Adelaide based telecommunications technology start-up Red Button Technologies has been granted a US patent for its communications technology.
U.S. Patent No. 8,811,934 was granted to Red Button Technologies in August 2014. The company received an Australian patent in 2013.
Though the patents were originally conceived to protect Red Button’s cloud emergency alert system, they have a much broader application. The company’s patent attorneys encouraged them to submit a less specific patent that would protect the broad principle of which the emergency alert system was just one possible application.
Red Button’s patent is based on the principle of establishing a communication link between parties who have a previous association. A cloud based server stores these associations and establishes the communication link by recognising the identity of the person wishing to communicate with these known associates.
Whereas the normal paradigm in telecommunications is to facilitate calls between telephone devices regardless of the identity of the calling and answering party, Red Button's patent is based on first establishing the relationship (prior association) between the parties anticipating routing calls in the future.
An important concept behind the patented technology is to enable innovative communication solutions that integrate the use of the web and communications for different applications that work with any mobile or fixed phone on any network.
According to Professor Reg Coutts, Red Button’s Technology Evangelist, telecommunications companies in the USA and Australia will see in the patent, potential roadblocks to many future products and applications that might arise from the integration of the web and mobile telephony.
For instance, when two parties who have a previous association on a social media platform wish to establish a phone conversation, the identity of the calling party is confirmed through their unique username and password, with the call initiated via an added feature on the social media site. The communications management system consults a database to obtain the relevant phone numbers and places the calls, enabling the two parties to talk to each other without ever disclosing their phone numbers.
The patent also covers the establishment of communications between a portable device and multiple recipients (again parties previously associated with the user) to receive information generated by biometric sensors.
Professor Coutts explained that they decided to expand the application to the e-Health segment to include messages generated by biometric sensors, given the enormous amount of development being undertaken in the field of automated healthcare management. The original application envisaged for the patent was an emergency alert pendant that would initiate an emergency call to multiple parties (hence the name ‘Red Button’); this may however evolve into applications that raise an alert based simply on unfavourable biometric readings.
The patent covers one-to-one communications as well as one-to-many communications such as conference calls. The patent has also been future proofed by not keeping it limited to telephone communications. With the trend toward internet communications, the patent embraces all public networks including the internet.
By couching the patent in broad terms Red Button has protected its core invention but also left the path open for the commercialisation of other applications using the same patent.
Going forward, Red Button Technologies has a number of options to commercialise; beginning with the Red Button Personal Emergency Alert system, which has already been launched in Australia, the company is currently developing other products using their communications platform. A number of product concepts with exciting application in the e-health and personal security sectors have also been developed. Red Button is in discussion with a number of potential partners to commercialise these products for the Australian and US marketplace.