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United States Patent im
[li] Patent Number: 4,712,191  Date of Patent: Dec. 8, 1987
 DISPLAY SYSTEM WITH NESTED INFORMATION DISPLAY
 Inventor: David E. Penna, Redhill, England
 Assignee: U.S. Philips Corporation, New York, N.Y.
 Appl. No.: 516,020
 Filed: Jul. 22,1983
 Foreign Application Priority Data
Aug. 11, 1982 [GB] United Kingdom 8223085
 Int. Cl.« G06F 3/14; G06F 15/40;
 U.S. a 364/900; 364/521;
 Field of Search ... 364/200 MS File, 900 MS File, 364/521, 518; 340/709, 712, 721, 724, 365 VL
 References Cited
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
3,771,156 11/1973 Watts et al 340/365 VL
4,001,807 1/1977 Dallimonti 340/722 X
4,202,041 5/1980 Kaplow et al 364/900
4,366,475 12/1982 Kishi et al 364/521
4,431,870 2/1984 May et al 340/712 X
4,481,603 11/1984 McCaskill et al 364/900
4,516,156 5/1985 Fabris et al 340/712 X
4,521,870 6/1985 Babbel et al 364/900
Primary Examiner—Raulfe B. Zache
Assistant Examiner—Thomas C. Lee
Attorney, Agent, or Firm—Robert T. Mayer; Bernard
An information display system which can produce an information display (e.g. on a television monitor) from any one of a plurality of different information sources. The information sources are associated with different facilities such as teletext and viewdata. In order to obtain information from a particular information source, the associated facility option is selected from the available facility options by selecting from the television screen "nested" areas which pertain to one or more facility options. The selection can be effected using a touch-sensitive screen which overlies the television screen. The selection process may comprise the display of a number of successive display frames containing "nested" areas. The selection of an area in one frame produces a fresh display frame which redefines areas which are nested within the selected area.
13 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures
U.S. Patent Dec. 8,1987 Sheet 1 of 2 4,712,191
U.S. Patent Dec. 8, 1987 Sheet 2 of 2 4,712,191
DISPLAY SYSTEM WITH NESTED
This invention relates to an information display sys- 5 tem of a character which can establish selective connection to a number of different information sources to obtain information therefrom for display on a suitable display device. A particular one of said sources from which information is to be obtained at any time is deter- 10 mined by the central processor means of the system as a result of the selection of one of a plurality of facility options which pertain respectively to said information sources and which are selectable from interface apparatus by which the central processor means can be ac- IS cessed.
As presently envisaged, the display device of an information display system of the above character would be a television monitor, but with the current advances in technology the possibility does exist for the display 20 device to be of some other form, for instance a liquid crystal display device.
For establishing the selective connection to different information sources, an information display system of the above character can have a variety of connection 25 means such as a teletext input for receiving television broadcast CEEFAX and ORACLE information, and a viewdata link to a telephone line for access to external data-bases, such as the British Post Office PRESTEL service. Each of these facility options has its own infor- 30 mation source and can be selected by the central processor means to obtain information from that source for display. Other facility options are, for instance, program software for video games, video art and calculator or computer activities. Information sources, both tempo- 35 rary and permanent, pertaining to such other facility options can be provided by a internal memory of the system.
An information display system of the above character can have its central processor means arranged to func- 40 tion in accordance with a so-called "tree-structured" selection technique for selecting a facility option from a range of options which are available. For this selection technique, the facility options would be divided into groups, any one of which would be selectable by a first 45 accessing operation performed with the interface apparatus. As a result of this selection, a plurality of individual facility options, or possibly a plurality of subgroups, of the selected group would then be made available for the selection of one of these options or sub- 50 groups by a second accessing operation performed with the interface apparatus. Thereafter, in the case of subgroup selection, there would be further sub-division by further accessing operations until the required facility option is reached. For each accessing operation, there is 55 provided a display of the facility operations which are available for selection by the accessing operation.
A difficulty that has arisen with the "tree-structured" selection technique is a tendency for a user to get "lost" in the structure. For instance, a user may not be clear as 60 to how a current point in a selection process being performed has been reached, or what will be the consequences of selecting any of the options now available at that point. If a keyboard is used as the interface apparatus, further difficulties can arise in the association of 65 number shown against available options displayed, with positions on the keyboard, particularly if an unskilled user is using a complex keyboard.
One proposal for simplifying the implementation of the "tree-structured" selection technique is to provide a keyboard with dedicated function keys which pertain respectively to various facility options. Such dedicated function keys can be identified by having on them a diagrammatic representation of the facility options to which they pertain.
The present invention provides an alternative proposal for implementing a facility option selection technique. This alternative proposal affords the advantage that, by combining both the display and the selection of the facility options into a single concept, it achieves greater simplicity than hitherto.
According to the invention, there is provided an information display system having connection means for establishing selective connection to a number of different information sources to obtain information therefrom for display on the screen of a display device, a particular one of said information sources from which information is to be obtained at any time being determined by central processor means of the system as a result of the selection of one of a plurality of facility options which pertain respectively to said information sources and which are selectable from interface apparatus by which the central processor means can be accessed, in which information display system the interface apparatus is operable to generate signals to represent any selected point on the screen of the display device, and the central processor means includes logic control means for producing on the screen of the display device a display frame of available facility options, and which information display system is characterised in that in respect of the selection of a facility option the logic control means is operable to produce a first display frame defining at least two discrete areas which are identified as pertaining to different facility options, said first display frame further defining within at least one of said discrete areas at least one discrete sub-area which is identified as pertaining to one or more facility options, the logic control means being further operable in response to the selection by said interface apparatus of a point which is in one of said areas but not within a sub-area of that area, or which is in a sub-area, to produce a second display frame which, if said area or subarea pertains to a single facility option, gives a visual indication of the selection of that facility option, said logic control means then causing said connection means to establish connection to the appertaining information source.
In carrying out the invention, the logic control means can be still further operable, when in said first display frame a selected area containing sub-areas pertains to a plurality of facility options, to produce an alternative second display frame which redefines each sub-area of the selected area as a respective area which is identified as pertaining to at least one facility option. The logic control means can also be still further operable such that said alternative second display frame includes at least one further area which is identified as pertaining to at least one facility option. In said alternative second display frame at least one of said areas can have defined within it at least one sub-area which is identified as pertaining to at least one facility option.
Alteratively, in carrying out the invention, the logic control means can .be still further operable, when in said first display frame a selected sub-area pertains to a plurality of facility options, to produce a different alternative second display frame which defines a plurality of