Barnes & Noble Wins Patent for ‘Kid Mode’ UI

Barnes & Noble won a U.S. patent on Tuesday for the “Kid Mode” user interface that it offers on Nook tablets.

Dale Brewer, former principal designer at B&N, is named as the inventor on the patent, titled, “Kid Mode User Interface With Application-Specific Configurability.” Brewer is now senior principal product designer at Mountain View, Calif.-based light field technology company Lytro Inc.

Abstract: A user interface is disclosed that is configured to provide a multi-user, multi-application experience for users of a given computing device, where each user account of the device is configurable with applications suitable for that user and each application has a usage timer associated therewith. Thus, each user may have access to applications that are different from another user of that device, and each user can be allocated application usage time independent from other users. The usage timers can be configured to reset once a usage period has lapsed. In some cases, the size of icons displayed for a given user account are automatically sized based on the age range of that user. A reward program may automatically increase the time allotted for given applications/content upon successful usage/consumption of educational applications/content. In a classroom/group setting, multiple computing devices may be simultaneously set into Kid Mode by a master computing device.

Patent

Claims:

  1. A computing device comprising: a display for displaying content to a user; a touch sensitive surface for allowing user input; and a user interface including a kid mode configured to provide selective access to applications available on the device, wherein each application is associated with a timer that is settable to limit use of that application by a particular child-user, and wherein the kid mode is further configured with a device timer settable to specify a usage-period that includes a plurality of sub-usage periods, and the application timer is reset at the end of each sub-usage period and the device timer is reset at the end of the usage-period.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the kid mode is further configured to allow use of the device by multiple child-users, and each child-user is associated with an account on the device, the account specifying applications available to that particular child-user as well as corresponding application timers associated with those applications.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the kid mode is further configured to allow use of the device by multiple child-users, and each child-user can be allocated access to applications different than applications allocated to the other child-users.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the kid mode is further configured to allow use of the device by multiple child-users, and each child-user can be allocated usage times different from usage times allocated to the other child-users.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the kid mode is further configured to track usage of a guardian-preferred application and/or guardian-preferred content by a given child-user, and to increase that child-user’s use privileges with respect to the device as a reward for sufficiently using the guardian-preferred application and/or guardian-preferred content.
  1. The device of claim 5 wherein the increase in use privileges is in the form of at least one of an increase in the child-user’s access to a restricted application, and an increase in the child-user’s access to restricted content.
  1. The device of claim 5 wherein the increase in use privileges is in the form of an increase in the child-user’s allocated usage time with respect to the device.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the usage-period comprises at least one week, and each sub-usage period comprises one day.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the applications available to the child-user on the device and the timers are user-configurable.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the kid mode is further configured to provide icons that are sized based on an age range of the child-user.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the kid mode is further configured to provide child-user access to communication applications by presenting to the child-user icons that include an image of a guardian of the child-user, and wherein the communication applications include at least one of a phone application, texting application, email application, or video phone application.
  1. The device of claim 1 wherein the kid mode can periodically report usage statistics associated with the child-user’s use of the device.
  1. The computing device of claim 1, wherein the device is included in a communication system, the communication system comprising: a plurality of devices, each device of the plurality of devices comprising the computing device of claim 1; and another computing device configured to communicate with each of the plurality of devices, and to simultaneously engage the kid mode on each of those devices.
  1. A computing device comprising: a touch screen display for displaying content to a user and allowing user input; and a user interface including a kid mode configured to provide selective access to applications available on the device, wherein each application is associated with a timer that is settable to limit use of that application by a particular child-user, the kid mode being further configured to allow individual use of the device by multiple child-users; wherein the kid mode is further configured to track usage of a guardian-preferred application and/or guardian-preferred content by a given child-user, and to increase that child-user’s use privileges with respect to the device as a reward for sufficiently using the guardian-preferred application and/or guardian-preferred content, and wherein the increase in use privileges is in the form of at least one of an increase in the child-user’s access to a restricted application, an increase in the child-user’s access to restricted content, and an increase in the child-user’s allocated usage time with respect to the device.
  1. The device of claim 14 wherein the kid mode is further configured with a device timer settable to specify a usage-period that includes a plurality of sub-usage periods, and the application timer is reset at the end of each sub-usage period and the device timer is reset at the end of the usage-period.
  1. The device of claim 14 wherein each child-user is associated with an account on the device, each account specifying applications available to that child-user as well as corresponding application timers associated with those applications, and wherein the applications available to each child-user on the device as well as the application and device timers are user-configurable.
  1. The device of claim 14 wherein the kid mode is further configured to provide child-user access to communication applications by presenting icons to the child-user that include an image of a guardian of the child-user, and wherein the communication applications include at least one of a phone application, texting application, email application, or video phone application.
  1. The device of claim 14 wherein the kid mode can periodically report usage statistics associated with the child-user’s use of the device.
  1. A computer program product comprising a plurality of instructions non-transiently encoded thereon to facilitate operation of an electronic device according to the following process, the process comprising: provide, by a user interface of the device, selective access to applications available on the device, wherein each application is associated with a timer that is settable to limit use of that application by a particular user; allow, by the user interface, individual use of the device by multiple users, each user associated with an account on the device, each account specifying applications available to that user as well as corresponding application timers associated with those applications; and track usage of a guardian-preferred application and/or guardian-preferred content by a given child-user, and increasing that child-user’s use privileges with respect to the device as a reward for sufficiently using the guardian-preferred application and/or guardian-preferred content, wherein the increase in use privileges is in the form of at least one of an increase in the child-user’s access to a restricted application, an increase in the child-user’s access to restricted content, and an increase in the child-user’s allocated usage time with respect to the device.

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