Adelaide based telecommunications technology start-up Red Button Technologies celebrates the granting of its US Patent this month.
However, the patent may have profound implications for Telcos in Australia and the US.
Red Button Technologies has achieved an important milestone with the awarding of a US patent published as U.S. Patent No. 8,811,934 in August 2014.
This follows the awarding of an Australian patent in 2013.
The 2007 priority date is the same year the Apple iPhone was launched in the United States.
Although originally conceived to protect Red Button’s cloud emergency alert system, the patents have a much broader application.
“Obtaining the correct advice from Patent Attorneys was critical” said Professor Reg Coutts, Red Button’s Technology Evangelist.
“Our original goal was obviously to protect our unique emergency alert system.”
“However, our patent attorneys encouraged us to submit a less specific patent that protects the broad principal of which our emergency alert system is just one possible embodiment.”
Unique aspects and cloud applications
What is unique about Red Button’s patent is the principal of establishing a communication link between parties who have a previous association.
A cloud based server stores these associations and through recognizing the identity of a person wishing to communicate with these known associates, the cloud based system (a communications management system) establishes the communication link.
Strangely, although on the surface this would appear to be obvious, like many inventive steps it actually isn’t and hasn’t been done before. Searches of prior art found nothing similar and the US and Australian patent offices deemed it to be inventive and unique and thus granted a patent.
The patent is long winded and steeped in typically arcane patent language but the gist of it is; the normal paradigm in telecommunications is to facilitate calls between telephone devices where the identity of the calling and answering party is not implicitly important, hence why we all receive unsolicited calls. 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.
“The more we brainstorm the more we identify useful applications” said Prof. Coutts.
Profound implications - disruption to future Telco applications
"I believe that when Telcos in the USA and Australia examine the patent in detail they will see potential roadblocks to many future products and applications that might arise from the integration of the web and mobile telephony" said Professor Coutts.
e-Health and m-Health applications
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.
"With the enormous amount of development being undertaken in the fields of automated health care management, or e-Health as it is termed, we decided to expand the patent's claim set to include messages generated by biometric sensors" said Professor Coutts.
The original application envisaged for the patent was an emergency alert pendant that woud initiate an emergency call to multiple parties (heance the name "Red Button"), however in the future it is possible to develop applications that raise an alert based simply on unfavourable biometric readings.
The patent covers not just one-to-one communications but is actually couched in terms of one-to-many communications (think conference calls) of which the one-to-one scenario is just one case.
Further, the patent has been future proofed by not being limited to telephone communications. “The trend is toward internet communications, and hence our patent isn’t limited to particular types of public communications networks it embraces all public networks including the internet” said Professor Coutts.
By couching the patent in broad terms Red Button has protected its core invention but also left the path open to being able to commercialise other applications using the same patent.
So, where to here for Red Button Technologies?
“Like all technology companies we have a number of options to commercialise. We have already launched in Australia our Red Button Personal Emergency Alert system, but we are developing other products using our communications platform.”
We have developed a number of product concepts with exciting application in the e-health space and personal security sector and are in discussions with a number of potential partners to commercialise these products for the Australian and US market place.
“Managing IP is about not limiting the possibilities. Someone with far bigger pockets may see the potential to use our IP to corner the market for the next killer application” said Professor Coutts.
Technology Evangelist Prof. Reg Coutts +61 414 477 766
Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Justin Wearne +61 414 744 481
US Patent online…
Prof. Reg CouttsM: 0414 477 766
Red Button Technologies
Red Button Technologies is an Adelaide (South Australia) based telecommunications start-up that develops innovoative Cloud Based Telcommunications products. Red Button develops and delivers highly scalable, low cost, cloud based group telecommunications to exploit the mobile internet revolution.
Red Button was launched in 2006 by Marketer & Entrepreneur Justin Wearne and Telecommunications guru Prof. Reg Coutts to develop a cloud based core system for rapid deployment of new Telco products that support online sales generating subscription based revenues.
Professor Coutts was a member of the committee formed by the Federal Government to review the National Broadband Network (NBN) strategy, and is an Emeritus Professor of telecommunications at Adelaide University.
The company received an AusIndustry COMET Grant in February 2009 to develop its core technology.
Red Button’s first product is a mobile phone Emergency Alert system aimed at the growing Baby Boomer market seeking to self manage their risk from episodic illness while continuing to live life normally.
What’s unique about Red Button?
Red Button is a cloud based application. This provides two main advantages; firstly, almost all phone based applications are limited to the capabilities of the phone handset. Red Button’s capabilities are based on server side technologies providing greater power and flexibility. Secondly, operating at network level allows true simultaneous dialing – not possible from a handset because each phone handset only has access to a single voice channel.
The setting-up of a voice call from a mobile device authenticating and then establishing a connection with at least one other person with whom the caller has a previous association is covered by Red Button’s Australian patent which was finalised in March 2013.
First round investment
In November 2009, Red Button Technologies attracted investment from Victorian based Optimation Software Engineering.
Optimation has expertise in the development of high volume, high security and high availability cloud based transaction systems and completed the development of Red Button’s core system in November 2010.
Prof. Reg Coutts
P: +61 414 477 766
M: +61 414 477 766