US Patent No. 5,805,676

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Issue Date: 09/08/1998

Abstract: A data transaction processing system in which transaction data is entered by the user in response to prompts in a template which is tailored to each user application. The template and entered data are accumulated into data transactions which are immediately transmitted upon completion to an external database server for processing and storage. The data transactions are not locally stored for processing, and no conventional operating system is necessary. No local processing needs to be provided, and the only local storage is a flash PROM which stored the control firmware, a flash memory which stores the data streams making up the forms and menus, and a small RAM which operates as an input/output transaction buffer for storing the data streams of the template and the user replies to the prompts during assembly of a data transaction. The data transaction is received via standard protocols at a database server which, depending upon the application, stores the entire data transaction, explodes the data transaction to produce ancillary records which are then stored, and/or forwards the data transaction or some or all of the ancillary records to other database servers for updating other databases associated with those database servers. Also, in response to requests from the transaction entry device, the database server may return data streams for use in completing the fields in the data transaction or in presenting a menu on the display which was read in from the database server or a remote phone mail system. The transaction entry device is integrated with a telephone and is accessed via a touch screen, an optional keyboard, a magnetic card reader, voice entry, a modem, and the like.

What is claimed is:
1. A system for entering transaction data into a remote database, comprising:

a data input device;

a display;

a data transaction terminal including a microprocessor, a form memory which stores a plurality of menus and forms for presentation to a user, and a form driven operating system which controls a process implemented by said microprocessor to present to said display for each process at least one form stored in said form memory as data streams, said at least one form being selected by said user from one of said menus using said data input device, said one menu providing said user with an option of selecting at least one of said at least one form, another menu, and an updating process, each form eliciting data input of a desired transaction type into said data input device by said user and including at least one prompt customized to said desired transaction type, wherein said process implemented by said microprocessor is changed by changing said at least one form, and wherein when said user selects said updating process from said menu, data streams are downloaded to said form memory to update said menus and forms in accordance with said desired transaction type, said data transaction terminal further including means for formatting at least said data input by said user in response to said at least one prompt into a data transaction for transmission to said remote database; and

a database server associated with said remote database which receives said data transaction, creates from said data transaction, depending on said desired transaction type, at least one additional data transaction containing data for a particular record in said remote database, and stores said at least one additional data transaction in said particular record.

2. A system as in claim 1, further comprising a plurality of remote databases, wherein said database server further creates from said data transaction, depending on said desired transaction type, at least one ancillary data transaction containing data for a particular record in one of said plurality of remote databases besides said remote database and stores said at least one ancillary data transaction in said particular record.

3. A system as in claim 2, wherein said form driven operating system includes means for sending a data request to said database server, said database server accessing data corresponding to said data request in at least one of said remote databases and returning one of data responsive to said data request, a list of options for selection by said user, a value calculated from data contained in said data request, and a data report.

4. A system as in claim 1, wherein said form driven operating system comprises a transaction assembly server (TAS) which presents said data streams to said microprocessor for display on said display, and said formatting means comprises a transaction buffer which stores said data input into said data input device by said user in response to said at least one prompt until said data transaction is completed for transmission to said remote database.

5. A system as in claim 4, wherein said data transaction terminal further comprises a modem, a telephone and two telephone line connections, one for connecting said telephone to a telephone network, and one for providing a modem connection among said modem, said TAS, and said database server.

6. A system as in claim 5, wherein said data transaction terminal further comprises a mode switch for selecting a telephone mode in which said data transaction terminal operates exclusive of said TAS or a transaction entry mode in which said TAS operates exclusive of said telephone.

7. A system as in claim 4, wherein said data transaction terminal further comprises a modem, a telephone, a telephone line connection, and means for selectively connecting said telephone to a telephone network and said TAS to said database server via said telephone line connection.

8. A system as in claim 7, wherein said selectively connecting means comprises a mode switch for selecting a telephone mode in which said data transaction terminal operates exclusive of said TAS or a transaction entry mode in which said TAS operates exclusive of said telephone.

9. A system as in claim 1, wherein said database server comprises a modem, a data transaction queue for storing data transactions received from said data transaction terminal, and a transaction controller which processes the received data transactions to extract physical relationships of data of said data transactions with records in said remote database.

10. A system as in claim 1, wherein said one menu further contains a remote process option, and when said user selects said remote process option from said one menu, data streams are downloaded via a modem to said form memory, said data streams containing control data for implementing functions designated by said selected remote process option.

11. A system as in claim 10, wherein said data transaction terminal further comprises an infrared transceiver and said control data comprises data for controlling a wavelength of energy emitted by said infrared transceiver.

12. A system as in claim 10, wherein said data transaction terminal further comprises a phone list memory for storing a phone list and said control data comprises data for updating said phone list.

13. A system for entering transaction data into a plurality of remote databases, comprising:

a data transaction terminal for capturing a data transaction having a one-to-many relationship to records of said plurality of remote databases, said data transaction terminal including a microprocessor, a form memory which stores a plurality of menus and forms for presentation to a user, and a form driven operating system which controls a process implemented by said microprocessor to present to said user for each process at least one form stored in said form memory as data streams, said at least one form eliciting data input of a desired transaction type into said data transaction terminal by said user, said data streams of said at least one form including at least one prompt customized to said desired transaction type, a format field which identifies said desired transaction type of said at least one form, a data entry field including said at least one prompt and spaces for said data input by said user in response to said at least one prompt, and a processing field for appending data particular to said desired transaction type, said data transaction terminal further including means for formatting at least said data input by said user in response to said at least one prompt into said data transaction for transmission to at least one of said plurality of remote databases;

a first set of database servers associated with a first set of remote databases of said plurality of remote databases, said first set of database servers receiving said data transaction, creating from said data transaction a plurality of ancillary data transactions having a one-to-one relationship to said records of said plurality of remote databases, and storing said ancillary data transactions in designated records of said first set of remote databases; and

a second set of database servers associated with a second set of remote databases of said plurality of remote databases, said second set of database servers receiving certain of said plurality of ancillary data transactions, and creating from said certain ancillary data transactions additional data transactions which are stored in application specific records of said second set of remote databases in accordance with said desired transaction type of said at least one form.

14. A system as in claim 13, wherein each database server of said first and second set of database servers comprises a modem, a data transaction queue for storing data transactions, and a transaction controller which processes a received data transaction to extract physical relationships of data of said data transactions with records of a remote database associated with said each database server.

15. A system as in claim 13, wherein said data particular to said desired transaction type includes at least one of audio and video data.

16. A data transaction terminal for providing data transactions to a remote database server which stores records in an associated database, comprising:

a data input device;

a display;

a telephone circuit;

a data transaction assembler including a microprocessor, a form memory which stores a plurality of menus and forms for presentation to a user, and a transaction assembly server (TAS) which controls a process implemented by said microprocessor to present to said display for each process at least one form stored in said form memory as data streams, said at least one form being selected by said user from one of said menus using said data input device, said one menu providing said user with an option of selecting at least one of said at least one form, another menu, and an updating process, each form eliciting data input of a desired transaction type into said data transaction assembler by said user and including at least one prompt customized to said desired transaction type, wherein said process implemented by said microprocessor is changed by changing said at least one form, and wherein when said user selects said updating process from said menu, data streams are downloaded to said form memory to update said menus and forms in accordance with said desired transaction type, and means for formatting at least said data input by said user in response to said at least one prompt into a data transaction for transmission to said remote database server; and

a mode switch for selectively connecting said telephone circuit to a telephone network in a telephone mode and said data transaction assembler to said remote database server in a data transaction entry mode.

17. A terminal as in claim 16, wherein said formatting means comprises a transaction buffer which stores said data input into said data input device by said user in response to said at least one prompt until said data transaction is completed for transmission to said remote database.

18. A terminal as in claim 16, further comprising a modem and two telephone line connections, one for connecting said telephone circuit to said telephone network, and one for providing a modem connection among said modem, said TAS, and said remote database server.

19. A terminal as in claim 16, further comprising a modem and a telephone line connection, said mode switch selectively connecting said telephone and said TAS to said telephone line connection.

20. A terminal as in claim 16, wherein said one menu further contains a remote process option, and when said user selects said remote process option from said one menu, data streams are downloaded via a modem to said form memory, said data streams containing control data for implementing functions designated by said selected remote process option.

21. A terminal as in claim 20, further comprising an infrared transceiver, said control data comprising data for controlling a wavelength of energy emitted by said infrared transceiver.

22. A terminal as in claim 20, further comprising a phone list memory for storing a phone list, said control data comprising data for updating said phone list.

23. A terminal as in claim 17, wherein said TAS presents one of said menus to said user for selection, said one menu containing pointers to a plurality of forms, and upon selection of said at least one form from said menu by said user, said TAS initializes said transaction buffer and presents said at least one form to said display on a page by page basis for entry of said input data by said user.

24. A terminal as in claim 16, wherein said TAS processes said input data as it is entered in response to each prompt to determine if said input data satisfies predetermined conditions for input data entered in response to each said prompt.

25. A terminal as in claim 16, wherein said TAS sends a data request to said remote database server when said user requests assistance in replying to a prompt and inserts reply data from said remote database server into said data transaction in response to said prompt.

26. A terminal as in claim 16, wherein said TAS comprises means for creating from said data transaction, depending on said desired transaction type, at least one ancillary data transaction containing data for a particular record in said associated database and storing said at least one ancillary data transaction in said particular record in said associated database.

27. A terminal as in claim 26, wherein said ancillary data transaction creating means further creates from said data transaction, depending on said desired transaction type, an ancillary data transaction containing data for an application specific record in a secondary database and sends said ancillary data transaction to said secondary database for storage of said ancillary data transaction in said application specific record.

28. A terminal as in claim 16, wherein said data transaction assembler includes means for sending a data request to said remote database server, said remote database server accessing data corresponding to said request in said associated database and returning one of data responsive to said request, a list of options for selection by said user, a value calculated from data contained in said data request, and a data report.

29. A terminal as in claim 16, wherein said data input device comprises at least one of a touch screen associated with said display, a telephone numeric keypad, an alphanumeric keyboard, a memory card reader, and a magnetic card reader.

30. A terminal as in claim 29, wherein said alphanumeric keyboard comprises a retractable keyboard which retracts into a housing of said data transaction terminal.

31. A terminal as in claim 16, further comprising a video input terminal for receiving input video data and a video output terminal for providing output video data to a video monitor.

32. A terminal as in claim 31, further comprising a data compression circuit for compressing said input video data prior to including said input video data in a data transaction and a data decompression circuit for decompressing output video data prior to display on said video monitor.

33. A terminal as in claim 16, further comprising a computer I/O port for receiving input data from a computer device and providing output data to at least one of said computer device and a printer.

34. A terminal as in claim 16, further comprising a RF transceiver for providing a wireless connection between said data transaction terminal and a data processing device.

35. A terminal as in claim 16, further comprising a battery for providing power to said data transaction terminal for portable operation.

36. A terminal as in claim 16, wherein said data input device comprises a voice recognition circuit for accepting data input selections annunciated by said user.

37. A terminal as in claim 16, further comprising a voice synthesizer responsive to said data transaction for audibilizing a portion of said data transaction to said user.

38. A terminal as in claim 37, further comprising a voice recorder for recording at least one of said audibilized portion of said data transaction when in said data transaction entry mode and voice input from a called party when in said telephone mode.

39. A method of entering transaction data into a remote database using a data transaction terminal, comprising the steps of:

storing a plurality of menus and forms in a form memory of a form driven operating system of said data transaction terminal, each form including at least one prompt customized to a desired transaction type;

said form driven operating system controlling said data transaction terminal to accept input data of said desired transaction type using control data comprising at least one of said forms from said form memory;

a user selecting one of said menus using a data input device and said user selecting from said one menu at least one of said at least one form, another menu, and an updating process for further processing;

if said updating process is selected from said one menu by said user, downloading data streams to update said menus and forms in accordance with said desired transaction type; and

if said at least one form is selected from said one menu by said user, said form driven operating system presenting to a display a form for eliciting data input of said desired transaction type from said user, said user inputting data in response to said at least one prompt of said form using said data input device, and said form driven operating system formatting at least said input data from said user into a data transaction for transmission to said remote database and transmitting said data transaction to said remote database.

40. A method as in claim 39, comprising the additional steps of:

receiving said data transaction at said remote database;

creating from said data transaction, depending on said desired transaction type, at least one additional data transaction containing data for a particular record in said remote database; and

storing said at least one additional data transaction in said particular record.

41. A method as in claim 40, comprising the additional steps of:

creating from said data transaction, depending on said desired transaction type, at least one ancillary data transaction containing data for a particular record in an ancillary database different from said remote database; and

storing said at least one ancillary data transaction in said particular record in said ancillary database.

42. A method as in claim 39, comprising the additional steps of:

sending a data request to a database server of said remote database; and

said database server accessing data corresponding to said data request in said remote database and returning one of data responsive to said data request, a list of options for selection by said user, a value calculated from data contained in said data request, and a data report.

43. A terminal as in claim 28, wherein said remote database server is a remote phone mail system and said telephone circuit makes a telephone connection to said remote phone mail system, said data request being sent via said telephone connection and including a request for a visual representation of selection options of a phone mail menu of said remote phone mail system, and, in response to said data request, said remote phone mail system returning via said telephone connection a data stream containing said visual representation of said selection options of said phone mail menu, said visual representation of said selection options of said phone mail menu being presented to said display by said data transaction assembler for selection by said user using said data input device, and said data transaction assembler further sending data to said remote phone mail system via said telephone connection indicating which selection option was selected from said phone mail menu by said user.

44. A terminal as in claim 43, wherein said remote phone mail system returns a data stream containing a visual representation of selection options of a next phone mail menu via said telephone connection in response to said data indicating which selection option was selected from said phone mail menu by said user.