BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application is related to my co-pending application United States Ser. No. 227,760 (filed Feb. 22, 1972), filed concurrently herewith and entitled "PORTABLE VOICE MESSAGE GENERATOR."
The present invention relates to a device capable of generating voice messages by combining elements of a pre-recorded vocabulary. The preferred embodiment of the invention is controlled from a keyboard, analogous to the controls of a typewriter or a piano, on which each key corresponds to, and is marked for identification, to one of the pre-recorded message elements. The message elements are recorded on a flat disk, analogous to a convential gramaphone record, on a set of parallel concentric grooves covering the major portion of the circumference of this record. Individual transducers are allocated for each of the grooves and are connected to the amplifier/speaker output segment of the device through electrical switches controlled by the keys of the control board. Upon the depression of the appropriate key, the message element is played from the record through the speaker; the complete message being composed by the successive depression of the desired keys. The novelty and utility of the invention is immediately apparent; i.e., it can be used as a musical instrument, with each key corresponding to a given note or chord of the scale selected; as a training device; as an interference-free voice communicator requiring only a narrow bandwidth transmission link; as a translator as noted herein below, indeed in many similar applications.
It is foreseen that one of the most beneficial applications of the instant invention will be aiding handicapped persons such as blind people, or mutes who can only communicate by sign language or in writing. With such severe restrictions, the device of the invention would permit such persons to converse with the average person unfamiliar with the hand codes or braille, and the messagegenerating machine enables them to acquire an artificial `voice.`
Similarly the device can be used as an instantaneous translating machine, the keys being marked with words and phrases of one language, known to the operator, while the corresponding recorded messages carry the identical information in a language unknown to him. With the aid of two such machines individuals sharing no common language may carry on a conversation within the limitations of the recorded vocabulary.
That the above limitation is not a serious one is readily shown by references in the prior art to such machines as the Japanese "tanaka" typewriter, the organ and many other keyboard controlled machines whose range of `expression` contains several hundred components, more than sufficient to encompass a particular purpose, including the basic vocabulary of any spoken language.
As a training device, a typical application concerns the use of the message generator as the sending component of a Morse code communications link. A person completely unschooled in the code can readily operate a keyboard marked with characters to be encoded, the corresponding dot-dash patterns being obtained from the record. Since the correct pattern is audible immediately upon the depression of the key, the trainee rapidly learns to associate a given pattern with the character he has just encoded.
In an analogous manner the translating machine previously described may be used for learning purposes, the trainee actuates the key representing a given word and hears the word repeated to him in the language he is attempting to learn. He is free to proceed at any speed, to repeat individual words as often as he desires and to combine them in arbitrary patterns, thus reinforcing the basic effect in a manner which pre-recorded instructional records cannot duplicate. In addition, the machine can also be used to generate predetermined sound effects, if so desired.
The present disclosure teaches the ways and means of the construction of a device for the generation of a message ultimately decipherable by the human ear. The purpose of the invention is achieved by pre-recording the sound-patterns, words and phrases which may be used as building blocks of the message to be generated and providing a control console through whose manipulation a human operator, or a specially programmed mechanical or electronic computing device, can combine the pre-recorded elements into a variety of intelligible and useful messages.
It is an aim of the invention to describe the manner in which the requisite mechanical, electrical and electronic components may be combined into the aforementioned message generator.
It is a further aim of the invention to teach techniques of construction and operation leading to the greatest economy in the building and utilization of such a device.
It is a further aim of the invention to describe methods by which the capacity of the message generating device to store and replay information may be increased.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The preferred embodiment of the invention will be described in detail by reference to the enclosed drawings, in which;
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a manually operated voice message generator or message generating unit of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a partial sectional view of the operating elements of the device or generator shown in FIG. 1;
FIGS. 3 and 4 show alternate selection strips for the device of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a plan view of the recording utilized in the embodiment of FIG. 1;
FIGS. 6 and 7 are mutually orthogonal sections of the recording along the lines 6--6 and 7--7 depicted in FIG. 5;
FIG. 8 is a sectional view of an alternate embodiment with a double-sided recording;
FIG. 9 is a partial sectional view along the lines 9--9 of the transducer element of the device shown in FIG. 8;
FIG. 10 is a view, partially in section, of the mechanical components of a keyboard operated embodiment of the invention, and
FIG. 11 is a form, or chart, illustrating typical vocabularies capable of being employed with the voice message generator of the invention.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
The simple, manually operated embodiment of the message generator is illustrated in FIG. 1, in which a record bearing a plurality of parallel grooves, impressed with pre-recorded message elements, is mounted on a turn-table 4 carried on a base 6. A transducer, or pick-up, 20 is mounted near a pivoted end of an arm 3 and the latter rests in one of the grooves of a serrated guide-bar 7. The transducer 29 is connected to an amplifier 8 provided with a speaker 9. A drive-system, not illustrated specifically for the purpose of clarity, is provided for turning the turn-table 4 at a pre-determined speed corresponding to the speed at which the recording was originally made and cooperates with a brake 5 to accomplish exactly one revolution of the turn-table each time the message generator is actuated.
Details of the transducer assembly 29 are shown in FIG. 2. A needle 21 serves as the sensor, attached to a transducer cartridge 22. The assembly 29 is pivoted around a pin 23 on an arm 24 rigidly affixed to the assembly by suitable means, such as a rivet 26. A counterweight 25 supplies the necessary force for maintaining the needle 21 in contact with the record 10, the latter lying flat on the turn-table 4 and centered on a pin 19, which is the upper end of the shaft of the turn-table. The record 1 is prevented from rotating relative to the turn-table by an auxiliary pin 10, offset from the rotational center of the record and engaging a mating perforation 10a therethrough.
In operation, the arm 3 is lifted and brought to rest in the trough of the guide-bar 7 corresponding to the message element which it is desired to broadcast through the speaker 9. The drive system is then actuated and rotates the record 1 through a complete revolution accomplishing that purpose. The arm 3 is then moved through an arc to another trough in the bar 7, thereby placing it over a different groove in the record 1 and the drive system is actuated again, replaying a different message element. The guide-bar 7 is marked with symbols identifying the message elements recorded on record 1 on a groove corresponding to the trough nearest the symbol. FIG. 3 shows a guide-bar 71 marked with the numbers and auxiliary phrases necessary for generating any message concerning strings of numbers and arithmetical operations consisting of addition and subtraction. Similarly FIG. 4 shows a guide-bar 72 marked with the letters of the alphabet. Either of the guide-bars 71 and 72 may be used with records carrying the pre-recorded sounds shown on them in English, some other language or in a pre-arranged code, as desired.
FIG. 5 shows details of the record 1, including mounting holes 9a and 10a for respectively engaging the center pin 9 and offset pin 10 of the turn-table 4. A series of parallel grooves are impressed on the record, beginning and ending in a blank sector 11, it being arranged that the needle 21 comes to rest in the sector 11 between successive operations of the device; enabling it to be shifted to a radial position corresponding to any one of the impressed grooves.
The limitations of conventional record cutting equipment is also a consideration in the construction of the message generator; long message elements or phrases may require the use of slower speeds of rotation, for example. Also record disks having a plurality of concentric circular grooves, omitting blank sector 11, could be employed; such records cannot effectively be made on existing equipment due to the tendency of the engraving needle to undercut the beginning of a concentric groove when approaching it at the end of a revolution.
FIG. 6 is a sectional view of a particular groove 12 in the record, in the region of the blank sector 11. FIG. 7 is another section of the record 1, orthogonal to the section of FIG. 6, indicating that the groove 12 is a part of group of five closely spaced grooves, each carrying the same message, so arranged that any misalignment of the record 1 on the turnable 4, of the arm 3 in the guide-bar 7, or of the cartridge 22 in the transducer assembly 20, can be accomodated by the needle 21 entering a groove slightly offset from the center groove 12 of the given group, without thereby generating an erroneous or confusing message through the speaker 9.
The record depicted in FIG. 7 is suitably restricted to thirty message components on a conventional twelve inch disk rotating at thirty-three and a third revolutions per minute, (33 1/3 rpm), each component being carried on five parallel grooves.
Another embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 8, achieves a larger capacity by utilizing both sides of a record disk simultaneously. A record 301 is mounted in vertical alignment on a shaft 309 passing through a matching, centrally located orifice 309a in the record 301. The shaft 309 and the supporting bearings and drive system are omitted from the illustration for the sake of clarity.
The record 301 is flanked by yoke pieces 306a and 306b, on a radial alignment with the center of rotation of the record, which carry individual transducer elements 122 corresponding in number and radial spacing to the grooves on either face of the record disk 301. The needles 121 of the transducers 122 are in permanent contact with their assigned grooves and generate electrical signals representing the pre-recorded message components from these grooves on each rotational movement of the disk. These signals are fed, by suitable wiring, into a switchbox 345, suitably composed of a number of inter-connected relays or solid-state switching elements, which may be so controlled from a keyboard or other command device, such as a computer (not shown), via a cable 357, as to connect the desired transducer output to another cable 351 leading to an amplifier and, thence, to a loudspeaker.
With this embodiment the number of possible message elements is first doubled by the simultaneous use of both sides of the recording 301 and further increased by the possibility or reducing the number of the redundant recording grooves; the transducers not being moved during the operation of the machine the relative alignment between a particular groove and its associated transducer 122 may be made very close by adjustments to the yokes 306a and 306b and by the individual mountings 124 of the transducer elements.
FIG. 9 illustrates in detail the relative positions of the record 301, a particular groove 312 and the corresponding transducer 122 and its needle 121 with transmission leads 126 and 127 issuing from the transducer for connection to the switchbox 345.
Yet another embodiment of the instant invention is shown in FIG. 10. A pedestal bearing 33 is mounted in the bottom of a rectangular enclosure 106 and carries one end of a shaft 109 in a vertical alignment. Two turntables, 104a and 104b, are mounted on shaft 109 and support recording disks 101 and 201 respectively. A gear-wheel 32 is keyed to the shaft 109 and is engaged by a pinion 31 driven from a drive-motor 30 whose shaft 304 is also engaged by a brake 105. An internal partition 133 separates the drive and record compartments of the enclosure 106 and provides an upper bearing for the shaft 109.
Each of the records 101 and 201 is surmounted by a bank of transducers mounted at the end of support members pivoted on one wall of the enclosure 106; a typical assembly being represented by transducer 222, support 224 and pivot 229.
There are, as noted hereinabove, thirty groups of recording grooves in each record disk, each supplied with a transducer. Each transducer 222 is connected electrically to a particular switching element in a keyboard 40 by one of cables 58 and 59. Each switching element represents a particular message element; switch 41 being marked with the letter `F` for example and switch 42 with the letter `Q`. Each of these switches is provided with suitable contacts which, upon depression of the switch key, cause the turn-table shaft 109 to execute one revolution -- the command signal being transmitted to drive motor 30 and brake 105 by cable 47 -- and cause the output of the corresponding transducer to be connected to amplifier 108 by cable 51. Such signal triggering the release of said brake 105 and the simultaneous automatic rotation of said co-operating turn-tables as is conventionally well-known in the prior art. The turn-tables subsequently stopped automatically upon the manual release of the depressed switch key thereby re-engaging the brake. Sufficient time is available between the end of any broadcasted recorded sound and the manual depression of the next selected switching key for further successive complete cycles of a single turn-table revolution. The amplifier 108, in turn, is connected to speaker 109 by lead 52 and causes the prerecorded sounds from the selected groove on either record, 101 or 201, to be broadcast by the speaker 109. It is noted that sufficient time is available for such manual operation of the apparatus of the invention as noted hereinabove, inasmuch as at 331/3 rpm (which is approximately 2 seconds per revolution), and since each message element takes only about a second of time to recite, approximately one-half of the recorded means on any track remains unused before the recorded means reaches its initial starting position for each of the recorded message elements. Thus, it is virtually impossible for one using the device properly to operate a switching key at the "wrong" time, such as in the middle of digit, letter, etc. because almost half of each track in the disk is void of a message element. It is thus clearly inherent in the operation of such an apparatus that each cycle of operation occurs within a single revolution of the turn-tables.
By the extension of the principles demonstrated above it is possible to erect message generating devices which have access to a number recordings; FIG. 11 demonstrates the vocabulary of one such machine provided with six recording faces, either by six separate records, according to the art of FIG. 10, or by the six faces of three records according to the art of FIG. 8. These six recording faces each carry thirty distinct pre-recorded sound components which provide a musical scale of two and a half octaves, the ordinal numbers in such a manner that any sensible combination may be derived, a set of words to compose any arbitrary message concerned with the use of such numbers in ordinary speech, the letters of the alphabet as well as the Morse-code equivalents of the alphabetic and number records.
While the above embodiments have been illustrated with references to the commonly utilized recording disk of the phonograph arts, it is understood that any analogous recording method and medium is equally applicable in the present invention; in particular the use of other sizes of recording disks, other speeds of drive, the use of impressed magnetic fields in a suitable surface stratum and the use of cylindrical drums as the recording forms are to be understood.