalized phone number" could be anything. "Calling you from 555-1212" could just be as easily "hey! it's AlexJ! pickup!" in case I don't want to go all photographic on you.
---alexJ

That's an excellent explanation from someone who has never posted here before! Thanks Steve!
post #7 of 26
There is more here that meets the eye, sending a single text character (Letter A) cost about 8 bits plus 2 for overhead or so; sending the sound of the single character (letter A) may be like 50 bits (guess on my part).

I do not think that Apple would file for a patent on how to do something that is stupid and ineficient, unless "TEXT" means something else and they are going to use it in an inovative way that facilitates some other function not yet obvious to us or lower the cost of the operation in another way like using a cheaper transmission medium.

Uuencoding images for example have been around for years however it is a lot more ineficient than sending the image via FTP as a binary object.

Apple is going somewhere with this, I do not think there is no substance to this patent. We are just not seeing it and Apple doe not yet want us to see the remainder of the puzzle that is embedded in the remainder patents.

Your guess is as good as mine, there is more than meets the eye.
post #8 of 26
Is this voice channel already in use for purposes like this?
Could it be that Apple is trying to invent a new type of bluetooth?
This patent is not only about text-to-voice-to-text, but also about the "channel" that is used for (a type of) instant-messaging, right?
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post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

On the other hand, Fadell's concept calls for a mechanism whereby data is passed between a sender and receiver unit by way of voice channel only, therefore bypassing use of the data channel used in conventional arrangements.

Sure sounds like the description of the process that happens in a modem, where a pattern of bits are changed to an analog signal transmitted and then demodulated at the receiving end. The receiving end can then choose how to display / interpret the data.

Also the mention of store and forward may be represented by the .Mac service however WebDav, FTP and others again sound a lot more efficient even over the cell radio, never mind over WIFI.

This is weird
post #10 of 26
I thought of it more as a blackberry "pin" type of message which uses a different system alltogether. Also that allows blackberries to have a blackberry messenger. This would be great I miss bb messenger!
post #11 of 26
To do data->speech->data is truly wasteful!
We have GPRS anyway, so that makes no sense...

But: You could use this to send text messages to voice-only phones (landline?), and have the receiver hear and audible message (however this can also be done as a network service, I don't think it makes sense to put that logic into the handset).

Also, you could automatically extract interesting pieces of data, like numbers, addresses, URLs from Voice Mails/Calls you receive. Imagine a friend dictating his email address and at the end of the call it pops up with a little "add to contact" button! :-)
post #12 of 26
They're trying to patent the modem.
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post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

This is interesting.

Sounds like using signal processing to trigger AppleScript-like functions? Am I off the mark here?

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post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Sounds like using signal processing to trigger AppleScript-like functions? Am I off the mark here?

I don't know. But, unlike some posting here, it does look to save bandwidth.

As usual, these patents lead to products that those with the patents are already thinking of, but that those on the outside can't imagine.

This looks to be more of an Apple response to the "Social" than simply sharing songs would be, even though it came out before MS's product.
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpinDrift View Post

That's an excellent explanation from someone who has never posted here before! Thanks Steve!

Ditto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ak1808 View Post

To do data->speech->data is truly wasteful!
We have GPRS anyway, so that makes no sense...

But: You could use this to send text messages to voice-only phones (landline?), and have the receiver hear and audible message (however this can also be done as a network service, I don't think it makes sense to put that logic into the handset).

Also, you could automatically extract interesting pieces of data, like numbers, addresses, URLs from Voice Mails/Calls you receive. Imagine a friend dictating his email address and at the end of the call it pops up with a little "add to contact" button! :-)

That actually sounds pretty cool.
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post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by plowking View Post

I disagree. I think this patent is related to some work apple was doing at one point (and has another patent related to - filed recently) a specific iPhone custom ringtone scheme, where you get to send data (text is a red herring here) to the phone before you call it. The theory here is that you take a picture of yourself calling the person, so they get the picture at the same time you care calling. Re-read that patent filing for incorporating pictures into voice feeds, not only is it for Garageband's recoding of iChat's conversations for podcasts, but it also can be applied here.

That's about the only reasonable reason I can agree with for this. When I read the article itself, all I could come up with was dumb, dumb, and dumb. As others have pointed out, it's horribly inefficient, and also, as most who've dealt with reliability issues know, SMS is far more reliable than dealing with voice channels (and dumping the "data" to voicemail if a call couldn't go through would have its own non-tivial issues). That said, you wouldn't want to send too big of a picture up front, as the voice channels aren't that huge (you wouldn't want to be waiting 10 seconds just to get the picture before you could talk to the person).

As an up-front to a (potential) conversation, this could make sense, otherwise not.
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by EagerDragon View Post

Sure sounds like the description of the process that happens in a modem...
This is weird

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ringo View Post

They're trying to patent the modem.

These were exactly my thoughts, too.

It also means that you will be paying to have data transmitted on your voice minutes, even though you have an unlimited data plan.

How is this good?
post #18 of 26
If they do decide to do this I believe that this should be provided as freely licensable patent. The thinking behind this is that any innovations for communication should be made available to any phone, so that there are no walls of communication.
post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

I think this means It avoids the unreliability of the store and forward server by using voicemail so the receiver doesn't have to wait for second attempts at delivery if they are out of range. They can just go and get the message when it is convenient.

Unreliability o the store and forward server?.. what are you talking about?.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnurse View Post

Unreliability o the store and forward server?.. what are you talking about?.


In my experience text messages are quite unreliable when sent from one cell provider to another and especially in communication between a computer and a phone. But maybe I'm the only one who has noticed this.

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post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

In my experience text messages are quite unreliable when sent from one cell provider to another and especially in communication between a computer and a phone. But maybe I'm the only one who has noticed this.

Curious, where do you think voicemail is stored?. If you had said the mechanism for transmitting the text message is unreliable, i would probably give your statement some thought but the server is unreliable?. Is this the same server that the voicemail is stored on?.

The only difference between voicemail and text messages is that text messages is a push technology while voicemail is pull (ie, the carrier sends you text message, while for voicemail, you decide when it gets to your device).. they are both stored on the same **unreliable, according to you** server.

Perhaps you meant to say push technology is unreliable? (rather than the server itself).
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnurse View Post

Curious, where do you think voicemail is stored?. If you had said the mechanism for transmitting the text message is unreliable, i would probably give your statement some thought but the server is unreliable?. Is this the same server that the voicemail is stored on?.

The only difference between voicemail and text messages is that text messages is a push technology while voicemail is pull (ie, the carrier sends you text message, while for voicemail, you decide when it gets to your device).. they are both stored on the same **unreliable, according to you** server.

Perhaps you meant to say push technology is unreliable? (rather than the server itself).

Having played around with SMS gateways on Linux using cell modems I have discovered that there are serious short comings to the way that the different providers share the messaging. That being said I am probably not as much of an expert in the technology as others on this thread.

m

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post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Having played around with SMS gateways on Linux using cell modems I have discovered that there are serious short comings to the way that the different providers share the messaging. That being said I am probably not as much of an expert in the technology as others on this thread.

m

I think apple though is not talking about text messages. Their patent seems to be data in general (any data) that is converted to voice and then stored for user retrieval.

There are pros and cons to each approach. Some data is pull (not all is push, text message is push for example while weather.com displaying weather is a pull).

I think someone had a good point though.. converting data (for which a iphone user would have unlimited data plan) to voice (with specific minutes). So now someone could potentially pay for something that should be free. Interesting. Also sometimes data is better than voice. Example, text messages or email. I can set up my email on the treo to continually check for email. Suppose i am somewhere where coverage is spotty.. perhaps when i want to check my messages, network is not available but unknown to me (say, i was paying attention to something else), my device had a short window when it was connected and downloaded my email for me... in such an instance, i would prefer data.. yes, i have to wait to get into coverage but the same is true for voice however, since i set up my device to automatically pull in my emails, i can take my time reading emails even when the network is not available. The same could be said for web applications.. Example, for advantgo, i would want to retrieve all my data when i have network so that i can later at my leisure view the data..

I think apple is not trying to solve problem about unreliable servers but of handicap access.. i fail to see how this is useful othewise, what problem other than handicap access would they be solving?
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnurse View Post

I think apple though is not talking about text messages. Their patent seems to be data in general (any data) that is converted to voice and then stored for user retrieval.

There are pros and cons to each approach. Some data is pull (not all is push, text message is push for example while weather.com displaying weather is a pull).

I think someone had a good point though.. converting data (for which a iphone user would have unlimited data plan) to voice (with specific minutes). So now someone could potentially pay for something that should be free. Interesting. Also sometimes data is better than voice. Example, text messages or email. I can set up my email on the treo to continually check for email. Suppose i am somewhere where coverage is spotty.. perhaps when i want to check my messages, network is not available but unknown to me (say, i was paying attention to something else), my device had a short window when it was connected and downloaded my email for me... in such an instance, i would prefer data.. yes, i have to wait to get into coverage but the same is true for voice however, since i set up my device to automatically pull in my emails, i can take my time reading emails even when the network is not available. The same could be said for web applications.. Example, for advantgo, i would want to retrieve all my data when i have network so that i can later at my leisure view the data..

I think apple is not trying to solve problem about unreliable servers but of handicap access.. i fail to see how this is useful othewise, what problem other than handicap access would they be solving?

To quote from a quote:
Quote:
"Therefore, SMS-PP requires the use of a backend server to provide the necessary support for transmission of data between sender and receiver."

I think the idea, as they've said, is to be able to send this data, when the above is not available, where you wouldn't be able to send the data at all.

They are giving you a choice whether to send it or not. It seems as though the phone will be able to detect whether the required support for the data is available, and if it isn't, it asks if you'd rather send the data over using voice protocols.

That's one service it's being used for.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

To quote from a quote:


I think the idea, as they've said, is to be able to send this data, when the above is not available, where you wouldn't be able to send the data at all.

They are giving you a choice whether to send it or not. It seems as though the phone will be able to detect whether the required support for the data is available, and if it isn't, it asks if you'd rather send the data over using voice protocols.

That's one service it's being used for.

That's not what he said.. quote

"Fadell explains that the concept is particularly well suited for people having visual problems or in those situations where viewing the data on a small display screen is problematic".

This has nothing to do with whether the receiver could process data services or not. Basically the sender determines to send data via voice or data (probably based on fact that sender is familiar with receiver capabilities).

For what you are thinking, that would require a backend. I don't think a device could determine if another subscriber (from possibly a different service provider) has data services or is able to receive data so this mean AT&T would have to agree to implement mechanism for determine receiver capabilities (even if vocalization is done on device itself). This would basically introduce a backend server (exactly the opposite of apple intention).
post #26 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wnurse View Post

That's not what he said.. quote

"Fadell explains that the concept is particularly well suited for people having visual problems or in those situations where viewing the data on a small display screen is problematic".

This has nothing to do with whether the receiver could process data services or not. Basically the sender determines to send data via voice or data (probably based on fact that sender is familiar with receiver capabilities).

For what you are thinking, that would require a backend. I don't think a device could determine if another subscriber (from possibly a different service provider) has data services or is able to receive data so this mean AT&T would have to agree to implement mechanism for determine receiver capabilities (even if vocalization is done on device itself). This would basically introduce a backend server (exactly the opposite of apple intention).

I understand what you're saying.

But, by ignoring the first half of his discussion, you are not giving credit for the reason WHY he wants to do it this way.

I'' requote the first part, and then the part right after.

Quote:

"For example, a user can send type a text message using, for example, Short Message Service-Point to Point (SMS-PP) protocol as defined in GSM recommendation 03.40 where messages are sent via a store-and forward mechanism to a Short Message Service Center (SMSC), which will attempt to send the message to the recipient and possibly retry if the user is not reachable at a given moment," he wrote. "Therefore, SMS-PP requires the use of a backend server to provide the necessary support for transmission of data between sender and receiver."

On the other hand, Fadell's concept calls for a mechanism whereby data is passed between a sender and receiver unit by way of voice channel only, therefore bypassing use of the data channel used in conventional arrangements.

As you can see, he is saying the doing it the conventional way reguires a lot of equipment, INCLUDING a backend server.

His suggestion does NOT require that backend server that you seem to think it would.

In other words, he's saying just the opposite you are.

I think my idea is correct.

He's just giving a use for which it would be better suited as well.
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