System and Method for Identifying Clusters of Geographic Locations

How can the activities of installation and repair technicians be tracked and optimized on the fly? On May 15, 2001, Dr. Djangir Babayev of Cox Associates, together with Vince Dean of Qwest Communications, was awarded U.S. Patent #6,232,915 for a fleet-monitoring system that tracks vehicles via GPS and identifies what they can most profitably do next based on spatial clusters of nearby tasks. The clustering program is used to detect locations frequently visited by the field representatives.

Method and System for Designing a Cellular Communication System

A common complaint among cell phone and Personal Communication Service (PCS) users is the high incidence of barely intelligible, noisy, or dropped calls in areas where existing cell sites do not provide adequate signal quality throughout the coverage area. On January 30th, 2001, Dr. Cox and a former U.S WEST Advanced Technologies colleague were awarded U.S. Patent # 6,181,917 for a method of cell site design for CDMA systems that addresses this problem. The method uses measured signal strength and error characteristics to design wireless communication systems with cell sites configured to assure adequate quality and intelligibility for users. Although this patent for CDMA has been assigned to MediaOne Group for possible commercial use, similar ideas can be applied to other wireless technologies using recent advances in statistical modeling of signals and intelligibility to achieve higher-quality signals at minimum cost to wireless network operators for a variety of PCS and cellular technologies.

Voice-controlled Calendar and Appointment Application

On December 28, 1999, Hans Mueller and Tony Cox of Cox Associates were awarded U.S. Patent #6,009,398 for a voice-controlled calendar and appointment application. Building on Dr. Cox’s 1997 U.S. Patent #5,685,000 on artificial intelligence conversational systems, the new application allows one to make appointments and retrieve schedule information from remote locations by telephone, video, or a mix.

Method for annotating and editing voice messages via acoustic bullet points

On August 24, 1999, Hans Mueller, Kenneth Hamel and Tony Cox of Cox Associates were awarded U.S. Patent #5,943,402 for segmenting and acting upon segments of, for example, a previously generated voice message by inserting audible interrupts into the voice message for partitioning the voice message into segments. Upon initiating or encountering such an interrupt in a voice message, a subscriber may act upon a segment adjacent to the interrupt. Actions on the adjacent segment include replaying the segment, forwarding the segment to an addressee with comments, deleting the segment, or no action although retaining the option of future action on the adjacent segment. Furthermore, the inserted interrupts may be inserted by the originating party of the voice message for action by the originating party, or by the originating party for future action by another receiving party.

Architecture and method for providing interactive broadband products and services using existing telephone plant

In January, 1999, Dr. Cox and colleagues formerly with U S WEST Advanced Technologies were awarded U.S. Patent # 5,857,142, covering an “Architecture and method for providing interactive broadband products and services using existing telephone plant.” The method in this patent provides a practical way for existing telephone and cable companies to team up to offer interactive broadband services — such as VCR-like control of broadcast programs or interactive movies or intelligent interactive browsing of news feeds. To enable such applications, a viewer must be able to send control signals to the server at the “head end” of the broadband network. Telephone lines are well suited to carry these relatively low-bandwidth control signals. The server must then respond by assigning content to channels so that viewers receive the signals appropriate for the commands they have just given. The result is a way to offer interactive broadband services in the short run, before other technologies (e.g., cable modems) and greater intelligence in the head end server are widely available. The patent rights for this invention are assigned to Media One for further development and possible commercial exploitation.

Method and System for Linguistic Command Processing in a Video Server Network.

Have you ever wished you could ask your TV what is showing, or tell it to check whether a particular show is playing on some channel and, if so, to switch to it? In November, Cox Associates scientists and a colleague now at 3Com-U S Robotics (Dr. Paul Bauer) were awarded U S Patent #5,832,439 for a system that takes the first practical step toward such an “intelligent” interface. The system listens for and responds to spoken commands or questions, displays answers and choices on the screen as menus, and obeys spoken commands. The same interface can be used not only to browse and navigate broadcast and cable programming, but also to select movies from video libraries accessed over a network. This work was developed as a “skunk works” project while its inventors were at U S WEST Advanced Technologies. The patent has been assigned to MediaOne for possible commercial development.

Adaptive knowledge base of complex information through interactive voice dialogue

On June 30, 1998, Dr. Cox and a colleague at Rockwell were awarded U S Patent # 5,774,860 covering a new method for obtaining information and advice (e.g., help on configuring a computer system, or street directions for someone calling in from a cellular phone) from an artificial intelligence (AI) system through interactive spoken dialogue. This method complements a huge installed base of expert systems and map-based guidance systems that require computer screens and the visual attention of the user to deliver directions or instructions. It also provides a natural, easier-to-use way of tapping into AI systems without using keyboards or special devices. It builds on the core spoken-dialogue technology established in Dr. Cox’s earlier patent on a “Method for providing a linguistically competent dialogue with a computerized service representative” (U S Patent # 5,685,000, awarded November of 1997.) Both patents have been assigned to U S WEST Advanced Technologies for possible further development and commercialization. Cox Associates scientists are now developing new artificial intelligence techniques that help AI systems to learn useful rules from data, so that the conversational interfaces covered by these patents will have a useful base of knowledge and insights to tap into.