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SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR COMMUNICATION
WITH ENHANCED OPTICAL POINTER
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED
 This application is a continuation-in-part of copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/906,218 filed Jul. 16, 2001, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/347,761 filed Jul. 6, 1999, now U.S. patent Ser. No. 6,275,214, the disclosures of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.
 The present invention relates to a system and method for remotely communicating information using an optical pointer.
 As computers are increasingly being used for graphical presentations and/or demonstrations, larger display devices are used to provide viewing by audiences of varying size. Many presentations, such as slide shows and the like, require relatively simple control of the computer during the actual presentation. Commands which advance or reverse slides or initiate a display sequence require only a basic user interface or remote control to communicate with the computer. However, more sophisticated presentations or demonstrations, such as used for software user training or promotion, require a more sophisticated interface or remote control to effectively operate the computer. Conventional strategies require the presenter to either remain within close proximity of the computer to operate the keyboard and/or pointing device (mouse, touchpad, track ball, etc.) or have an assistant perform the required operations.
 The present inventor disclosed a system and method for controlling a windows-oriented computer system using a remote pointer in U.S. Patent Ser. No. 6,275,214. This system is quite valuable for controlling and/or demonstrating one or more computer applications in an auditoriumstyle presentation. However, this system does not directly address the use of a computer keyboard and/or other input devices during such a presentation. Furthermore, while the system and method disclosed in U.S. Patent Ser. No. 6,275, 214 work well for a single optical pointer, they may fail to work properly when one or more optical pointers are used in a collaborative presentation, or in the case of someone attempting to disrupt or interfere with the presentation. As such, a need exists for a system and method for optically communicating more complex information that may also include identification information to authenticate a system user.
DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION
 The present invention provides a system and method that enable optical communication of information to a computer using a camera or other optical detector in communication with the computer for capturing and processing optical images to detect the information. The information may include keyboard characters commands, command sequences, voice data, identification data, or other data or control information. The present invention provides for secure optical transmission of information using a pseudo
random modulation strategy which may be used to identify or authenticate one or more optical devices or pointers enabling multiple simultaneous users and preventing unauthorized use. In addition to computer presentation applications, systems and methods in accordance with the present invention may be used for personnel identification and secure high-bandwidth line-of-site communications, for example.
 In one embodiment of the present invention, a method for communicating information to a remotely located computer includes encoding the information by modulating at least one feature of an optical pointer, transmitting the encoded information to a remote location using the optical pointer, detecting the modulation of the at least one feature of the optical pointer, decoding the information based on the detected plurality of features of the optical pointer, and generating a command for the remotely located computer based on the decoded information. In another embodiment, a remotely controlled computer presentation system includes a computer, a screen associated with the computer for displaying output from the computer, and a camera in communication with the computer and positioned to capture a plurality of image frames including at least a portion of the screen associated with the computer. The computer includes instructions for processing the image frames to detect modulation of at least one feature of an optical cursor projected onto the screen from an external optical pointer and instructions for decoding the modulated feature to generate a corresponding input for the computer.
 Another embodiment of the present invention includes an optical device which transmits encoded information by modulating at least one feature of the optical device to a remotely located optical detector. The optical detector may directly or indirectly detect the modulated feature to decode the information. In one application, the optical device is carried or worn by a user with encoded user identification information directly or indirectly transmitted to a detector that decodes the information to identify the user. For indirect detection, a camera may be used to capture video frames (of a screen, wall, or other surface, for example) that include the modulated optical device feature. The captured frames are then processed to decode the information and identify the user. For direct detection, the optical device may transmit directly to a camera or other optical detector.
 In another embodiment of the present invention, a method and device for generating input to a computer system using an optical device, such as a laser pointer are provided. An optical device is used to generate a pattern of movement or other change of properties or position to activate or launch a customizable user interface to provide subsequent input to one or more applications running on the associated computer. For example, specific movement patterns, dwelling on a particular location, or pressing a button to change properties of an optical pointing device may activate or launch a keyboard application that displays or projects a keyboard. The optical device may then be used to generate a series of keystrokes using the keyboard application and transmit or transfer the series of keystrokes to another application on the computer in response to an appropriate "send" command or in response to closing the keyboard application, for example. The user interface may also include various context-sensitive menus to select appropriate commands including a left-click, right-click, or application specific commands, for example, and may be customized by the user or an application developer. Multiple user interfaces may be activated using the optical pointing device to generate corresponding commands if desired. The method and device for providing a customizable user interface application may be used independently with a commercially available optical pointer, or in combination with a modulating optical pointer as disclosed herein.
 The present invention provides a number of advantages relative to prior art strategies. For example, the present invention is valuable for controlling and/or demonstrating one or more computer applications in an auditorium-style presentation. The present invention enables input of any kind of information, such as keyboard, voice, mouse, or other input device. The bandwidth of the information input via the system and method of the present invention is limited only by the selection of the pointer features and attributes, video frame capture rate of the camera, and the classic Nyquist sampling restrictions.
 The present invention may be used to provide a secure system where the remotely located computer responds only to one or more authorized pointers which exhibit the correct modulation pattern. Such a secure device has many applications beyond the computer control in a presentation system. For example, the present invention may be used for personnel identification, secure high-bandwidth line-of-site communications, and applications where two or more secure pointers are required for operation. As another example, the present invention may be used in military applications to "paint" or irradiate a target using visible or invisible wavelengths for optical-guided vehicles or devices. Using a secure optical pointing device according to the present invention makes it very difficult to "spoof" or confuse the target tracker using an unauthorized optical device. The potential number of unique pointer identifications in such a system is limited only by the pointer design and the encoding methods selected. For a computer presentation application, a secure pointer according to the present invention enables multiple simultaneous users with pointers which may project a seemingly identical spot or cursor, but which may be distinguished by the computer to readily track each pointer's position and commands.
 The above advantages and other advantages, objects, and features of the present invention, will be readily apparent from the following detailed description of the best mode for carrying out the invention when taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS  FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a representative computer presentation application for use with a system or method according to the present invention;
 FIG. 2 is a diagram illustrating projection of calibration reticles a or fiducials and derivation of coordinates for a cursor projected by a pointer according to one embodiment according to the present invention;
 FIG. 3 is a diagram illustrating sections, areas, and attributes of an optical pointer or device according to one embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 4 illustrates representative shapes for areas of an optical pointer or device according to one embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 5 illustrates representative frequencies or wavelengths for areas of an optical pointer or device according to one embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 6 illustrates representative intensities for areas or sections of an optical pointer or device according to one embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 7 is a diagram illustrating the relationship between emitters and areas for a representative section of an optical pointer or device according to one embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 8 is a flow chart illustrating operation of a system or method for transmitting information to a remote computer using an optical pointer or device according to one embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 9 is a diagram illustrating an optical device used for personal identification and/or communication according to one embodiment of the present invention;
 FIG. 10 is a diagram illustrating a customizable user interface used to enter keyboard information or other information into another application running on a computer associated with a computer presentation system according to the present invention; and
 FIG. 11 is a diagram illustrating a customizable user interface used to enter other commands into an application running on a computer according to the present invention.
BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE
 As used herein, the terms "optical", "light" and related terminology are used in their broadest sense. As understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, such terms include a range of frequencies or wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum which encompass visible light, infrared, ultraviolet, and other such frequencies or wavelengths, as distinguished from the radio-frequency spectrum used in other forms of "wireless" control.
 Referring now to FIG. 1, a block diagram illustrating a representative computer presentation application with information communicated by an optical pointer according to one embodiment of the present invention is shown. As used herein, the remote control of the computer is intended to include control of various application programs and/or the operating system of the computer, which preferably are controlled via a graphical user interface. However, as explained in greater detail below, the present invention is also capable of transmitting keyboard characters and voice information (directly or through a customizable user interface) that may be used to remotely control either a text-based application or operating system, or to provide information and commands to a graphical user interface of an application program or operating system. In this embodiment, computer 10 is connected to a video projector 12 and a video camera 14. In this embodiment, video projector 12 projects an image 16 of the computer output onto a projection surface or screen, indicated generally by reference numeral 18. Preferably, screen 18 is a "passive" screen, i.e. a substantially planar surface remotely located from computer 10 and of a light color to provide sufficient contrast to the image of computer output generated by projector 12.