Disclosed is a method for providing a local device service over a network, where the local device service is not configured for network access. The method includes determining whether the local device is busy, and if the local device is not busy, broadcasting over the network an available first service provided by the local device. Then, if the local device is not busy and is selected by a computer, providing by the connecting station, the computer access to the local device.
Here’s Apple’s background on the invention: “Computers and other electronic devices such as tablets, mobile phones, gaming consoles and other comparable devices (hereinafter a ‘computer’) may be configured to be electronically connected to various external devices, for example, and not by way of limitation, printers, cameras, scanners, computers, phones, and the like (an ‘external device’).
“Many external devices may be configured to be connected to a computer through a network (a ‘network device’) or locally (a ‘local device’). Network devices may be connected to multiple computers through a network, where each computer may individually access the network device. On the contrary, local devices often may only connect to a single computer at any given time. In order to connect the local device to another computer, the local device may need to be disconnected from the first computer.
“When a local device is locally connected to a computer, it may install (or require the user to install on the computer) a device specific driver. The driver allows the computer to communicate and provide commands to the local device. It is now more common for people to have more than a single computer at home, but many of these devices may be local devices, rather than network devices. For example, a family may have a single printer, but each member in the family may have his or her own computer.”
The inventors are Baskaran Subramaniam and Miguel J. Vega.