|Publication number||WO1995019089 A1|
|Publication date||13 Jul 1995|
|Filing date||10 Jan 1995|
|Priority date||10 Jan 1994|
|Also published as||CA2180836A1, CN1138400A|
|Publication number||PCT/1995/6, PCT/AU/1995/000006, PCT/AU/1995/00006, PCT/AU/95/000006, PCT/AU/95/00006, PCT/AU1995/000006, PCT/AU1995/00006, PCT/AU1995000006, PCT/AU199500006, PCT/AU95/000006, PCT/AU95/00006, PCT/AU95000006, PCT/AU9500006, WO 1995/019089 A1, WO 1995019089 A1, WO 1995019089A1, WO 9519089 A1, WO 9519089A1, WO-A1-1995019089, WO-A1-9519089, WO1995/019089A1, WO1995019089 A1, WO1995019089A1, WO9519089 A1, WO9519089A1|
|Inventors||John Leslie Perkins|
|Applicant||Exfax Technologies Pty. Ltd.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (5), Referenced by (14), Classifications (35), Legal Events (7)|
|External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet|
FACSIMILE ACCESSORY DEVICE
Field of the Invention
This present invention relates to a device for connecting a fax machine to a telephone network. The device may also be connected to a computer. The device provides additional features for selectively connecting a computer directly to a fax machine, and for automatically routing incoming telephone calls to either the fax machine or the computer. The device also provides additional capabilities, including higher speed capabilities, for communication with a remote fax machine.
Description of Prior Art
Relevant prior art encompasses devices interposing between the telephone line and an existing fax machine. These devices may enable the utilisation of advanced fax features such as Error Correction Mode and Binary File Transfer, in conjunction with an existing design fax machine without such features. Such devices may also connect to a computer, enabling the computer to be used for transception of faxes to a remote fax machine. A local mode of operation may also be provided, so that the -fax machine may be used as a printer and a scanner for the PC, by routing faxes through the device. In the prior art devices, three operational modes are required to connect 1. the PC to the telephone line, 2. the fax machine to the telephone line, or 3. the PC to the fax machine. Fax machines and fax modems currently available on the market may operate at higher transmission speeds than those previously available. This higher speed may only be utilised if both fax machines involved in a communication session have the higher speed capability. However most of the existing stock of fax machines worldwide do not yet have this capability.
Therefore it is an object of another aspect of the present invention, to provide a device, which will operate as an accessory to existing fax machines, to thereby provide the higher speed capability. The advantage to the user is that reduction in fax transmission time will reduce telephone call charges. Remote callers may also receive the same benefit when the machine is used for reception. The device will thereby provide the features available in new fax machines, by upgrading the capabilities of their existing fax machine, at considerably less expense than the purchase of a new fax machine.
In a particular embodiment of the present invention, the device may be used to selectively route incoming calls. In the typical use of the device to share a single telephone line between a fax machine and a PC, both the fax machine and the PC may be used for fax transmissions. However, typically the user may require to receive faxes only on the fax machine. In this case, an incoming non-fax data modem call still needs to be routed to the PC. All modes of operation may be selected by the P.C. by suitable AT command.
Further embodiments of the present invention provide that the device may embody additional telephone or local facsimile connections, or may provide additional features in existing connections. These connections may provide, and the device may encompass, the ability to send and receive voice messages as well as data and fax messages. These connections may be implemented either as additional telephone jacks in parallel or by separate connections with additional and separate line interface units. The operation of these connections may be selected by either hardware or software command. Still further embodiments of the device may also be adapted for connection to
Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) telephone lines as well as the usual Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) . In the use of ISDN for fax, the device may utilise the Group 4 fax standard, providing the buffering and conversion necessary to interface existing fax machines to the ISDN.
Object and Statements of the Invention It is an object of the present invention to provide a device which is simpler to use by virtue of having two basic modes of operation.
In particular, the current invention permits simplification of the operational modes to provide enhanced facilities.
In an aspect of the present invention the prior art functions may be achieved by use of only two operating modes of the device. This enables cost saving in design, by use of fewer components, and simplifies operation for the user.
Therefore in accordance with one aspect of the invention there is provided a modem device for communication of facsimile data or binary file data between a facsimile transceiver and a computer, and/or a remote telephone exchange, control means for controlling communication of said data, said control means including a microprocessor, first termination means for local connection to a facsimile transceiver, second termination means for local connection a computer, third termination means for local connection to a remote telephone exchange; and communication means having modem means for selectively conveying signals between said first termination means, said second termination means and/or said third termination means in accordance with selectable operating modes, said operating modes comprising:
(i) a first operating mode where said facsimile transceiver is connected to an input of said modem via said first termination means and said computer is connected to receive the output of said modem via said second termination means; and
(ii) a second operating mode where said computer is isolated from said third termination means and said facsimile transceiver is connected directly to said third termination means, said first operating mode enabling said second termination means and the first termination means to be inter connected via said modem and said second termination means to be connected to said third termination means thereby permitting said computer to connect with said remote telephone exchange and receive incoming facsimile transmissions and also permitting local transfer of facsimile data to the computer when the facsimile transceiver is activated to send a facsimile message said second operating mode enabling direct straight through reception or transmission of facsimile data with said facsimile transceiver via said first termination means and said third termination means.
It is particularly preferred that said second mode also permits said computer to connect with said facsimile transceiver to receive a transmission from said computer.
It is further particularly preferred that said control means comprises a line voltage emulation generator means to simulate line voltage supplied during communication from said facsimile transceiver, so that if said device is in said first operating mode all communications take place between said second termination means and said third termination means, so said computer can receive or transmit facsimile or binary file data via said remote telephone exchange.
In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention there is provided a device for connection with an existing facsimile transceiver which has a slower data transmission or reception rate than a remote but interconnected facsimile transceiver, said device comprising a microprocessor and a system memory said microprocessor being configured and programmed so that on activation of an outgoing transmission from said facsimile transceiver to load the facsimile transmission data into said system memory and to subsequently but simultaneously whilst loading said facsimile transmission data make connection with said remote facsimile transceiver and to effect transmission of the stored facsimile data at the fastest possible rate compatible with said remote facsimile transceiver and during reception of an incoming facsimile transmission from said remote facsimile transceiver to direct the incoming facsimile data to said system memory at the fastest possible speed compatible with said remote facsimile transceiver and to then permit transfer of that stored facsimile data to said facsimile transceiver at the fastest possible speed compatible with said facsimile transceiver. Preferably the device is constructed so as to permit connection of a second facsimile transceiver, said microprocessor and system memory being configured and programmed to permit facsimile communication with a remote but interconnected facsimile transceiver at the same time as received facsimile data is being relodged from said system memory to either said existing facsimile transceiver or said second facsimile transceiver, said facsimile communication being with which ever of the existing facsimile transceiver or second facsimile transceivers is not being used to receive said received facsimile data.
In accordance with the present invention there is provided a modem device for connection with a facsimile transceiver and a computer and with a telephone network, said modem device having control means for controlling data therebetween, said control means including microprocessor means responsive to "AT" commands from said computer to place said modem device into one of two possible modes of operation:-
1. a computer mode in which said computer can communicate with said facsimile transceiver and also where said computer can communicate with said telephone network to receive or send data.
2. a facsimile mode in which the facsimile transceiver can receive calls from said computer and can communicate with said telephone exchange to send or receive facsimile data.
Brief Description of the Drawings Figure 1 is a block circuit diagram of an example of a first embodiment. Figure 2 is a block circuit diagram of an example of a second embodiment.
Figure 3 is a flow diagram of the operation of the embodiment of figure 2 in a transmission mode.
Figure 4 is a flow diagram of the operation of the embodiment of figure 2 in a receiving mode.
Figure 5 is a block circuit diagram of an example of a further embodiment.
Figure 6 is a block schematic showing operation in a first mode or computer mode. Figure 7 is a block schematic showing operation in a second mode or facsimile mode.
Detailed Description of the Embodiments
The operation of the device, with respect to certain aspects of the present invention will be explained with reference to Figure 1. In certain embodiments of the invention a ring generate circuit may be included. In the above mentioned prior art devices, it was necessary to provide for three separate operating modes of the device. In the present invention, only two operating modes need to be provided. These are:
1. PC mode
2. Fax machine mode
These modes may be selected by a hardware switch 114 or by an 'AT' command from the PC 102 which will, in turn, activate switch 114. Figures 6 and 7' schematically show these modes.
In PC mode all communications with the device 103 involve a modem 119 component in connection with the PC 102 via the serial port or equivalent data bus connection. In this mode, the line selection switch 114 connects the telephone connection of the fax 101 to the modem 119 input. In fax machine mode, the PC 102 is isolated from the PSTN telephone line and all communication involves the fax machine 101. In this mode, the line selection switch 114 normally connects the fax machine's telephone connection to the external telephone line PSTN. The fax machine 101 is used normally in this mode. unlike prior art devices a third operating mode is not required in order to effect local transfers between the fax machine 101 and the PC 102. In the present invention local transfers are performed merely by operating the fax machine 101 when the device 103 is in PC mode or by sending PC faxes when the device is in fax machine mode. Thus, the operation of the device 103 is simplified for the user, without the need for implementation of an additional local mode of operation to perform local transmissions. in PC mode, both the external telephone line PSTN and the telephone connector of the fax machine are connected to the modem 119. n this case the switch 114 connects the fax machine to the line interface 117. The line to the fax machine 101 is provided with a line emulation voltage from a line emulation voltage generator 141. When the fax machine 101 is not in use, all communications in this mode take place between the PC 102 and modem 119 connection to the external telephone line PSTN. The PC 102 may thus initiate and receive fax or data calls. Incoming calls are directed to either the PC 102 or the fax machine 101 according to whether the device is in PC or fax machine mode respectively. In PC mode, calls from the PC 102 are directed to the external PSTN line and calls from the fax 101 are directed to the PC 102. Conversely, in fax machine mode, calls from the PC 102 are directed to the fax 101 and calls from the fax 101 are directed to the external PSTN line.
Operationally if the user activates the fax machine 101 when the device 103 is in PC mode, it is assumed that a local transfer is requested. This is detected by the local fax line interface unit 117. If the handset of the fax machine 202 is lifted, or dialling is attempted, the fax machine 101 will be detected as being off hook. In this case the external telephone line interface unit 118 will be left on hook, and communications will thus proceed between the fax machine 101 and the PC 102 via the modem 119 and serial port. The operation of the device 103 is under the control of the microprocessor 110 of the device.
The fax machine 101 may thus be used in this mode to transmit documents to PC 102. According to the normal operation of fax machines, when the handset is lifted, and the start button is pressed, or the equivalent thereof, the machine will go into transmit or receive mode according to whether there are documents present in the document feeder. In order to ensure that the user intends a transmission from the fax machine the device 103 may monitor the line and determine this from the tones being emitted from the fax machine 101 as part of the fax handshake signalling procedure. f the fax machine 101 is transmitting, the device
103 will convey a ring signal to the PC, so that the PC 102
SUBSTITUTESHEET(Rule h) software will then prepare to receive a fax. A visible or audible signal may be provided to the fax machine user that a local fax transfer (scan) is being requested.
In fax machine mode the line selection switch 114 normally connects the fax machine mode to the external PSTN line connection to enable the fax machine to send and receive calls. If the PC places a call in fax machine mode, a local transfer (print) is assumed. In this case the line selection switch 114 will temporarily connect the line interface 117 to the fax machine, for the duration of the call.
When the user sends a fax from the PC 102 in fax machine mode, reception may be initiated by the fax machine by the user pressing the start button on the fax machine. If the device 103 is provided with a ring generator (not shown in fig.l), this may be used to activate the fax machine 101 for reception of a local transmission without the need to press the start button on the fax machine 101. The device 103 thus utilises the scanning and printing capabilities of the fax machine 101, in connection to the PC 102, without the provision of a separate mode for this purpose.
In a further aspect of the present invention, the device 103 of Figure 1 may also be provided with the ability to discriminate between incoming fax and data modem calls and route the call to the appropriate device using the switching mechanism. This feature is particularly useful for users who wish to share either fax machine and modem on the one telephone line, so that both may be used for sending faxes, or the PC used for initiating data modem calls. Typically however, the user may wish to receive all faxes on the fax machine. In this case incoming data calls still need to be routed to the PC 102.
In prior art devices it has been possible to discriminate between data and fax calls, and notify the PC 102 of the call type so that the appropriate PC software may be activated for reception. In the case of a facsimile call which may contain standard fax as well as fax Binary File transfer (BFT) data, it has been possible to selectively route the standard fax component to the fax machine and the BFT component to the PC 102.
In other prior art devices it has been possible to selectively route fax and modem calls, but this has required a device with two modem components and a ring generate circuit and has not been provided as a function which is user selectable via hardware switch or software "AT" command from the computer. According to one embodiment of the present invention an auto-detect or auto-route feature may also be provided, whereby it is possible to automatically route incoming non facsimile data calls to the PC 102 and fax calls to the fax machine 101. This may be incorporated within the fax machine mode or as a separate mode. This is accomplished by monitoring the tone signals of the incoming call. If the fax calling tone is detected, a fax call is assumed, and the call is routed to the fax machine 101, otherwise the call is routed to the PC 102. This task is performed by the microprocessor 110 of the device 103.
If the call is to be routed to the PC 102, the device 103 issues a ring indicate signal to the PC 102. n a particular embodiment of the device 103, which contains a ring generate circuit (not shown in fig. 1) if the call is to be routed to the fax machine, the device 103 generates a ring to the fax machine 101, which answers, whereupon the call is passed to the fax machine 101.
In this embodiment, the switch 114 is used to firstly connect the fax machine to the modem input line interface 117. After the fax machine answers the ring signal, under the control of the microprocessor 110, the fax machine is switched via switch 114 to connect directly to the external PSTN line. In this case signals do not pass through the modem as in prior art devices. In embodiments of the invention which do not contain a ring generate circuit, it is still possible to automatically route a fax call to the fax machine 101, without the need for operator intervention, i.e. manually receiving the call and pressing the start button. This may be achieved in the following manner. When the device 103 is in auto-route mode, the ring signal from the telephone exchange due to an incoming call will be passed directly to the fax machine 101 via switch 114. When the fax machine 101 answers the call, it will go to receive mode answering procedure for approximately 30 seconds. During this time the device 103 will monitor the external line PSTN, for the fax calling tone. If the fax calling tone is detected, the call to the fax machine 101 will be allowed to proceed. If the fax calling tone is not detected, the device 103 will hold the call, terminate the connection to the fax machine 101 via switch 114 and assume the call is a data call. The device 103 will then issue a ring indicate condition by an AT command 102 to the PC 102, and pass the call to the PC 102 for reception by the PC 102 communication software. The local line loop detector 108 is provided to determine when the local fax machine is off hook. External line ring detector 116 detects an incoming call and line loop detector 120 detects when the external line is off hook.
In all line selection procedures, the device may first determine that the external or local line is not in use before implementing a PC or user command to select a line. In this way inadvertent call interference may be prevented.
The operation of another embodiment of the present invention which provides for an enhanced mode of operation may be described with reference to Figure 2. The present embodiment differs from the prior art in the function and purpose of some of the components. The physical configuration of the device 103 differs from that of the prior art. This device preferably contains two modem components 209/219, as well as preferably containing a user interface 213 and a display 212. These latter components will provide a means of manual initiation of remote transmission, and of monitoring call progress.
The method of operation of the device 203 is to to buffer and store the fax data where appropriate so as to minimise the telephone line connection time. The operation for transmission differs somewhat from that of reception. The selection of this mode of operation may be via PC command or via the user interface.
The operation of the device 203 in terms of fax transmission will be described first. In this case, the operation of the device 203 is depicted in Figure 3. When the fax machine 201 initiates a call, the local connection to the fax machine will first go off hook. This will be detected by the local connection line interface unit 217. At this time, the device 203 will perform the required fax signalling handshake procedure in order to initiate the reception of the fax data. This will occur via the local interface modem 209 component, which have standard speed capability in line with existing fax machines. The received fax data will at this time be stored in system memory 211, which may consist of random access memory or other mass storage means. At the appropriate time, the call to the remote fax machine will be initiated. The number to call may be determined from the tones the user has previously dialled on the fax machine, and stored for later use by the device. The fax data stored in memory 211 will then begin to be transmitted to the remote fax via the remote line modem 219 component, which will preferably be capable of the highest speed currently available for fax transmission. This process of simultaneous reception and retransmission at high speed will continue until the fax transmission is completed.
The time at which the remote call is placed will be delayed for as long as possible, in order to minimise remote call duration. This remote call placement procedure will commence either when the local transmission is complete, or when system memory available is approaching capacity, or when the call is initiated via the user interface. The user may select that remote dialling automatically commence after any given amount of information has been pre-loaded into the system memory 211. The delayed dialling performed by the device 203 will automatically replicate the number dialled by the fax machine, or may be operated manually.
In the event that the remote machine is busy or unavailable the local fax session will terminate. The user will be given the option of retaining the existing information in memory and recommencing the procedure when the remote station is available, or of repeating the complete procedure at a later t me.
The user display of the device may inform the user of the current status of operations, such as the phone number of a pending transmission, and the number of pages. The device may optionally transmit journal information back to the fax machine in the form of a special fax transmission to indicate the success or failure of an operation. If during transmission, the amount of fax data information in the system memory 211 falls below a required minimum the device 203 will re-negotiate the transmission speed with the remote fax machine, so that the transmission speed is the same as the local transmission speed, thus averting a memory underflow condition.
The local ring generator 216, local line loop detector 218, and line loop detector 218 and ring detector 217 and line interface unit 219 operate in the same manner as for the previous embodiment. The operation of the call acceleration function of device 203 in terms of reception will now be described. In this case, the operation of the device is depicted in Figure 4. During reception the device 203 will initiate the local call procedure at the same time as initiating procedures for the incoming remote fax. In this case the device 203 will receive data at the highest speed possible, storing data in system memory, while relaying the information at a lower speed to the local fax machine 201. This procedure will continue until the incoming transmission is completed, whereupon the telephone call will be terminated. Meanwhile relayed transmission to the local fax machine 201 will continue until it is completed.
If during reception, the system memory approaches capacity, the device 203 will re-negotiate the transmission speed with the remote fax machine, so that the reception speed is the same as the relayed transmission speed, thus averting a memory overflow condition.
The device 203 may be designed so that additional memory capacity can be easily installed by the user, in similar fashion to personal computers. In the case of units which embody a disk drive, a disk so installed may also be used as a temporary storage means.
In both cases where buffered local transmission is taking place either prior to or after the completion of the remote transmission, the device 203 will disable or otherwise ' not answer incoming calls while a local download to the fax machine is occurring, however, the PC will be able to make or receive calls.
Data throughput over the telephone line is often limited by the minimum scan line time capability of either the local or remote fax machine. A further advantage of the device is that in operating directly from memory, it may provide the fastest apparent printing and scanning ability, thus always using to the maximum, the ability of the local or remote fax machine to which it is connected, further minimising the telephone connect time.
While the buffered retransmission operation of the device 203 is primarily designed to implement a higher speed capability in association with an existing standard speed fax machine, it is also intended that the device 203 be used in other situations where a store-and-forward operation would be useful in implementing other advanced fax capabilities. These include higher resolution, file transfer, and the optional capture and storage of such non-standard or high order information for later transfer to the PC 202.
As previously noted, further modifications to the device, to include additional phone line connections, are to be considered as part of the current invention. One such further embodiment is depicted in Figure 5 showing a further facsimile connection. In this case additional line interface unit 317, and modem 309, line loop detector 318, ring generate circuit 316 components have been included so that a second local fax machine 301 may be connected to the device 203. The particular advantage of this configuration is that maximum use of the telephone line may be attained, with the possibility of both fax machines 301, 201 operating simultaneously. After a fax has been received and a local download to the fax machine is in operation, the external telephone line will become free. During this time the line may be used by the other fax machine or the PC, for the further fax operations. The device 203 may thus effectively multiplex a plurality of devices to the line, for simultaneous operation.
The control of the device and the selection of operating modes is by the computer or via the user interface keypad. In this case, for operations which require a local fax transfer, the user selects which fax machine is to be used for the scan or print operation. In operations involving a fax machine(s) and the external line, the connection to the computer is not necessary.
It will be obvious to those skilled in the art that numerous alterations and modifications can be made to the devices encompassing the invention other than those specifically described above without departing from the basic concepts of the invention.
All such modifications and alterations are to be considered within the scope of the invention, the nature of which is to be determined from the foregoing description.
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|International Classification||H04N1/00, H04N1/32, H04N1/327, H04M11/06|
|Cooperative Classification||H04N1/00209, H04N2201/0086, H04N1/32406, H04N1/32713, H04N1/00241, H04N2201/0022, H04M11/06, H04N1/3273, H04N1/32728, H04N1/00236, H04N2201/3335, H04N1/32704, H04N2201/0093, H04N2201/0041, H04N2201/0049, H04N2201/0034, H04N1/00206, H04N1/00238, H04N1/324|
|European Classification||H04N1/327C2D, H04N1/00C3H3, H04N1/327C3F, H04N1/327C3G, H04N1/32F2R, H04N1/00C3H2, H04N1/00C3G, H04N1/00C3F, H04N1/00C3H, H04N1/32F2, H04M11/06, H04N1/327C|
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