RIM Seeks Patent to Address Cyber-Bullying on Social Networks

By Steve Brachmann
April 14, 2013

Research In Motion Limited is an electronics developer based in Waterloo, Ontario, most notable for its BlackBerry cell phone device. Although Research In Motion, sometimes referred to as RIM, has become a much smaller player in the device industry as iPhones and Android devices have stolen substantial marketshare from the hey-day of the BlackBerry, RIM is still involved with the research and development of many communication technologies.

As a part of our ongoing look at high-tech innovators, we periodically look at patents and patent applications to get a sense of what companies are working on in the technology sector. With that in mind, what follows is discussion of several patents and patent applications that caught my attention over the last several weeks.

Of note, recently the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published multiple patent applications filed by Research In Motion that pertain to smarter, more efficient forms of electronic communication for both cell phones and computers. Another patent application offers some promise for slowing the progress of cyber-bullying on social networks. Yet another patent application takes uses a touchscreen to store fingerprint information to determine ownership for images captured by the device. Still another application of potential interest is one that seeks protection for a system making it easier for mobile content providers to sell digital content, particularly periodicals.

Additionally, one of the recent patents issued to RIM aids the conversion of text-to-speech by computers, helping a BlackBerry user listen to text messages or e-mail while driving.

[Patent-Watch]

Selective Delivery of Social Network Messages Within a Social Network
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130091223

Social media networks keep people connected now more than ever, and while this has provided positive social benefits, there are negative impacts that can be caused by reckless behavior on social media. Cyber-bullying is a topic of growing concern on Facebook and Twitter in recent years, and harmful behaviors can still be found on these networks. Other, non-malicious posts can still pose problems to network traffic resources if shared too often among members.

This patent application provides a detailed look at a system devised by Research In Motion, which hopes that it can aid in the solution of both of these problems. The method of communication management scans new posts on a social network to see if the content is similar to other content posted within that user’s social group, or if that content has been flagged. If either of these are the case, the post is taken out of the network traffic.

As Claim 1 explains, Research In Motion has developed:

“A method of managing electronic communications within a social group of a social network, comprising: determining whether one or more new messages to be communicated to one or more members of the social group comprises content substantially similar to a given content of a quantity of a plurality of messages communicated within the social group meeting or exceeding a message quantity threshold; and selectively adjusting notification of the one or more new messages to the one or more members of the social group in response to determining that the one or more new messages to be communicated to the one or more members of the social group comprises content substantially similar to the given content.”

 

Communications System Providing Automatic Text-to-Speech Conversion Features…
U.S. Patent No. 8417272

Whereas cell phones used to be viewed as solely a speech-only communication device, current devices have much more advanced functionality that offers a full suite of software for calendars, address books and more. Although these devices often have high quality text displays and are incredibly portable, there are many times when a user can’t or shouldn’t read the text display, such as when driving. However, if a user is trying to access an important e-mail, that person might be tempted to access and read the e-mail anyways.

This patent, recently awarded to Research In Motion, protects a system of text-to-speech conversion where a digital text file could be converted by a computer into verbal language understood by the user. In this way, a user could access his e-mail and have an important message read through the headset by the computer.

Claim 1 of this Research In Motion patent protects:

“A wireless communications device comprising: a long-range wireless transceiver; a short-range wireless transceiver having a shorter range than said long-range wireless transceiver; and a controller coupled to said long-range wireless transceiver and said short-range wireless transceiver and configured to: receive a text message via said long-range wireless transceiver, switch to an audio message mode based upon a short-range wireless connection being established via said short-range wireless transceiver, and when in the audio message mode, output via the short-range wireless connection an audio message comprising speech generated based upon the text message.”

 

Soliciting First Party in Communication Session to Maintain Call When Degradation of Connection to Second Party is Anticipated
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130091277

The title here is a handful, but Research In Motion is seeking to protect, a call session controller established when the two cell phones connect would detect deterioration in the signal quality.

When the signal quality of a cell phone call is degraded, often because of geographical location, the call is often dropped suddenly. This often happens when one party is traveling in a car or another fast-moving vehicle and suddenly drops out of the cell phone’s satellite range. Even if the one caller returns to satellite range within seconds, the call has ended and must be re-established.

If the deterioration reaches a certain threshold, it would essentially force a hold on the party still within satellite range, which would be lifted once the other caller’s signal quality improves. According to the document, this system could also be applied to WLAN connections for computers and other media signals.

Claim 1 of this Research In Motion patent application seeks to protect:

“A method for handling a communication session that has a first communication leg between a first electronic device and a Ubiquitous Media Manager (UMM) comprising a media proxy, a session controller and a code module and a second communication leg between said UMM and a second electronic device, the method comprising: receiving a media stream arriving at said UMM from said first electronic device over said first communication leg via a communication infrastructure remote to said UMM; measuring quality metrics information of said media stream over time; performing an analysis of said media stream by evaluating said measured quality metrics information; making a determination from said analysis that quality metrics of said media stream have deteriorated continuously for a predetermined period of time; generating an indication, based on said determination, that said first electronic device is about to become incapable of communicating media streams at a sufficient quality; and responsive to said indication and prior to said first electronic device actually becoming incapable of communicating media streams at a sufficient quality, generating a message that solicits a user of said second electronic device to maintain said second communication leg, and transmitting said message to said second electronic device, said first communication leg established by way of a wireless communication transceiver that is configured to wirelessly receive said media stream from said first electronic device and to forward said media stream to said UMM via said communication infrastructure.”

 

Associating a Work with a Biometric Indication of the Identity of an Author
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130083208

In recent years, computers and electronic devices have increasingly started to store biometric data from users as a security measure. Biometric data includes are physical elements of a user that can be detected by a computer. For example, a computer user’s login may require a fingerprint or retina scan before the computer will give an individual access to that account.

The system that Research In Motion has developed takes advantage of a touchscreen’s ability to store fingerprint information to determine ownership for images captured by the device. A smartphone user would, for example, take an image by pressing the digital shutter button appearing on the touchscreen. A fingerprint sensor would then appear after the picture is taken that would store a user’s fingerprint data. This biometric data would be attached to the image file as metadata, effectively establishing the individual whose fingerprint was stored as the image’s owner.

Claim 1 of this patent application describes:

“A method of storing an artistic work of authorship at an apparatus configured to capture the artistic work of authorship, the method comprising: receiving a biometric indication of an identity of an author of the work; responsive to receiving the biometric indication, arranging capture of the artistic work; storing the artistic work at the apparatus; and storing, associated with the artistic work, the biometric indication of the identity of the author.”

 

System and Method for Centrally Distributing Mobile Content
U.S. Patent Application No. 20130085863

The Internet marketplace has the potential to create a global economy, but currently there are no easy ways for most people to sell content to others online. Users can self-publish certain items, like eBooks, but they must still have them listed on an online store, which often comes with listing fees that the author must pay.

Research In Motion seems to be trying to protect a system that would make it easier for mobile content providers to sell digital content they’ve created, especially for periodicals. Users would upload the content, along with subscription or purchase settings, to a central distribution server, from which others could access the files. For example, a podcast could be recorded on a device and uploaded to the server so that anyone downloading the file would pay a fee for access.

As Claim 1 describes, Research In Motion has developed:

“A method for centrally distributing mobile content comprising: at a mobile content provider server device, receiving mobile content and associated subscription data from respective content providers, the subscription data defining content offers and subscription terms to receive a plurality of respective content packages comprising the mobile content and at least one of previously published mobile content and subsequently published mobile content defining a series of publications; forwarding the subscription data to a mobile content storage server device, said mobile content storage server device providing the content offers to deliver the mobile content to subscribers completing respective subscriptions to receive the mobile content in accordance with the content offers; and receiving, at a central content delivery server device, the respective subscriptions from said mobile content storage server device.”

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a freelance journalist located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He writes about technology and innovation. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients and is available for research projects and freelance work.

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