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Contributed by MarkOberg

It has been suggested to document the application ideas possible given the hardware capabilities of the TuxScreen Phone hardware. In response to this request, I produced the following list. I also want to attribute these ideas to those who brought them to the project. Unfortunately I did not record them as they came in, so if you would like to claim these ideas as your own, that is if you communicated them to me at LinuxWorld, please write and claim the idea. Otherwise, if you have a new application idea, please quickly submit it and we will add it to our list.

Personal Telephone Call Handler

The TuxScreen phone has a Lucent DSP programmed to support CallerID, DTMF Tone generation, Speaker Phone, Mute, and User Interface event notification. With the TuxScreen phone connected to an active POTS trunk, any incoming call will generate an event in the form of an interrupt which allows an application to read the CallerID information from the DSP. Picking up the receiver also generates an event.

Features possible with the Personal Telephone Call Handler application include but are not limited to:

  • Call filtering
  • Caller identification with graphical response
  • Voice messaging
  • Home control over DTMF
  • One Touch Dialer
  • Web integrated dialing
  • Voice Over IP (VOIP)
The Call Filtering feature enables a user to select an appropriate action for select or policy grouped incoming calls. One example is to place a policy that calls from any unknown phone number might be answered by the TuxScreen call filtering application and it asks the caller on the other end if he or she is a sales person, responding by pressing "1" for yes and "2" for no. Then if the person indicates that he or she is not, the number is recorded as a non-sales number and the application lets the caller know that it will then ring the phone for pickup. The user is then given the opportunity to answer and upon no answer the newly filtered caller can leave a voice message. If a sales person indicates "1" to identify him or her self, he or she is notified that solicitations are not accepted at the number and requests that your number be removed from their caller list and that an acknowledgement to do so is requested by pressing "1." Currently the phone company allows users to have this type of service from the backend. This use of the TuxScreen Phone for this purpose enables the handling to not ask if a caller is a solicitor once the number is recorded as a non-solicitation number. I have an aunt and uncle who have placed this feature on their phone line, however after a time of having to press '1' every time I call, it becomes annoying. They however love the benefit of receiving no solicitation calls. This application would enable them the convience of not having solicitors call as well as avoid inconviencing their friends and family when they call.

A second select example might be when you are just plain tired of speaking with someone, it is your ability to block numbers and can even provide a standard voice response to those calling from specific numbers.

The Caller Identification with Graphical Interface is interesting in that when an incoming call from a known number comes in, a photo of the caller can be displayed while the phone is ringing. In this way, if I receive a call from my mother, a photo of her can be displayed on the screen when she calls. Using this feature it is possible for me to tell that my mother is calling by glancing across the room and seeing her photo. In addition, an audible tone can be played on the phone which is associated with the caller. For select callers, it could be possible to have the phone immediately pick up and allow the caller to interact with the environment on speaker phone. So if I as a home owner wanted to be able to have the home TuxScreen phone pick up when I called and immediately go to speaker phone, I would be able to hear what was going on in my home without having anyone pick up the phone. The application could also allow me to ring the ringer should I press a number on the phone that I was calling from.

The Voice Messaging application provides standard voice messaging features. In addition it would be possible to store voice messages off to a central home or office server over the serial communications using PPP. Other connectivity options to a home or office server could be through an add on ethernet or 802.11 wireless card connected to one of the pcmcia ports. Unique Voice Messaging features could be to play a unique message based on the CalledID information. Also verification of an intended receiver using DTMF selection control is possible. So if you have a special message or general greeting for "Greg" and you expect him to call the TuxScreen phone, you can store a custom greeting to be used in answering phone calls from him. However, likely if you want to ensure that the caller understands that the message is for Greg, anthough Anthony may share the same home number, a request to identify himself using the keypad on his phone would allow the caller to know that the message was intended for Greg, and if Greg is the caller he will get the personalized greeting.

Voice Messages could be reviewed from any Web Browser that can connect to the home or office server using a graphical web interface.

The One Touch Dialing feature is a concept where a phone book, which may not immediately show phone numbers, is used to search for a phone number. Upon touching the area of the screen associated with the found number, the phone call may be initiated by merely picking up the receiver.

Web integrated dialing is a concept where a web page viewed on the touch screen could have HTML tags which include a phone contact button. By touching the area associated with this tag, it is possible to initiate a phone call by subsequently picking up the receiver.

The Voice Over IP feature allows calls made through one touch dialing to be routed over IP instead of over the POTS line. So if a caller in a phone book or on a web page supports VOIP connections, the application could initiate a VOIP session to the target VOIP phone address, start receiving audio from the DSP and present it through the VOIP protocol.

Touch Tone Home Control

The Lucent DSP, through it's DTMF and Call pickup features, could support a home automation control interface. This application would allow a home owner to press a special code upon dialing their home phone and have a menu of control options to interact with their home. The home control would likely interface from the serial port to the home controller, or through the serial port to a home server and then to the home controller.

Video Phone with whiteboard capability

The main board of the TuxScreen device has an unused buffered parallel interface which could be used to interface with a Connectix or equivalent video input device. The Video Phone application could be written to split the audio and video over seperate communications channels. It could be quite possible to route the audio over the POTS line as a plain old telephone call. The Video or whiteboard stream could then be routed over the internet through either the serial port connected to an internet connection gateway i.e. A dedicated Linux box connected to a persistent connection to the internet. This application plays with the idea of using simultaneous communications channels of heterogeneous type to provide a single communications experience.

X10 Control Interface

Many X10 customers are ever looking for new interfaces to expose their X10 control capabilities. The TuxScreen phone provides a touch screen interface to control X10 networks graphically. The application's User interface would likely be HTML based images or tags which when selected through the touch screen take action. X10 control commands would be routed out of the serial port of the TuxScreen device and could either be directly connected to an X10 controller or to a dedicated Linux box which reroutes X10 commands to the X10 controller. The latter configuration would allow for communications to be multiplexed for more uses than just X10 and a non-dedicated channel. This application would essentially extend the user interfaces available to control a home by one or many depending on how many TuxScreen units were distributed throughout a home.

Kitchen Recipe Panel

One developer, who I believe must enjoy cooking in the kitchen as much as coding, suggested that he would like to take the touch screen off of the base unit, bolt it upside down under his kitchen cupboards, and place the TuxScreen internals inside of the cabinet above in order to provide a touch screen cookbook in his kitchen. This is a very straight forward application. Essentialy the mechanics and electronics is fairly easily achievable. The actual recipe application would likely be best implemented as a web application that runs on a dedicated home server. The serial port would likely be the preferred method of connecting the TuxScreen device to the home server as speeds of 115k baud are easily achieved and thus would be reasonably snappy to the user.

We believe that there are many other application ideas floating out there for the TuxScreen device. Whatever interests you we encourage that you write the code to implement your idea, and if you are generous enough we invite you to contribute your open source software to the TuxScreen device project for all of us to enjoy.

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