System and method for decentralized voice conferencing over

System and method for decentralized voice conferencing over
IJSZOI40160996A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2014/0160996 A1
Hellhake et al.
(43) Pub. Date:
Jun. 12, 2014
(54)
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR
DECENTRALIZED VOICE CONFERENCING
OVER DYNAMIC NETWORKS
Publication Classi?cation
(51)
Int. Cl.
H04L 29/06
H04W 4/08
H04L 12/18
(71) Applicant: Raj ant Corporation, Malvem, PA (US)
(72) Inventors: Paul R. Hellhake, Downingtown, PA
(52)
(US); David ACKER, Malvem, PA
(US); Jonathan WURTZ, Bryn Mawr,
PA (US); David B. HAYNIE,
Monroeville, NJ (US); Keith
SULLIVAN, West Chester, PA (US)
(2006.01)
(2006.01)
(2006.01)
US. Cl.
CPC ........ .. H04L 65/4053 (2013.01); H04L 12/185
(2013.01); H04W4/08 (2013.01)
USPC
........................................................ ..
(57)
370/261
ABSTRACT
(73) Assignee: Rajant Corporation, Malvem, PA (US)
Systems, devices, methods for use of a highly mobile confer
encing system over potentially dynamic networks, such as a
self-healing mobile mesh network which, by means of dis
crete embedded computers mixes analog and digital data for
(21) Appl. No.: 14/074,363
(22)
Filed:
Nov. 7, 2013
end user communications in remote, disaster, warfare or topo
Related US. Application Data
(60)
graphically challenging environments with further capability
of conference calling between groups and discrete nodes
within the network.
Provisional application No. 61/734,734, ?led on Dec.
7, 2012.
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 1 0f 10
US 2014/0160996 A1
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Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 2 0f 10
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 3 0f 10
US 2014/0160996 A1
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 4 0f 10
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 5 0f 10
US 2014/0160996 A1
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 6 0f 10
500 U N ECAST MlX‘MASTER
US 2014/0160996 A1
Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 7 0f 10
US 2014/0160996 A1
600 Multloast Mix~Master
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 8 0f 10
700 Push-to-Talk Interface
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US 2014/0160996 A1
Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 9 0f 10
US 2014/0160996 A1
800 Conference Server Election Cycle
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Patent Application Publication
Jun. 12, 2014 Sheet 10 0f 10
US 2014/0160996 A1
850 Conference Server Change
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Jun. 12, 2014
US 2014/0160996 A1
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR
DECENTRALIZED VOICE CONFERENCING
OVER DYNAMIC NETWORKS
REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
[0001] The present application claims the bene?t of US.
Provisional Patent Application No. 61/734,734, ?led Dec. 7,
2012, whose disclosure is hereby incorporated by reference in
its entirety into the present disclosure.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
[0002] The present invention concerns tactical and other
highly mobile communications networks. Such networks are
[0008]
To achieve the above and other objects, an improve
ment to the art is described herein. This presents a digital
voice conferencing system as a group of peer network nodes.
The need for digital mixing of conference audio can be man
aged by any node in the network. New protocols allow the
mixing node to be selected and re-selected, as nodes dynami
cally enter or leave the network. While not critical to its
operation, in the preferred implementation, the conferencing
system (dubbed TRoIPiTactical Radio over Internet Proto
col) runs over a mesh-based network. The mesh improves the
radio’s performance, and consequently the network’ s perfor
mance, versus a non-mesh implementation, allowing a con
ference to continue as long as each radio can hear at least one
other radio, and there is some path from each radio to the
distinguished by their ability to self-organize and heal con
other, either directly, through other radios, or through repeat
nections, as radio nodes enter and leave each others’ direct
ers. This method also encapsulates the conference in any
communications ranges without impacting the performance
security applied at the network layer.
[0009] A self-con?guring voice conferencing network
of other elements of the network. This invention is also con
cerned with voice teleconferencing over digital networks.
DISCUSSION OF THE KNOWN ART
[0003] Classic voice radio communications, while very
useful, suffer from the limitations inherent in analog radio. An
analog radio is usually designed for a single type of commu
nications, such as voice, with no ?exibility on data commu
nications, and more importantly, no ?exibility within the
analog protocol. Radio users sharing a channel are inherently
“conferencing,” in modern terms.
capability is described that may be superimposed over wired
networks, wireless networks, or combinations thereof. The
voice conferencing network removes the requirement of
using a ?xed centralized VoIP registrar, such as a SIP server,
or conferencing server. In particular, such a system is well
suited to the realities of a highly mobile IP mesh network. As
described herein, a local network cluster of voice enabled
nodes will form a voice conference with one another over the
mobile network at the direction of a participating node that
has the role of conference server/mixing node, or Mix-Mas
[0004] Such conferences are extremely limited compared
to our experience with online and other digital conferencing
ter.
experiences. Analog radio conferences are usually very sus
ceptible to radio band noise. The only way to carry on mul
conference will participate in an election to select a Mix
tiple, separate conferences is by changing radio channels.
Changing channels is a hardware decision, which makes the
notion of ?exible conferencing, with multiple users each par
ticipating in multiple, independent conference groups,
impractical. In addition, classic analog voice radio commu
nications are only functional when each radio can hear every
other radio in a conference. There are no redundancy, no
repeaters, etc. An analog radio conference also has little or
very weak security.
[0005] Thus, radio voice conferencing can be greatly
enhanced by building a voice conferencing system on a mod
ern digital network radio. This is in practice what many exist
[0010]
When a conference is started, every node in the
Master node. In this process, each participating node in the
network transmits an election bid message packet containing
its election score, VoIP callback address and addressing infor
mation. The election message is sent to the multicast address
con?gured for said node’s conference or Call Group. Each
node will then receive all other nodes’ election bid messages
from the IP multicast address. Each node will evaluate all bids
received during the election cycle, along with its own bid. The
single node in the cluster with the highest election score is
assigned the role of Mix-Master for the network. All other
nodes in the cluster will initiate a VoIP call to the conference
server, thus eliminating the traditional need for a centralized
server. The election process is repeated by each node in the
ing conferencing systems have done, both in traditional Pub
lic
Switched
Telephone
Network
(PSTN)
telecommunications providers and, more recently, online and
Call Group continually.
other forms of Internet Protocol (IP) conferencing. The tra
dition of these various protocols is to present centralized
servers for client rendezvous, both for directory services and
node is con?gured with the unique multicast addresses
for the conferencing aggregation itself.
[0006] For highly mobile radio communications, however,
the analog solution has still often been the choice over a
digital system, for a simple reason: it is decentralized. There
is no need for a central server in an analog radio conference,
so if any participant in a conference loses signal, that affects
only that participant. The conference itself is maintained. But
for a typical centrally managed digital voice conference, los
ing that central resource nulli?es the whole conference.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
[0007]
It is therefore an object of the invention to combine
[0011]
Call groups are pre-con?gured independent voice
conferences on all voice enabled nodes. Each voice enabled
assigned to each of the call groups of which the node is a
member. The node determines which call groups to join via a
user interface (UI). If two or more nodes become isolated
from the other participating nodes in a Call Group, those
isolated nodes will form a new instance of said Call Group,
and the election process is repeated among said nodes.
[0012] Part of this system is a Push-to-Talk interface. This
incorporates the client software mixer and a hardware mod
ule. The hardware module provides the digital interface to the
user, ADC for microphone and and DAC for speaker/headset.
The interface controls microphone bias, reads the PTT button,
and optionally implements a secondary audio interface. The
secondary interface includes audio in and out connections
the advantages of analog and digital conferencing in order to
and a switch, to allow the user to choose between the network
radio and a second communications device, such as a cell
overcome the disadvantages of both.
phone or analog radio, using the same headset.
Jun. 12, 2014
US 2014/0160996 A1
[0013]
Every participating node in a given Call Group will
mix network audio to the PTT interface/headset, based on the
rules set up for the speci?c Call Group. This can involve
directing different conversations to different channels (left/
right) on the headset, and directing microphone audio back to
the selected Call Group. An elected Call Group Mix-Master
node will run in a different mode, the precise nature of which
which in a highly mobile environment may be adding and
dropping nodes on a regular basis.
[0028] FIG. 1 details an example digital radio network run
ning TRoIP 100. This is comprised of multiple radios 102,
114 in a peer-to-peer mesh connection. In such a mesh, any
radio is able to communicate directly to any other, conditions
permitting, but minimally, each radio must be able to com
depends on other details of the con?guration, such as point
to-point versus broadcast settings.
[0014] The system con?guration tool allows any number of
voice-enabled nodes to be precon?gured or recon?gured for
municate directly with at least one other in the same mesh.
any given call group at any time a connection is present. Each
of an audio I/O device. This may be a simple microphone/
speaker handset 110, but the invention can offer additional
functionality when the audio I/O device is a stereo headset
112 (by means of user con?gured preferences for individual
node may be assigned to multiple call groups. Multiple and
Each radio will have a digital port connection 104 running to
a Push-to-Talk (PTT) interface module 106, 116. A simple
PTT module will run an analog interconnect 108 to some kind
different Call Groups can be sent to the left or right side
headphone, mixed as necessary with each other and audio
user interface output, such as alarm, alert, and navigation
tones locally generated on the network node in response to
network events of various types.
[0015] The invention is contemplated for use in remote,
conference assignment to a speci?c earpiece).
[0029] A main component of the TRoIP mixing system is
the notion of logical Signal Groups. Each Group represents an
independent conference. Any number of conferences may
topographically evolving or challenging environments, disas
ter, military and diverse environments that require reliable
coexist on the same network, bound only by the limits on
network bandwidth and use policies. An individual listener
secure data and analog communications between groups of
people with limited or no infrastructure to support traditional
ration designates which conferences are mixed to either
communication methodologies.
can participate in multiple conferences, the TRoIP con?gu
speaker in the stereo headset.
[0030] The PTT interface incorporates a push-to-talk but
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
ton, which through the system directs the user’s speech input
[0016] For a better understanding of the invention, refer
ence is made to the following description taken in conjunction
to the primary conference channel. In the case of the stereo
with the accompanying drawings and the appended claims.
The objects, features, and advantages of the present invention
will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of the
following detailed description of the invention in which:
[0017]
FIG. 1 shows an example of a typical TRoIP system
using mesh networking radios;
[0018]
FIGS. 2a-2fillustrate a number of possible con?gu
rations of a TRoIP node, with the ?exible mixer blocks in
various different con?guration;
[0019]
FIG. 3 is a diagram of the local audio mixer in a
node;
[0020]
FIG. 4 is a diagram of the ?exible mixer block in
local mix mode;
[0021]
FIG. 5 is a diagram of the ?exible mixer block in
Unicast Mix-Master mode;
[0022]
FIG. 6 is a diagram of the ?exible mixer block in
Multicast Mix-Master mode;
[0023] FIG. 7 is a diagram of the Push-to-Talk (PTT) hard
ware interface;
[0024]
FIG. 8 is a block diagram of the Conference Server
Election Cycle; and
[0025]
FIG. 9 is a block diagram of the Conference Server
Change Routine.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
EMBODIMENT
[0026]
A preferred embodiment of the present invention
will be disclosed with reference to the drawings, in which like
reference numerals refer to like elements or steps throughout.
[0027]
Given a digital computer networking system, the
preferred embodiment (dubbed Tactical Radio over Internet
Protocol, or TRoIP) implements a ?exible audio conferenc
ing system. This conferencing system works across any peer
to-peer network, no central server or master node is required.
The design is also able to deal with active mesh networks,
headset, this will address the primary conference on either the
left or right side of the headset. A double-click of the PTT
button 106, 116 will direct subsequent PTT input to the pri
mary conference on the other side of the headset, eg, switch
left to right or right to left.
[0031] The invention also supports an external auxiliary
device 120, which is connected to the radio and PTT interface
through an analog or digital interconnect 118. The PTT mod
ule for use with an auxiliary device 120 will have a secondary
push button 116, which is used to direct speech from the audio
I/O device 110, 112 to the auxiliary device, rather than the
radio. The auxiliary device 120 may be a computer, tablet, or
smartphone, used for con?guration of the TRoIP system, and
optionally, as a secondary means of communication. This
allows a single headset to be shared between the network
node and the secondary device.
[0032] While not visible to the observer, most of the net
work devices 102 in any TRoIP network will be client-only
devices. At least one, however, will be designated as the
Mix-Master 114. Each device has the ability to be elected by
its peers in the network to be the Mix-Master by means of an
incorporated computer system embedded in a microchip.
This function will be discussed in detail, as well as the elec
tion process that allows regular addition and loss of network
nodes without any signi?cant disruption to communications
within the active network.
[0033]
FIGS. 2a-2fillustrate the various possible modes of
the audio mixing module within the invention. Note well that
all mixing stages are implemented in software. As such, the
number of channels for any given mixer or signal tee can be
essentially any width, as dictated by the speci?cs for the
individual node in question: the left/right con?guration, the
number of Signal Groups selected, etc.
[0034]
As the system is designed to work on any peer-to
peer network, there is no concept of a permanent master node.
And yet, for an audio conferencing system, all client audio
input must be mixed at some central point, then distributed to
Jun. 12, 2014
US 2014/0160996 A1
every relevant client. The invention does this by including the
full mixer logic in every node, then selecting one node as the
Mix-Master, by means of an election process occurring
between the various nodes. This is done by an election pro
cess that will be described in more detail below. A system will
hold such an election when there is no Mix-Master, such as
when a mesh network is initially established, split in two, and
again when two independent networks are merged, ensuring
that there is only one version of each channel/group available
on the network.
[0035]
The generic logic 202 of the mixer is illustrated in
ferred embodiment is using the Realtime Transport Protocol
(RTP), however, any e?icient media streaming protocol could
replace the RTP block at 402. In the preferred embodiment,
the audio is encoded as speech-quality audio with u-Law
companding, and it must be restored to a linear format prior to
mixing 404, however, this would function with linear audio or
other forms of audio compression, as the architecture expands
audio prior to the mixer. The output of this goes to the input
318 of the Local Audio mixer.
[0042] For audio sourced out of the Local Audio Mixer 312,
it is necessary to compand back to u-Law for routing over the
FIG. 2a. The Local Audio Mixer 300 module is effectively the
network 406. And this is put on the network using RTP as the
same for all modes. There are two modal mixing stages, Left
transport 408, though as before, other ef?cient media trans
port protocols would work here as well.
[0043] FIG. 5 illustrates the block diagram 500 ofthe Uni
cast Mix-Master. As discussed, for every Signal Group, one
Mix Stage 324 and Right Mix Stage 326, which can handle
the mix in a number of different modes. The simple rule is that
the Local Audio Mixer has output to the stage mixer, and can
mix in an input from the stage mixer.
[0036] A client-only node 204 is illustrated in FIG. 2b. In
this case, both left and right stages are in client-only mode
400. FIG. 20 shows a Unicast Mix-Master node 206, in which
both ?exible stages are in Unicast Mix-Master mode 500.
node in the system is elected as a Mix-Master. A Mix-Master
node will have one audio stream entering over the media
transport protocol 402 for each channel that it’s mixing, other
than the local audio for that node. The audio streams are all
a single Unicast channel 500, the other channel running in
client-only mode 400. And ?nally, FIG. 2e shows a node 210
in Multicast Mix-Master mode 600, with FIG. 2f illustrating
linearized from u-Law 404, and routed to the Mix-Master tees
502. There will be one tee for each audio channel, including
the audio entering from the Local Audio Mixer 312.
[0044] Audio from each tee is cross routed to an equal
number of per-channel Mix-Master Mixers 504. Each of
a node 212 running Multicast Mix-Master 600 on just one
these mixers will independently feed the input of another
FIG. 2d illustrates that a node 208 canrun as a Mix-Master for
channel, the other in client-only mode 400.
TRoIP node, so each Mixer can use different con?guration
[0037] FIG. 3 illustrates a detailed block diagram of the
Local Audio Mixer 300. Audio from the local hardware sub
system is brought in via an operating system level device
driver. In the preferred implementation, this is a driver for the
data to determine which signals actually get mixed here. Each
Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) 302, but the
invention is fundamentally unchanged using any other driver
model here. A multiplexed stereo stream from the driver 302
is demultiplexed 303 and set to microphone 306 and auxiliary
308 switches. The auxiliary audio switch 308 can direct aux
iliary audio the earpiece mixer of either the left or right
channel 316.
[0038] The microphone switch 306 can direct microphone
audio to either the left or the right channel, the choice being
determined logically by the user’s prior channel selection, in
the case of multiple conferences. The audio is passed ?rst to
a tee 310, which sends the microphone audio to the selected
channel’s earpiece mixer, and also to a volume control 312
and on to the ?exible mixer stage 324, 326. As mentioned, this
mixing stage is processing network audio of some kind,
depending on the speci?c mode in use on any particular node.
Audio leaving each ?exible mixer stage 324, 326 enters the
Local Audio Mixer 300 at another volume control 318, and
goes on to the respective earpiece mixers 316.
[0039] A ?nal input to each earpiece mixer is a tone gen
erator 314. This tone generator 314 is driven by system level
Mixer 504 is routed to a u-Law encoder 410, and sent to its
destination unit via an RTP encapsulation 412.
[0045] Thus, for an N-channel TRoIP conference there will
be N—l RTP network inputs fed to N u-Law decoders and on
to N Mix-Master tees, N Mix-Master Mixers, and N—l u-Law
encoders feeding N RTP network outputs. The ?nal input to
the mixer is via the Local Audio Mixer output 312, and the
?nal output from the Mix-Master Mixer is sent to the Local
Audio Mixer input 318.
[0046] FIG. 6 illustrates an alternate form of the Mix-Mas
ter, this for a Mix-Master using IP Multicast 600 as the audio
output. The input section of this is still accessing N—l RTP
network inputs 402 routed to N—l u-Law decoders 404. These
N—l linearized channels then route to a single mixer 602,
joined by audio from the local node 312. This mixer 602 then
feeds a tee, which routes the mixer’s output directly to the
local audio input 318, and as well to a u-Law encoder 410 and
out to the network via RTP broadcast 412. Given the broad
cast nature of this, this will be routed exactly the same to every
node in the network, with no option for individual mixes or
other settings.
[0047]
FIG. 7 illustrates a typical Push-to-Talk (PTT) inter
face 700 for the TRoIP system. This is based on a USB
interface 712 to the mesh radio system, and a fairly standard
events, such as alerts and other sorts of audio interface queues
to the listener.
USB audio processor 714. A headset or handset is attached to
the PTT module at the Headset Port 716. This provides a
[0040]
single microphone input with bias 71 0, and two channel audio
output. A microphone preamp 708 will typically condition the
input audio, while a driver ampli?er 714 delivers higher level
The earpiece mixer outputs 316 from both left and
right channels are merged into a stereo stream in the L/R
Multiplexer 320, and sent to the operating system’s audio
output driver. In the preferred embodiment, as before, this is
an ALSA driver, but the same functionality would exist in any
audio to the user’s phones or speaker.
simple case. Audio from the network in use is routed via a
[0048] The PTT interface is managed via two push buttons
702, 704. The actual push-to-talk button 704 will indicate to
the radio system that the user is transmitting. In cooperating
with the radio unit software, a double-keying of the PTT
button will change the routing of the microphone, in the case
suitable realtime media protocol to the system 402. The pre
in which the user is a member of more than one conference
other operating system.
[0041] FIG. 4 illustrates the block diagram 400 of the cli
ent-only mode of the ?exible stage mixer. This is the very
Jun. 12, 2014
US 2014/0160996 A1
group. The system’s tone generator (314, see FIG. 3) acts as
part of this user interface by immediately acknowledging
such changes to the user’s headset.
[0049] An option on the PTT interface is a single volume
control 720. This control works in conjunction with the local
with voice conferencing software such that the node is
capable of said voice conferencing over the network and
is also capable of functioning as a conference server;
(b) automatically evaluating the network at each node;
(c) automatically determining one of the nodes that is best
node mixer software. It will adjust the gain of the microphone
when the talk button is keyed. Otherwise, it will adjust the
connected to the network in accordance with a result of
relative audio level of the current default conference.
[0050] FIG. 8 illustrates a basic Conference Server (aka
(d) selecting said one of the nodes to act as the conference
server in accordance with a result of step (c).
2. A method as in claim 1, wherein the network is a
Mix-Master) Election Cycle ?owchart 800. The cycle starts
802 based on a periodic update, the loss of the current server,
the start of a conference cycle, orpossibly other stimulus. The
start of the cycle 804 causes election tallies to be reset 806.
The local node will bid and start the local tally 808, then send
the local bid to other nodes in the conference 810.
[0051] The criteria for each nodes’ bids will be based on the
speci?c nature of the underlying network. In a static peer to
peer network, this might simply be ?rst come, ?rst served. On
a highly mobile mesh network, data from the mesh (proximity
step (b); and
dynamic, mobile mesh network having a mesh subsystem,
and wherein step (d) is performed also in accordance with
data from the mesh subsystem.
3. A method as in claim 1, further comprising (e) grouping
the nodes into logical call groups, wherein:
(i) each call group constitutes a separate, independent
voice conference;
and quality of node-to-node links, etc) can inform the bidding
(ii) each call group can contain any of the nodes;
(iii) each of the nodes can be a member of any number of
the call groups; and
process.
(iv) the call groups can be assigned priorities, allowing
[0052]
The local node listens for peer election bids 812,
eventually receiving some 814. These are added to the bid
tally, and checked for a new high score 81 6. If the current high
score has changed, the corresponding node is marked as the
election leader 820, and the conference server change is made
850.
[0053]
With no change in high score 822, the system checks
if the election period is over. If not, more bids are analyzed
828. If so, the local node checks to see if the current leader is
the incumbent Mix-Master 830. If so, the election is over,
with no change in Mix-Master 832.
[0054] If the leader is not the incumbent 834, we check if
the incumbent has placed bids 836, indicating that the net
work can hear the current Mix-Master. If so, then the incum
bent has simply lost the election 838, and the system calls for
a change in the conference server 850.
[0055] If the incumbent hasn’t bid, we check to see if the
incumbent has been present for at least a threshold count of
cycles 842. If the incumbent is missing too many cycles 844,
the conference server is changed 850. Otherwise 846, the
election cycle is reset 846.
[0056] The actual Conference Server Change 850 ?ow
chart is described in FIG. 9. This starts 852 with the election
leader set as the new conference server 854. This is happening
on all conference nodes. This selection is checked against the
local node ID 856. If the local node is now the conference
server, existing current VoIP calls are terminated 862, and the
node is put into the appropriate Mix-Master mode and set to
start accepting new VoIP calls 864. If the node is just a client,
it terminates all VoIP calls 866, then starts all new calls to the
new server 868, then we’re back to the election loop 870, 802.
[0057] While a preferred embodiment has been set forth
above, those skilled in the art who have reviewed the present
disclosure will readily appreciate that other embodiments can
be realized within the scope of the invention. For example, the
invention can be used with any suitable network and network
protocol. Therefore, the present invention should be con
strued as limited only by the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A method for voice conferencing over a network, the
method comprising:
(a) providing a plurality of conferencing nodes, each of
said plurality of conferencing nodes being programmed
mixing or overriding content from other ones of the call
groups.
4. A method as in claim 3, wherein step (e) comprises
implementing a con?guration user interface, allowing the call
groups and properties and rules of the call groups to be pre
de?ned prior to a job or mission and modi?ed by a suitable
peripheral device in the ?eld.
5. A method as in claim 3, wherein each of the nodes
comprises a microphone, a left headphone, a right headphone,
and a hardware push-to-talk interface with a talk button, and
wherein each of the nodes is con?gured such that:
(i) call group audio is selectively mixed to left or right
headphone;
(ii) the call group audio is mixed between each of the call
groups and also with local radio-based sources of audio;
(iii) activation of the talk button causes the microphone to
act as an input to a current default call group; and
(iv) double-clicking of the talk button changes the current
default call group, while the voice conferencing soft
ware provides audible feedback to the user to indicate
that the current default call group has been changed.
6. A method as in claim 5, wherein the local radio-based
sources of audio comprise at least one of a user’s vocal
feedback and alert signals.
7. A method as in claim 5, further comprising (f) interfac
ing a user input device to the node.
8. A method as in claim 7, wherein the user input device
comprises at least one of a computer, a tablet, and a smart
phone
9. A method as in claim 7, wherein step (f) comprises
digitally interfacing the user input device to the node.
10. A method as in claim 7, wherein step (f) comprise
analog interfacing the user input device to the node.
11. A method as in claim 7, wherein the push-to-talk inter
face comprises a button to allow audio to/ from the user inter
face device to be routed to/from the user’s headset, in lieu of
audio from the network.
12. A method as in claim 1, wherein the network is an
Internet Protocol network.
13. A node for voice conferencing over a network, the node
comprising:
a communication component for audio communication
with the network;
Jun. 12, 2014
US 2014/0160996 A1
an audio component for allowing a user of the node to
participate in the audio connection; and
a processor programmed with voice conferencing software
for:
(a) voice conferencing over the network and also function
ing as a conference server;
(b) automatically evaluating the network;
(c) automatically determining one of a plurality of other
nodes on the network that is best connected to the net
work in accordance with a result of step (b); and
(d) selecting said one of the nodes to act as the conference
server in accordance with a result of step (c).
14. A node as in claim 13, wherein the network is a
dynamic, mobile mesh network having a mesh subsystem,
and wherein the processor is con?gured to perform step (d)
also in accordance with data from the mesh subsystem.
15. A node as in claim 13, wherein the processor is further
programmed for (e) grouping the nodes into logical call
groups, wherein:
(i) each call group constitutes a separate, independent
voice conference;
(ii) each call group can contain any of the nodes;
(iii) each of the nodes can be a member of any number of
the call groups; and
(iv) the call groups can be assigned priorities, allowing
mixing or overriding content from other ones of the call
groups.
16. A node as in claim 15, wherein the processor is pro
grammed to perform step (e) by implementing a con?gura
tion user interface, allowing the call groups and properties
and rules of the call groups to be pre-de?ned prior to a job or
mission and modi?ed by a suitable peripheral device in the
?eld.
17. A node as in claim 15, wherein:
the audio component comprises a microphone, a left head
phone, a right headphone, and a hardware push-to-talk
interface with a talk button; and
the processor is programmed such that:
(i) call group audio is selectively mixed to left or right
headphone;
(ii) the call group audio is mixed between each of the call
groups and also with local radio-based sources of audio;
(iii) activation of the talk button causes the microphone to
act as an input to a current default call group; and
(iv) double-clicking of the talk button changes the current
default call group, while the voice conferencing soft
ware provides audible feedback to the user to indicate
that the current default call group has been changed.
18. A node as in claim 17, wherein the local radio-based
sources of audio comprise at least one of a user’s vocal
feedback and alert signals.
19. A node as in claim 17, further comprising an interface
for interfacing a user input device to the node.
20. A node as in claim 19, wherein the interface for inter
facing is con?gured such that the user input device comprises
at least one of a computer, a tablet, and a smartphone
21. A node as in claim 19, wherein the interface for inter
facing is con?gured for digitally interfacing the user input
device to the node.
22. A node as in claim 19, wherein the interface for inter
facing is con?gured for analog interfacing the user input
device to the node.
23. A node as in claim 19, wherein the push-to-talk inter
face comprises a button to allow audio to/ from the user inter
face device to be routed to/from the user’s headset, in lieu of
audio from the network.
24. A node as in claim 13, wherein the communication
component is con?gured such that the network is an lntemet
Protocol network.
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