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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
USER CONTROL INTERFACE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2013/088143
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A user control interface (1), the interface comprising a host module (2) and a first user module (3), the first user module arranged to provide to the user at least one input and/or output functionality in relation to equipment external to the interface, the host module and the first user module are operatively detachably connectable, and the first user module arranged to allow a second user module (4) to be operatively connected thereto, the first module arranged to provide signal communication between the host module and the second user module, and the host module arranged to provide a connection for enabling communication externally of the interface.

Inventors:
UNDERWOOD, Geoffrey Paul (Elm Lane, Calbourne, Isle of Wight PO30 4JY, GB)
Application Number:
GB2012/053109
Publication Date:
June 20, 2013
Filing Date:
December 12, 2012
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
IFPL GROUP LIMITED (Elm Lane, Calbourne, Isle of Wight PO30 4JY, GB)
UNDERWOOD, Geoffrey Paul (Elm Lane, Calbourne, Isle of Wight PO30 4JY, GB)
International Classes:
H01R9/24; H01R13/514; H01R25/00; H01R31/00; H01R31/06
Foreign References:
US20080305693A12008-12-11
US5292257A1994-03-08
US20110086542A12011-04-14
NL2002576C22010-08-30
Other References:
GENERATION MP3: "PlugKing, a modular strip by CopperRED (outlet, USB, iPod, ...)", 9 November 2006 (2006-11-09), pages 1, XP007915560, Retrieved from the Internet
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARKER BRETTELL LLP (Medina Chambers, Town QuaySouthampton, Hampshire SO14 2AQ, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A user control interface, the interface comprising a host module and a first user module, the first user module arranged to provide to the user at least one input and/or output functionality in relation to equipment external to the interface, the host module and the first user module are operatively detachably connectable, and the first user module arranged to allow a second user module to be operatively connected thereto, the first module arranged to provide signal communication between the host module and the second user module, and the host module arranged to provide a connection for enabling communication externally of the interface .

2. An interface as claimed in claim in claim 1 , the host module, the first user module and the second user module are connectable in series. 3. An interface as claimed in claim 1 or claim 2 in which the interface is capable of providing at-seat functionality to the user.

4. An interface as claimed in claim 1 in which the host module is arranged to serve as a bus or hub for the first and second user modules to enable communication externally of the interface therewith.

5. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the first user module comprises a first connector to enable connection to the host module and a second connection to enable connection to the second user module, the first connector and the second connector provided at opposite ends of the first module .

6. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the host module is arranged to be the endmost module of the interface. 7. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the host module and the first user module, and the first user module and the second user module are arranged to be operatively connectable to each other by way of an electrical plug and socket arrangement.

8. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the user control interface is arranged to issue control signals to equipment external of the interface.

9. An interface as claimed in any preceding clam which is arranged to be mountable at or adjacent to a seat.

10. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim the host module includes a signal processor to process signals to and/or from the user modules. 1 1. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the user interface is a passenger interface for installation in a vehicle or craft.

12. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which each user module provides a respective input and/or output functionality.

13. An interface as claimed in claim 12 in which each module comprises a dedicated functionality.

14. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the functionality provided by the modules includes user operable controls or a user equipment interface.

15. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the modules are of complimentary dimensions. 16. An interface as claimed in claim 15 in which the modules have substantially the same width dimension.

17. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the host module is arranged to communicate with equipment external of the user interface .

18. An interface as claimed in any preceding claim in which the user control interface is a passenger control unit.

Description:
USER CONTROL INTERFACE

Technical Field The present invention relates to a user control interface, in particular, although not exclusively, to enable at-seat functionality.

Summary According to the present invention there is provided a user control interface, the interface comprising a host module and a first user module, the first user module arranged to provide to the user at least one input and/or output functionality in relation to equipment external to the interface, the host module and the first user module are operatively detachably connectable, and the first user module arranged to allow a second user module to be operatively connected thereto, the first module arranged to provide signal communication between the host module and the second user module, and the host module arranged to provide a connection for enabling communication externally of the interface. The host module, the first user module and the second user module are preferably connectable in series.

The interface is preferably capable of providing at-seat functionality to the user. The host module preferably arranged to serve as a bus or hub for the first and second user modules to enable communication externally of the interface therewith.

The first user module preferably comprises a first connector to enable connection to the host module and a second connection to enable connection to the second user module, the first connector and the second connector provided at opposite ends of the first module.

The host module preferably arranged to be the endmost module of the interface. The host module and the first user module, and the first user module and the second user module preferably arranged to be operatively connectable to each other by way of an electrical plug and socket arrangement. The user control interface is preferably arranged to issue control signals to equipment external of the interface.

The interface is preferably arranged to be mountable at or adjacent to a seat. For example, the interface may be arranged to be fixed in a seat, tethered to a seat (for example by wiring), or to be untethered (and be capable of receiving and sending signals over an air interface). The interface may be arranged to be mountable in an armrest of a seat.

The host module may include a signal processor to process signals to and/or from the user modules.

The user interface may be a passenger interface for installation in a vehicle or craft. The user interface may comprise a user entertainment interface . The user interface is preferably an in-flight or onboard passenger entertainment system interface . Alternatively, the user control interface may be suitable for domestic use in the form of a remote control, wherein additional user modules can be added depending on the type and/or number of media sources (or indeed other external devices) that the user wishes to control. Preferably each user module provides a respective input and/or output functionality. Preferably each module comprises a dedicated functionality, modules may comprise multiple functionalities.

The functionality provided by the modules preferably includes user operable controls or a user equipment interface.

Preferably the modules are of complimentary dimensions. Preferably the modules have substantially the same width dimension. The host module is preferably arranged to communicate with equipment external of the user interface.

The user control interface may be viewed as a passenger control unit.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Various embodiments of the invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the following drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a user interface in an assembled condition;

Figure 2 is a perspective view of a user interface in a disassembled condition; Figure 3 is a perspective view of a user module; and

Figure 4 shows a perspective underside view of an assembled user control interface. Detailed Description

With reference to Figure 1 there is shown a user control interface for use by passengers for an in-flight entertainment system and for other functionality which is made available to the passengers. As will be described below the interface comprises a plurality of modules which are detachably connectable. Each user module provides a particular functionality, and more specifically an input and/or output functionality. The user interface 1 is arranged to be mounted at or close to a passenger seat, such as in an armrest of a passenger seat. The user interface 1 comprises a host module 2 and a plurality of user modules 3, 4, 5 and 6.

The host module 2 serves as a hub for signals to and from each of the user modules. Accordingly, the host module 2 comprises a connector 15 which is attached to a cable 16. The connector 16 is connectable to onboard circuitry which connects to equipment external of the user interface 1. Such equipment may comprise an onboard passenger entertainment system which provides audio and visual data to a passenger' s seat. The external equipment may allow control for the passenger's immediate environment such as lighting, temperature and ventilation. The external equipment may comprise communication equipment to allow a passenger to communicate with staff onboard, to contact make a telephone call or to obtain internet access.

The host module 2 comprises a housing, one end of which is provided with an electrical connector which allows the host module to be operably connected to a user module. The electrical connector may comprise a male or female connector component. In the example shown, the connector comprises a socket to receive a plug component of an adjacent user module. As will be described in more detail below, the host module 2 comprises a plurality of electrical pin receivers, each of which relates to signals to/from a particular user module. It will be appreciated, however, that a particular group of pins may be assigned to a particular user module. The host module 2 may comprise a signal processor to suitably process signals en route to/from the user modules.

Reference is now made to Figure 2 which illustrates the way in which the user modules and the host module are connectable together. Figure 2 shows generic user modules 10, which at one end comprise an electrical connector 20a and a plurality of limbs 21a. At the opposite end of each user module, there is provided a connector 20b and apertures 21b. In use, the connector 20a and the limbs 21a of one module are receivable in the socket 20b and the side recesses/channels 21b respectively. The (electrical) connectors 20a and 20b serve to allow both signals to be sent and received to the particular module, and in the case of an intermediate user module also serve to provide signal communication between a user module and the host module. The limbs 21a and the complimentary side recesses/channels 21b, in conjunction with a suitable fastener arrangement, allow the modules to be securely attached together, one next to the other. The limbs 21a are each provided with a threaded fastener 21c which is received within a respective aperture 2 Id of the recess/channel 2 Id.

As will now be evident, any number and/or combination of user modules can be connected together to form the user interface 1. When connected together the modules form a series of directly interconnected entities embodied as what may be termed as a horizontal 'stack' . User control interfaces can thus be easily and quickly assembled to achieve any desired functionality. For example, the seats in a higher class cabin of an aircraft may be provided with more functionality (for example more user modules) as compared to the functionality provided by the user interfaces provided in a lower class cabin. In the example shown in Figure 1 , the user module 3 is a passenger entertainment system channel control, the user module 4 is a passenger entertainment system volume control, the user module 5 provides the functionality of a jack or socket 5a for a passenger headset and the user module 6 provides a USB socket 6a for connection a passenger's equipment.

In general terms, the output functionality which could be provided by the user modules includes:

Volume up/down

Channel up/down

Brightness

Display on/off

Attendant call/call cancel

Reading light

Video controls- play, pause, fast-forward, rewind, stop, etc

Seat setting controls- e.g. recline, lumbar, etc

Keypad-numeric

Keyboard-alphabetical

Cursor control From an output point of view, the following functionality could be provided:

Headset audio connectors

USB socket

RJ45 socket

Phono/RCA socket

VGA socket

HDMI socket

Digital media player connector

Power socket Others:

Bluetooth®

Near field communications

Chip and pin reader

Not only, as discussed above, does the user interface 1 allow extensive versatility as to the combinations/permutations of user modules capable of being assembled, in the event that a particular user module becomes damaged or ceases to function correctly, the damaged/faulty module can easily be replaced for a replacement user module, without the need to replace the entire user control interface (i.e . without the need to replace any of the other modules).

It will be appreciated that the modules have substantially the same lateral dimension and so that they are advantageously complimentary to one another when interconnected.

In an alternative embodiment, instead of use of a dedicated line or pin (of HDMI) for the signals of a particular user module, the modules may be interconnected by (a two line) digital connection, and in which a particular protocol (such as USB) is used to distinguish between signals to and from respective user modules. Such an arrangement advantageously overcomes any constraint caused by the finite number of wires. It will be appreciated, however, that the user control interface may employ any suitable

® ®

wireless communication means, such as Bluetooth , WiFi , infrared etc. It will be appreciated that although particular mention has been made of application to installation in aircraft, the user interface also finds application in relation to other forms of transportation such as, but not limited to, trains, buses and coaches. The user control interface may also be arranged for use in a domestic or office environment. In those contexts, it may be embodied as a remote control, for example to various external media equipment which the user can control.