(19)
(11)EP 3 152 641 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
22.07.2020 Bulletin 2020/30

(21)Application number: 15805769.5

(22)Date of filing:  09.06.2015
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G06F 3/023(2006.01)
G06F 13/42(2006.01)
G09G 5/00(2006.01)
G06F 13/40(2006.01)
G06F 3/14(2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/IL2015/050581
(87)International publication number:
WO 2015/189841 (17.12.2015 Gazette  2015/50)

(54)

MULTI-HOST DOCKING DEVICE

MEHRFACHHOST-ANDOCKVORRICHTUNG

DISPOSITIF D'ACCUEIL MULTI-HÔTE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 09.06.2014 US 201414299062

(43)Date of publication of application:
12.04.2017 Bulletin 2017/15

(73)Proprietor: High Sec Labs Ltd.
3079510 Caesarea (IL)

(72)Inventor:
  • SOFFER, Aviv
    30889 Caesarea (IL)

(74)Representative: Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz UK LLP 
The Gridiron Building One Pancras Square
London N1C 4AG
London N1C 4AG (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-B1- 1 183 614
US-A1- 2008 048 975
US-A1- 2009 296 723
US-A1- 2011 080 342
US-A1- 2011 145 451
US-A1- 2005 216 620
US-A1- 2009 204 742
US-A1- 2010 083 122
US-A1- 2011 145 451
US-A1- 2014 019 652
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION



    [0001] The present invention relates to a device that enhances computer operator usability in case that the operator is having multiple docked portable computers.

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION



    [0002] Docking stations for laptop computers are well known in the art and are commercially available. For example, US 20140043750; titled "Laptop Computer Cooling and Docking Station"; discloses a laptop computer docking station and cooling device.

    [0003] Targus LTD of Anaheim Calif. offers for sale USB 3.0 based docking stations such as USB 3.0 SuperSpeed™ Dual Video Adapter Model Number: ACA039US that allows adding up to two monitors to your laptop, which utilize HD graphics and video. Same company offers for sale the USB 3.0 SuperSpeed™ Dual Video Docking Station with Power, Model Number: ACP71 USZ, which provides up to 90 Watt power, Multi-format compatibility through dual video ports, DVI-I to VGA & HDMI to DVI-D Adapter, Multiple USB ports (2x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0), and Gigabit Ethernet port

    [0004] Docking stations for tablet computers are also known in the art. For example, US 20140098485; titled "Asymmetric Computer Tablet Frame Docking System"; discloses a system for docking a computer tablet with a docking station. The computer tablet has an asymmetrical edge that is adapted to rest in a cradle portion of the docking station. While resting in the docking station the computer tablet may be rotated to various angles and still maintain electrical connectivity to the docking station.

    [0005] Docking stations for Smartphones are also known in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 8,738,080; titled "Docking station for android cellphone"; discloses a system, method, and computer program product for a Smartphone docking station in digital camera and camcorder form factors. The docking station provides an attached Smartphone a better lens, image sensor, and image stabilization system for capturing pictures and videos, as well as a more familiar and steady user gripping and aiming platform for such photography.

    [0006] The capability to interact with more than one computing device at a time was demonstrated for example in the following references:

    US application 20050216620 A1, titled: "KVM and USB peripheral switch"; to Francisc; et al. discloses a system and method for switching KVM and peripheral interfaces between host interfaces. Provided is a KVM switch where a keyboard and a mouse are emulated at host interfaces of the KVM switch and hosts are emulated at keyboard and mouse interfaces of the KVM switch. In addition, the KVM switch provided is capable of switching, either independently or concurrently with a keyboard and mouse, additional peripherals, such as USB peripherals.

    US application 20090296723 A1, titled: " Multi-computer switch with function of transmitting data between computers"; to Chi-Tung Chang, et al.; discloses a multi-computer switch with a function of transmitting data between computers. The multi-computer switch includes a multiple of hub units, and at least one data transmission control unit and a switching interface control unit.

    US application 20090204742 A1, titled: " Switching Device and Method of Manufacturing Same"; to Daniel Wiler; discloses a switching device configured to couple a first computer to a first peripheral device and one or more second peripheral devices. The switching device is further configured to couple a second computer to a third peripheral device and the one or more second peripheral devices.

    US application 20060123182; titled: "Distributed KVM and peripheral switch"; to Francisc; et al.; discloses a system and method for switching keyboard and mouse devices and video displays, as well as USB peripheral devices, between USB hosts and video sources over extended distances. Provided is a distributed KVM and peripheral switch where a USB keyboard and mouse is emulated to the host interfaces of the KVM and peripheral switch and a USB host is emulated to keyboard and mouse interfaces of the KVM and peripheral switch. In addition, the keyboard, mouse, display and peripheral devices are separated from the hosts and video sources by a non-USB communications channel.

    U.S. Pat. No. 7,559,092; titled "Secured KVM switch"; to Anson, et al.; discloses a method that supports secure input/output (I/O) communications between an I/O device and a data processing system via a keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM) switch. An example embodiment includes the operations of establishing a first secure communication channel between the KVM switch and the I/O device and establishing a second secure communication channel between the KVM switch and the data processing system. In addition, I/O data may be received at the KVM switch from the I/O device via the first secure communication channel. In response to receipt of the I/O data from the I/O device, the I/O data may be transmitted from the KVM switch to the data processing system via the second secure communication channel. Embodiments may also include support for non-secure channels between the KVM switch and nonsecured I/O devices, nonsecured data processing systems, or both.

    WO 2003009118; titled "Computer multiplexor" discloses a computer multiplexor connects a keyboard and mouse via interfaces to configuration stores and link enable devices respectively. Certain of the connections are unidirectional: they provide for arranged to inhibit communication between the plurality of computers while providing for necessary data flow to and from one of the plurality of computers selected for operation in conjunction with the multiplexor.

    GB2484736; to William Stoye; titled "Image generation"; discloses a method of generating an image. The method comprises receiving a signal over a USB interface comprising encoded display data for one or more rectangular groups of pixel tiles within an image and position data for the or each group of pixel tiles. The coefficients are obtained from the encoded display data, maybe by converting variable bit length fields into AC coefficients and an inverse Haar transform performed on them to generate pixel data for each rectangular group of pixel tiles. A frame buffer, which may be part of the display, is then updated with the generated pixel data ready for output to the display device. Copy protection may also be incorporated using AES negotiated over HDPC.



    [0007] Texas Instruments, of Dallas, Texas USA, provides USB Charging Port Power Switch and Controller such as TPS2540, TPS2540A, TPS2541, TPS2541 A. The TPS2540/40A and TPS2541 141 A are a combination of current-limited USB port power switch with a USB 2.0 high-speed data line (D+/D-) switch and a USB charging port identification circuit. Applications include notebook PCs and other intelligent USB host devices. The wide bandwidth (2.6 GHz) data-line switch also features low capacitance and low on resistance, allowing signals to pass with minimum edge and phase distortion. The TPS2540/40N41 141 A monitors D+ and D-, providing the correct handshaking protocol with compliant client devices. The TPS2540/40N41 141 A supports the following charging logic schemes: USB 2.0 BC1.2; Chinese Telecom Standard YDIT 1591-2009; and Divider Mode, compliant with Apple devices such as iPod® and iPhone®.

    [0008] Texas Instruments also provides the very low cost HD3SS2521 DockPort controller. The HD3SS2521 is an integrated DockPort switch solution. It provides independent 2:1 passive switching for the SuperSpeed USB and Display Port signals as well as for the USB 2.0 (HS/FS/LS) and I2C necessary to support DockPort applications. In addition, a firmware upgradable integrated DockPort controller is provided to manage host and dock side DockPort detection, signal switch and power configuration.

    [0009] Additional background information may be found in the following patent applications of inventors of the present invention:

    US 20110208963 Secured KVM system having remote controller-indicator

    US 20130050084 Secure KVM system having multiple emulated EDID functions

    US 20130067534 Computer motherboard having peripheral security functions

    US 20140053256 User authentication device having multiple isolated host interfaces

    US 20110145451 Isolated multi-network computer system and apparatus

    US 20140015673 Secure peripheral connecting device

    US 20140019652 Secure km switch

    WO 2013035098 Single optical fiber KVM extender


    SUMMARY OF THE EMBODIMENTS



    [0010] The present invention provides a docking device that supports multiple removable host computers while having a single set of user peripherals such as keyboard and mouse. One embodiment of the present disclosure provides a mouse tracking function that switches the keyboard and mouse to the different host computers when the cursor is moved by the user across the respective display boundary. In accordance with the present invention, the docking device supports file-sharing and cut-and-paste functions across the different docked host computers.

    [0011] Smartphones, tablets and other forms of portable platforms are widely used today. Computer users seating near their desk at home or at work are challenged with the attention switching between their PC, Laptop and mobile phone while working. The concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) added another dimension to this challenge as many corporate and enterprise users are trying to perform their daily work while interacting with two, three or more different platforms having different operating systems and different displays, pointing devices and peripherals. Many users would like to share their displays, keyboard, mouse and audio devices across their different computers. Still since these computers are very different in terms of video, power and peripheral interfaces, the integration is complex and requires strong integration skills.

    [0012] Exemplary embodiments of the present invention enable seamless desktop integration of multiple portable and fixed computer devices into one usable working environment.

    [0013] Exemplary embodiments of the present invention provide a unified platform to interact and work with a plurality of computing or communication devices, even if some of the devices are of different types (PC, laptop, tablet, PDA, Smartphone, etc.) and even is some of the devices are using a different operating systems(Windows, Windows Mobile, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, etc.). Exemplary embodiments of the invention enable interacting with a plurality of computing or communication devices in an intuitive and user friendly way. Exemplary embodiments of the invention enable connecting the plurality of computing or communication devices without the need of connecting multiple cables and connectors and require no computer knowledge and skills for connecting the device and configuring the system.

    [0014] In view of the operational difficulties experienced by computer users having more than one portable or fixed computer to operate simultaneously, and in view of the shortcoming of prior art docking station methods and devices, there is a need for a multi-host docking device that, according to the present invention, will:
    1. 1. Enable keyboard and mouse sharing between connected host computers; and
    2. 2. Provide a file and clipboard sharing function between the host computers.


    [0015] According to aspects of the present disclosure, it is also envisaged that the multi-host docking device will enable simultaneous video output viewing from multiple host computers; and will provide a mouse tracking function to enable automatic switching between host computers.

    [0016] To further leverage such device usability, it is desirable that the following derivatives will be provided:
    • Device derivative that further support multiple displays from the same host computer;
    • Device derivative that provides video processing to enable simultaneous view of video sources from multiple host computers on one or more user displays.


    [0017] It is an object of the present invention to provide a Multi-Host Docking Device according to independent claim 1.

    [0018] Preferred embodiments of the present invention are defined in the dependent claims.

    [0019] To enhance security and to prevent theft of the host computers, the Multi-Host Docking Device may be equipped with a physical locking device for locking at least one of the host computers to the Multi-Host Docking Device.

    [0020] The physical locking device may be based on a physical lock and key. The physical locking device may be integrated into the cradle into which a host computer is inserted. Alternatively, the lock may be integrated into the docking device. Alternatively, the lock may be tethered to a cable similar for example to MicroSaver® T-Bar™ Locks available from Kensington LTD.

    [0021] Alternatively, the physical lock may be integrated into a USB plug. For example a special USB eLock plug may be used to lock the plug inside a USB jacks. In order to release an eLock plug electronically, the eLock receives an unlock command over the USB cable, and powers a solenoid inside the plug to unlock it from the jack it is in.

    [0022] Optionally, the Multi-Host Docking Device may be attached or locked to a bulk object such as a desk or an anchor attached to the wall using anchoring device. The anchoring device may be based on a physical lock and key. For example the anchoring device may be tethered to a cable similar for example to MicroSaver® T-Bar™ Locks available from Kensington LTD. Alternatively, the anchoring device may be bolted to the desk.

    [0023] The embodiments and/or examples of the following detailed description which are not covered by the claims are provided for illustrative purpose only and are only intended to assist the reader in understanding the present invention. However, such embodiments and/or examples which are not covered by the claims do not form part of the present invention that is solely defined by the claims.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0024] Some embodiments are herein described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings. With specific reference now to the drawings in detail, it is stressed that the particulars shown are by way of example and for purposes of illustrative discussion of the disclosed embodiments only, and are presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the disclosure. In this regard, no attempt is made to show structural details of the invention in more detail than is necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention, the description taken with the drawings making apparent to those skilled in the art how the invention may be embodied in practice.

    [0025] In the drawings:
    Figure 1
    illustrates a high-level functional block-diagram of a typical prior-art USB 3.0 docking station having two user displays.
    Figure 2A
    schematically illustrates a high-level functional block-diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure having two connected host computers.
    Figure 2B
    schematically illustrates a high-level functional block-diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure having three connected host computers.
    Figure 3
    schematically illustrates another high-level functional diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure that is similar to the device shown in figure 2 above, but it is further having multiple Device Emulators and one Host emulator.
    Figure 4
    schematically illustrates yet another high-level functional diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure that is similar to the devices shown in previous figures 2 and 3, but it further supports two user displays.
    Figure 5
    schematically illustrates yet another high-level functional diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure that is similar to the device shown in figure 4 above, but it is further supporting dual head display output from the primary host computer.
    Figure 6
    schematically illustrates a high-level functional diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present invention that is similar to the device shown in figure 5 above, but it is further having a managed copy-paste or file transfer function to assist the user in transferring data between host computers.
    Figure 7
    schematically illustrates yet another a high-level functional diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure that is similar to the device shown in figure 6 above, but it is further having a video processing function to enable video combination and overlay of the host computers video outputs.
    Figure 8
    schematically illustrates a high-level functional diagram of the audio subsystem in the embodiments shown in figures 2 to 7 above.
    Figure 9
    schematically illustrates a typical operational scenario of the exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure while in cursor tracking mode.
    Figure 10
    schematically illustrates a typical operational scenario of the exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure while in combiner mode.

    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0026] Before explaining at least one embodiment in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not necessarily limited in its application to the details set forth in the following description or exemplified by the examples. The invention is defined solely by the scope of the claims.

    [0027] In discussion of the various figures described herein below, like numbers refer to like parts. The drawings are generally not to scale. For clarity, non-essential elements may have been omitted from some of the drawings.

    [0028] To the extent that the figures illustrate diagrams of the functional blocks of various embodiments, the functional blocks are not necessarily indicative of the division between hardware circuitry. Thus, for example, one or more of the functional blocks (e.g., processors or memories) may be implemented in a single piece of hardware (e.g., a general purpose signal processor or random access memory, or the like) or multiple pieces of hardware. Similarly, the programs may be stand alone programs, may be incorporated as subroutines in an operating system, may be functions in an installed software package, and the like.

    [0029] Figure 1 illustrates a prior art USB (Universal Serial Bus) 3.0 Docking station having two displays. In this system 100, host computer 4 may be a PC, laptop computer, Mac (Apple) platform, Android platform, Desktop computer, iPhone, iPad, Tablet or any other compatible computer platform. Plug 5 is USB 3.0 type-A plug connected to host computer 4 suitable serial port. Cable 6 is USB 3.0 serial interfaces cable having a USB 3.0 Type-B plug or micro USB 3.0 Type B plug connected to the docking device 101 USB 3.0 host port 7.

    [0030] Host port 7 is coupled to the USB Docking controller chip 8 (USB Dock) that converts the serial stream (USB 2.0, USB 3.0, DockPort, ThunderBolt or other) into the various functions supported such as Ethernet, peripherals, video, and audio. The USB Docking controller chip is typically operating with a dedicated video decoder that matches the video encoder running at the host computer. This video encoder compresses the video generated in that computer and sends it over the USB link. For example prior-art device described in UK Patent application GB2484736A describes a device that uses DisplayLink's DL3 CODEC. This device is structured so that a low compute load is placed on the host system to encode and transmit the video data with very low latency caused by the sequence of encoding, transmitting over USB, decoding and displaying so that a human user finds the USB-connected display to be an acceptable replacement for a display connected via a dedicated video signal cable.

    [0031] It should be noted that USB Docking controller chip 8 may be implemented in other ways than a single electronic chip. For example it may be implemented using a plurality of components, or it may be implemented as a part of a subunit or component that performs other functions or as an FPGA, ASIC, System On A Chip etc.

    [0032] USB docking controller chip 8 may be DisplayLink DL-3900, another standard or custom chip, an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), an FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) or any other suitable chip or chipset. This chip or chipset is often connected to external memory chips (not shown in this and in the following figures to avoid cluttering).

    [0033] USB docking controller chip 8 may be also a DockPort controller chip such as TI HD3SS2521 that enables low-cost and simple connection of USB, DisplayPort and power through one small connector.

    [0034] It should be noted here that the USB docking controller chip function 8 provides KVM (Keyboard, Video, Mouse) connections to a host computer. The introduction of compact high bandwidth serial interfaces such as USB 3.0 enabled complete peripherals docking function to be linked via serial port. While traditional docking stations used big connectors with a large number of pins (each assigned to a unique peripheral function), the use of a 4 or 6 pin small USB connector enables support for a wide set of peripherals:
    1. 1. One or more high-resolution displays;
    2. 2. Keyboards, mice and various USB 2 and USB 3.0 peripherals;
    3. 3. Wired LAN;
    4. 4. Analog audio in and out, etc.


    [0035] USB docking controller chip 8 is coupled to the following docking device 101 ports:
    • LAN (Local Area Network) port jack 9. Typically 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps Ethernet port having internal or external magnetic (isolation transformer). This port is used to connect the host computer 4 to the wired LAN infrastructure.
    • USB ports 28 and 29 used to connect user keyboard 15 and user mouse 16 to the computer platform 4.
    • General purpose USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 ports 10 and 11 used to connect any USB peripheral device to host computer 4.
    • One or more analog audio jacks 12 used to connect analog audio peripheral devices such as headset, microphone or speakers to the host computer 4.
    • Primary display port 13a connected to primary display 2a via cable 14a is used to display video output from host computer 4. Primary display port 13a is coupled to the USB dock controller chip 8 through video link 31. This video link may be DVI, HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort or any other standard video format.
    • Similarly optional Secondary display port 13b connected to secondary display 2b via cable 14b is used to display video output from host computer 4. Secondary display port 13b is coupled to the USB dock controller chip 8 through video link 32.


    [0036] Docking device 101 is typically powered by an external AC/DC power supply (not shown in this figure) connected to the device 101 through DC jack 55. This external power source may be used to power the host computer 4 via serial cable 6 or via another dedicated power cable connecting docking device 101 and host computer 4.

    [0037] DC jack 55 may also provide power to charge connected devices through powered USB 2 or 3.0 ports 10 or 11. USB Charging Port Power Switch and Controller may be added to device 101 to enable controlled and safe high-current charging to connected devices.

    [0038] Figure 2A illustrates a high-level functional diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure having two connected host computers.

    [0039] In this system 200, a Docking Device 201 supports two host computers -
    1. 1. First host computer 4 is coupled to Docking Device 201 via serial cable 6, and:
    2. 2. Second host computer 17 positioned in a cradle 18 and connected through docking connector 19 and: video cable 23; data cable 20 and optional power line 21. It should be noted that docking cradle 18 may be integrated inside the docking device 201.


    [0040] Figure 2B illustrates a high-level functional diagram of an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure having three connected host computers.

    [0041] In this system 200a, a Docking Device 201a supports three host computers -
    1. 1. First host computer 4 is coupled to Docking Device 201 via serial cable 6, and:
    2. 2. Second host computer 17a positioned in a cradle 18a and connected through docking connector 19a and: video cable 23a; data cable 20a and optional power line 21a.
    3. 3. Third host computer 17b positioned in a cradle 18b and connected through docking connector 19b and: video cable 23b; data cable 20b and optional power line 21b.


    [0042] Docking Device 201a differs from Docking Device 201 of figure 2A in that:

    o lines 57, 56 64 were doubled to 57a, 56a 64a and 57b, 56b 64b;

    o interface connector 24 and VC 35 doubled to 24a, 35a and 24b, 35b; and

    o additional positions were added to multiplexers 58a and 39a to support three hosts.



    [0043] Due to the similarity of Docking Devices 201 and 201a the explanation given herein applies for both, and the suffixes "a" and "b" were omitted.

    [0044] It should be noted here that the terms "docking cradle 18", "docking connector 19" and their associated cables 23, 20 and 21 should be viewed as general means to interface with second host computer 17. This "docking cradle" may be a cable, cage, housing, cable over-mold etc. A plurality of optional cradles 18 may be offered, each designed to match a specific type, make, model, or class of second host computers 17. The term "cradle 18" should be viewed as general data link interface with the second host computers 17, and not limited to a "cradle". Additionally, second host computers 17 may not be limited to hand held device. Depending on the make and model of second host computer 17, its interface form factor and protocol may vary. For example some Smartphones may include internal large screen video output and a dedicated video connector; others may have charging connected or audio connector separate from the data connector, etc. Thus, one or more connectors may be used. Alternatively, some mobile devices are capable of interfacing without physical connector. For example commercial products are available that provide wireless charging of mobile devices. Short range RF or IR wireless communication protocols may also be used. A physical "cradle", although comfortable to use, is not essential and may be replaced with a cable terminated with a connector or a pad on which second host computer 17 is placed (without physical support of the second host computer 17).

    [0045] Second host computer 17 may be a laptop computer, Mac (Apple) platform, Android platform, iPhone, iPad, Desktop computer, Tablet, Smartphone, or any other computer platform which can be interfaced.

    [0046] Second host computer 17 is coupled to the Docking Device 201 through second host computer interface connector 24 and cradle 18.

    [0047] Host computer interface connector 24 and cradle 18 may be modular to enable easy adaptation to large number of host computer models.

    [0048] Keyboard 15 and mouse 16 are jointly connected via line 62 to peripheral multiplexer 39 on one side to enable selection between to two host devices:
    • First host computer 4 is coupled through line 25, USB Docking controller chip 8, host port 7 and cable 6; or:
    • Second host computer 17 is coupled through line 57, connector 24, data lines 20, and cradle connector 19.


    [0049] The user may select the active host computer by means of push buttons 47 which activates multiplexer 39 via control line 51. LEDs indicators 51 indicated to the user which host is currently active.

    [0050] Similarly the user may select the active host to see video output on display 2 using video multiplexer 58. Video multiplexer 58 is coupled to the user display 2 via display port 14 and display cable 14. It switches between:

    [0051] First host computer 4 that is coupled through primary video output line 60, USB Docking controller chip 8, host port 7 and cable 6; or:
    Second host computer 17 that is coupled through video line 56, video format converter (VC) 35, video line 64, connector 24, video line 23, and cradle connector 19.

    [0052] The user may select the active host computer by means of push buttons 47 which activates video multiplexer 58 via control line 59. LEDs indicators 51 indicate to the user which host is currently displayed.

    [0053] Power line 21 connecting the docking device's 201 second host connector 24 and the cradle connector 19, enables second host platform 17 operation and charging from the same DC source connected to DC jack 55.

    [0054] This exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure enables the user to comfortably interact with two host platforms potentially having two different operating systems, and potentially having two different display formats, through a single set of peripheral devices.

    [0055] Similar embodiment of the present disclosure may be expanded to support more than two host computers as needed.

    [0056] It should be noted that Video Converter function 35 is optional. Some host computer platforms 17 may natively generate video format that is different from the format generated by the Docking controller chip 8 and therefore format conversion is needed. Since there is no single video format across the various types of products and vendors, the docking device 201 is designed to support the widest range of computer platforms. Thus, docking device 201 is modular and supports various interface formats.

    [0057] For example, if display 2 and USB docking controller chip 8 support HDMI video format, and second host platform 17 supports only MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) output, then video format converter 35 may be needed in order to convert the incoming MHL video stream into HDMI stream to be switched by video multiplexer 58. Video format conversion as well as other power and signals format conversions may be located inside the docking cradle 18 to better support modularity and reduce costs. This arrangement is shown in figure 3 below. Different types of docking cradle 18 may be provided, each supporting the requirements of different classes of second host platform 17 in terms of form factor, connectors and other mechanical and electrical requirements.

    [0058] It should also be noted that Video Converter (VC) function 35 may be replaced with a USB docking controller chip that is similar to item 8 in this figure. This implementation enables USB docking interface at two of the host computer interfaces.

    [0059] The preferred embodiment audio subsystem shown in this figure 2 is simplified to avoid cluttering. Figure 8 below provides clearer block diagram of the audio components.

    [0060] It should be noted that the communication protocol used by the docking device 201 (and other docking devices seen herein) to communicate with host computer 4 or host computer 17 may be USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, Firewire, Ethernet, HDMI, Infiniband or any other suitable protocol.

    [0061] One drawback of such exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure is that USB switching from one host to the next disconnects the keyboard 15 and mouse 16 from the previously connected host and therefore causes a long pause due to re-enumeration at every switch over. The exemplary embodiment shown in the next figure can overcome this drawback.

    [0062] Figure 3 illustrates another high-level functional diagram of a system 300 having a Docking Device 301 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure that is similar to the device 201 shown in figure 2 above, but it is further having multiple Device Emulators 36x and one Host emulator 27. In the figures and text herein, the term "x" following a number may indicate any one of similar or identical elements marked by that number.

    [0063] User keyboard 15 and pointing device 16 are coupled to the Host Emulator (HE) 27 through USB ports 28 and 29. Host Emulator 27 emulating a computer Human Interface Device (HID) USB stack and is used in order to convert the USB signals into bidirectional serial signals coupled through lines 26 to the peripheral multiplexer 39. Host Emulator 27 may be implemented on a microcontroller, ASIC, FPGA or similar device. Peripheral multiplexer 39 switches the serial signals into first host Device Emulator (DE) 36a or second host Device Emulator 36b. Device emulators 36x are microcontrollers that are programmed to emulate a composite keyboard and mouse USB device. Incoming serial signals from multiplexer 39 are converted into standard USB device traffic. First Device Emulator 36a is coupled via USB line 25 to one of the USB Docking controller 8 USB ports.

    [0064] Second Device emulator 36b is coupled via USB line 57 to the second host connector 24. First and Second Device Emulators 36x may be adapted to operate in different modes to support different connected host computers running different operating systems.

    [0065] It should be noted that the multiplexer 39 may be integrated inside Host Emulator function 27.

    [0066] The use of Host Emulator and multiple Device Emulators enable implementation of mouse cursor tracking function through the addition of another microcontroller function called System Controller (SC) 44. It should be noted that the System Controller function 44 may be implemented on the same microcontroller of the Host Emulator 27 to reduce costs and complexities.

    [0067] System Controller function 44 may be connected to the Docking device controller chip 8 via lines 48 to enable docking functions control and indications through push buttons 47 and LEDs 51. System Controller 44 may also be connected to the multiplexer 58 via control line 59 and to the multiplexer 39 via control line 51 to enable user control of the active host computer.

    [0068] The System Controller function (SC) 44 may be programmed to support various device management tasks such as:
    1. 1. Managing the device power up tests and indications;
    2. 2. Detect connected host computers characteristics through cradle memory device 40 or through directly connecting to the devices;
    3. 3. Configure the USB dock controller function 8 based on user or factory settings;
    4. 4. Sense user inputs from push buttons 47 or touch-screen and provide user indications through LEDs 51;
    5. 5. Manage file transfer and copy -paste functions from one host to the other;
    6. 6. Manage the cursor tracking function by interfacing with the host controller;
    7. 7. Detect and manage keyboard shortcuts to change operation modes and device settings;
    8. 8. Drive the various multiplexers;
    9. 9. Support device firmware upgrade and patching;
    10. 10. Manage the device power and charging settings and activities;
    11. 11. Manage the Bluetooth, WLAN and other wireless resources; and
    12. 12. Manage audio switching and mixing.
    In addition to that, the System Controller function 44 may integrate the Host Emulator function 27.

    [0069] The user may select the active host computer by means of push buttons 47 which activates video multiplexer 58 via control line 59. LEDs indicators 51 indicate to the user which host is currently displayed.
    Alternatively, Host Emulator function 27 may be pre-programmed to detect certain keyboard shortcuts (or key-combinations) to perform switching and control tasks.

    [0070] Device Emulator 36b may also be coupled to a Bluetooth (BT), wireless LAN or another wireless transceiver 45 having an antenna 46 that enables wireless data / audio connection with the second host computer 17. System Controller function 44 may also be coupled to the second host computer connector 24 to enable platform detection and management functionality.

    [0071] This embodiment of the present disclosure may be further programmed to enable a mouse cursor switching mode. In this mode, the System Controller function 44 monitors the cursor movement (from the Host Emulator function 27 for example via channel 79; to avoid cluttering channel 79 has been omitted from some of the drawings) across the display area and automatically switches multiplexers 58 and 39 based on pre-programmed geometrical rules. This mode enables smooth transition of the keyboard 15 and mouse 16 between the two or more connected computer hosts without the need to operate push-buttons 47. The geometrical rules applied by the System Controller function 44 in cursor tracking mode may feature functionality such as:
    1. 1. Built-in host computer display on the left side, on top, on the bottom or to the right;
    2. 2. One or more user displays 2x located in various geometrical arrangements; and
    3. 3. Extended displays from one host computer.


    [0072] Docking cradle 18 may also comprise an internal video conversion function (VC) 35 that converts the native video output format of host computer 17 into another format to be used inside the docking device 301. For example docking connector 19 may be Mini USB 3.0 Type with MHL support. Video conversion function 35 converts the MHL into HDMI standard that is used by the docking device 301 and its one or more connected displays 2x.

    [0073] In addition, docking cradle 18 may also have a configuration memory device 40. This device stores essential interface information that may be read by the System Controller function 44 via lines 37, connector 24 and lines 41 to enable "Plug and Play" operation with different modular cradles or cable 18. Configuration memory device 40 may be any type of non-volatile memory such as flash, Mask ROM etc.

    [0074] For example - configuration memory device 40 may store the information about the host computer device17 supported video formats.

    [0075] Cradle 18 may also comprise a power converter circuitry (not shown in this figure) to support the device specific charging voltage power and data requirements.

    [0076] This implementation of the present disclosure enables one docking device 301 design to be compatible with many different types of host computers.

    [0077] For example:
    1. 1. Simple cable or cradle 18 having USB plug, DVI/HDMI plug and audio plugs may be used to connect desktop PC;
    2. 2. Cable or cradle 18 having USB Docking controller chip similar to 8 and USB 3 plug may be used to connect a second portable computer having USB 3.0 port;
    3. 3. Cable or cradle 18 having Apple Lightening electronic interface circuitry and Lightening plug may be used to connect Apple devices;
    4. 4. Cable or cradle 18 having MHL to HDMI converter circuitry may be used to connect certain Android computers; and:
    5. 5. Cable or cradle 18 having DockPort controller and mini DisplayPort plug.


    [0078] In this embodiment of the present disclosure, power or charging to host computer 17 is further controlled by charger power controller function 67. This charger power controller function 67 contains circuitry that signals the host computer 17 to indicate available charging current. It may comply with industry standards such as USB Specification, Battery Charging Specification, Rev 1.2 (BC1.2) that defines Charging Downstream Port (CDP) and Dedicated Charging Port (DCP). It may also support Apple devices Sleep-Mode Charging. The charger power controller function 67 may be coupled to the USB lines 57 to enable charger device enumeration (of host computer 17) via USB to find its charging current characteristics.

    [0079] It should be noted that charger power controller function 67 may be integrated inside the cradle or cable 18 and not inside docking device 301 as shown in this figure 3.

    [0080] Figure 4 illustrates yet another high-level functional diagram of a system 400 having a Docking Device 401 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure that is similar to the devices 201 and 301 shown in previous figures, but it is further supporting two user displays 2a and 2b.

    [0081] In this exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure, primary display 2a is coupled to the USB Docking controller chip 8 via video output line 31 and primary display output 13a and video cable 14a. Secondary display 2b is coupled to second host computer 17 via cradle connector 19, video cable 23, video cable 64, optional internal video format converter 35, video line 56, secondary display port 13b and video cable 14b.

    [0082] In this exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure, secondary display 2b may also display video output of a nearby host computer connected via datalink wireless receiver or transceiver 77 coupled to antenna 78. Such datalink may use standard protocols such as DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), Miracast, 5-WiGig, Wireless LAN, Zigbee etc.

    [0083] In this embodiment, the user may share a single set of keyboard 15 and mouse 16 between two docked host computers 4 and 17 while each platform is connected to its own display 2a and 2b respectively.

    [0084] In this embodiment of the present disclosure, USB line 57 from second host computer connector 24 is connected to a USB hub (HUB) 87. USB Hub 87 may be USB 2.0, USB 3.0 such as VIA VL812 or any other hub. USB Hub 87 connected to two downstream USB ports:

    First USB downstream port 88a is connected to another peripheral multiplexer 89; and

    Second USB downstream port 88b is connected to the Device Emulator (DE) 36b. Peripheral multiplexer 89 control by the System Controller function 44 through line 90 to enable switching between USB host in host computer 17 and in host computer 4 through USB lines 91 connected to USB Docking controller chip 8 downstream USB port. Peripheral multiplexer 89 output is connected via lines 92 to USB port connector Type- A 85 located at the external surface of docking device 401. This port enables the user to connect a USB device such as web-cam that may be switched between host computers 4 and 17 as needed.



    [0085] Figure 5 illustrates yet another high-level functional diagram of system 500 having a Docking Device 501 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure that is similar to the device 401 shown in previous figure, but it is further supports dual head display output from primary host computer 4.

    [0086] In this exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure, primary display 2a is coupled to the USB Docking controller chip 8 primary video output 31 while secondary display 2b is switchable to either: the USB Docking controller chip 8 secondary video output 32 or the video output of second host computer 17. Video switching is done through video multiplexer 33 controlled via control line 52 that is coupled to the System Controller function 44 to enable user control.

    [0087] Figure 6 illustrates a high-level functional diagram of a system 600 having a Docking Device 601 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention that is similar to the device 501 shown in previous figure, but it is further having a managed copy-paste or file transfer function to assist the user in transferring data between the two host computers 4 and 17.

    [0088] In this exemplary embodiment of the present invention primary Device Emulator 36a is coupled via line 34a to the file transfer arbiter function (ARB) 38. Secondary Device Emulator 36b is coupled via line 34b to the same file transfer arbiter function 38.

    [0089] File transfer arbiter function 38 receives data and copy-paste commands from the two or more connected host computers and controls the data path between host computers and between computers and optional local storage device 30. This local storage device may be implemented using a volatile memory or non-volatile memory technology to temporarily storing user data.

    [0090] For example: a file located on host computer 4 may be copied by the user into "drive S:" visible in the host computer 4. This drive is in fact Device Emulator 36a enumerated through the USB docking controller chip 8 as a mass storage device.

    [0091] Once the user switches to operating the host computer 17, the same drive S: is visible at that host computer 17 as well. The user then may copy the required file from drive S into a local storage at computer 17 to complete the file transfer.

    [0092] File transfer arbiter function 38 may be further coupled to the System Controller function 44 to enable user management, control, configuration and indications.

    [0093] Files larger than the local storage device 30 capacity may be copied through several consecutive write, read, delete cycles managed by the arbiter 38 or the system controller function 44.

    [0094] It should be noted that the arbiter function 38 may be contained inside the system controller function 44 to reduce cost and complexity.

    [0095] The exemplary embodiment of the present invention may be programmed to enable seamless file transfer between the host computers 4 and 17 and / or to enable clip-board type copy-paste function for data objects such as files or text.

    [0096] An optional external mass storage device port 69 may be used to connect an external USB mass storage device as a shared memory between connected host computers. This port 69 is coupled to the file transfer arbiter function 38 to support larger files storage or files backup.

    [0097] To further enhance the file transfer function, a clipboard copy paste function may be configured. Software application must be loaded on the host computers taking part in such transfer. The software application captures the clipboard text or file and copy it into pre-specified storage drive that represent the docking device 601 shared storage (30 and or the external mass storage device if connected to mass storage device port 69). Once copied into the storage 30 or to the external storage device, the clip-board content may be pasted by similar application into the other computer clip-board to enable paste function.

    [0098] Figure 7 illustrates yet another a high-level functional diagram of a system 700 having a Docking Device 701 according to an exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure that is similar to the device 601 shown in previous figure, but it is further having a Video Processing function (VP) 70 to enable video combination and overlay of the host computers video outputs.

    [0099] Video processor function 70 is having at least two video receivers to receive the connected video inputs from the USB docking controller chip 8 via line 31 and from video format converter 35 via video line 56. In addition the Video processor function 70 may be connected also to the secondary video output of the USB docking controller chip 8 via line 32 to enable combined display of 3 sources.

    [0100] Video processor function 70 is typically coupled to a Frame Buffer memory (FB) 71 to temporarily store displayed images data.

    [0101] Video processor function 70 is further coupled to the primary display 2a via primary display output line 74a, primary display connector 13a and primary display cable 14a.

    [0102] Similarly, Video processor function 70 may be coupled to the optional secondary display 2b via secondary display output line 74b, secondary display connector 13b and secondary display cable 14b.

    [0103] Video processor function 70 may be programmed to enable at least some of the following video image combination features such as:
    • Picture in Picture
    • Windowing
    • Video overlay
    • Video scaling (up-scaling and down-scaling)
    • Video transparency
    • Minimizing video window to task bar
    • Video popup
    Etc.

    [0104] System Controller function 44 may be coupled to the Video processor function 70 by line 75 and to the Host Emulator 27 by line 79 to enable operation in modes such as dynamic windowing (wherein keyboard and mouse are used to change windows on screen).

    [0105] Figure 8 illustrates a high-level functional diagram of a system 800 showing the audio subsystem in the embodiments shown in figures 2 to 7 above.

    [0106] In this figure, the USB docking controller chip 8 analog audio input/output 84 are coupled to the audio multiplexer 80. For drawing clarity, audio multiplexer 80 is seen here as switch, however audio multiplexer 80 may be implemented using relays, solid-state switching logic, analog audio mixer, DSP (Digital Signal Processor) or any other function that may be used to route and affect audio streams. Audio multiplexer 80 is controlled by control line 81 coupled to the System Controller function 44.

    [0107] Audio multiplexer 80 is also coupled to the second host computer 17 audio input/output through connector 24 and audio line 82. Audio multiplexer 80 may also be coupled to the optional Bluetooth or other wireless transceiver 45 audio input/output to enable wireless connection to nearby host computers. Nearby host computers may be one of, or both host computers 17 or 4.

    [0108] Audio multiplexer 80 input / output (common) side is coupled to the one or more external audio connector 12 to enable connection of user headset, microphone, speakers or any other suitable audio device.

    [0109] The exemplary embodiment enables the user to configure it to perform at least some of the following audio related functions:
    • Switch one host audio output at a time;
    • Change volume and mix one or more host audio outputs;
    • Mute one or more audio outputs;
    • Select one or more host to connect the microphone to; and
    • Route one host audio output to one side (for example left) and another host output to the other side (for example right).
    • Perform audio equalizer function.
    • Amplify and drive speakers and optionally a subwoofer.


    [0110] Figure 9 illustrates a typical operational scenario 900 of the exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure while in cursor tracking mode.

    [0111] In this example the multi-host docking device (not shown here) is connected to:
    • One docked laptop computer 4 having one built-in display 95 and one extended display 2a;
    • One docked iPhone device 17 having built-in display 96 and one extended display 2b; and
    • Single keyboard and a single mouse (not shown here).


    [0112] Line 98 represents the cursor movement path (driven by the user's mouse movements). The circles 99x representing the transition points between displays - these are virtual points where the cursor leaves one display area and reappears on the nearby display area.

    [0113] While the device is in cursor tracking mode and after it is properly configured to the illustrated geometry, it will operate as follow:
    • Transition point 99a where cursor leaves host computer 4 primary display 95 to secondary display 2a is managed by the host computer 4 operating system. No switching is needed in the device. Keyboard and mouse remain switched to host computer 4;
    • Transition point 99b where cursor leaves host computer 4 secondary display 2a to host computer 17 secondary display 2b is managed by the device - keyboard and mouse are being automatically switched from host computer 4 to host computer 17;
    • Transition point 99c where cursor leaves host computer 17 secondary display 2b to primary display 96 is managed by the host computer 17 operating system. No switching is needed in the device. Keyboard and mouse remain switched to host computer 17;
    • Transition point 99d where cursor leaves host computer 17 primary display 96 to secondary display 2b is managed by the host computer 17 operating system. No switching is needed in the device. Keyboard and mouse remain switched to host computer 17; and
    • Transition point 99e where cursor leaves host computer 17 secondary display 2b to host computer 4 secondary display 2a is managed by the device - keyboard and mouse are being automatically switched from host computer 17 to host computer 4.


    [0114] This embodiment of the present disclosure enables field configuration of the desired system layout. The user may enter parameters such as: display assignment, display size, relative locations, cursor speed and acceleration etc.

    [0115] Figure 10 illustrates a typical operational scenario 1000 of the exemplary embodiment of the present disclosure while in combiner mode.

    [0116] Device x01 is coupled to host computer 4 on one side and host computer 17 on the other through cable or wireless connections. Device x01 configured to operate in combiner mode drives two displays - 2a and 2b.

    [0117] While is combiner mode the following example illustrates the operating method:
    • Video output from host computer 4 is shown on display 2a (109) and extended into display 2b (104). Outputs may be scaled up and down by the user or automatically to fit the displays' size.
    • Video output from host computer 17 is sowed in "Picture - in - Picture" (PIP) window appearing partially on display 2a (102) and on display 2b (103). The user may downscale and upscale the window and drag it to the left or to the right as needed. The user may also minimize the host computer video window to a task-bar.


    [0118] On-Screen-Display (OSD) may be implemented to enhance system usability by providing video source name text and colored frame.

    [0119] It should be noted that PIP may be displayed on only one of the screens 2a or 2b. Multiple PIPs may be displayed if more than two hosts are connected. Additional System Information (SI), for example icons, menus etc. which are related to actions and configuration of the device x01 or the system 1000 may be displayed. For example, the names and other information related to files stored in drive S, or items in the clipboard may be presented on the screen. Icons showing the connected hosts and their statuses may be presented on the screen.

    [0120] In some embodiments, the user may logically disconnect a host computer without disconnecting it physically, or connect and disconnect a host that is wirelessly connected to the device x01 by using the keyboard or mouse. In some embodiments the system reconfiguration is done using a GUI (Graphical User Interface) presented as a PIP or a task bar or in other form on display 2x.

    [0121] In some embodiments, the user can move and or change the relative positions and size of the displayed windows.

    [0122] In some embodiments, the PIP, OSD and/or other displayed icons menus structures are generated by SC 44.

    [0123] In some embodiments, dragging an item from a display designated to a first host computer to a display designated to a second host computer performs moving or copying the item from the first host to the second host. This function transforms the device x01 into a cross platform intuitive GUI.

    [0124] In this document, the term "microcontroller function" or other references to "function" or "functions" may refer to hardware capable of performing the logical function. The hardware may comprise one or a plurality of electronic circuitries. The hardware may be based on an ASIC (Application Specific Integrated Circuit), a processor accompanied with the necessary memory, a programmable device such as FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), or other device or devices capable of performing the desired function. The block diagrams seen here may refer to the function (rather then the hardware sub-units) since modern logical hardware are capable of performing several functions. Thus, a plurality of logical functions may be performed by the same hardware. Alternatively, each logical function may be performed by a dedicated hardware, for example a single chip, or several chips. A man skilled in the art of electronics may find several ways to realize and implement the "function" or "functions". All such implementations are within the scope of this disclosure.

    [0125] It is to be understood that the above description is intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. For example, the above-described embodiments (and/or aspects thereof) may be used in combination with each other. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the various embodiments.

    [0126] While the dimensions and types of materials described herein are intended to define the parameters of the various embodiments, the embodiments are by no means limiting and are exemplary embodiments. Many other embodiments will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reviewing the above description.

    [0127] This written description uses examples to disclose the various embodiments, including the best mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the various embodiments. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims.

    [0128] Although the invention has been described in conjunction with specific embodiments thereof, it is evident that many alternatives, modifications and variations will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Accordingly, it is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations that fall within the scope of the appended claims.


    Claims

    1. A Multi-Host Docking Device (601) comprising:

    at least one user peripheral interface (28, 29) to interface with a user keyboard (15) and a user pointing device (16);

    at least one Host Emulator (27) connected to said at least one user peripheral interface to emulate a computer host stack so as to interact with said user keyboard and said user pointing device;

    at least one first Device Emulator (36a) and at least one second Device Emulator (36b), each of which configured to emulate a keyboard and a mouse;

    at least one multiplexer (39) to switch signals from said at least one Host Emulator to said at least one first Device Emulator and said at least one second Device Emulator;

    at least one first host interface (7) and at least one second host interface (24) to connect at least one first host computer (4) and at least one second host computer (17), respectively, wherein said at least one first host interface and said

    at least one second host interface are capable of interfacing said at least one first Device Emulator and said

    at least one second Device Emulator with said at least one first host computer and said at least one second host computer, respectively, and wherein said at least one first host interface and said at least one second host interface are capable of receiving display data from said at least one first host computer and said at least one second host computer, respectively;

    at least one video multiplexer (33) to multiplex display data of said at least one first host computer and said at least one second host computer to at least one display output; and

    a selector (47) to enable user selection between one of said at least one first host computer and said at least one second host computer; characterized by

    an Arbiter (38) connected to said at least one first Device Emulator and said at least one second Device Emulator, said Arbiter being configured to enable clipboard and file transfer between said at least one first host computer and said at least one second host computer via said at least one first Device Emulator and said at least one second Device Emulator, and wherein each of said at least one first Device Emulator and said at least one second Device Emulator is further configured to emulate a mass storage device.


     
    2. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, wherein at least one of said at least one first host interface and said at least one second host interface is a USB interface.
     
    3. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, further comprising a memory (30) coupled to said arbiter so as to enable temporary data storage.
     
    4. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, further comprising a System Controller (44) capable of performing cursor tracking.
     
    5. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 4, wherein said System Controller is capable of managing the Multi-Host Docking Device.
     
    6. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, wherein at least one of said at least one first host interface and said at least one second host interface is a Docking cradle (18) having a physical form factor to support a specific class of mobile computing devices.
     
    7. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 6, wherein said Docking cradle is a modular cradle external to the Multi-Host Docking Device.
     
    8. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 7, wherein said Docking cradle comprises a video conversion function (35) to convert the native video output format of the corresponding host computer into another format to be used inside the Multi-Host Docking Device.
     
    9. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, wherein said at least one video multiplexer is capable of interfacing with at least one primary display (2a) and at least one secondary display (2b).
     
    10. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 9, wherein said at least one video multiplexer is capable of displaying video signals from said at least one first host computer on said at least one primary display, and said at least one video multiplexer is further capable of switching said at least one secondary display to display video signals from either one of said at least one first host computer or said at least one second host computer.
     
    11. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, wherein said at least one video multiplexer is a video processor (70) capable of combining video signals from said at least one first host computer with video signals of said at least one second host computer.
     
    12. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, further comprising at least one video converter (35) to convert the native video output format of at least one of said at least one first host computer and said at least one second host computer into another format to be used within the Multi-Host Docking Device.
     
    13. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, further comprising an audio multiplexer (80) capable of receiving audio signals from the first and the second host computers, and transmitting output audio signals to an external audio connector.
     
    14. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, wherein at least one of the first and the second host interfaces is a wireless interface (45).
     
    15. The Multi-Host Docking Device of Claim 1, further comprising at least one physical lock configured to lock at least one of the first and second host computers to the Multi-Host Docking Device.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung (601), umfassend:

    mindestens eine periphere Benutzerschnittstelle (28, 29) zur Anbindung an eine Benutzertastatur (15) und eine Benutzerzeigevorrichtung (16);

    mindestens einen Hostemulator (47), der mit der mindestens einen peripheren Benutzerschnittstelle verbunden ist, um einen Computerhoststapel für Interaktion mit der Benutzertastatur und der Benutzerzeigevorrichtung zu emulieren;

    mindestens einen ersten Geräteemulator (36a) und mindestens einen zweiten Geräteemulator (36b), die dazu konfiguriert sind, jeweils eine Tastatur und eine Maus zu emulieren;

    mindestens einen Multiplexer (39), um Signale von dem mindestens einen Hostemulator zu dem mindestens einen ersten Geräteemulator und dem mindestens einen zweiten Geräteemulator zu schalten;

    mindestens eine erste Hostschnittstelle (7) und mindestens eine zweite Hostschnittstelle (24) zum jeweiligen Verbinden mit mindestens einem ersten Hostcomputer (4) und mindestens einem zweiten Hostcomputer (17), wobei die mindestens eine erste Hostschnittstelle und die mindestens eine zweite Hostschnittstelle dazu in der Lage sind, jeweils den mindestens einen ersten Geräteemulator und den mindestens einen zweiten Geräteemulator mit dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer und dem mindestens einen zweiten Hostcomputer zu verbinden, und wobei die mindestens eine erste Hostschnittstelle und die mindestens eine zweite Hostschnittstelle dazu in der Lage sind, jeweils Anzeigedaten von dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer und dem mindestens einen zweiten Hostcomputer zu empfangen;

    mindestens einen Video-Multiplexer (33), um Anzeigedaten von dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer und dem mindestens einen zweiten Hostcomputer zu mindestens einer Anzeigeausgabe zu multiplexieren; und

    einen Selektor (47) um eine Benutzerauswahl zwischen einem aus dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer und dem mindestens einen zweiten Hostcomputer zu ermöglichen;

    gekennzeichnet durch

    einen Arbiter (38), der mit dem mindestens einen ersten Geräteemulator und dem mindestens einen zweiten Geräteemulator verbunden ist, wobei der Arbiter dazu konfiguriert ist, Zwischenablage- und Dateienübertragung zwischen dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer und dem mindestens einen zweiten Hostcomputer über den mindestens einen ersten Geräteemulator und den mindestens einen zweiten Geräteemulator zu ermöglichen, und wobei jeder aus dem mindestens einen ersten Geräteemulator und dem mindestens einen zweiten Geräteemulator des Weiteren dazu konfiguriert ist, eine Massenspeichervorrichtung zu emulieren.


     
    2. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei mindestens eine aus der mindestens einen ersten Hostschnittstelle und der mindestens einen zweiten Hostschnittstelle eine USB-Schnittstelle ist.
     
    3. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, des Weiteren umfassend einen Speicher (30), der mit dem Arbiter verbunden ist, um eine temporäre Datenspeicherung zu ermöglichen.
     
    4. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, des Weiteren umfassend eine Systemsteuerung (40), die dazu in der Lage ist, Cursorverfolgung durchzuführen.
     
    5. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 4, wobei die Systemsteuerung dazu in der Lage ist, die Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung zu verwalten.
     
    6. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei mindestens eine aus der mindestens einen ersten Hostschnittstelle und der mindestens einen zweiten Hostschnittstelle eine Andockstation (18) mit einem physischen Formfaktor ist, der eine bestimmte Klasse von mobilen Computergeräten unterstützt.
     
    7. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 6, wobei die Andockstation eine modulare Station extern von der Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung ist.
     
    8. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 7, wobei die Andockstation eine Videokonvertierungsfunktion (35) umfasst, um das native Videoausgabeformat des entsprechenden Hostcomputers in ein anderes Format zur Verwendung in der Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung zu konvertieren.
     
    9. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei der mindestens eine Video-Multiplexer dazu in der Lage ist, eine Schnittstelle mit mindestens einer primären Anzeige (2a) und mindestens einer sekundären Anzeige (2b) zu bilden.
     
    10. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 9, wobei der mindestens eine Video-Multiplexer dazu in der Lage ist, Videosignale von dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer auf der mindestens einen primären Anzeige anzuzeigen, und wobei der mindestens eine Video-Multiplexer darüber hinaus dazu in der Lage ist, die mindestens eine sekundäre Anzeige zum Anzeigen von Videosignalen von einem aus dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer oder dem mindestens einen zweiten Hostcomputer zu schalten.
     
    11. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei der mindestens eine Video-Multiplexer ein Videoprozessor (70) ist, der dazu in der Lage ist, Videosignale von dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer mit Videosignalen von dem mindestens einen zweiten Hostcomputer zu kombinieren.
     
    12. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, des Weiteren umfassend mindestens einen Videokonvertierer (35), um das native Videoausgabeformat von mindestens einem aus dem mindestens einen ersten Hostcomputer und dem mindestens einen zweiten Hostcomputer in ein anderes Format zur Verwendung in der Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung zu konvertieren.
     
    13. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, des Weiteren umfassend einen Audio-Multiplexer (80), der dazu in der Lage ist, Audiosignale von dem ersten und dem zweiten Hostcomputer zu empfangen und Audio-Ausgabesignale an einen externen Audio-Steckverbinder zu übertragen.
     
    14. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei mindestens eine aus der ersten und zweiten Hostschnittstelle eine drahtlose Schnittstelle (45) ist.
     
    15. Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, des Weiteren umfassend mindestens eine physische Sperre, die dazu konfiguriert ist, mindestens einen aus dem ersten und zweiten Hostcomputer an die Mehrfachhost-Andockvorrichtung zu sperren.
     


    Revendications

    1. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples (601) comprenant :

    au moins une interface périphérique utilisateur (28, 29) pour servir d'interface avec un clavier utilisateur (15) et un dispositif de pointage utilisateur (16) ;

    au moins un émulateur hôte (27) relié à ladite au moins une interface périphérique utilisateur pour émuler une pile hôte d'ordinateur ainsi que pour interagir avec ledit clavier utilisateur et ledit dispositif de pointage utilisateur ;

    au moins un premier émulateur de dispositif (36a) et au moins un second émulateur de dispositif (36b), chacun d'eux étant configuré pour émuler un clavier et une souris ;

    au moins un multiplexeur (39) pour commuter des signaux dudit au moins un émulateur hôte sur le au moins un premier émulateur de dispositif et le au moins un second émulateur de dispositif ;

    au moins une première interface hôte (7) et au moins une seconde interface hôte (24) pour relier respectivement au moins un premier ordinateur hôte (4) et au moins un second ordinateur hôte (17), cependant qu'au moins une première interface hôte et au moins une seconde interface hôte sont capables de servir d'interface audit au moins un premier émulateur de dispositif et audit au moins un second émulateur de dispositif avec respectivement ledit au moins un premier ordinateur hôte et ledit au moins un second ordinateur hôte et cependant que ladite au moins une première interface hôte et ladite au moins une seconde interface hôte sont capables de recevoir des données d'affichage respectivement dudit au moins un premier ordinateur hôte et dudit au moins un second ordinateur hôte ;

    au moins un multiplexeur vidéo (33) pour multiplexer des données d'affichage dudit au moins un premier ordinateur hôte et dudit au moins un second ordinateur hôte vers au moins une sortie d'affichage et

    un sélecteur (47) pour permettre une sélection utilisateur entre l'un desdits au moins un premier ordinateur hôte et au moins un second ordinateur hôte,

    caractérisée par

    un arbitre (38) relié audit au moins un premier émulateur de dispositif et audit au moins un second émulateur de dispositif,

    ledit arbitre étant configuré pour permettre le transfert de presse-papier et de fichiers entre ledit au moins un premier ordinateur hôte et ledit au moins un second ordinateur hôte par ledit au moins un premier émulateur de dispositif et ledit au moins un second émulateur de dispositif et cependant que chacun desdits le au moins un premier émulateur de dispositif et ledit au moins un second émulateur de dispositif est configuré pour émuler un dispositif de stockage de masse.


     
    2. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1, cependant qu'au moins l'une de ladite au moins une première interface hôte et de ladite au moins une seconde interface hôte est une interface USB.
     
    3. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1 comprenant de plus une mémoire (30) couplée audit arbitre de manière à permettre un stockage temporaire de données.
     
    4. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1 comprenant de plus un contrôleur système (44) capable d'exécuter un suivi de curseur.
     
    5. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 4, ledit contrôleur système étant capable de gérer la station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples.
     
    6. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1, cependant qu'au moins l'une de ladite au moins une première interface hôte et de ladite au moins une seconde interface hôte est un socle d'accueil (18) qui a un facteur de forme physique pour supporter une classe spécifique de dispositifs informatiques mobiles.
     
    7. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 6, cependant que ledit socle d'accueil est un socle externe modulaire pour la station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples.
     
    8. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 7, cependant que ledit socle d'accueil comprend une fonction de conversion vidéo (35) pour convertir le format de sortie vidéo d'origine de l'ordinateur hôte correspondant en un autre format à utiliser à l'intérieur de la station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples.
     
    9. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1, cependant que ledit au moins un multiplexeur vidéo est capable de service d'interface avec au moins un écran primaire (2a) et au moins un écran secondaire (2b).
     
    10. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 9, cependant que ledit au moins un multiplexeur vidéo est capable d'afficher des signaux vidéo dudit au moins un premier ordinateur hôte sur ledit au moins un écran primaire et ledit au moins un multiplexeur vidéo est de plus capable de commuter ledit au moins un écran secondaire pour afficher des signaux vidéo de l'un ou l'autre dudit au moins un premier ordinateur hôte ou dudit au moins un second ordinateur hôte.
     
    11. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1, cependant que ledit au moins un multiplexeur vidéo est un processeur vidéo (70) capable de combiner des signaux vidéo dudit au moins un premier ordinateur hôte aux signaux vidéo dudit au moins un second ordinateur hôte.
     
    12. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1 comprenant de plus au moins un convertisseur vidéo (35) pour convertir le format de sortie vidéo d'origine d'au moins l'un desdits un premier ordinateur hôte et dudit au moins un second ordinateur hôte en un autre format à utiliser à l'intérieur de la station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples.
     
    13. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1 comprenant de plus un multiplexeur audio (80) capable de recevoir des signaux audio du premier et du second ordinateur hôte et de transmettre des signaux audio de sortie à un connecteur audio externe.
     
    14. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1, cependant que au moins l'une de ladite au moins une première interface hôte et de ladite au moins une seconde interface hôte est une interface sans fil (45).
     
    15. Station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples selon la revendication 1 comprenant de plus un verrou physique configuré pour verrouiller au moins l'un desdits un premier ordinateur hôte ou un second ordinateur hôte sur la station d'accueil pour hôtes multiples.
     




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    Cited references

    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



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    Patent documents cited in the description