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Publication numberWO1991020072 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberPCT/US1991/004272
Publication date26 Dec 1991
Filing date14 Jun 1991
Priority date15 Jun 1990
Publication numberPCT/1991/4272, PCT/US/1991/004272, PCT/US/1991/04272, PCT/US/91/004272, PCT/US/91/04272, PCT/US1991/004272, PCT/US1991/04272, PCT/US1991004272, PCT/US199104272, PCT/US91/004272, PCT/US91/04272, PCT/US91004272, PCT/US9104272, WO 1991/020072 A1, WO 1991020072 A1, WO 1991020072A1, WO 9120072 A1, WO 9120072A1, WO-A1-1991020072, WO-A1-9120072, WO1991/020072A1, WO1991020072 A1, WO1991020072A1, WO9120072 A1, WO9120072A1
InventorsDanny A. Mccall, Mark L. Granger, Richard Paul Beam, Roberto Lenarduzzi, James Marshall Butler
ApplicantEmpruve, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet
System for displaying information
WO 1991020072 A1
Abstract
An improved electronic book (10) has two bases (28, 30) and provides at least two viewing angles of a display. Mounted on an edge formed by the two bases is an adjustment screw (36) that simultaneously adjusts both viewing angles with a single movement. The display may include two screens (16, 46), one for text and graphics, the other for pictures and moving video, and the orientation of the information on the screens is selectively diagonally inverted. Input control signals are provided to the device through a telescoping joystick (18) and clickers (21). In one embodiment, a cursor is moved to desired positions on two screens by moving the joystick within a range of free motion. The joystick may be forced beyond the range of free motion to send special signals that will cause the book to page or scroll forwards or backwards.
Claims  (OCR text may contain errors)
THE CLAIMS ;
1. An apparatus for being disposed on a surface at two or more orientations comprising: a housing; display means mounted on said housing for display- ing information to a user; computer means for storing information and for transmitting information to said display means for being displayed; a first base structurally connected to said hous- ing for supporting said housing on the surface and orienting said display means at a first angle with respect to said surface; and a second base structurally connected to said housing for supporting said housing on a surface and orient- ing said display means at a second angle with respect to the surface.
2. The apparatus of Claim 1 wherein said hous¬ ing, first base and second base are structurally connected to form a wedge shape.
3. The apparatus of Claim 1 wherein: said first base is disposed on said first housing at the first angle with respect to said display means; and said second base is disposed on said housing at the second angle with respect to said display means.
4. The apparatus of Claim 1 wherein: said first base is disposed on said housing at an angle of greater than 45 degrees with respect to said dis¬ play means; said second base is disposed on said housing at an angle of less than 45 degrees with respect to said display means.
5. The apparatus of Claim 1 wherein: said first and second bases intersect to form a base edge that is proximate to the surface regardless of which of the first and second bases is used to support the apparatus on the surface.
6. The apparatus of Claim 1 further comprising means for adjusting at least one of the first and second angles at which the first and second bases support and orient said display means on the surface.
7. The apparatus of Claim 1 further comprising means for adjusting both of the first and second angles at which the first and second bases support and orient said display means on the surface.
8. The apparatus of Claim 1 further comprising means for simultaneously adjusting both of the first and second angles at which said first and second bases support and orient said display means on the surface.
9. The apparatus of Claim 1 wherein: said first and second bases are disposed to inter¬ sect and form a base edge; and adjustment means are disposed on said base edge for simultaneously adjusting said first and second angles at which said first and second bases support and orient said display means on the surface.
10. The apparatus of Claim 1 wherein said display means comprises: a first screen generally adapted to display text and graphics information; and a second screen generally adapted to display pictures and moving video information.
11. The apparatus of Claim 1 wherein said display means comprises: a first screen generally adapted to display text and graphics information; and a second screen generally adapted to display color pictures and moving video information in a television for¬ mat.
12. The apparatus of Claim 1 further comprising means for displaying the information on said display means so that the information appears in an upright position regardless of the orientation of the apparatus.
13. The apparatus of Claim 1 further comprising: means for sensing the orientation of the apparatus and generating an orientation signal; and inverting means for diagonally inverting the information shown on said display means in response to the orientation signal to thereby display the information in an upright orientation regardless of the orientation of the apparatus.
14. The apparatus of Claim 1 further comprising: input means for producing and inputting control signals to the computer means and controlling the informa¬ tion displayed on said display means, said input means comprising at least: a housing; a joystick pivotally mounted in said housing for pivotally moving with respect to said housing for a limited distance; means for producing control signals in response to the pivotal angular position of the joystick with respect to said housing; and extension means for varying the length of said joystick to facilitate fine adjustments in the pivotal angular position of said joystick with respect to said housing.
15. An apparatus comprising: a housing; a first screen mounted on said housing and gener¬ ally adapted for displaying text and graphics; a second screen mounted on said housing adjacent to said first screen, said second screen being generally adapted to display pictures and moving video; computer means for storing information and sending information to said first and second screens for display thereon; and input means for generating and sending control signals to control the operation of said computer means.
16. An improved input device for a computer based system comprising: a housing; a joystick pivotally mounted and extending from said housing for pivotal movement with respect to said housing through a limited distance; extension means for said joystick for varying the length of said joystick between a retracted position and an extended position, said joystick being longer in the extend- ed position than the retracted position to facilitate fine pivotal adjustments in the pivotal angular position of the said joystick relative to said housing; and means responsive to the pivotal angular position of said joystick relative to said housing for producing control signals that correspond to the pivotal angular position of said joystick.
17. The device of Claim 16 further comprising: a thumb cup dimensioned to receive a human thumb; and means for pivotally mounting said thumb cup on one end of the joystick.
18. A computer input device that is physically actuated by a user to input information to a computer, comprising: an actuator for being engaged and moved by a user; region means for defining a free movement region within which the actuator is freely movable by the user and for defining a resisted movement region in which the move¬ ment of the actuator is yieldably resisted; detector means for monitoring the actuator and for generating an input signal indicating spatial information as to the actuator when it is in either the free movement region or the resisted movement region; and transmission means for transmitting the input signal to said computer.
19. The input device of Claim 18 wherein said region means further comprises spring means for yieldably engaging said actuator to define the free movement region, the border of the free movement region being the point at which said actuator engages said spring means.
20. The input device of Claim 18 wherein said region means further comprises: spring means for yieldably engaging said actuator with a spring force to define a first border between the free movement region and the resisted movement region, whereby the user may force said actuator from the free movement region into the resisted movement region by over¬ coming the spring force of said spring means; fixed stop means for unyieldably engaging and stopping the movement of said actuator to thereby define a second border of the resisted movement region.
21. A system for displaying information to a user comprising: display means for displaying information; computer means for controlling and sending infor- mation to said display means for display; an actuator for being engaged and moved by a user; multiple regions into which said actuator may be moved by the user; detector means for monitoring the actuator and for generating an input signal indicating spatial information as to said actuator; and said computer means being responsive to said input signal to execute predetermined commands that correspond to the region into which the actuator was moved.
22. The system of Claim 21 further comprising region means for defining a free movement region within which said actuator is freely movable by the user and a resisted movement region in which the movement of said actuator is yieldably resisted, said resisted movement region including said multiple regions.
23. A system for displaying information to a user, comprising: a housing; display means mounted in said housing for display- ing information to a user, said display means including a screen on which the information is displayed; and a non-display border surrounding and forming the perimeter of said screen, said border being constructed to visually imitate the background of the screen when in use so that the border appears to be a continuation of the screen.
24. A system for electronic display of informa¬ tion comprising: a housing; computer means for receiving and transmitting information; display means mounted on said housing for receiv¬ ing information from said computer means and displaying information to a user, said display means including at least one screen; indicator means disposed proximately to said screen for displaying information to the user, said indica¬ tor means including one or more discrete indicators for displaying individual segments of information to a user; controller means for controlling said indicator means and for communicating with the computer; said computer means being operable to send control signals to said controller means and cause selected informa¬ tion to be displayed on said indicator means, said control signals including cursor position signals; said controller means and discrete indicators being responsive to the cursor position signals to display information indicating that a cursor is located at said one of said discrete indicators; input means for being actuated by a user to gener- ate input signals; transmission means for transmitting the input signals to said computer means; and said computer means being responsive to certain ones of the input signals to execute predetermined commands that correspond to the cursor selected information on said indicator means.
25. A system for electronic display of informa¬ tion comprising: a housing; a computer; a presentation means within said housing for receiving information from said computer means and present¬ ing information to user; an input means for being actuated by a user to generate input signals for control input to said computer; a memory device for storing information that is constantly available to said computer; first reference information stored within said memory containing all words, context, topics, titles, senso¬ ry indicators; and text, audio or graphic hierarchies or classes of information formatted to provide access to infor¬ mation on external information media; second reference information stored in said memory which serves to catalog and identify available external media; and said computer with first and second reference information in said memory, transmits to the presentation means, and receives user response input signals, through a presentation sequence: first part of the sequence prompts the user to choose desired information by presenting appropriate por¬ tions of first reference information to which the user provides response input signals; and second part of the sequence presents the user to appropriate external media based on user input based re- sponse to first part of the sequence by computer acting on second reference information.
26. The apparatus of Claim 25, further compris¬ ing: a second presentation means for providing to the user an indicator of the current position within the presen- tation sequence of first and second reference information.
27. The apparatus of Claim 25, further compris¬ ing: a second user control input means for producing input signals when actuated by the user during the presenta- tion sequence to move at random to selected places in the sequenc .
28. The apparatus of Claim 25, further compris¬ ing: digital or analog external media that contains information; said computer being adapted to access and sense information from the external digital or analog media; and said computer being operable to present a prompt to indicate selected ones of said external media during the second part of the presentation sequence.
29. The apparatus of Claim 25 further comprising: means to read and write in said memory; and said computer being adapted to access and sense information from the external digital or analog media; and reference information on external media for being accessed by said computer and providing new, updated infor¬ mation for first and second reference information in said memory.
30. The apparatus of Claim 28 further comprising: third reference information stored within said memory that contains information of external media indexes; said external media containing information specif- ically indexed and corresponding directly to said third reference information; said computer being operable to present selected information from said external media based on user response input during the first part of the sequence and locate information on said external media in accordance with said third reference information.
31. The apparatus of Claim 30 further comprising; a second presentation means to provide to the user an indicator of the current position within the presentation sequence of the first, second and third reference informa- tion and/or position in the information of the external media; a second user control input means to allow the user during the presentation sequence or while using exter¬ nal media information to move at random to other places in the sequence; means to read and write information in said memo¬ ry; and reference information on said external media which when accessed by said computer provides new, updated infor- mation for the first, second and third reference information in said memory.
32. The apparatus of Claim 30 further comprising: user-held device which contains a unique code; an input device which senses said code from said user-held device and generates a signal to said computer; fourth reference information stored within said memory which contains information of said codes and corre¬ lates said codes to portions of the first, second and third reference information; and said computer providing presentation of certain portions of said first, second and third reference informa¬ tion in said memory plus certain portions of external media information based on the code and fourth reference informa¬ tion.
33. A system for electronic display of informa¬ tion comprising: a housing; a computer; a presentation means within said housing for receiving information from said computer means and present¬ ing information to user; an input means for being actuated by a user to generate input signals for control input to said computer; a memory device for storing information that is constantly available to said computer; digital or analog external media that contains information; said computer being adapted to access and sense information from the external digital or analog media; and first reference information stored within said memory containing all words, context, topics, titles, senso¬ ry indicators; and text, audio or graphic hierarchies or classes of information formatted to provide access to infor- mation on external information media; third reference information stored in said memory regarding indexes on external media; and said computer with first reference information in said memory, transmits to the presentation means, and re- ceives user response input signals, through a presentation sequence: first part of the sequence prompts the user to choose desired information by presenting appropriate por¬ tions of first reference information to which the user provides response input signals; and second part of the sequence presents selected information from said external media based on user response input during the first part of the sequence in accordance with said third reference information.
34. The apparatus of Claim 33, further compris¬ ing: a second presentation means for providing to the user an indicator of the current position within the presen- tation sequence of first and third reference information.
35. The apparatus of Claim 33, further compris¬ ing: a second user control input means for producing input signals when actuated by the user during the presenta- tion sequence to move at random to selected places in the sequence.
36. The apparatus of Claim 33 further comprising: means to read and write information in said memo¬ ry; reference information on external media for being accessed by said computer and providing new, updated infor¬ mation for first and third reference information in said memory.
37. The apparatus of Claim 33 further comprising: a second presentation means to provide to the user an indicator of the current position within the presentation sequence of the first and third reference information and/or position in the information of the external media; a second user control input means to allow the user during the presentation sequence or while using exter¬ nal media information to move at random to other places in the sequence; means to read and write information in said memo¬ ry; and reference information on said external media which when accessed by said computer provides new, updated infor¬ mation for the first and third reference information in said memory.
38. The apparatus of Claim 33 further comprising: user-held device which contains a unique code; an input device which senses said code from said user-held device and generates a signal to said computer; fourth reference information stored within said memory which contains information of said codes and corre¬ lates said codes to portions of the first and third refer¬ ence information; and said computer providing presentation of certain portions of said first and third reference information in said memory plus certain portions of external media informa¬ tion based on the code and fourth reference information.
39. A system for electronic display of informa¬ tion comprising: a housing; computer means for receiving and transmitting information; display means mounted on said housing for receiv¬ ing information from said computer means and displaying information to a user; a first base structurally connected to said hous- ing for supporting said housing on the surface and orienting said display means at a first angle with respect to said surface; a second base structurally connected to said housing for supporting said housing on a surface and orient- ing said display means at a second angle with respect to the surface; said display means including a first screen gener¬ ally for displaying text and a second screen generally for displaying video information; first and second non-display borders surrounding and forming the perimeters of said first and second screens, said borders being constructed to visually imitate the background of the screens when in use so that the borders appear to be a continuation of the screens; indicator means disposed proximately to said screens for displaying information to the user, said indica¬ tor means including a plurality of discrete indicators for displaying individual segments of information to a user; controller means for controlling the display of information on said indicator means and for communicating with the computer; said computer means being operable to send control signals to said controller means and cause selected informa¬ tion to be displayed on said indicator means, said control signals including cursor position signals that cause one of said discrete indicators to display information indicating that a cursor is located at said one of said discrete indi¬ cators; an actuator for being engaged and moved by a user; region means for defining a free movement region within which the actuator is freely movable by the user and for defining a resisted movement region in which the move- ment of the actuator is yieldably resisted; detector means for monitoring the actuator and for generating input signals indicating spatial information, particularly position information, as to the actuator when it is in either the free movement region or the resisted movement region; transmission means for transmitting the input signals to said computer means; said free movement region being subdivided into first, second and third subregions and said computer means being operable when said actuator is disposed in the first subregion to display a cursor in said first display, being operable when said actuator is disposed in said second subregion to display a cursor in said second display, and being operable when said actuator is disposed in the third subregion to display a cursor on said indicator means, said computer means being operable to transmit a special control signal when said actuator is in the resisted movement region; controller means for controlling the receipt and transmission of information to and from said first and second memory devices; said computer means being operable to receive or transmit information to and from said first and second memory devices through said memory controller means; reference information stored in said first memory and identifying and indexing the external information stored on said external media; navigation program means for accessing, navigating and displaying said reference information to the user to allow selection of external media for use in said external memory device; said navigation program means being operable, when said external media is accessed through said second memory device, to access, navigate and display said external information in substantially the same manner as it accesses, navigates and displays said reference information.
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

SYSTEM FOR DISPLAYING INFORMATION

Field of Invention

The present invention relates to electronic dis¬ play systems and particularly relates to an electronic book having improved display structure, input and control systems and information access systems. Background of Invention

One of the objectives of the present invention is to provide an electronic book that provides access to dif¬ ferent types of information while being as easy to use as a paper book. As part of this objective, the electronic book must look simple to use as well as be simple to use. Thus, the ergonomics of the electronic book are important from both a functional and an appearance viewpoint.

Computers claim to be "user friendly" but their very appearance suggest otherwise. Most computers have numerous visible and hidden switches whose function is mysterious to the vast majority of the public and there is usually an imposing keyboard between the user and the screen. To many, a regular typewriter keyboard is suffi- ciently threatening, and a computer keyboard with its extra keys is doubly imposing. Many highly intellectual people, who read extensively, are disinclined to use or otherwise confront a computer keyboard with its mysterious keys such as scroll lock, break, home, sys req, Ctrl, alt, etc. Thus, one feature of the present electronic book is a user friend¬ ly appearance which is enhanced by the absence of a key¬ board. A second feature is an easy to use input system that compliments the easy to use appearance and allows the user to roam two screens and a control column at will and to page or scroll forwards or backwards with an instinctive and quick input command. A third feature is an information access system that allows quick and intuitive access to universal indexing and cataloging information that is avail¬ able within the overall system and that allows a common intuitive interface with subindexes and content information that are stored in external storage media such as an optical storage disk.

Another feature of the present invention is the viewing angle structure. The viewing angle of a paper book is usually varied by manipulating the book itself and book props are also available. To change the viewing angle of a computer screen, many computers provide screens with elabo¬ rate mounting mechanisms for performing this function. For example, many CRT screens are mounted on pivoting/swiveling joints that allow movements in at least two planes and many lap top computers have screens that allow pivotal adjustment in one plane. However, the bulk of the mounting mechanism itself in combination with the bulk of the computer limits the usefulness of orientation adjustments. In the case of lap top computers, the keyboard is still between the user and the screen which further limits the ability of the user to manipulate the screen. In general, a paper book provides better viewing angles than the best computers, and one of the objectives of the present invention it to overcome the viewing angle disadvantages of computer screens.

Also, in paper books, one printing process is used to produce printed text and another process is used to produce color pictures or other illustrations. Computers designed to simulate books often produce text and color illustrations on the same screen and either the quality of the illustration may suffer or the text is displayed on an "over qualified" screen. The present invention seeks to overcome this disadvantage of computers as compared to books.

Paper books provide a border around the printed text and borders are also normally provided around photo¬ graphs when depicted in print media. To emulate the border found in print media, many computer display systems provide a border within the active area of the screen itself. This is a costly and inefficient use of computer display space and most computer displays are able to display only a por- tion of a normal printed page. In the present invention, non-display borders are provided around the display screens to imitate the appearance of the screens and provide the illusion of a border on the display as opposed to around the display. In this manner, the display area of the screen is utilized solely for displaying information and there is no need to display a perimeter border on the screen. Summary of Invention

In accordance with the present invention, an electronic book is designed to be held by a user or support¬ ed on a surface while it is being read at a variety of distances. Usually, the surface on which the book is sup¬ ported will be a table.

The book includes a display means such as video screen or similar device for displaying information, and a first base is structurally connected to the display means. The first base is designed to support the display means on a table top surface and orient the display means at a first viewing angle with respect to the surface. Also, a second base is provided for supporting and orienting the display means at a second angle that is different from the first angle.

In the preferred embodiment, the display means, first base and second base, are structurally interconnected to form a wedge shape. In this embodiment, the first and second bases are disposed on a housing at the first and second angles, respectively, in relation to the plane of the display means. Preferably, the first angle is greater than

45 degrees while the second angle is less than 45 degrees. The first and second bases intersect to form a base edge and, preferably, an adjustment mechanism is mounted on the base edge to adjust the angular viewing angle. Since the adjustment mechanism is mounted on the base edge, it may be used to adjust the viewing angle when the electronic book is resting on either base. Also, the adjustment mechanism provides a three point support for the book that prevents rocking on an uneven surface. When a user changes the position of the electronic book to where it will rest on a different base, in the preferred embodiment, means are provided to turn the infor¬ mation upside down, if desired, depending upon which one of the two bases is facing downwardly.

Also, in the preferred embodiment, first and second screens are provided. The first screen is preferably a large screen and is designed to display text and graphics information. The second screen is preferably smaller than the first screen and is mounted immediately adjacent to the first screen. The second screen is adapted to provide high color resolution images and is particularly adapted to dis play color photographs or pictures and moving video scenes. By using two screens instead of one, screen space efficiency is achieved as compared to using two separate windows on one screen. With two screens, there is no need to provide a border on the screens themselves, whereas two windows are normally defined by the display of at least one border on a screen. In another embodiment, first and second screens are provided along with a control column that is positioned adjacent to the screens. The control column is preferably a row of indicators such as lights positioned immediately adjacent to the first screen with icons superimposed over the lights that are selectively illuminated. Each of the icons represents a control function. In this embodiment a joystick control device is provided for controlling the position of a cursor on the screen and on the control col¬ umn. The joystick control device has a joystick extending from a controller base and the joystick pivots with respect to the base through a defined region or area of free move¬ ment and, within the free movement region, sub-regions are defined by software. A first subregion is related to one of the screens, a first screen, and when the joystick is posi- tioned in the first subregion, the cursor is positioned in the first screen. Likewise when the joystick is in the second subregion, the cursor is positioned in the second screen, and when the joystick is in the third subregion, the cursor is positioned in the control column. As the joystick is moved about within one of the subregions, the cursor is moved in a corresponding pattern on the device related to the particular subregion. For example, as the joystick is moved up and down in the third subregion, the cursor moves from light to light in the control column that represent various commands. The controller base also has at least one clicker (switch) that may be actuated to choose a particular command once the command is identified by moving the cursor to the light on the control column that represents the command. Control functions may also be chosen by moving the cursor to a desired position on one of the screens and actuating the clicker. While a particular embodiment of the control column is described herein it is understood that other screen or display could be adapted for use as the control column.

In the preferred embodiment, the free movement region of the joystick is in the shape of a rectangle de- fined by top, bottom, left and right sides. Spring means are provided in the joystick gimbal mechanism to provide a yielding barrier at the sides of the free movement region so that the joystick may be forced beyond the free movement region by forcing the joystick to move against the force of the spring means. When the joystick is moved beyond the region of free movement, the signal generated by the joy¬ stick controller base is interpreted as a command by the electronic book and preferably is interpreted as a command to move the text shown on one of the screens. Positioning the stick beyond the top or bottom side is interpreted by the book as a command to scroll up or down, respectively. Positioning the stick beyond the left side of the free movement region is a command to page left to lower numbered pages in the text and positioning the stick beyond the right side is a command to page to higher numbered pages in the text. Any time the stick is beyond the sides, the spring means is urging the stick back towards the region of free movement. Thus, the paging or scrolling through the text may be stopped by just releasing the stick and allowing the spring means to return the stick to the free movement region. In this manner the movement of the joystick corre- sponds visually to the desired movement through the text. In a paper book, higher numbered pages are to the right, and in this electronic book, higher numbered pages are accessed by pressing the joystick to the right against a spring force, and lower numbered pages are accessed by pressing the cursor to the left. On the screen of the electronic book, a user perceives that the text following the displayed text is physically below the displayed text. Thus, to scroll downwardly, it is natural for the user to press the joystick down and attempt to move the cursor below the displayed text. Likewise, to scroll upwardly, it is natural to move the joystick upwardly and attempt to move the cursor to a position above the displayed text. Alterna¬ tively, positioning the joystick beyond the free movement region may be interpreted by the computer as any other command. For example, movement beyond the free movement region could be defined as a command to scan across graphics or it could be defined as a command to select another pro¬ gram entirely.

In order to facilitate the fine adjustment of the pivotal angular position of the joystick, extension means are provided so that the joystick may be changed between a retracted position and an extended position thus increasing the effective controlling resolution. In the extended position, the joystick is longer and is therefore useful in making very fine adjustments in the angular position of the joystick.

To maximize the usefulness of the electronic book, a layered information access system is employed that pro¬ vides the user with access to the information that is cur- rently available to the reader on accessible storage media and provides the reader with additional information about information as to publications that are not currently acces- sible. The layers are here identified in a metaphorical example as "key", "door", and "content" levels. For exam¬ ple, initially, or when a "key" level command is given, the user will be presented with an alphabetical listing of topics through which he may scroll, page or search. Alter¬ natively, a graphical presentation of the information can be displayed on the screen with the topics represented by selectable graphical elements. When a desired topic is found, it is chosen by placing the cursor on the topic and actuating the clicker. This action places the user at the "door" level and he is presented with another set of possi¬ ble selections that include both direct context selections and related topics. As before, the user may scroll, page or search through these subtopics and make a selection. This selection will cause the book to display a catalog of publications that may be accessed through the system, pref¬ erably, by inserting an optical storage disk into the elec¬ tronic book. All of the information that has been presented to the user so far has been stored in a memory that is internal to the electronic book. Thus, the book itself is functioning as an information access system even as to publications that are not stored internally to the electron¬ ic book. Once the selected publication is accessed, the information access system continues to work as before only now the topics and subtopics are read from the external memory, such as an optical disk, and icons are placed in the text of material that is selected so that related text, video and audio information may be directly accessed from the text being viewed by placing the cursor on the icon and actuating the clicker. Even though the information access system is dependent upon two or more different sources of information, including internal and external memories, the system itself controls the flow and retrieval of information so that the user does not need to concern himself with changing search strategies or systems as he moves from one publication to another since the information access system provides an almost transparent move from accessing informa- tion from the internal memory to accessing the external memory information. Through out the search process, the user has the knowledge of his position via the control icons. The appropriate icon "key", "door", "content" are illuminated to indicate the level presented on the screen.

The user can from any level go back to any upper levels by pointing and clicking the appropriate icon on the control column.

In another implementation, a similar layered information access system is included in the storage media itself. This allows the publisher to present an indexing system that is more specific to the related information content. The levels of this subindexing system are identi¬ fied metaphorically as "room" and "shelf" and are placed between the "door" and "content" levels, to continue the example of the generic system. These levels are controlled by the total access system and have corresponding control icons in the control column.

If a storage medium containing such a subindexing system is inserted in the reading apparatus, the access system presents the user immediately with that specific subindex "room" level.

Again at any level of this subindex, the user has knowledge of his position and can go back to upper levels, including those of the generic access system, by pointing and clicking on the appropriate icon on the control column. Brief Description of the Drawings The present invention may best be understood by reference to the following Detailed Description of preferred embodiments when considered in conjunction with the Drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of the electronic book shown in the upright position;

Figure 2 is a perspective view of the electronic book shown in the reclining position;

Figure 3 is a somewhat diagrammatical cross-sec¬ tional view of the electronic book showing the tilt adjust mechanism;

Figure 4 is a three-dimensional view of an alter¬ nate embodiment of the electronic book having dual screens; Figure 5 is a block diagram of the computer system used in conjunction with the apparatus of Figure 4;

Figure 6 illustrates a telescoping joystick; Figure 7 illustrates a pivoting thumb cup on a joystick;

Figure 8 is a diagrammatic three dimensional view of the gimbal system of the joystick controller viewed from below the joystick;

Figure 9 shows an end view of the Y-direction gimbal and a side view of the X-direction gimbal;

Figure 10 illustrates the gimbals and shows the Y-direction gimbal in its maximum rotated position;

Figure 11 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the electronic book showing two screens, screen borders and a control column;

Figure 12 is a schematic illustration of the cursor positions or the control functions that may be se¬ lected using the joystick controller;

Figure 13 is a schematic diagram showing the possible cursor positions and indicating the control func¬ tion achieved by placing the joystick in a particular posi- tion;

Figure 14 is a block diagram illustrating the control column;

Figure 15 is a flow chart illustrating the opera¬ tion of the information control system; and Figures 16a and b, 17, 18, 19 and 20 are illustra¬ tions of screens that are displayed by the information access system.

Detailed Description of the Drawings

Referring now the drawings in which like reference characters designate like or corresponding parts throughout the several views, an electronic book 10 is. shown in Figure

1 in the so-called upright position. The electronic book 10 includes a display panel 12 and a video display screen 16 mounted therein. The panel 12 is mounted on a housing 14 which, as shown in Figure 1, is resting on a surface. In the upright position, the panel 12 and screen 16 are in- clined at an angle from about 60 to about 70 degrees with respect to the surface on which the electronic book 10 is resting.

Also shown in Figure 1 is a combination clicker and joystick controller 18 that is interconnected with the electronic book 10 through wires 20. The joystick control¬ ler 18 can be used while it is held in the receptacle 22 of the housing 14 or it may be removed from the receptacle 22 and used while it is held in the user's hand or on a sur¬ face. As will be hereinafter be described in greater de- tail, the joystick controller 18 includes a pivoting joy¬ stick 19 that is used to control the position of a cursor on screen 16 and a clicker 21 is actuated to cause the computer to perform an operation as indicated by a cursor on screen 16. The interaction between the joystick controller 18 and the electronic book 10 is similar to the interaction between computers and various other devices, such as a mouse, for controlling the position of a cursor and operating software by depressing a clicker.

In Figure 2, the electronic book 10 is shown in a reclining position on a surface. In this reclining posi¬ tion, the screen 16 and panel 12 are inclined at an angle of about 20 to about 30 degrees with respect to the surface. Also, as shown in this view, the joystick controller 18 has been placed in its receptacle 22. Referring now to Figure 3, there is shown a some¬ what diagrammatical cross-sectional view of the electronic book 10. In this view, the solid lines 24 indicate one upright position for the electronic book 10 and dotted lines 26 indicate an adjusted upright position for the electronic book 10. The housing 14 includes two sides which may con¬ stitute bases for the electronic book 10 and these two sides are designated as base 28 and base 30. In Figure 3, the electronic book is shown with the base 30 resting on a horizontal surface 31. In the reclining position, the electronic book 10 would be positioned with base 28 on the horizontal surface 31. The bases 28 and 30 intersect along a common edge

32 and a threaded receptacle 34 is provided in the edge 32. A threaded thumb screw 36 is threaded into the receptacle 34 and provides a mechanism for adjusting the viewing angle of the screen 16. In Figure 3, the solid lines show the screw 36 in a fully retracted position which would minimize the angle between the screen 16 and the surface 31. The dotted lines show the screw 36 moved to an extended position and this movement of the screw 36 tilts the screen 36 forwardly and produces a larger angle between the screen 16 and the surface 31. Thus, by rotating the screw 36, the user may fine tune the adjusted viewing angle of the screen 16.

Likewise, when the book 10 is positioned with the base 28 on a horizontal surface 31, the screw 36 will pro¬ vide a fine tuning adjustment of the angle between the screen 16 and surface 31. When the screw 36 is in the fully retracted position (fully screwed into the receptacle 34) , the angle between the screen 16 and the surface 31 will be minimized and, when the screw 36 is extended (screwed out of the receptacle) , the angle between screen 16 and surface 31 will be increased. When the book 10 is resting on an uneven surface, the thumb screw 36 may be used to stabilize the book by providing a three point support system, namely, the screw 36 and the opposing edge of.the book 10 (either edge 35 or edge 37) . Also shown in Figure 3 is an orientation sensing mechanism, preferably a mercury switch 38, that senses the orientation of the electronic book 10. In alternate embodi¬ ments, one may prefer to use pressure switches as foot pads on the two bases 28 and 30 to sense orientation or a manual switch (either hardware or software) could be provided to allow the user to dictate the orientation. The mercury switch 38 is conventional in design and includes a cylindri- cal bulb 38 containing mercury 42. Preferably, the bulb 40 is positioned with its center axis disposed at a forty-five degree angle with respect to the base 30 and with respect to the base 28. When the electronic book 10 is in the upright position as shown in Figure 3, the switch 38 turns off, and when the book 10 is rotated to rest on base 28, the switch 38 turns on. Thus, by observing the on and off signals from switch 38, the orientation of the book 10 in indicated. This signal is applied to a computer (Figure 5) which re- sponds to properly orient the text, graphics or pictures shown on the screen 16. Referring to Figures 1, 2 and 3, it will be appreciated that moving the book 10 from the upright position as shown in Figure 3 to the reclining as shown in Figure 2, will also turn the screen 16 upside down as ob- served by a user. Thus, it is necessary to diagonally invert the screen when the position of the electronic book 10 is changed as described above. Preferably, the orienta¬ tion of the information displayed on the screen 16 is diago¬ nally inverted by software in the computer 58 (Figure 5) , but the diagonal inversion could also be accomplished by hardware. Also, means are provided by software for overrid¬ ing the orientation sensor and for placing the picture in a desired orientation on the screen.

Referring to Figure 4, an alternate embodiment of electronic book 10 includes a second display panel 44 and screen 46. The panel 44 and screen 46 are mounted immedi¬ ately adjacent to the larger panel 12 and screen 16. Pref¬ erably, the smaller screen 46 is designed to display color photographs and moving color video. Thus, screen 46 is preferably a thin film transistor liquid crystal display having an active matrix (one transistor per display element) and is sufficiently fast to display television type video signals yet light weight and compact.

The larger screen 16 is preferably adapted to display text and graphics and it is preferably a monochrome high resolution display such as a gas plasma display, a liquid crystal display or an electroluminescent display. The decision as to which screen 16 or 46, will be used for a particular set of information is determined by software.

One advantage of having dual screens 16 and 44 on the same housing 14 is that it enables the convenient dis- play of information in a style that is familiar with people reading books and magazines. In printed media, text materi¬ al is often displayed adjacent to color photographs and the photographs are usually associated or related to the text in the printed material. By providing two screens 16 and 46, the electronic book 10 may display printed matter or graph¬ ics on screen 16 and photographs or moving videos on screen 46 that somehow relate to the text on screen 16. Also, magazines often provide advertisements in close proximity to text. This same result can be accomplished by placing an advertisement on screen 46 while the desired text is dis¬ played on screen 16, and the information displayed on one screen will not interfere with information on the other screen. This is an important advantage in a multimedia environment which may use emerging technologies such as DVI (digital video interactive) and GDI (compact disk interac¬ tive) .

A block diagram of a computer 58 and display control system is shown in Figure 5. The computer 58 in¬ cludes a central processing unit system (CPU System) inter- connected with a mass storage 62 which preferably includes random access memory, read only memory, floppy magnetic disk memory and optical disk memory. The mass storage 62 accepts external media 63 including optical disks and floppy magnet¬ ic disks in the conventional manner. The CPU also receives "on" and "off" signals through line 64 from the mercury switch 38 and it uses these "on" and "off" signals to invert or not invert the information shown on screens 16 and 46. Data is output from the CPU systems through lines 68 and is controlled through select signals applied on lines 66 and 70. The line 66 controls a monochrome display controller 72 and line 70 is provided to control a color display control¬ ler 74. Controller 72 is used to control the data applied to screen 16 and, likewise, the color display controller 74 controls the display on color screen 46. As indicated by line 68, all of the data is presented to both controllers 72 and 74, but the controllers 72 and 74 selectively display the data on their respective screens 16 and 46 is response to signals received from the CPU system 60 through lines 66 and 70.

The joystick controller 18 is connected to the CPU system 60 through lines 71 and a sensor system 73 provides signals indicating the position of the stick 19. The CPU system interprets the signals from sensor system 73 to posi tion a cursor on one of the screens and interprets commands given by the user. At least one switch 21 is also provided on the joystick controller 18. When switch 21 is actuated, the sensor system 73 produces control signals which are applied through lines 71 to the CPU system 60. Usually, the position of the stick 19 (cursor position) and the actuation of the switch 21 are interpreted as a combination to deter¬ mine a command given by the user. Referring now to Figure 6, there is shown a de¬ tailed broken view of the joystick controller 18. The joystick controller 18 includes a ball 78 that is mounted in a socket (not shown) in the housing of the joystick control¬ ler 18. The position of the ball 78 is sensed by the joy- stick controller 18 and output signals are thereby produced in a conventional fashion. A stick 80 extends upwardly from the ball 78 and telescoping sticks 82a and 84a are concen¬ trically mounted on stick 80. The solid lines indicate the position of the joystick 19 in a retracted position and the dotted lines, generally indicated by characters 82b and 84b, indicate the position of the joystick 19 in the extended position. The travel of the telescoping sticks 82a and 84a are limited by lower friction stop angles 88 and upper friction stop angles 87. A thumb cup 86a is provided at the top of stick 84a. It will be understood that other means may be used to accomplish the desired extension. For exam¬ ple a separate "stick" or tube may be attached to stick 80 to provide the desired extension.

In Figure 7, an alternative pivoting thumb cup 91 is shown. In this embodiment, the thumb cup 91 includes a socket 89 that is mounted on a ball 90. The ball 90 is positioned on the top of a stick 92 which extends upwardly from a ball 94. The ball 94 corresponds to the ball 78 shown in Figure 6.

The dotted lines 96 show the pivoting thumb cup 88 in a moved positioned and it will be appreciated that the thumb cup 88 has pivoted about the ball 90 and remains in a substantially horizontal position even though the stick 92 has moved to an inclined position (not vertical) as compared to its original position shown in Figure 7.

In Figures 8, 9 and 10 the gimbal system 99 of the joystick controller 18 is shown viewed from beneath the ball 78 and inverted with respect to Figure 6. Figure 8 is a somewhat diagrammatic perspective view and Figures 9 and

10 are side views. This gimbal system 99 is part of the sensor system 73 shown in Figure 5 and includes a Y-direc- tion gimbal 100 mounted for rotation about an axis 102. An

X-direction gimbal 104 is mounted for rotation about an axis

106 that is perpendicular to axis 102. A joystick tail 111 extends from ball 78 through a slot 107 in the Y-direction gimbal 100 and through a slot 109 in the X-direction gimbal 100.

When the joystick 19 pivots in the Y-direction, it pivots the joystick tail 111 which, in turn, engages and moves the Y-direction gimbal 100 while it slides freely in the slot 109 without moving the X-direction gimbal 104. Likewise, when the joystick 19 moves in the X-direction, it moves the X-direction gimbal 104 through the joystick tail 111 but does not move the Y-direction gimbal, and joystick 19 movements that include both X and Y components will move the X and Y gimbals 100 and 104 according to the size of each directional component.

The free motion of the X-direction gimbal 104 is limited and defined by a torsion spring 108 that is mounted about a cylindrical axle 110 that is co-axial with the axis 106. The tail end 112 of the spring 108 is anchored and the head 114 of the spring is inserted into an arced slot 116 in the gimbal 100. As the gimbal 104 is rotated by moving the joystick tail 111 in the X-direction, the head 114 slides freely in the slot 116 until the head engages one of the ends of the slot 116 and the spring 108 begins to resist further movement of the gimbal. In this construction, the spring 108 defines and limits the free movement of the X- direction gimbal, but the gimbal 100 may be forced beyond the free movement limits by urging the joystick 19 against and overcoming the spring force of the spring 108. The spring 108 thus provides spring biased stops at both ends of the X-direction free travel range of the joystick 19 and joystick tail 111.

In an identical construction, a spring 118 is mounted on axle 120 adjacent to the Y-direction gimbal with its tail end 122 fixed anchored. The spring 118 includes a head 119 that is inserted into an arced slot 121 in the Y- direction gimbal so that the head 121 engages the ends of the slots and, thus, limits the free travel of the Y-direc¬ tion gimbal in the same manner as previously described with respect to the X-direction gimbal. Thus, the Y-direction gimbal 100 is likewise provided with spring biased stops at the limit of its range of free travel so that the free travel range of the gimbal 100 may be exceeded if desired. For example, the Y-direction gimbal 100 is shown in Figure 10 forced past its maximum free travel position and the spring 118 is urging the gimbal 100 to return toward the region of free travel.

Referring again to Figure 8 it will be appreciated that the ends of the slots 107 and 109 will also limit the travel of the gimbals 100 and 104 and will constitute un¬ yielding mechanical stops to travel in both the x and Y- directions. For example, as the joystick tail 111 moves in the Y-direction, it will eventually engage as end of slot 109 and will be stopped. This engagement limits the travel of the Y-direction gimbal 100. The slots are dimen¬ sioned so that they will engage and stop the gimbals 100 and 104 a selected distance after the gimbals engage the springs 108 and 118. In an alternate embodiment, a rectangular structure around the joystick 19 provides the mechanical stops.

A potentiometer 124 is connected to the X-direc¬ tion gimbal 104 by an axle extension 126 so that the poten¬ tiometer is rotated with the gimbal 104 and produces a resistance on lines 128 that correspond to the angular position of both the gimbal 104 and the potentiometer 124. Likewise, a potentiometer 130 is connected to the gimbal 100 by an axle extension 132 so that rotation of gimbal 100 rotates the potentiometer 130 and produces a resistance on lines 134 that corresponds to the angular position of the gimbal 100. Thus, by observing the two resistances of potentiometers 124 and 130, one determines the position of the joystick 19.

Preferably, the resistances of potentiometers 124 and 130 are sensed as analog voltages on lines 128 and 134 which are applied through analog to digital convertors 136 and 138 to a microcontroller 140 that, in turn, transmits the position of the joystick 19 to the CPU system 60 (Figure

5) . Both the converters 136 and 138 and the microcontroller 140 are contained within the joystick controller 18 and are provided for convenient transmission of information to the

CPU system 60. Closure of the switch(s) 21 on the joystick controller is also detected by the microcontroller 140 and this information is provided to the CPU system. The micro- controller 140 sends a packet of information to the CPU system that includes a PACKET START field to identify the beginning of the packet, an X-VALUE field, a Y-VALUE field and a SWITCH field. The length in bits of these fields depends on the resolution of the A/D converters 136 and 138 and the number of switches. In the preferred embodiment, a

10 bit A/D converter is used so that the X and Y values have a range between 1 and 1023. The views of the gimbal system 99 shown in Figures 8, 9 and 10 are substantially the same except that spring 108 has been moved from one side of the gimbal 104 to the other when comparing Figure 8 to Figures 9 and 10. The spring 108 has been moved in Figure 8 to better illustrate the principles of the construction and the spring 108 may be mounted as shown in any of the Figures, but the construction of Figure 10 is preferred.

Referring now to Figure 11, there is shown a perspective view of an electronic book 150 that constitutes another embodiment of the present invention. Book 150 includes dual screens 16 and 46 that are surrounded by borders 152 and 154, respectively. These borders 152 and 154 are designed to have an appearance that is similar to the background of the display screens so that a user will perceive a border that appears to be a part of the screen 16 or 46. In the case of lighted background screens, the borders 152 and 154 are lighted to appear as if they were part of the screen. While it is not essential that the borders be visually identical to the screens, it is pre¬ ferred since more nearly matched screens and borders provide more comfortable viewing screens to the user.

The book 150 also includes a control indicator column 156 positioned immediately adjacent to and right of the screen 16. Preferably, the column 156 is a column of LED's as best shown on Figure 14 and the function of the control column 156 is to provide cursor controlled command functions without using space on the display to show the commands. The control column 156 has control functions specified by words or icons that are illuminated by LED's when such functions are available to the user. To issue a command, the cursor is moved to the desired illuminated command icon and the chosen LED changes color to indicate that the cursor is on a particular spot in the control column 156 that corresponds to a particular command. To choose a command on the column 156, the cursor is moved to a particular command icon and then selected by depressing the clicker 21 (switch) on the joystick controller 18. When the clicker 21 is actuated, the chosen command is executed by the electronic book 150.

The control operation of the joystick controller 18 may best be described by reference to Figures 12 and 13 wherein Figure 12 diagrammatically illustrates the physical layout of the color display 46, the text display 16 and the indicator column 156 in reference to the free movement area of the joystick which is illustrated by the area 162. As long as the joystick remains in the free movement area 162, the cursor 163 will remain within and displayed on one of the displays 46 or 16 or the column 156. When the joystick is forced outside of the free movement area and into the resisted movement area, the cursor will disappear and a special command function will be performed. In this embodi¬ ment, movement of the joystick 19 to the left into the resisted movement area illustrated by area 168 will cause the book to page backward in the text shown on display 16. The paging motion of the text will be shown on screen 16. Likewise, when the joystick 19 is moved to its extreme right and is forced into the resisted movement area represented by area 170, the book 10 will page forward. When the joystick 19 is moved to area 164, the book 10 will scroll up (back¬ wards), and when the joystick 19 is moved to the area 166, the book scrolls down (forward) . In this manner, scrolling or paging is accomplished by a quick and instinctive move¬ ment of the joystick 19. To quit scrolling or paging, the joystick is released and is returned to the free movement area 162 by springs 108 and 118 (Figure 8) as previously described.

Figure 13 graphically illustrates the movement • areas of the joystick 19 and shows the function performed in each movement area. The free movement area includes an alternate display area 172, a main display area 174 and a control indicator area 176. The resisted movement area includes a scroll up area 178, a scroll down area 180, a page backwards area 182 and a page forwards area 184. The total area of Figure 13 is defined as a 1000 by 1000 point array and distance bars 186 and 188 show the points occupied by each area in the X and Y directions, respectively. For example when the joystick 19 is moved up and to the left as far as possible, it will be at position 0,1000 (x,y) and will create the page backwards command. When the joystick 19 is placed at the middle of its travel in both the x and Y-directions, the joystick 19 will be at position 500,500 and will be in the main display area 174 which will cause a cursor to be displayed on the text display 16 shown in Figure 12.

The alternate display area 172 of Figure 13 has a noticeably different shape than the display 46 of Figure 12. In operation, the shape of area 172 is funneled down to fit the shape of the display it controls. When the joystick is positioned at 101,899 it will be in the upper left corner of area 174 (Figure 13) and the cursor will be in the upper left corner of display 46 (Figure 12) . When the joystick 19 is at position 299,101, it will be in the lower right corner of area 172 and the cursor 163 will be in the lower right corner of display 46 (Figure 12) . Thus, the x dimension of display 46 is divided proportionately into 200 equally spaced points and the Y dimension of display 46 is divided into 800 equally spaced points. Likewise, when the joystick is within areas 174 or 176, a cursor will be shown in a corresponding location in display 16 or column 156.

The construction of the preferred embodiment of the control indicator column 156 is illustrated in Figure 14 and is shown to be composed of LED's numbered LED 1 to LED n. Each LED is connected to an LED display driver circuit 188 which is connected to the CPU system 60 through a micro¬ controller 190 and serial communication port 192. When the joystick 19 is moved into the control indicator area 176 as shown in Figure 13, the CPU system 60 sends control signals through the serial port 192 to the microcontroller 190 specifying which LED should be illuminated to indicate the cursor 163 position in the column. For example, if the joystick 19 is positioned at x,y position 850,890 as shown in Figure 13, then LED 1 would be illuminated. The space within area 176 is allocated to the LED's of indicator column 156 by dividing the total number of y dimension points in area 176 by the total number of LED's. In this case 800 y dimension points are divided by the number n.

If the clicker 21 (Figure 1) is actuated while the cursor is illuminating one of the LED's of indicator column 156, the function indicated by the LED is executed. Since the CPU system 60 is executing a function based on the position of the joystick 19, as opposed to the function physically indicated by the illuminated LED, the definition of any LED may be changed by software.

In determining the position of the joystick 19, there will be a potential for noisy information when the joystick is in the vicinity of a border between areas, such as between area 172 and 174. For example, if the joystick is placed half way between 300,500 and 301,500 the cursor may be on either screen 46 or 16 or it may jump back and forth between the two screens. To overcome this problem the control software requires the joystick 19 to move a certain number of points beyond a border before the control signal will be given to move the cursor to another device or func¬ tion. To move the cursor from screen 46 to screen 16, for example, the joystick 19 must move 5 points beyond (to the right of) the 300th x dimension point, and to move back from screen 16 to screen 46 the joystick must move 5 points below (to the left of) the 300th x dimension point. Thus, once the cursor changes screens, it must move 10 points in the opposite direction to change back to the screen from which it came.

Access to information in the electronic book 10 is illustrated by the generalized flow chart shown in Figure 15. The search for information is begun at block 194 which is defined as the key level. Access to this level is pro¬ vided by clicking on the appropriate control function (a key icon) in the control indicator column 156. At the key level, the user is presented with information in the form of an index from which he may chose as is shown in Figures 16a and b. The user may scroll or page through the information shown in column 206 of Figure 16a or he may move more rapid- ly through the information by clicking on a letter shown in column 208 of Figure 16a which will change columns 206 and 208 so that they appear as in Figure 16b showing information alphabetically starting with the letter previously chosen from column 208 of Figure 16a. When the user clicks on information shown in column 206, the user has moved to the door level as indicat¬ ed by block 196 of Figure 15 and the user will be presented with a screen like that shown in Figure 17. At this level the user is presented in column 210 (Figure 17) with direct context information concerning the subject that he has chosen and he is also presented with related context infor¬ mation in column 212 (Figure 17) . The user may then scroll or page through this information and chose something by clicking on the subject of interest. If a subject in the direct context column is chosen, the user moves to the transition level as indicated by block 198 in Figure 15 and he is presented with information as to publications that contain information on the subject that was chosen as shown in Figure 18. At this point the user is prompted to select one of the publications and insert an appropriate memory device that contains the publication. For example, one may select and insert an optical storage disk (a CD/ROM) that contains the publication entitled "The Great Painters". To move backwards to a previous door or key level the user may click on the appropriate LED in indicator column 156.

When the selected external memory device has been selected and accessed, the user will move to the content level as indicated by block 204 of Figure 15 and a screen like Figure 19 will be displayed. As indicated by the line 202 in Figure 15, the content level is in the publisher's domain meaning that the information displayed to the user is provided by the external memory device, such as an optical disk, but the information access system continues to func¬ tion in the same manner as before when the user was operat¬ ing in the internal domain of the book 10. When operating in the internal domain as described above, the needed refer- ence information, including words, context, topics, titles, sensory indicators; and text, audio or graphical hierarchies or classes of information, is stored on "internal" memory which may be a hard disk, floppy disk, optical disk, RAM, or other suitable memory. The user may conveniently return from the content level to either the door or key level by clicking on the appropriate function in the control indica¬ tor column 156, or he may scroll or page through the infor¬ mation as desired. Various functions may be accessed by clicking on the icons displayed on the screen 214 itself, such as the video icon 216, the audio icon 218 or the photo¬ graph icon 220. By clicking on these icons additional audio, video or photographs may be accessed that relate to the information displayed on the screen 214. Also the con¬ trol indicator column 156 includes numerous functions that may be accessed by clicking on them in the usual fashion.

By comparing the indicator column 156 in Figures 16 through 19, it will be appreciated that the column 156 appears differently in the key, door, transition and content levels. This is accomplished by selectively illuminating the LED's in column 156 to illuminate only the functions that were available at that particular level and one of the LED's is illuminated more brightly than the others to indi¬ cate that the user is at a certain level (e.g.-the "door" level as shown in Figure 17) . When the cursor is placed on one of the LED's, it is caused to change colors to indicate the position of the cursor, and when a particular LED is chosen by clicking on it, the command is performed. This mode of operating the indicator column 156 from an opera¬ tional viewpoint is illustrative of the numerous systems that may be employed to efficiently utilize the column 156 as both a means to input information and as a device for imparting information to the user. Figure 20 illustrates an alternate embodiment of the information access system that is used when additional sub-indexes are available on the external memory or media in the Publisher's domain. In this case, the system moves to the room level as indicated by block 230 after the transi¬ tion from the internal domain to the publisher's domain. At this point, appropriate sub-indexes are displayed and they are formatted like the key level previously described with reference to Figure 16. When the user selects a topic while at the room level block 230, he moves to the shelf level block 232 which corresponds in format to the door level shown in Figure 17. At this point, the user is shown relat¬ ed shelves that he may access using different memory or media. The user may also select the direct context and move to the transition zone block 236 where he will be shown information as to the appropriate memory or media to be used if the chosen subject is contained in multiple memories or media. After the transition zone, the user moves to the content level block 204 which has been previously described. In the discussion above, the reference information may be grouped into three general classes. The first group is encountered at the key and door level and it includes words or other topical information that are each identified or associated with linking information, such as a number. The second group is preferably names of, and identifying information for, publications, each of which is also associ¬ ated with the linking information. Thus, for example, when a topic is chosen in the first group, the linking informa¬ tion in both the first and second groups is used to select the various publications that are relevant to the selected topic. The third group of information is preferably located in the external media on which the publication is written. This third reference information associates topics with places in the publication and, using this third reference information, the computer 58 quickly locates and displays that portion of the publication that is related to the previously selected topic. If desired, the first, second and third reference information groups can each be limited according to fourth reference information. The fourth information overrides the other information groups for the purpose of limiting access. In this embodiment, each piece of information in each group is associated with a security level, for example, levels 1- 10. Only users having a specified security code can access information of a particular level. For example, if a user presented a security code that allowed level 7 access, the computer would supply him only with information in the first three groups or in data on external media that had a code of seven or less. Thus, the fourth reference information func tions as security system for limiting or preventing access to information. Preferably, the user provides the security code for the fourth reference information group by using a user-held device such as a floppy disk that is accessed by the computer. Alternatively the user may enter a security code using the joystick controller 18 and appropriate con¬ ventional software. Having thus described preferred embodiments of the present invention, it will be appreciated that an improved electronic book provides a convenient mechanism for changing and adjusting the viewing angle of data displayed on the screen. The physical and cost disadvantages of having a keyboard are avoided by providing an improved clicker and joystick controller and a control indicator column to con¬ trol the operation of the electronic book. Cost are further reduced and screen efficiency is enhanced by the provision of non-display borders around the screens and by using a control indicator column to avoid wasting screen space.

Convenient access to information is further en¬ hanced by an information access system that uses a system of key, door, transition and content levels to provide easy navigation through the material that is available through the electronic book and in particular it is noted that the information access system includes information internally about publications that are not immediately accessible to the user. The book itself contains topical information as to the contents of various publications that the user may want to access. At the appropriate time, the book will prompt the user to load appropriate information into the book such as by inserting a CD/ROM, but the user is not required to "reboot", change disk drives, change programs or do anything else after supplying the book with the appro¬ priate memory device. The information access system contin¬ ues to function in the same manner as before the additional memory device was provided even though much of the informa¬ tion being used by the book and being displayed to the user is supplied by the new memory device. Thus, the informa¬ tion access system provides an easy transition from total internal operation to operation dependent upon external memory.

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Classifications
International ClassificationG06F3/0483, G06F3/033, G05G9/047, F16M11/10, G09B5/02, G06F1/16
Cooperative ClassificationG06F3/033, G06F1/166, G06F1/1684, G09B5/02, G06F1/1647, G06F1/169, G05G9/047, F16M11/18, G06F1/1626, G06F1/1656, F16M11/10, G06F3/0483
European ClassificationG06F1/16P9E, G06F1/16P9P6, G06F1/16P9P, G06F1/16P9D5, G06F1/16P9E2, G06F3/0483, F16M11/18, G09B5/02, G06F3/033, G06F1/16P3, G05G9/047, F16M11/10
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