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Numéro de publicationUS20080091451 A1
Type de publicationDemande
Numéro de demandeUS 11/776,987
Date de publication17 avr. 2008
Date de dépôt12 juil. 2007
Date de priorité12 juil. 2006
Autre référence de publicationCA2658977A1, CA2658979A1, CA2659240A1, CA2659244A1, CA2659277A1, CN101512472A, CN101512484A, CN101512484B, CN101512575A, CN102855378A, CN103400280A, CN103593562A, EP2037799A2, EP2037799A4, EP2038736A2, EP2038736A4, EP2038743A2, EP2038743A4, EP2038766A2, EP2038766A4, EP2038823A2, EP2038823A4, US9489640, US20080086533, US20080091087, US20080091762, US20080109295, US20170039337, WO2008008899A2, WO2008008899A3, WO2008008905A2, WO2008008905A3, WO2008008911A2, WO2008008911A3, WO2008008913A2, WO2008008913A3, WO2008008915A2, WO2008008915A3
Numéro de publication11776987, 776987, US 2008/0091451 A1, US 2008/091451 A1, US 20080091451 A1, US 20080091451A1, US 2008091451 A1, US 2008091451A1, US-A1-20080091451, US-A1-2008091451, US2008/0091451A1, US2008/091451A1, US20080091451 A1, US20080091451A1, US2008091451 A1, US2008091451A1
InventeursJack Crystal
Cessionnaire d'origineCrystal Jack C
Exporter la citationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
Liens externes: USPTO, Cession USPTO, Espacenet
Methods and systems for compliance confirmation and incentives
US 20080091451 A1
Résumé
Methods and systems are disclosed for promoting use of research devices by a plurality of research device users or by a single research device user in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion. Methods and systems are disclosed for monitoring use by a user of a research device in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion.
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Revendications(6)
1. A method of promoting use of portable research devices by a plurality of portable research device users in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises producing level data representing relative compliance levels of each of a plurality of portable research device users; and communicating a message to each of the plurality of users indicating the user's compliance relative to others of the plurality of portable research device users.
2. A system for promoting use of portable research devices by a plurality of portable research device users in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises a processor operative to produce level data representing relative compliance levels of each of a plurality of portable research device users; and communications coupled with the processor to receive the level data and operative to communicate a message to each of the plurality of users indicating the user's compliance relative to others of the plurality of portable research device users based on the level data.
3. A method of monitoring use by a user of a portable research device in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises communicating a request message to the portable research device, the request message requesting a response from the user of the portable research device; receiving a response message communicated from the portable research device in response to the request message; and producing compliance data indicating that the user has partially complied with the predetermined use criterion.
4. A system for monitoring use by a user of a portable research device in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises communications operative to communicate a request message to the portable research device, the request message requesting a response from the user of the portable research device; the communications being operative to receive a response message communicated from the portable research device in response to the request message; and a processor coupled with the communications to receive the response message and to produce compliance data indicating that the user has partially complied with the predetermined use criterion.
5. A method of promoting use of a portable research device by a user in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises producing compliance data for a plurality of different times indicating whether the portable research device is being used in compliance with the at least one predetermined use criterion; producing level data representing a level of compliance by the user based on the compliance data; and communicating a message to the user indicating a level of compliance of the user based on the level data.
6. A system for promoting use of a portable research device by a user in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises a processor operative to produce compliance data for a plurality of different times indicating whether the portable research device is being used in compliance with the at least one predetermined use criterion and to produce level data representing a level of compliance by the user based on the compliance data; and communications operative to communicate a message to the user indicating a level of compliance of the user based on the level data.
Description
  • [0001]
    Methods and systems for monitoring use of research devices by users are disclosed. Systems and methods are disclosed that are useful for monitoring use of research devices in accordance with predetermined criteria, providing incentives for compliant use thereof and/or analyzing data relating to the use thereof.
  • BACKGROUND
  • [0002]
    Research operations are conducted by establishing a panel of participants, often referred to as panelists. In some research operations, the panelists are provided with portable monitoring devices to gather research data. In other research operations the panelists' own portable devices are employed to gather research data. In either case, the panelists are instructed to carry the portable devices with them during the day for gathering research data, such as data indicating exposure to media and/or other market research data.
  • [0003]
    Those who pay to use such market research data want to be assured that the data is reliable. In particular, if the portable monitor was not actually carried about by a panelist during the day, whatever data has been collected by the portable monitor does not reflect the experience of a panelist. Accordingly, those who pay for use of such research data want reasonable assurances from the research organization that the portable monitors used to gather the data have actually been carried about by individuals or at least accompany individuals during the times that research data is collected by such monitors.
  • [0004]
    Arbitron Inc., which pioneered the use of portable monitors for gathering research data, has developed and implemented techniques to provide such assurances to those who license its research data. Such techniques are the subject of U.S. Pat. No. 5,483,276 issued Jan. 9, 1996 in the names of Brooks, et al., which is owned by the assignee of the present application and is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • DISCLOSURE
  • [0005]
    For this application, the following terms and definitions shall apply:
  • [0006]
    The term “data” as used herein means any indicia, signals, marks, symbols, domains, symbol sets, representations, and any other physical form or forms representing information, whether permanent or temporary, whether visible, audible, acoustic, electric, magnetic, electromagnetic or otherwise manifested. The term “data” as used to represent predetermined information in one physical form shall be deemed to encompass any and all representations of corresponding information in a different physical form or forms.
  • [0007]
    The terms “media data” and “media” as used herein mean data which is widely accessible, whether over-the-air, or via cable, satellite, network, internetwork (including the Internet), print, displayed, distributed on storage media, or by any other means or technique that is humanly perceptible, without regard to the form or content of such data, and including but not limited to audio, video, audio/video, text, images, animations, databases, broadcasts, displays (including but not limited to video displays, posters and billboards), signs, signals, web pages, print media and streaming media data.
  • [0008]
    The term “research data” as used herein means data comprising (1) data concerning usage of media, (2) data concerning exposure to media, and/or (3) market research data.
  • [0009]
    The term “presentation data” as used herein shall mean media data, content other than media data or a message to be presented to a user.
  • [0010]
    The term “database” as used herein means an organized body of related data, regardless of the manner in which the data or the organized body thereof is represented. For example, the organized body of related data may be in the form of a table, a map, a grid, a packet, a datagram, a frame, a file, an e-mail, a message, a document, a list or in any other form.
  • [0011]
    The term “correlate” as used herein means a process of ascertaining a relationship between or among data, including but not limited to an identity relationship, a correspondence or other relationship of such data to further data, inclusion in a dataset, exclusion from a dataset, a predefined mathematical relationship between or among the data and/or to further data, and the existence of a common aspect between or among the data.
  • [0012]
    The terms “purchase” and “purchasing” as used herein mean a process of obtaining title, a license, possession or other right in or to goods or services in exchange for consideration, whether payment of money, barter or other legally sufficient consideration, or as promotional samples. As used herein, the term “goods” and “services” include, but are not limited to, data and rights in or to data.
  • [0013]
    The term “network” as used herein includes both networks and internetworks of all kinds, including the Internet, and is not limited to any particular network or inter-network.
  • [0014]
    The terms “first,” “second,” “primary,” and “secondary” are used herein to distinguish one element, set, data, object, step, process, function, activity or thing from another, and are not used to designate relative position, arrangement in time or relative importance, unless otherwise stated explicitly.
  • [0015]
    The terms “coupled”, “coupled to”, and “coupled with” as used herein each mean a relationship between or among two or more devices, apparatus, files, circuits, elements, functions, operations, processes, programs, media, components, networks, systems, subsystems, and/or means, constituting any one or more of (a) a connection, whether direct or through one or more other devices, apparatus, files, circuits, elements, functions, operations, processes, programs, media, components, networks, systems, subsystems, or means, (b) a communications relationship, whether direct or through one or more other devices, apparatus, files, circuits, elements, functions, operations, processes, programs, media, components, networks, systems, subsystems, or means, and/or (c) a functional relationship in which the operation of any one or more devices, apparatus, files, circuits, elements, functions, operations, processes, programs, media, components, networks, systems, subsystems, or means depends, in whole or in part, on the operation of any one or more others thereof.
  • [0016]
    The terms “communicate” and “communicating” as used herein include both conveying data from a source to a destination, and delivering data to a communications medium, system, channel, network, device, wire, cable, fiber, circuit, and/or link to be conveyed to a destination. The term “communications” as used herein includes one or more of a communications medium, system, channel, network, device, wire, cable, fiber, circuit and link.
  • [0017]
    The term “message” as used herein includes data to be communicated, in communication or which has been communicated.
  • [0018]
    The term “processor” as used herein means processing devices, apparatus, programs, circuits, components, systems and subsystems, whether implemented in hardware, software or both, and whether or not programmable. The term “processor” as used herein includes, but is not limited to one or more computers, hardwired circuits, signal modifying devices and systems, devices and machines for controlling systems, central processing units, programmable devices and systems, field programmable gate arrays, application specific integrated circuits, systems on a chip, systems comprised of discrete elements and/or circuits, state machines, virtual machines, data processors, processing facilities and combinations of any of the foregoing.
  • [0019]
    The terms “storage” and “data storage” as used herein mean data storage devices, apparatus, programs, circuits, components, systems, subsystems and storage media serving to retain data, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, and to provide such retained data.
  • [0020]
    The terms “panelist,” “panel member” and “participant” are interchangeably used herein to refer to a person who is, knowingly or unknowingly, participating in a study to gather information, whether by electronic, survey or other means, about that person's activity.
  • [0021]
    The term “household” as used herein is to be broadly construed to include family members, a family living at the same residence, a group of persons related or unrelated to one another living at the same residence, and a group of persons (of which the total number of unrelated persons does not exceed a predetermined number) living within a common facility, such as a fraternity house, an apartment or other similar structure or arrangement.
  • [0022]
    The term “activity” as used herein includes, but is not limited to, purchasing conduct, shopping habits, viewing habits, computer, Internet usage, exposure to media, personal attitudes, awareness, opinions and beliefs, as well as other forms of activity discussed herein.
  • [0023]
    The term “portable user appliance” (also referred to herein, for convenience, by the abbreviation “PUA”) as used herein means an electrical or non-electrical device capable of being carried by or on the person of a user or capable of being disposed on or in, or held by, a physical object (e.g., attaché, purse) capable of being carried by or on the user, and having at least one function of primary benefit to such user, including without limitation, a cellular telephone, a personal digital assistant (“PDA”), a Blackberry® a device, a radio, a television, a game system (e.g., a Gameboy® device), a notebook computer, a laptop computer, a GPS device, a personal audio device (e.g., an MP3 player), a DVD player, a two-way radio, a personal communications device, a telematics device, a remote control device, a wireless headset, a wristwatch, a portable data storage device (e.g., Thumb™ drive), a camera, a recorder, a keyless entry device, a ring, a comb, a pen, a pencil, a notebook, a wallet, a tool, a flashlight, an implement, a pair of glasses, an article of clothing, a belt, a belt buckle, a fob, an article of jewelry, an ornamental article, a pair of shoes or other foot garment (e.g., sandals), a jacket, and a hat, as well as any devices combining any of the foregoing or their functions.
  • [0024]
    The term “research device” as used herein shall mean (1) a portable user appliance configured or otherwise enabled to gather, store and/or communicate research data, or to cooperate with other devices to gather, store and/or communicate research data, and/or (2) a research data gathering, storing and/or communicating device.
  • [0025]
    The term “user-beneficial function” as used herein shall mean a function initiated or carried out by a person with the use of a PUA, which function is of primary benefit to that person.
  • [0026]
    A method of promoting use of portable research devices by a plurality of portable research device users in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises producing level data representing relative compliance levels of each of a plurality of portable research device users; and communicating a message to each of the plurality of users indicating the user's compliance relative to others of the plurality of portable research device users.
  • [0027]
    A system for promoting use of portable research devices by a plurality of portable research device users in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises a processor operative to produce level data representing relative compliance levels of each of a plurality of portable research device users; and communications coupled with the processor to receive the level data and operative to communicate a message to each of the plurality of users indicating the user's compliance relative to others of the plurality of portable research device users based on the level data.
  • [0028]
    A method of monitoring use by a user of a portable research device in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises communicating a request message to the portable research device, the request message requesting a response from the user of the portable research device; receiving a response message communicated from the portable research device in response to the request message; and producing compliance data indicating that the user has partially complied with the predetermined use criterion.
  • [0029]
    A system for monitoring use by a user of a portable research device in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises communications operative to communicate a request message to the portable research device, the request message requesting a response from the user of the portable research device; the communications being operative to receive a response message communicated from the portable research device in response to the request message; and a processor coupled with the communications to receive the response message and to produce compliance data indicating that the user has partially complied with the predetermined use criterion.
  • [0030]
    A method of promoting use of a portable research device by a user in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises producing compliance data for a plurality of different times indicating whether the portable research device is being used in compliance with the at least one predetermined use criterion; producing level data representing a level of compliance by the user based on the compliance data; and communicating a message to the user indicating a level of compliance of the user based on the level data.
  • [0031]
    A system for promoting use of a portable research device by a user in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises a processor operative to produce compliance data for a plurality of different times indicating whether the portable research device is being used in compliance with the at least one predetermined use criterion and to produce level data representing a level of compliance by the user based on the compliance data; and communications operative to communicate a message to the user indicating a level of compliance of the user based on the level data.
  • [0032]
    Certain embodiments of the methods and systems are presented in the following disclosure in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
  • [0033]
    FIG. 1A illustrates various monitoring systems that include a portable user appliance (“PUA”) used by a user and configured to operate as a research device;
  • [0034]
    FIG. 1B is a block diagram showing certain details of the monitoring systems of FIG. 1A;
  • [0035]
    FIG. 1C is a block diagram showing the monitoring systems of FIG. 1A including a PUA coupled with a docking station;
  • [0036]
    FIGS. 2A and 2B are flow diagrams illustrating actions by the monitoring systems of FIGS. 1A-1C which actively monitor use of the PUA;
  • [0037]
    FIGS. 3A and 3B are flow diagrams illustrating actions by the monitoring systems of FIGS. 1A-1C which passively monitor use of the PUA;
  • [0038]
    FIG. 4 is a flow diagram illustrating actions by the monitoring systems of FIGS. 1A-1C which actively and passively monitor use of the PUA;
  • [0039]
    FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating actions by the monitoring systems of FIGS. 1A-1C which determine compliance for a plurality of different times;
  • [0040]
    FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a cellular telephone configured to operate as a research device; and
  • [0041]
    FIG. 6A is a functional block diagram for use in explaining certain embodiments involving the use of the cellular telephone of FIG. 6.
  • [0042]
    Numerous types of research operations carried out with the use of research devices are possible, including, without limitation, television and radio program audience measurement; exposure to advertising in various media, such as television, radio, print and outdoor advertising, among others; consumer spending habits; consumer shopping habits including the particular retail stores and other locations visited during shopping and recreational activities; travel patterns, such as the particular routes taken between home and work, and other locations; consumer attitudes, beliefs, awareness and preferences; and so on. For the desired type of media and/or market research operation to be conducted, particular activity of individuals is monitored. In research operations research data relating to two or more of the foregoing are gathered, while in others only one kind of such data is gathered.
  • [0043]
    Various monitoring techniques are suitable. For example, television viewing or radio listening habits, including exposure to commercials therein, are monitored utilizing a variety of techniques. In certain techniques, acoustic energy to which an individual is exposed is monitored to produce data which identifies or characterizes a program, song, station, channel, commercial, etc. that is being watched or listened to by the individual. Where audio media includes ancillary codes that provide such information, suitable decoding techniques are employed to detect the encoded information, such as those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,450,490 and No. 5,764,763 to Jensen, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,579,124 to Aijala, et al., U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,574,962, 5,581,800 and 5,787,334 to Fardeau, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,871,180 to Neuhauser, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 6,862,355 to Kolessar, et al. issued Mar. 1, 2005 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,845,360 to Jensen, et al., issued Jan. 18, 2005, each of which is assigned to the assignee of the present application and all of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.
  • [0044]
    In some cases a signature is extracted from transduced media data for identification by matching with reference signatures of known media data. Suitable techniques for this purpose include those disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,612,729 to Ellis, et al. and in U.S. Pat. No. 4,739,398 to Thomas, et al., each of which is assigned to the assignee of the present application and both of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.
  • [0045]
    Moreover, techniques involving the active participation of the panel members may be used in research operations. For example, surveys may be employed where a panel member is asked questions utilizing the panel member's research device after recruitment. Thus, it is to be understood that both the exemplary types of research data to be gathered discussed herein and the exemplary manners of gathering research data as discussed herein are only illustrative and that other types of research data may be gathered and that other techniques for gathering research data may be employed.
  • [0046]
    Certain research devices, including many disclosed in the patents and applications incorporated herein by reference, are intended solely for use in conducting research operations and do not implement functions of primary benefit to the user. Other research devices are implemented by, in or in combination with a PUA.
  • [0047]
    Various PUA's already have capabilities sufficient to enable the implementation of the desired monitoring technique or techniques to be employed during the research operation to enable their use as research devices. As an example, cellular telephones have microphones which convert acoustic energy into audio data and GPS receivers for determining their locations. Various cellular telephones further have processing and storage capabilities.
  • [0048]
    In certain embodiments, various existing PUA's are modified merely by software and/or minor hardware changes to carry out a research operation. In certain other embodiments, PUA's are redesigned and substantially reconstructed for this purpose.
  • [0049]
    Various embodiments of methods and systems for monitoring use of a research device by one or more users are described herein below. Referring to the drawings, FIGS. 1A and 1B are schematic illustrations of a monitoring system 1 that includes a PUA 2, which is used by a user 3, and a processor 5. In certain embodiments otherwise corresponding to the embodiment of FIGS. 1A and 1B, the PUA 2 is replaced by a research device that does not comprise a PUA. The processor 5 may include one or a plurality of processors which are located together or separate from one another disposed within or controlled by one or more organizations. As shown, the PUA 2 may be coupled to the processor 5 via communications 7 which allows data to be exchanged between the PUA 2 and the processor 5. In certain embodiments, the PUA 2 is wirelessly coupled via communications 7 to the processor 5.
  • [0050]
    In some embodiments, the monitoring system 1 also includes storage 6 for storing data including, but not limited to, data received and/or processed by the central processor 5. In certain embodiments storage 6 includes one or more storage units located together or separate from one another at the same or different locations. In certain embodiments storage 6 is included with processor 5.
  • [0051]
    FIG. 1B is a more detailed illustration of an embodiment of the monitoring system 1 in which the PUA 2 is adapted to communicate wirelessly with the processor 5 using wireless communications 8. The PUA 2 includes a communication interface 9 for communicating and receiving data through communications 8. As shown, the PUA 2 also includes a message input 11 to allow the user of the PUA 2 to input a message into the PUA 2. The message input 11 is coupled with the communication interface 9 of the PUA 2, so that a message inputted using the message input 11 can be communicated from the PUA 2 via communications 8. It is understood that messages inputted using the message input 11 may be communicated to the processor 5, or to another PUA 2, or to another location or device coupled with communications 8. In the illustrative embodiment shown in FIG. 1B, the message input 11 comprises a plurality of keys 11 a in the form of a keypad. However, the configuration of the message input 11 may vary, such that, for example, the message input 11 may comprise one or more of a key, a button, a switch, a keyboard, a microphone, a video camera, a touch pad, an accelerometer, a motion detector, a touch screen, a tablet, a scroll-and-click wheel or the like.
  • [0052]
    In the illustrative configuration shown in FIG. 1B, the PUA 2 also comprises a sensor or a detector 13 for detecting one or more parameters. The parameter or parameters detected by the sensor/detector 13 include, but are not limited to, the remaining power capacity of the PUA 2, one or more of a user's biometric functions or parameters, a location of the PUA 2, a change in location of the PUA 2, data input to the PUA by the user, sounds external to the PUA 2, motion of the PUA 2, pressure being applied to the PUA 2, or an impact of the PUA 2 with another object. In certain embodiments, sensor/detector 13 detects a presence indication signal or a personal identification signal emitted by a signal emitter 14 carried in or on the person of the user. In certain ones of these embodiments, the signal emitter 14 comprises a device worn or carried by the user, such as a ring, a necklace, or other article of jewelry, a wristwatch, a key fob, or article of clothing that emits a predetermined signal indicating a user's presence or the identity of the user wearing or carrying the device. The signal may be emitted as an acoustic signal, an RF or other electromagnetic signal, or a chemical signal that sensor/detector 13 is operative to receive, or an electrical signal. In certain embodiments, the signal emitter 14 comprises a device implanted in the user, such as under the user's skin. In certain embodiments, the sensor/detector 13 includes a plurality of sensors or detectors each for detecting one or more of a plurality of parameters.
  • [0053]
    As shown in FIG. 1B, the sensor/detector 13 is coupled with the communications interface 9 of the PUA 2 so that data produced as a result of the sensing or detecting performed by the sensor/detector 13 can be communicated from the PUA 2 to the processor 5. Although the PUA 2 shown in FIG. 1B includes both the message input 11 and the sensor/detector 13, it is understood that in other embodiments, one of these elements may be omitted depending on the design of the PUA 2 and the requirements of the monitoring system 1.
  • [0054]
    As in FIG. 1A, the illustrative configuration of the monitoring system 1 shown in FIG. 1B includes storage 6 coupled or included with the processor 5 to store data, including data received and/or processed by the processor 5. Data stored in storage 6 can also be retrieved by the processor 5 when needed.
  • [0055]
    The PUA 2 shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B may be supplied with power from an A/C power source or other power supply, or using one or more batteries or other on-board power source (not shown for purposes of simplicity and clarity). It is understood that batteries used to supply power to the PUA 2 may include any type of batteries, whether rechargeable or not, that are suitable for use with the particular PUA 2. In certain embodiments, the PUA 2 receives power from rechargeable batteries or another kind of rechargeable power supply, such as a capacitor, and/or from a radiant energy converter, such as a photoelectric power converter, or a mechanical energy converter, such as a microelectric generator. In certain embodiments, the PUA 2 is connected with a docking station from time to time, which is used for charging the PUA 2 and/or transmitting data stored in the PUA 2 to the processor 5. FIG. 1C shows an embodiment of the PUA 2 used with the docking station 15. The docking station 15, which is typically not carried by the user and not coupled with the PUA 2 while the PUA is being carried by the user, is adapted to couple with the PUA 2 via a coupling 16. The coupling 16 can be a direct connection between the PUA 2 and the docking station 15 to allow recharging of the PUA 2 and/or communication of data between the PUA 2 and the docking station 15. In certain embodiments, data is communicated from the PUA to the docking station by a wireless infra-red, RF, capacitive or inductive link. In certain embodiments, data is communicated from the PUA 2 to the processor 5 by cellular telephone link or other wired or wireless network or device coupling.
  • [0056]
    As shown in FIG. 1C, in certain embodiments the docking station is connected to a power supply 17 to provide power for charging the PUA 2 when the PUA 2 is coupled with the docking station 15. In addition, in certain embodiments the docking station 15 includes a communication interface 19 adapted to communicate with the processor 5 through communications 7. When the PUA 2 is coupled with the docking station 15 via the coupling 16, data stored in the PUA 2, such as data collected by the PUA 2 when it was carried by the user, is transferred to the docking station 15 using the coupling 16 and thereafter communicated using the communication interface 19 to the processor 5 through communications 7. In these embodiments, the use of the docking station 15, rather than the PUA 2, to communicate to the processor 5 data collected by the PUA 2 enables conservation of power by the PUA 2 or the use of an internal power supply having a relatively low power capacity. In certain embodiments, the docking station 15 is also used to receive data from the processor 5 via communications 7, and to transfer the received data from the docking station 15 to the PUA 2 via the coupling 16 when the PUA 2 is coupled with the docking station 15.
  • [0057]
    As can be appreciated, the configuration of the docking station 15 is not limited to the configuration shown in FIG. 1C and may vary from one embodiment to another. For example, in certain embodiments, the docking station is used only for charging the PUA 2 and does not include a communication interface 19. In such embodiments, the docking station 15 is implemented variously as a cradle receiving the PUA 2 or as a standard AC-to DC converter, like a cellular telephone charger. In other embodiments, the docking station 15 is used only for communication of data between the PUA 2 and the processor 5 and does not charge the PUA 2. In such embodiments, the PUA 2 may be connected to a power supply, separate from the docking station 15, for charging, or charged using an internal power converter, or by replacing one or more batteries.
  • [0058]
    In certain embodiments, the PUA 2 shown in FIGS. 1A-1C optionally includes an output (not shown for purposes of simplicity and clarity) for outputting a message to the user. The output can be in the form of a display for displaying text, or one or more symbols and/or images, a speaker or earphone for outputting a voicemail or a voice message, or one or more LED's or lamps for indicating a message to the user. It is understood that the output or outputs are not limited to the examples provided herein and can comprise any suitable output or outputs adapted to provide a message to the user.
  • [0059]
    The monitoring system 1 shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B is used for monitoring use by a user of the PUA 2 in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion. The at least one predetermined use criterion comprises one or more of the following criteria: that the PUA 2 is being carried and/or used, that the PUA 2 is being carried and/or used by a specific user, that the PUA 2 is turned “on,” that the PUA 2 is charged, that the PUA 2 maintains a minimum power capacity, that the PUA 2 is, or has been, docked at, or connected with, the docking station 15 for a predetermined length of time, at certain times or during a predetermined time period, that the PUA is functioning properly to provide a benefit to the user, and that the PUA 2 is capable of collecting, storing and/or communicating research data, or of cooperating with one or more other devices to do so. Other predetermined use criteria not mentioned above may also be employed in monitoring the PUA's use.
  • [0060]
    In certain embodiments, the method of monitoring use by a user of a research device such as PUA 2 in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprises communicating a request message to the research device, requesting a response from the user of the PUA, receiving a response message communicated from the research device in response to the request message, and storing data indicating a level of the user's compliance therewith. This monitoring method is illustrated in more detail in FIG. 2A, which shows a block diagram of the actions performed by the monitoring systems shown in FIGS. 1A-1C.
  • [0061]
    As shown in FIG. 2A, a request message is first communicated 100 to a PUA having a two-way communication capability with a remotely-located processor, such as processor 5 of FIGS. 1A-1C, requesting a response from a user of the PUA. In certain embodiments, the request message comprises a text message, a telephone call, a voice mail, an e-mail, a voice message, a sound, a plurality of sounds, a web page, an image, a light alert, or a combination thereof, or any other data presented to the user via the PUA which indicates to the user that a response is being requested. The request message is presented to the user using an appropriate output (for example, a sound reproducing device, such as a speaker or earphone) if the message is a telephone call, a voice mail, a voice message, a sound or a plurality of sounds; a visual display, if the message is a text message, an e-mail, a web page or another image; and/or one or more light emitting devices (for example, LED's or lamps) if the message is a light alert. In certain embodiments, the request message requests a pre-determined response from the PUA user, or a more general response such as a response that acknowledges receipt of the request message. In certain embodiments, the request is accompanied by data of interest to the user, such as access to certain web sites or content, such as music, video, news, or electronic coupons. In certain ones of such embodiments, access to such data is conditioned on providing the requested response according to parameters expressed in the request message or otherwise predetermined. In certain embodiments, the processor is implemented as one or more programmable processors running a communications management program module serving to control communications with the PUA and/or its user, along with other PUA's, to request a response including data from which compliance can be assessed. In certain ones of such embodiments, such communications are scheduled in advance by the programming module with or without reference to a database storing schedule data representing a schedule of such communications, and carried out thereby automatically by means of communications 7. In certain ones of such embodiments, such communications are scheduled in advance and notified to human operators who initiate calls to the PUA's and/or the PUA's users according to the schedule, to solicit data from which compliance can be assessed. In certain ones of such embodiments, both automatic communications and human-initiated communications as described above are carried out.
  • [0062]
    In response to the request message, a response message is generated 102 in the PUA. In certain embodiments, the response message is generated by inputting the response message by an action of the user using the message input of the PUA. In particular, in certain embodiments in which the response message comprises a code, including letter characters, number characters or symbols, or a combination thereof, the response message is generated using the message input of the PUA. Alternatively, the response message comprises data stored in the PUA, in which case, the response message is generated by selecting the stored data using the message input. In other embodiments, the response message is a response signal generated by activating the message input, such as, for example, by switching one or more switches or by pressing one or more buttons of the message input. Where the response message comprises one or more audible sounds, the response message is generated by inputting the sounds using the message input. In such embodiments, the message input comprises an audio input device, such as an acoustic transducer. As mentioned above, the response message can be generated in response to a request for a pre-determined response, or in response to a request for a more general response.
  • [0063]
    After the response message is generated in the PUA, the response message is communicated from the PUA through communications thereof and is received 104 in the remotely-located processor, such as processor 5. In certain embodiments, such communications comprises cellular telephone communications, PCS communications, wireless networking communications, satellite communications, or a Bluetooth, ZigBee, electro-optical or other wireless link. In certain embodiments, such communications comprises as Ethernet interface, a telephone modem, a USB port, a Firewire connection, a cable modem, an audio or video connection, or other network or device interface. When the response message from the PUA is received, or a predetermined time period passes without receiving the response message, the processor provides data indicating whether the use of the PUA is in compliance with at least one predetermined criterion and/or the level of the user's compliance. The data provided by the processor is then stored 106 by the processor. In certain embodiments, the processor provides data indicating a user's compliance and/or the level of a user's compliance based on whether or not the response message from the PUA was received. In other embodiments, the processor provides compliance and/or level of compliance data based on the content of the response message, and/or the length of time passed before the response message from the PUA is received, and/or other factors discussed in more detail herein below. In certain embodiments the processor is implemented as one or more programmable processors running a compliance analysis program module which receives the data returned by the PUA and/or the user of the PUA to the communications management program module and serves to analyze the compliance of the user based on such data and in accordance with compliance rules stored in a storage, such as storage 6 of FIGS. 1A-1C. Based on such analysis, the compliance analysis program module produces compliance data indicating whether the user complied with the predetermined use criteria and/or a level of such compliance.
  • [0064]
    In certain embodiments, a reward may be provided to a user when the user's use of the PUA is in compliance with the predetermined use criteria or when the user's level of compliance is above a pre-selected compliance level. The reward may be in the form of cash, credit, a prize or a benefit, such as a free service or points usable to make purchases or receive prizes, either by means of the PUA or through a different means or service. In certain ones of such embodiments, the reward comprises data of interest to the user, such as access to certain web sites or content, such as music, video, news, or electronic coupons. As shown in FIG. 2A, when data indicating compliance or a level of compliance above a pre-selected compliance level is produced and/or stored, a reward to the user is determined 108. The reward to the user, including the type of the reward and/or an amount or quality of the reward, is determined by the processor of the monitoring system based on the stored data indicating user's compliance or the level of user's compliance. Where the reward is determined based on the level of the user's compliance, in certain embodiments the reward is provided to the user if the user's level of compliance is higher than a predetermined level and/or the type and/or the amount of the reward determined in 108 is varied as the level of the user's compliance increases or decreases. For instance, in certain embodiments a number of points awarded to the user that may be used to purchase goods or services, is greater where the user responds to a larger percentage of request messages, or is increased as the number of request messages that the user responds to increases.
  • [0065]
    Providing rewards to PUA users for use of the PUA in compliance with the predetermined use criteria provides an incentive for the users to comply with the use requirements so as to earn a reward or to earn a higher reward. Therefore, providing a reward to the PUA user for the correct use of the PUA also promotes correct use of the PUA in the future in accordance with the predetermined usage criterion or criteria.
  • [0066]
    In certain embodiments, the monitoring system also communicates a message to the PUA user indicating the level of compliance with the predetermined use criteria for the PUA and/or the reward earned by the user 110. The message communicated to the user can be in the form of a text message, a telephone call, a voice mail, a voice message, an e-mail, an image or a combination thereof communicated via the PUA or otherwise. In some embodiments, the message can be in form of a light indication, such as by lighting up an LED or lamp to indicate whether the use of the PUA is in compliance or whether a reward has been earned by the user. As shown in FIG. 2A, the determination of the reward to the user 108 and the communication of the message to the user 110 are optional actions by the monitoring system in monitoring the user's use of the PUA. In some configurations, for example, the determination of the reward is omitted and the monitoring system proceeds to communicating the message to the user indicating the user's compliance and/or level of compliance. In other configurations, however, the monitoring system determines the reward to the user and automatically provides the reward to the user, such as by sending the reward directly to the user or applying the reward to the user's account, without communicating any messages to the user indicating the user's compliance, level of compliance or reward earned. In certain embodiments, where the monitoring system has determined that a user has failed to comply, it sends one or more messages to the user and/or to the user's PUA noting such failure, with or without further message content encouraging compliance in the future. In certain ones of such embodiments, the message noting failure to comply is sent in a plurality of different forms, such as both a text message and a voice call, which can be generated either automatically or by human intervention. In certain embodiments, the determination of a reward is made by one or more programmable processors running a reward determination program module that receives the compliance data produced by the compliance analysis program module and serve to produce reward data based on stored rules, such as rules stored in storage 6, specifying what rewards (including kind and amount), if any, to accord to the user for whom the compliance data was produced. Based on the reward data, the communications management program module communicates a reward notification to the PUA and/or its user, and/or communicates an order to a service (such as a supplier of goods or services, which can include content and other data) to provide the determined rewards to the user or credit an account of the user with such rewards.
  • [0067]
    In certain embodiments, the use of a research device is monitored by communicating a request message to the research device, the request message requesting a response from the user of the research device, receiving a response message communicated from the research device in response to the request message, and determining the extent to which the use of the research device by the user is in compliance with the at least one predetermined use criterion. FIG. 2B illustrates this embodiment of monitoring use of a research device, namely, a user's PUA, by the monitoring system. In certain other embodiments otherwise corresponding to the embodiment of FIG. 2B, the user's PUA is replaced by a research device that does not comprise a PUA.
  • [0068]
    As shown in FIG. 2B at 200, a request message is sent to a PUA from a monitoring system, a response message is generated 202 in the PUA and communicated thereby to the monitoring system, in response to the request message and the response message is received 204 by the monitoring system from the PUA (or its non-receipt is recorded). These actions performed by the monitoring system are similar to those, i.e. 100, 102 and 104, described above with respect to FIG. 2A, and therefore a detailed description thereof is omitted for purposes of clarity and simplicity. As further shown in FIG. 2B, when the response message is received from the PUA, the monitoring system determines 205 whether the user's use of the PUA complies with at least one predetermined use criterion. This determination 205 is performed by a processor of the monitoring system. As mentioned herein above, the predetermined criteria includes, but is not limited to, the PUA being carried, the PUA being carried by a specific user, the PUA being turned “on,” the PUA being charged, the PUA maintaining a minimum charge or power capacity, the PUA being docked at, or connected with, the docking station for a predetermined length and/or period of time, or at certain times, the PUA functioning properly and the PUA being capable of collecting, storing and/or communicating research data, or of cooperating with one or more other devices to do so.
  • [0069]
    In certain embodiments, the determination 205 whether the use of the PUA is in compliance with the predetermined criteria is based on at least one of the receipt or non-receipt 204 of the response message from the PUA, the time of receipt of the response message and the content of the response message. For example, when the determination 205 is based on the receipt or non-receipt of the response message from the PUA, the processor determines that the use of the PUA is not in compliance with the predetermined criteria if the receipt message is not received within a predetermined period of time from the sending of the request message to the PUA in 200. In certain ones of such embodiments, a request message requesting a response from the user (such as a text message or voice prompt) is sent to the PUA at regular intervals during the day, at intervals determined according to dayparts or according to a pseudorandom schedule, and the promptness of the user's response, if any, is used to determine an amount or quality of a reward to the user.
  • [0070]
    When the determination of compliance with predetermined use criteria is based on the time of receipt of the response message, the processor determines how much time had elapsed between the time of sending of the request message to the PUA and the time of receipt of the response message from the PUA and compares it to a selected compliant response time. The compliant response time in certain embodiments is a constant duration for all users, all PUA's, all types of request messages, all places and all times. In certain other embodiments, the compliant response time is selected based on user demographics or an individual profile. In certain embodiments, the compliant response time is based on the type of request message and/or its contents. In certain ones of such embodiments, the compliant response time is specified in the message, for example, “Please respond within ten minutes.” In certain embodiments the compliant response time is selected based on the type of PUA that receives it, for example, a cellular telephone or Blackberry device for which a relatively short response time can be expected, as compared to a personal audio or DVD player, for which a longer response time may be appropriate. In certain embodiments, the compliant response time is selected depending on the manner in which the request message is to be presented to the user. For example, if receipt of the message is indicated to the user by an audible alert or device vibration, a shorter response time can be expected than in the case of a message presented only visually. In certain embodiments, the compliant response time is selected based on the time of day. For example, during morning or afternoon drive time, the response time may be lengthened since the user may not be able to respond as quickly as during the evening when the user is at home. In certain embodiments, the compliant response time is selected based on the user's location. For example, in certain places it may be customary to respond to messages more quickly than in others. In certain embodiments, the compliant response time is selected based on a combination of two or more of the foregoing factors.
  • [0071]
    If the time elapsed between the sending of the request message and the receipt of the response is less than the selected response time, it is determined that the user's use of the PUA is in compliance with the pre-determined criteria. However, if the elapsed time is greater than the selected response time, it is determined that the use of the PUA is not in compliance with the predetermined criteria. In certain embodiments, the amount of time elapsed between the sending 200 of the request message and the receiving 204 of the response message is used to determine a level of the user's compliance with the predetermined use criteria. In particular, the level of compliance determined by the processor will depend on how quickly the response message is received by the processor, such that the level of compliance is greater as the amount of time elapsed between the sending 200 of the request message and the receipt 204 of the response message is less.
  • [0072]
    When the determination whether the user's PUA use is in compliance with one or more predetermined criteria is based on the content of the response message, the processor determines whether the content of the response message complies with predetermined parameters. In such embodiments, a selected response message, complying with predetermined parameters, is requested 200 by the request message communicated to the PUA, and in determining compliance and/or the level of compliance, the processor compares the response message received 204 from the PUA with the requested response. In one illustrative embodiment, the request message communicated 200 to the PUA comprises a request for the user's password or for a particular code, such as a user' screen name or real name, and the response message received 204 in response to the request message is compared by the processor to pre-stored data, such as a password, code, screen name or real name stored in a database, to determine 205 whether the use of the PUA is in compliance with the predetermined criteria. If the received response message matches the stored message, i.e. password, a name (such as a screen name selected by the user or the user's real name) or a code, stored in the database, then the processor determines that the user is in compliance with the predetermined criteria. By requesting a selected response message, such as a password, name or code, the monitoring system is capable not only of confirming that the PUA is being carried and/or used, but also of confirming that the PUA is being carried and/or used by a specific user.
  • [0073]
    In certain embodiments, in addition to or instead of other requested information, the requested response comprises information from the user, such as what the user is doing when the message is received or at other times, the user's location or locations at various times, media or products to which the user has been exposed, has purchased or used, or plans to purchase or use, the user's beliefs and/or the user's opinions. In certain embodiments, in addition to or instead of other requested information, the requested response comprises information concerning an operational state of the PUA (for example, as indicated thereby or as determined by the user), whether and/or when the user performed some action (such as docking or recharging the PUA), and/or whether and/or how the user is carrying the PUA.
  • [0074]
    In certain embodiments, the processor determines 205 the level of the PUA user's compliance based on the content of the message. In this illustrative embodiment, the response message received 204 is compared with stored data, such as a password, name or code stored in the database, and determines the level of compliance based on how closely the response message matches with the stored data. In certain ones of such embodiments, a first, or highest, level of compliance is determined if the response message matches the stored message, a second level of compliance, which is lower than the first level, is determined if the response message does not match the stored message, and a third, or lowest, level of compliance is determined if no response message is received 204 from the PUA. In some embodiments, a plurality of different intermediate levels of compliance may be determined instead of the second level of compliance, if a response message is received but does not match the stored message. In such embodiments, the level determined is based on the extent of similarity between the response message and the pre-stored data. Thus, for example, the intermediate level of compliance will be higher in a case where the response message received 204 from the PUA differs from the stored message by only one character than in a case where the response message received from the PUA is completely different from the stored message.
  • [0075]
    In certain embodiments, the user's compliance and/or level of compliance is determined not only based on the content of the response message but also on the time of receipt of the response message. In certain ones of such embodiments, the user's compliance will depend on whether the response message matches with the stored data, as well as on how quickly the response message is received from the PUA. In certain ones of such embodiments, the highest level of compliance is determined if the response message received from the PUA matches the stored data, and if the time elapsed between the sending of the request message to the PUA and the receipt of the response message is less than a selected time. If the response message does not match the stored data and/or the time elapsed between the sending of the request message and the receipt of the response message is greater than the selected time, then the level of compliance determined 205 is selected at a level intermediate a highest level of compliance and a lowest level. If no response message is received from the PUA, then the lowest level of compliance, or non-compliance is determined by the monitoring system.
  • [0076]
    In some embodiments, the monitoring system also determines and/or provides 206 a reward to the user for complying with predetermined criteria 206 and/or sends a message to the user indicating at least one of the user's compliance, the level of compliance and the reward to the user 208. In particular, after the monitoring system determines whether the PUA use complies with the predetermined use criteria and/or the level of the user's compliance, the monitoring system proceeds to determine and/or provide 206 a reward to the user of the PUA. The system then communicates 208 a message to the user indicating the user's compliance, level of compliance and/or the reward earned by the user. These actions performed by the monitoring system are similar to those (106 and 108) described above with respect to FIG. 2A, and thus a detailed description thereof is omitted. As in the embodiments described with respect to FIG. 2A, the determination and/or provision 206 of the reward and the communication 208 of the message indicating compliance, level of compliance and/or the reward are optional. Moreover, as in the embodiments described with respect to FIG. 2A, in certain embodiments, the determination and/or provision of the reward is performed without communicating the message to the user, while in other embodiments, the communication 208 of the message is performed without determining and/or providing 206 the reward.
  • [0077]
    In certain embodiments of monitoring methods and systems, the monitoring system monitors one or more parameters, such as biometric parameters, sounds external to a research device, an impact of the research device with another object, motion of the research device, proximity of the research device to the person of a user, proximity of the research device to a presence indicator or personal identification device in or on the person of a user, pressure applied to the research device, recharging of the research device, its power capacity, docking of the research device, data input (e.g., messages) to the research device, location of the research device and/or changes in the research device's location, to determine whether the use of the research device is in compliance with at least one predetermined criterion. In one illustrative embodiment, the monitoring system produces monitored data by monitoring at least one of a user's heart activity, a user's brain activity, a user's breathing activity, a user's pulse, a user's blood oxygenation, a user's borborygmus (gastrointestinal noise), a user's gait, a user's voice, a user's key, keypad or keyboard usage characteristics (e.g., keystroke recognition), a user's vascular pattern, a user's facial or ear patterns, a user's signature, a user's fingerprint, a user's handprint or hand geometry, a user's retinal or iris patterns, a user's airborne biochemical indicators (sometimes referred to as a user's “smellprint”), a user's muscular activity, a user's body temperature, sounds external to the research device, motion of the research device, pressure applied to the research device, recharging of the research device, docking of the research device, its power capacity, an impact of the research device with another object, data input to the research device by a user, location of the research device and a change in a location of the research device, and determines whether use of the research device by the user is in accordance with at least one predetermined criterion based on the monitored data. The operations of the monitoring system in these illustrative embodiments to monitor use of a PUA are shown in FIG. 3A. It will be appreciated that the embodiment of FIG. 3A is also applicable to a research device that is not a PUA.
  • [0078]
    As shown in FIG. 3A, at least one of a biometric parameter 222, proximity of the PUA to the person of a user, proximity of the PUA to a presence indicator or personal identification device in or on the person of the user, external sounds 224, PUA location, PUA location change 226, data input 228 and impact of the PUA with another object, pressure applied to the PUA, power capacity, motion, recharging, docking 230 are monitored to produce monitored data. When one or more biometric parameters is monitored 222, these parameters include, but are not limited to, one or more of the user's heart activity, the user's brain activity, the user's breathing activity, the user's pulse, the user's blood oxygenation, the user's borborygmus, the user's gait, the user's key, keypad or keyboard usage characteristics, the user's voice, the user's fingerprint, the user's handprint or hand geometry, the user's retinal or iris patterns, the user's smellprint, a vascular pattern of the user, the user's facial or ear patterns, a pattern of muscle activity of the user, the user's signature, and the user's body temperature.
  • [0079]
    Referring again to FIG. 1B, the monitoring of the biometric parameters 222, external sounds, presence indication signal, personal identification signal 224, PUA location, PUA location changes 226, data input 228 and/or impact of the PUA with another object, pressure applied to the PUA, motion of the PUA, recharging, power capacity, docking 230 is performed in the PUA 2 by the sensor/detector 13 in cooperation with a processor of the PUA (not shown for purposes of simplicity and clarity). As mentioned above, the sensor/detector 13 in certain embodiments includes a plurality of sensors and/or detectors which monitor a plurality of parameters. In the embodiments in which the sensor/detector 13 monitors one or more biometric parameters of the PUA user 222, the sensor/detector 13 comprises one or more of a heart monitor for monitoring heart activity of the user, an EEG monitor for monitoring the user's brain activity, a breathing monitor for monitoring the user's breathing activity including, but not limited to, the user's breathing rate, a pulse rate monitor, a pulse oximeter, a sound detector for monitoring the user's borborygmus and/or the user's voice, a gait sensor and/or a gait analyzer for detecting data representing the user's gait, such as a motion sensor or accelerometer (which may also be used to monitor muscle activity), a video camera for use in detecting motion based on changes to its output image signal over time, a temperature sensor for monitoring the user's temperature, an electrode or electrodes for picking up EKG and/or EEG signals, and a fingerprint or handprint scanner for detecting the user's fingerprint or handprint. Where the user's retinal or iris patterns are monitored, sensor/detector 13 comprises a low-intensity light source, for scanning, detecting or otherwise sensing the retinal or iris patterns of the user. Where the user's hand geometry is detected, sensor/detector 13 comprises a device configured with an optical sensor or other imaging device to capture predetermined parameters of the user's hand, such as hand shape, finger length, finger thickness, finger curvature and/or any portion thereof. Where the user's smellprint is detected, sensor/detector 13 comprises an electronic sensor, a chemical sensor, and/or an electronic or chemical sensor configured as an array of chemical sensors, wherein each chemical sensor may detect a specific odorant or other biochemical indicator. Where a vascular pattern of the user is detected, sensor/detector 13 comprises an optical or other radiant energy scanning or imaging device for detecting a vascular pattern or other tissue structure, or blood flow or pressure characteristic of the user's hand or other body part. Where the user's facial or ear patterns are detected, the sensor/detector 13 comprises a video camera, optical scanner or other device sufficient to recognize one or more facial features or one or more features of the user's ear or other body part. In certain ones of these embodiments, the sensor/detector 13 is mounted in or on the PUA 2, while in others the sensor/detector 13 is arranged separately from the PUA 2 and communicates therewith via a cable or via an RF, inductive, acoustic, infrared or other wireless link.
  • [0080]
    In the embodiments in which the sensor/detector 13 of the PUA 2 monitors sounds external to the PUA 224, the sensor/detector 13 comprises an acoustic sensor such as a microphone or any other suitable sound detector for detecting external sounds. In certain embodiments, the sensor/detector 13, which monitors external sounds, cooperates with the processor for analyzing the detected external sounds. The external sounds detected by the sensor/detector 13 include, but are not limited to, environmental noise, rubbing of the PUA 2 against the user's clothing or other external objects, vehicle sounds (such as engine noise and sounds characteristic of opening and closing car doors), the user's voice print, dropping of the PUA, average ambient noise level, and the like. In the embodiments in which sensor/detector 13 receives a presence indication signal or personal identification signal from signal emitter 14, sensor/detector 13 comprises a device operative to receive the signal, such as an RF receiver, a microphone, an optical sensor, an inductive pickup, a capacitive pickup, a chemical sensor or a conductive connection.
  • [0081]
    In certain ones of the embodiments in which the sensor/detector 13 monitors the user's data input 228 (e.g., messages or inputs to control a diverse operation of the PUA, such as to make use of an application running thereon, like a game), the sensor/detector 13 comprises a pressure sensor for sensing pressure applied to the message input by the user. Alternatively or in addition, the sensor/detector 13 comprises a utility, such as a key logger, running on the processor of the PUA to determine and record its usage.
  • [0082]
    In the embodiments in which location change is being monitored 226, the sensor/detector 13 directly or indirectly detects the change in the PUA's location. Direct detection of the PUA's location is accomplished by detecting the location of the PUA and the change in PUA's location over time. In this case, the sensor/detector 13 comprises a satellite location system, such as a GPS receiver, an ultra wideband location detector, a cellular telephone location detector, an angle of arrival location detector, a time difference of arrival location detector, an enhanced signal strength location detector, a location fingerprinting location detector, an inertial location monitor, a short range location signal receiver or any other suitable location detector. The same means can also be employed to determine the PUA's location. Indirect detection of the PUA's location change is accomplished by detecting a predetermined parameter which is directly or indirectly related to the location of the PUA and determining from variations in the predetermined parameter whether a change in the location of the PUA has occurred. One of such predetermined parameters detected by the sensor/detector 13 can be variations in the strength of a RF signal received by the PUA, and in such case, the sensor/detector 13 comprises a RF signal receiver. Where location change data is available such data is used in certain embodiments to determine whether and when the PUA was or is being carried.
  • [0083]
    In embodiments in which the sensor/detector 13 monitors the impact of the PUA 2 with another object 230, the sensor/detector 13 comprises an impact detector for measuring pre-determined levels of impact of the PUA 2 with other objects. In certain embodiments, the sensor/detector 13 comprises an accelerometer for detecting a relatively large acceleration upon impact of the PUA 2 with another object.
  • [0084]
    In embodiments where pressure applied to the PUA is monitored, a pressure sensor is placed on an enclosure of the PUA or mechanically coupled therewith to receive force applied to such enclosure. In certain ones of such embodiments, the magnitude of the pressure as it varies over time and/or with location on the enclosure are analyzed to determine if the PUA is being or was carried and/or the manner in which it was used and/or the event of non-use.
  • [0085]
    In certain embodiments where motion of the PUA is monitored, a video camera of the PUA is used as a motion sensor. In certain ones of such embodiments, changes in the image data provided at the output of the video camera (either the entire image or one or more portions thereof) are processed to determine movement or an extent of movement of the image over time to detect that the PUA is being moved about, either by translation or rotation. Techniques for producing motion vectors indicating motion of an image or an extent of such motion are well known in the art, and are used in certain embodiments herein to evaluate whether the PUA is moving and/or the extent of such movement. In certain ones of such embodiments, changes in the light intensity or color composition of the image data output by the video camera (either the entire image or one or more portions thereof) over time are used to detect motion of the PUA. In certain embodiments where motion of the PUA is monitored, a light sensitive device, such as a light sensitive diode of the PUA, is used as a motion sensor. Changes in the output of the light sensitive device over time that characterize movement serve to indicate that the PUA is being carried.
  • [0086]
    In certain embodiments, the one or more parameters also include power remaining in the PUA, recharging of the PUA and/or the event of docking of the PUA by coupling the PUA with the docking station, for example, as illustrated in FIG. 1C. In such embodiments, the monitoring system produces monitored data by monitoring the power remaining in the PUA and/or by monitoring the docking of the PUA at the docking station. In the embodiments in which the docking of the PUA is monitored, the monitoring system monitors the length of time the PUA was coupled with the docking station, the time period during which the PUA was coupled with the docking station, a time at which the PUA is docked, a time at which the PUA was undocked, whether or not the PUA is coupled with the docking station and/or the length of time passed since the PUA was last docked at the docking station.
  • [0087]
    The monitoring of one or more parameters 222-230 by the monitoring system, as described above, produces monitored data which indicates at least whether or not the PUA was being carried and/or used in one or more of various ways. For example, if monitoring includes monitoring one or more biometric parameters of the user, then the monitored data indicates at least whether or not the biometric parameters being monitored have been detected. Similarly, in the case of monitoring PUA location changes, external sounds, data input, pressure, motion, light changes and/or impact of the PUA with other objects, the monitored data includes data indicating at least whether or not any of these parameters have been detected. Monitored data that indicates that one or more of these parameters have been detected in the PUA, in turn, indicates that the PUA was being carried and/or used, while monitored data indicating a lack of any detection of one or more of the monitored parameters indicates that the PUA was not being carried or used.
  • [0088]
    In certain embodiments, the monitored data produced indicates at least whether or not the PUA was charged and/or whether or not the PUA was docked at the docking station according to a predetermined time parameter. In the case of monitoring the power charge in the PUA, the monitored data includes data indicating at least whether or not the PUA was charged, and in certain embodiments, the monitored data indicates whether the power capacity remaining in the PUA was greater than a predetermined minimum. Where monitoring includes monitoring of the docking of the PUA at the docking station, the monitored data indicates at least whether or not the PUA was docked at the docking station at any time, and in some embodiments, the monitoring data indicates one or more of whether or not the PUA was docked at the docking station for a predetermined length of time, how frequently the PUA was docked, when the PUA was docked, when the PUA was undocked and/or the time periods during which the PUA was docked. The monitored data produced in these embodiments can be used to determine whether the use of the PUA was in compliance with the criteria for recharging of the PUA and/or docking of the PUA.
  • [0089]
    In certain embodiments, monitored data comprises data which can be used to confirm the identity of the PUA user. For example, if one or more biometric parameters of the user are monitored by the sensor/detector, the monitored data includes data indicating or relating to one or more of the user's heart rate or other heart activity or parameter, EEG, blood oxygenation, breathing rate or other breathing activity or parameter, borborygmus, gait, voice, voice analysis, key, keypad or keyboard usage characteristics, fingerprints, handprints, hand geometry, pulse, retinal or iris patterns, olfactory characteristics or other biochemical indicators, patterns of muscular activity, vascular patterns, facial or ear patterns, signature, and/or body temperature detected once or a plurality of times over a predetermined period of time. In certain embodiments, the user is identified by a signal from signal emitter 14. In another example, if the PUA location change is being monitored, then monitored data can include data relating to the specific locations or changes in location of the PUA and/or relating to the specific RF signal strengths of the PUA detected one or a plurality of times over a predetermined period of time.
  • [0090]
    Referring now back to FIG. 3A, the monitored data produced by monitoring at least one of a user's biometric parameters, external sounds, PUA location or location change, data input, pressure applied to the PUA, impact of a PUA with another object, a signal from signal emitter 14, PUA motion, PUA power level, recharging and docking of the PUA at the docking station is used to determine whether the user's use of the PUA is in compliance with the predetermined criteria and/or the user's level of compliance 242. In certain embodiments, the determination of compliance and/or level of compliance is performed in the PUA by its processor, while in other embodiments, the monitored data produced in the PUA is communicated to the processor 5 via its communications and the processor 5 then determines the user's compliance and/or level of compliance.
  • [0091]
    In certain embodiments, the determination of compliance and/or level of compliance is performed based on the detection or non-detection of one or more monitored parameters, as indicated by monitored data, to determine whether the PUA was carried and/or was charged at the monitoring times and/or whether the PUA was docked and/or undocked at predetermined times or time periods. In certain embodiments in which, as mentioned above, monitored data includes more specific or extensive data, the determination of compliance and/or level of compliance includes not only a determination whether the PUA was carried but also a confirmation that the PUA was carried by a specific user. In such embodiments, the compliance determination is performed by comparing the monitored data with pre-stored data relating to the specific user to determine whether the PUA was carried and whether the user carrying the PUA was the specific user. In particular, if the monitored data corresponds to the stored data for the specific user, then it is determined that the user carrying the PUA was the specific user. However, if the monitored data does not correspond to the stored data for the specific user, then it is determined that the user carrying the PUA was not the specific user. The determination whether the PUA use is in compliance with the predetermined criteria and/or the determination of the level of the user's compliance is then based on the determinations whether the PUA was carried and whether the user carrying the PUA was the specific user.
  • [0092]
    In certain embodiments, the PUA use is determined to be in compliance with the predetermined criteria if it is determined that the PUA was carried by the specific user and not in compliance if it is determined that the PUA was not carried. Depending on requirements of the monitoring systems and the predetermined criteria, in some embodiments the PUA use is determined to be in compliance, or in partial compliance, if it is determined that the PUA was carried by someone other than the specific user. However, in other embodiments, the monitoring system determines that the PUA use does not comply with the predetermined criteria if it is determined that the PUA was carried by someone other than the specific user.
  • [0093]
    With respect to the determination of the level of compliance, in certain embodiments, the highest level of compliance is determined if it is determined that the PUA was being carried by the specific user and the lowest level of compliance is determined if it is determined that the PUA was not carried. In certain embodiments, if the PUA was carried by someone other than the specific user at all or some of the monitoring times, then an intermediate level of compliance that is lower than the highest level and higher than the lowest level is determined. The value of the intermediate compliance level may depend on whether the PUA was carried by someone other than the specific user at all or some of the times and the number of times that it is determined that the PUA was carried by someone other than the specific user, if a plurality of determinations are made.
  • [0094]
    As shown in FIG. 3A, the user of the PUA may optionally be rewarded for the user's compliance with the predetermined use criteria. As discussed above, providing a reward to the user in return for the compliant use of the PUA provides an incentive for the user to comply with the PUA use requirements in the future. In the embodiments where the monitoring system provides a reward to the user, the reward to the user is determined 244 after the determination of compliance and/or level of compliance 242 is made. The determination of the reward is based on whether the user has complied with the predetermined use criteria and/or based on the level of user's compliance, and can be performed in the PUA or in the processor. As mentioned above with respect to FIGS. 2A and 2B, the reward to the user can include cash, credit, points usable to make purchases, services or other benefit to the user.
  • [0095]
    As also shown in FIG. 3A, in certain embodiments, the monitoring system optionally communicates a message to the PUA user indicating compliance and/or level of compliance and/or a reward earned by the user 246. In these embodiments, the message can be in the form of a telephone call, a text message, a voice mail, a voice message, an image, an email, a web page, a paper notification or any other suitable indication to the user. In certain ones of such embodiments, a light is illuminated or blinks, or a sound is emitted (similar to a voice mail notification) at intervals (such as an interval from one to five minutes) to indicate compliance or non-compliance. Where the light or sound notification indicates non-compliance, its intensity and/or frequency increases over time to gain the user's attention. Referring now to FIG. 1B, if the determination of compliance, level of compliance and/or reward is performed by the processor of the PUA, the message indicating compliance, level of compliance and/or reward can be communicated to the user by the PUA. If, on the other hand, the determination of compliance, level of compliance and/or reward is performed by the processor 5, the message can be communicated to the PUA to provide the message to the user, or the message can be communicated to the user by another means.
  • [0096]
    As discussed above, the determination of a reward to the user 244 and the communication of a message to the user 246 are optional. Thus, it is understood that the monitoring system may perform both, none or only one of these actions, depending on the arrangement of the PUA and the requirements of the monitoring system.
  • [0097]
    In certain other embodiments, methods and systems for monitoring use by a user of a research device comprise producing monitored data by monitoring one or more parameters, producing identification data identifying the user based on the monitored data and determining, based on the identification data, whether the research device is being used by the user in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion. FIG. 3B illustrates the actions performed by the monitoring system of this embodiment wherein the research device comprises a PUA, but it will be appreciated the monitoring system is also applicable to embodiments in which the research device does not comprise a PUA. In FIG. 3B, actions performed by the monitoring system similar to those illustrated in FIG. 3A are indicated by the same reference numbers as in FIG. 3A.
  • [0098]
    As shown in FIG. 3B, the monitoring system monitors at least one of a user's biometric parameter 222, external sounds, a presence indication signal, a personal identification signal 224, PUA location, PUA location change 226, data input to the PUA 228 and impact of the PUA with another object, motion of the PUA, pressure applied to the PUA 230. As discussed herein above with respect to FIG. 3A and referring to FIG. 1B, the monitoring is performed by the sensor/detector 13 in the PUA 2, and as a result of this monitoring, monitored data relating to the parameters monitored is provided. In certain ones of these embodiments, the monitor stores one or more signatures, feature sets or other characteristic data of the panelist assigned to the PUA (and thus the person who should be its sole user) to which the monitored data is compared to determine if the data match. This comparison provides an indication whether the PUA in fact is being carried and/or used by the correct user. If, for example, the monitoring system monitors the sounds external to the PUA, the monitored data will include not only an indication that an external sound was detected, but also data relating to the sound that was detected, such as analysis of the detected sound, the frequency of the detected sound, voice identification data and/or other data relating to the detected sound, from which a sound signature or feature set can be produced for comparison against a stored signature or feature set to assess whether the PUA is in the possession of the correct user. In certain embodiments, the monitored data is used to determine whether the PUA is being carried. Thus, for example, if the monitoring system monitors the location change of the PUA, the monitored data will include data not only indicating a change in the PUA's location, it may be inferred that the monitor is in the possession of a user who is carrying it about.
  • [0099]
    Referring to FIG. 3B, the monitored data produced by monitoring one or more of the above-mentioned parameters is used to provide identification data which is, in turn, used to identify the user of the PUA 251. In certain embodiments, the identification data is provided by the PUA and/or the docking station, while in other embodiments, the monitored data is communicated from the PUA to the processor 5 via the communications and the processor 5 provides the identification data based on the monitored data. In certain embodiments, the identification data is provided by comparing the monitored data with pre-stored data relating to at least one PUA user so as to determine the identity of the PUA user and/or to confirm that the PUA user is the specific user corresponding to the pre-stored data. The pre-stored data may be based on data relating to the PUA user obtained from the specific user in advance, or may be based on previously collected monitored data. By providing the identification data relating to the identity of the user, the monitoring system is adapted to confirm that a specific person, and not someone else, is carrying and/or using the PUA.
  • [0100]
    When the identification data is produced in 251, the monitoring system determines whether the use of the PUA is in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion and/or the level of the user's compliance 242. This determination 242 is made based on the identification data identifying the user. In some embodiments, in which the identification data indicates that the person carrying and/or using the PUA is the corresponding, or correct, PUA user, the monitoring system determines in 242 that the PUA user has complied with at least one predetermined use criterion. The level of the user's compliance can be determined based on whether or not the PUA was carried and/or used in accordance with the predetermined criteria and based on whether or not identification data indicates that the person carrying and/or using the PUA matches the corresponding user for the PUA, as well as based on the frequency of compliant use indications. Thus, for example, a first level of compliance is determined if the identification data indicates that the PUA was carried by the user corresponding to the specific user for the PUA, a second level of compliance which is lower than the first level of compliance is determined if the identification data indicates that the PUA was carried by a user who does not correspond to the specific user of the PUA and a third level of compliance, which is lower than both the first and the second levels, is determined if the identification data indicates that the PUA was not carried by any user. It is understood that these compliance levels are illustrative and that the number of levels and how these levels are determined may vary.
  • [0101]
    As in FIG. 3A, in certain embodiments, the monitoring system provides a reward to the user for complying with the predetermined criteria 244 and/or sends a message to the user indicating at least one of compliance, level of compliance and the reward 246. In particular, after the user's determination of compliance and the level of compliance, in certain embodiments the monitoring system determines a reward to the user of the PUA 244 and/or communicates a message to the user indicating the user's compliance, level of compliance and/or the reward to the user 246. These actions are similar to those described above with respect to FIG. 3A, and also to 108 and 110 described above with respect to FIG. 2A and to 206 and 208 described above with respect to FIG. 2B. Accordingly, a detailed description thereof is unnecessary.
  • [0102]
    In certain embodiments described herein, the methods and systems for monitoring use of a research device in accordance with at least one predetermined use criterion comprise actively monitoring use of the research device by the user by communicating a message to the user requesting a response and passively monitoring use of the research device by the user by sensing at least one parameter indicating whether the research device is being used in accordance with the at least one predetermined criterion. FIG. 4 illustrates the actions performed by the monitoring system in these embodiments where the research device comprises a PUA. In other embodiments, the monitoring system monitors the use of a research device that does not comprise a PUA.
  • [0103]
    As shown in FIG. 4, the monitoring system actively and passively monitors the use of the PUA. Active monitoring 260 of the PUA use includes requesting an action by the user to show compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion and, in particular, comprises communicating a request message to the user requesting a response to the request message. Such active monitoring is similar to the actions 100, 102 and 104 of the monitoring system described with respect to FIGS. 2A and 2B herein above, and detailed descriptions thereof are unnecessary.
  • [0104]
    Unlike active monitoring 260, passive monitoring 262 does not request any specific action to be performed by the user so as to indicate compliance with the PUA use criteria, and comprises sensing or detecting one or more parameters that indicate whether the PUA is being used in compliance with at least one predetermined criterion. Referring to FIG. 1B, the sensing or detecting is performed in the PUA 2 by the sensor/detector 13, and includes, but is not limited to, one or more of sensing a biometric parameter of the user, detecting a presence indication signal or a personal identification signal, sensing external sounds, detecting location of the PUA, detecting location change of the PUA, detecting motion of the PUA, detecting data input, sensing pressure applied to the PUA, detecting recharging, power capacity and/or docking of the PUA and detecting impact of the PUA with another object. These passive monitoring activities are similar to those described herein above with respect to FIGS. 3A and 3B, and therefore detailed description thereof is unnecessary.
  • [0105]
    Referring to FIG. 4, the monitoring system determines whether the use of the PUA is in compliance with at least one predetermined criterion and/or the level of the user's compliance 264 based on the active 260 and passive 262 monitoring of the PUA use. In particular, the active monitoring 260 and the passive monitoring 262 provide data which is used to determine whether the PUA is being used in compliance with at least one predetermined criteria and/or the level of the user's compliance 264. As discussed above, the compliance and/or level of compliance determination indicates one or more of whether the PUA is being carried and/or used, whether the PUA is charged, whether the PUA has been recharged and/or docked, whether the PUA is being carried and/or used by a specific user, whether the PUA is “on”, whether the PUA is working properly, whether the PUA is being carried and whether or not by a particular user and whether the PUA 2 is capable of collecting, storing and/or communicating research data, or of cooperating with one or more other devices to do so. In certain embodiments, the monitoring system notifies the user, after the compliance determination in 264, of the user's compliance or non-compliance and/or the user's level of compliance with the predetermined criteria by communicating a message to the user. In some embodiments, the monitoring system also determines a reward to the user based on the user's compliance and/or level of compliance, and communicates to the user a message indicating the reward. These actions are described in more detail herein above with respect to FIGS. 2A-3B, and detailed descriptions thereof are therefore omitted. It is understood that, as in the embodiments of FIGS. 2A-3B, the determination of the reward and communication of a message to the user indicating compliance, level of compliance and/or reward are optional.
  • [0106]
    In certain embodiments, the PUA carries out passive monitoring to produce passively monitored data, the monitoring system communicates a request message to the PUA, the PUA automatically produces a response including and/or based on the passively monitored data and communicates the response to the monitoring system and the monitoring system determines whether the use of the PUA complies with at least one predetermined use criterion based on the passively monitored data. In certain ones of such embodiments, the PUA communicates its response at a time when the PUA is to be carried in accordance with a predetermined schedule. In certain ones of such embodiments, the monitoring system communicates the request at a time when the PUA is to be carried in accordance with a predetermined schedule.
  • [0107]
    In certain embodiments, compliant use of a research device by a user is promoted by producing compliance data for a plurality of different times and/or time periods, indicating whether the research device is being used in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion, producing level data, representing a level of compliance by the user, and communicating a message to the user indicating a level of compliance of the user based on the level data. These embodiments are illustrated in FIG. 5 in connection with the use of a PUA, but it will be appreciated that these embodiments are also applicable where the research device does not comprise a PUA.
  • [0108]
    As shown in FIG. 5, the monitoring system determines whether use of the PUA is in compliance with at least one predetermined criterion at least at a first time 270, i.e. at time T1, (or for a selected time period) and thereafter determines whether used of the PUA is in compliance with the at least one predetermined criterion at least at a second time 272, i.e. at time T2 (or for a selected time period). These compliance determinations are based on at least one of the active monitoring and the passive monitoring described herein above with respect to FIGS. 2A-4. It is understood that the number of compliance determinations is not limited to two and that the monitoring system can perform such determinations of compliance at times T1 through Tn, where n is any predetermined number, or for any desired number of time periods. These determinations are performed at pre-selected time intervals, at pre-selected times of the day and/or at random times. In certain embodiments the monitoring system sends messages according to a schedule to the PUA requesting data from which compliance can be assessed. In certain ones of such embodiments the schedule is produced using a pseudorandom sequence of times and dates. In certain ones of such embodiments, the schedule is produced to ensure that messages are sent during predetermined time periods during the day, such as during selected dayparts.
  • [0109]
    The plurality of compliance determinations 270, 272 by the monitoring system provide compliance data which indicates whether the PUA is being used in accordance with the at least one predetermined use criterion. Referring now to FIG. 1B, the compliance data is provided by the PUA and/or by the processor 5 of the monitoring system 1.
  • [0110]
    Referring back to FIG. 5, the monitoring system determines 274 the level of compliance by the user based on the compliance data produced in the plurality of compliance determinations 270 and 272. The determination of the user's level of compliance is performed by the PUA 2 or the processor 5 of the monitoring system 1 of FIG. 1B, using the compliance data to determine to what extent the user has complied with at least one predetermined use criterion. As a result of the level of compliance determination, level data indicating the level of compliance by the user is provided.
  • [0111]
    After the level of the user's compliance is determined, the monitoring system communicates a message to the user indicating the level of compliance 276. The message to the user is generated in the PUA 2 or by the processor 5 of the system based on the level data produced by the monitoring system in 274. In certain embodiments, where the message is generated by the processor 5, the message is communicated to the user through communications 7. As mentioned above, the message can be in the form of a text message, a voice mail, a voice message, an e-mail, a web page, a telephone call, an image, or any other indication of the level of compliance to the user. The message can be communicated to the user using the output of the PUA such as, for example, by displaying the message on a display screen thereof or by playing the message using a speaker or earphone thereof. Alternatively, the message can be communicated to the user using any other suitable device.
  • [0112]
    Communication of a message to the user indicating compliance with the use requirements and/or the user's level of compliance promotes correct use of the PUA by keeping the user informed as to whether or not his or her use is in compliance with the use requirements. In this way, the user can compare his or her level of compliance from one time to another and try to improve the level of compliance over time.
  • [0113]
    In certain embodiments, the monitoring system promotes use of research devices by a plurality of users in compliance with at least one predetermined use criterion by producing level data representing relative compliance levels of each of a plurality of research device users and communicating a message to each of the plurality of users indicating the user's compliance relative to others of the plurality of research device users. In certain ones of such embodiments, the level data comprises comparative compliance rank data that indicates the user's compliance rank or level compared with the compliance rank or level of the other research device users of the plurality of users. The determination of each user's comparative compliance rank or level is performed by the processor 5 of the monitoring system 1 of FIG. 1B which processes data relating to compliance and/or level of compliance and provides level data indicating the selected user's relative compliance level in comparison with the compliance level of other research device users.
  • [0114]
    In certain embodiments, the level data represents the user's compliance rank or level relative to the compliance ranks or levels of all other research device users monitored by the monitoring system. In certain other embodiments, the research device users may be divided into a plurality of user groups, with each user belonging to at least one user group. Each user group is determined based on common users' characteristics such as age, sex, income, profession, location, preferences and/or interests, family relationships, and other characteristics. In such embodiments, the level data produced by the monitoring system represents the user's compliance rank or level compared with the compliance ranks or levels of other users within the same group. Thus, for example, research device users can be divided into user groups that include members of the same household, and the level data provided by the monitoring system indicates the user's relative level of compliance related to the levels of compliance of other users in the same household.
  • [0115]
    Based on the level data produced by the monitoring system, a message is generated and communicated to each user. The message to each user indicates the user's compliance level relative to others of the plurality of the research device users. The message may be in the form of a text message, a voicemail, a voice message, an image, a telephone call, an e-mail, a web page, a paper message or any other suitable message that is capable of informing the user of the user's relative compliance. In the monitoring system of FIG. 1B, the message is generated by the processor 5 and can be communicated to each user via the communication 7. The message can be communicated either directly to the user, such as by a telephone call, text message, e-mail or the like, to the research device of the user or to any other suitable device or by any other suitable means. The communication of the message to each user indicating the user's relative compliance promotes competition among the users, and among the members of the user group, e.g. of the same household, where the research device users are divided into a plurality of groups as discussed above. This, in turn, promotes use of the research devices in compliance with the predetermined use requirements by each of the users.
  • [0116]
    FIG. 6 is a block diagram of a cellular telephone 20 modified to carry out a research operation. The cellular telephone 20 comprises a processor 30 that is operative to exercise overall control and to process audio and other data for transmission or reception and communications 40 coupled to the processor 30 and operative under the control of processor 30 to perform those functions required for establishing and maintaining a two-way wireless communication link with a respective cell of a cellular telephone network. In certain embodiments, processor 30 also is operative to execute applications ancillary or unrelated to the conduct of cellular telephone communications, such as applications serving to download audio and/or video data to be reproduced by cellular telephone 20, e-mail clients and applications enabling the user to play games using the cellular telephone 20. In certain embodiments, processor 30 comprises two or more processing devices, such as a first processing device (such as a digital signal processor) that processes audio, and a second processing device that exercises overall control over operation of the cellular telephone 20. In certain embodiments, processor 30 employs a single processing device. In certain embodiments, some or all of the functions of processor 30 are implemented by hardwired circuitry.
  • [0117]
    Cellular telephone 20 further comprises storage 50 coupled with processor 30 and operative to store data as needed. In certain embodiments, storage 50 comprises a single storage device, while in others it comprises multiple storage devices. In certain embodiments, a single device implements certain functions of both processor 30 and storage 50.
  • [0118]
    In addition, cellular telephone 20 comprises a microphone 60 coupled with processor 30 to transduce the user's voice to an electrical signal which it supplies to processor 30 for encoding, and a speaker and/or earphone 70 coupled with processor 30 to convert received audio from processor 30 to an acoustic output to be heard by the user. Cellular telephone 20 also includes a user input 80 coupled with processor 30, such as a keypad, to enter telephone numbers and other control data, as well as a display 90 coupled with processor 30 to provide data visually to the user under the control of processor 30.
  • [0119]
    In certain embodiments, the cellular telephone 20 provides additional functions and/or comprises additional elements. In certain ones of such embodiments, the cellular telephone 20 provides e-mail, text messaging and/or web access through its wireless communications capabilities, providing access to media and other content. For example, Internet access by the cellular telephone 20 enables access to video and/or audio content that can be reproduced by the cellular telephone for the user, such as songs, video on demand, video clips and streaming media. In certain embodiments, storage 50 stores software providing audio and/or video downloading and reproducing functionality, such as iPod® software, enabling the user to reproduce audio and/or video content downloaded from a source, such as a personal computer via communications 40 or through Internet access via communications 40.
  • [0120]
    To enable cellular telephone 20 to gather research data, namely, data indicating exposure to audio such as programs, music and advertisements, research software is installed in storage 50 to control processor 30 to gather such data and communicate it via communications 40 to a research organization. The research software in certain embodiments also controls processor 30 to store the data for subsequent communication.
  • [0121]
    In certain embodiments, the research software controls the processor 30 to decode ancillary codes in the transduced audio from microphone 60 using one or more of the known techniques described hereinabove, and then to store and/or communicate the decoded data for use as research data indicating encoded audio to which the user was exposed. In certain embodiments, the research software controls the processor 30 to extract a signature from the transduced audio from microphone 60 using one or more of the known techniques identified hereinabove, and then to store and/or communicate the extracted signature data for use as research data to be matched with reference signatures representing known audio to detect the audio to which the user was exposed. In certain embodiments, the research software both decodes ancillary codes in the transduced audio and extracts signatures therefrom for identifying the audio to which the user was exposed. In certain embodiments, the research software controls the processor 30 to store samples of the transduced audio, either in compressed or uncompressed form for subsequent processing either to decode ancillary codes therein or to extract signatures therefrom. In certain ones of these embodiments, the compressed or uncompressed audio is communicated to a remote processor for decoding and/or signature extraction.
  • [0122]
    Where the cellular telephone 20 possesses functionality to download and/or reproduce presentation data, in certain embodiments, research data concerning the usage and/or exposure to such presentation data as well as audio data received acoustically by microphone 60, is gathered by cellular telephone 20 in accordance with the technique illustrated by the functional block diagram of FIG. 6A. Storage 50 of FIG. 6 implements an audio buffer 54 for audio data gathered with the use of microphone 60. In certain ones of these embodiments storage 50 implements a buffer 56 for presentation data downloaded and/or reproduced by cellular telephone 20 to which the user is exposed via speaker and/or earphone 70 or display 90, or by means of a device coupled with cellular telephone 20 to receive the data therefrom to present it to a user. In some of such embodiments, the reproduced data is obtained from downloaded-data, such as songs, web pages or audio/video data (e.g., movies, television programs, video clips). In some of such embodiments, the reproduced data is provided from a device such as a broadcast or satellite radio receiver of the cellular telephone 20 (not shown for purposes of simplicity and clarity). In certain ones of these embodiments storage 50 implements a buffer 56 for metadata of presentation data reproduced by cellular telephone 20 to which the user is exposed via speaker and/or earphone 70 or display 90, or by means of a device coupled with cellular telephone 20 to receive the data therefrom to present it to a user. Such metadata can be, for example, a URL from which the presentation data was obtained, channel tuning data, program identification data, an identification of a prerecorded file from which the data was reproduced, or any data that identifies and/or characterizes the presentation data, or a source thereof. Where buffer 56 stores audio data, buffers 54 and 56 store their audio data (either in the time domain or the frequency domain) independently of one another. Where buffer 56 stores metadata of audio data, buffer 54 stores its audio data (either in the time domain or the frequency domain) and buffer 56 stores its metadata, each independently of the other.
  • [0123]
    Processor 30 separately produces research data 58 from the contents of each of buffers 54 and 56 which it stores in storage 50. In certain ones of these embodiments, one or both of buffers 54 and 56 is/are implemented as circular buffers storing a predetermined amount of audio data representing a most recent time interval thereof as received by microphone 60 and/or reproduced by speaker and/or earphone 70, or downloaded by cellular telephone 20 for reproduction by a different device coupled with cellular telephone 20. Processor 30 extracts signatures and/or decodes ancillary codes in the buffered audio data to produce research data. Where metadata is received in buffer 56, in certain embodiments the metadata is used, in whole or in part, as research data 58, or processed to produce research data 58. The research data is thus gathered representing exposure and/or usage of audio data by the user where audio data is received in acoustic form by the cellular telephone 20 and where presentation data is received in non-acoustic form (for example, as a cellular telephone communication, as an electrical signal via a cable from a personal computer or other device, as a broadcast or satellite signal or otherwise).
  • [0124]
    In certain embodiments, the cellular telephone 20 is provided with a research data source 96 coupled by a wired or wireless coupling with processor 30 for use in gathering further or alternative research data to be communicated to a research organization. In certain ones of these embodiments, the research data source 96 comprises a location data producing device or function providing data indicating a location of the cellular telephone 20. Various devices appropriate for use as source 96 include a satellite location signal receiver, a terrestrial location signal receiver, a wireless networking device that receives location data from a network, an inertial location monitoring device and a location data producing service provided by a cellular telephone service provider. In certain embodiments, research data source 96 comprises a device or function for monitoring exposure to print media, for determining whether the user is at home or out of home, for monitoring exposure to products, exposure to displays (such as outdoor advertising), presence within or near commercial establishments, or for gathering research data (such as consumer attitude, preference or opinion data) through the administration of a survey to the user of the cellular telephone 20. In certain embodiments, research data source 96 comprises one or more devices for receiving, sensing or detecting data useful in implementing one or more of the foregoing functions, other research data gathering functions and/or for producing data ancillary to functions of gathering, storing and/or communicating research data, such as data indicating whether the panelist has complied with predetermined rules governing the activity or an extent of such compliance. Such devices include, but are not limited to, motion detectors, accelerometers, temperature detectors, proximity detectors, satellite positioning signal receivers, video cameras, image scanners using visible or infra-red light or other radiant energy, chemical sensors, digital writing tablets, blood flow sensors, pulse oximeters, pulse monitors, RFID readers, RF receivers, wireless networking transceivers, wireless device coupling transceivers, pressure detectors, deformation detectors, electric field sensors, magnetic field sensors, optical sensors, electrodes (such as EEG and/or EKG electrodes), audio sensors, and the like. In certain embodiments, such devices are supplied in cellular telephones to provide a user-beneficial function, so that their capabilities can also be employed to gather research data and/or to gather data indicating whether the panelist has complied with predetermined use criteria. Such devices include but are not limited to, microphones, video cameras and satellite positioning signal receivers.
  • [0125]
    In certain embodiments dedicated devices are included in or with the cellular telephone 20 to gather data for assessing compliance, such as sensor/detector 13 described above in connection with FIGS. 1B, 3A and 3B. In certain ones of such embodiments, sensor/detector 13 comprises a digital writing tablet that is used to input a digital handwritten signature from the user to assess whether the cellular telephone 20 is being carried by the correct person. In accordance with known handwriting identification techniques, storage 50 stores signature recognition software to control processor 30 to compare the current user's signature input by means of the digital writing tablet against a stored template of the correct user's handwritten signature to determine if there is a match. Based on the results of the matching process, data is produced indicating whether the current user's signature matches the signature represented by the stored template to assess whether the current user of the cellular telephone 20 is the same as the panelist who has agreed to carry and use cellular telephone 20 to gather research data. The template of the panelist's signature is produced in a training mode of the signature recognition software, in which the panelist inputs one or more signatures using the digital writing tablet from which the template is produced by processor 30 and then stored in storage 50. In certain ones of such embodiments, the cellular telephone 20 includes a digital writing tablet to enable a user-beneficial function, such as note taking and it is then unnecessary to provide a dedicated digital writing tablet as the sensor/detector 13.
  • [0126]
    In certain ones of such embodiments, a voiceprint recognition technique is used to assess whether the cellular telephone 20 is being carried by the correct person. In accordance with known voiceprint recognition techniques, storage 50 stores voice recognition software to control processor 30 to compare the current user's voice input by means of the microphone 60 against a stored voiceprint of the correct user's voice to determine if there is a match. Based on the results of the matching process, data is produced indicating whether the current user's voice matches the voice represented by the stored voiceprint to assess whether the current user of the cellular telephone 20 is the same as the panelist who has agreed to carry and use cellular telephone 20 to gather research data. The voiceprint of the panelist's voice is produced in a training mode of the voice recognition software, in which the panelist speaks into microphone 20 to produce data from which the voiceprint is produced by processor 30 and then stored in storage 50. Various ones of such embodiments extract the user's voiceprint under different conditions. In one such embodiment, the user's voiceprint is extracted when the user places a voice call using the cellular telephone in response to a request message from a monitoring system. In other such embodiments, the processor 30 extracts voiceprints continuously from the output of microphone 60, or at predetermined times or intervals, or when a telephone call is made using cellular telephone 20 or when the output from microphone 60 indicates that someone may be speaking into it (indicated, for example by the magnitude of the output, and/or its time and/or frequency characteristics). The extracted voiceprints are compared to the stored voiceprint to assess whether the correct person is using the cellular telephone 20.
  • [0127]
    In certain ones of such embodiments, sensor/detector 13 comprises an imagining device, such as a video camera, or other radiant energy detector, such as a line scanner implemented by means of a CCD or an array of photodiodes, that is used to input data representing an image or line scan of a physical feature of the user, such as an iris, a retina, an image of all or portion of the user's face, finger, palm, hand or ear to assess whether the cellular telephone 20 is being carried by the correct person. In the case of an iris or retinal image, the input data is processed to extract an iris or retinal pattern code. A facial image is processed to extract data unique to the user such as a signature or feature set representing facial bone structure. An image of a finger, palm or hand is processed to extract a fingerprint or palm print, or other characteristic data such as hand geometry or tissue vascular structure. In accordance with known pattern recognition techniques, storage 50 stores pattern recognition software to control processor 30 to compare the current user's iris or retinal pattern code, facial signature or feature set or other characteristic data input by means of the sensor/detector 13 against a stored pattern code, signature, feature set or other characteristic data of the correct user, as the case may be, to determine if there is a match. Such characteristic data may be stored in storage 50 or in a storage of a separate device, system or processing facility. Based on the results of the matching process, data is produced by processor 30 operating under control of the pattern recognition software to assess whether the current user of the cellular telephone 20 is the same as the panelist who has agreed to carry and use cellular telephone 20 to gather research data. The pattern code, signature, feature set or other characteristic data of the correct user is produced in a training mode of the pattern recognition software, in which the appropriate physical feature of the panelist is imaged or scanned one or more times using the sensor/detector 13 from which the desired data is produced by processor 30 and then stored in storage 50. In certain embodiments the physical feature concerned is scanned or imaged at a plurality of different orientations to produce the desired data. In certain ones of the foregoing embodiments, the cellular telephone 20 includes a digital camera to enable a user-beneficial function, such as digital photography or video imaging and it is then unnecessary to provide a dedicated imaging device or scanner as the sensor/detector 13.
  • [0128]
    In certain ones of such embodiments where user input 80 comprises one or more keys, a keyboard dynamics technique is used to assess whether the cellular telephone 20 is being used by the correct person. In accordance with known keyboard dynamics techniques, storage 50 stores keystroke monitoring software to control processor 30 to collect characteristic keystroke parameters, such as data indicating how long the user holds down the keys of input 80, the delay between one keystroke and the next (known as “latency”), and frequency of using of special keys, such as a delete key. Still other parameters, such as typing speed and the manner in which the user employs key combinations (such as keyboard shortcuts), may be monitored by processor 30. These parameters are processed in a known manner to produce a feature set characterizing the user's key usage style which is then compared against a stored feature set representing the style of the correct user. Based on the results of this comparison, data is produced indicating whether the current user's key usage style matches that of the correct user as represented by the stored feature set to assess whether the current user of the cellular telephone 20 is the same as the panelist who has agreed to carry and use cellular telephone 20 to gather research data. The feature set representing the usage style of the panelist is produced in a training mode of the software, in which the panelist makes use of the key or keys of user input 80 to produce data from which the feature set is produced by processor 30 and then stored in storage 50.
  • [0129]
    In certain ones of such embodiments, sensor/detector 13 comprises a motion sensitive device, such as an accelerometer, that produces data related to motion of the cellular telephone 20. This data is used to produce a feature set characterizing motion of the cellular telephone 20, and thus the gait of the person carrying the cellular telephone. In accordance with known gait identification techniques, storage 50 stores pattern recognition software to control processor 30 to compare the current user's gait feature set against a stored reference feature set representing the gait of the correct user to determine if there is a match. Based on the results of the matching process, data is produced indicating whether the current user's gait matches the gait represented by the stored feature set to assess whether the current user of the cellular telephone 20 is the same as the panelist who has agreed to carry and use cellular telephone 20 to gather research data. The feature set of the panelist's gait is produced in a training mode of the pattern recognition software, in which the panelist walks about carrying the cellular telephone 20 while the sensor/detector 13 produces data from which processor 30 produces a reference feature set which it stores in storage 50. In certain ones of such embodiments, the cellular telephone 20 includes an accelerometer as an input device to enable a user-beneficial function, such as a gaming input or scrolling command input, and it is then unnecessary to provide a dedicated accelerometer as the sensor/detector 13.
  • [0130]
    In certain ones of such embodiments, multiple devices and pattern recognition techniques are employed to produce a more accurate and reliable identification of the user than is possible using only one such pattern recognition technique. In certain embodiments, one or more of such pattern recognition techniques or other passive data gathering technique is employed to assess when cellular telephone 20 possibly is not in the possession of the correct user. Such detection may be based on an amount by which a monitored feature set differs from a stored feature set representing a characteristic of the correct user as determined by processor 30. When the processor 30 produces data indicating that the cellular telephone 20 might not be in the possession of the correct user, in certain embodiments either processor 30 controls a speaker, earphone or visual display of the cellular telephone 20 to present a message to the user requesting a response from which the user's identity as the correct user or as a different person may be determined, or processor 30 sends a message via communications 40 to a monitoring system indicating that such a message should be presented to the user. In the latter case, the monitoring system responds to such message from the processor 30 to send a message to the cellular telephone 20 for presentation to the user to request an appropriate response from the user from which the user's identity as the correct user or someone else may be determined, either by processor 30 or by the monitoring system. The user's response to such message is used to determine whether the actual user is the correct user.
  • [0131]
    In certain embodiments, sensor/detector 13 comprises a device appropriate for receiving a presence indication signal or a personal identification signal from signal emitter 14 worn or carried by the user or implanted in the user. In such embodiments, sensor/detector 13 comprises an appropriate one of an RF receiver, a microphone, an optical sensor, an inductive pickup, a capacitive pickup, a chemical sensor or a conductive connection.
  • [0132]
    Although various embodiments of the present invention have been described with reference to a particular arrangement of parts, features and the like, these are not intended to exhaust all possible arrangements or features, and indeed many other embodiments, modifications and variations will be ascertainable to those of skill in the art.
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Classifications
Classification aux États-Unis705/300
Classification internationaleG06Q10/00, G06F17/00, G06Q99/00
Classification coopérativeA61B5/4833, A61B5/1176, A61B7/02, A61B5/02438, G06Q10/00, A61B3/1216, A61B2503/12, A61B7/008, A61B5/489, A61B5/0205, A61B5/1172, A61B5/0077, A61B3/14, A61B5/0816, G06F19/321, G06F19/3418, A61B5/6898, G06F19/322, A61B7/003, G06Q30/0203, G06Q30/0201, G06Q10/101, G06F19/327
Classification européenneG06F19/32G, G06Q10/101, G06Q30/0201, G06Q10/00
Événements juridiques
DateCodeÉvénementDescription
27 déc. 2007ASAssignment
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