|Numéro de publication||WO2002017623 A1|
|Type de publication||Demande|
|Numéro de demande||PCT/US2001/025871|
|Date de publication||28 févr. 2002|
|Date de dépôt||17 août 2001|
|Date de priorité||23 août 2000|
|Numéro de publication||PCT/2001/25871, PCT/US/1/025871, PCT/US/1/25871, PCT/US/2001/025871, PCT/US/2001/25871, PCT/US1/025871, PCT/US1/25871, PCT/US1025871, PCT/US125871, PCT/US2001/025871, PCT/US2001/25871, PCT/US2001025871, PCT/US200125871, WO 0217623 A1, WO 0217623A1, WO 2002/017623 A1, WO 2002017623 A1, WO 2002017623A1, WO-A1-0217623, WO-A1-2002017623, WO0217623 A1, WO0217623A1, WO2002/017623A1, WO2002017623 A1, WO2002017623A1|
|Inventeurs||William Wang, Ray Roque, Quang Phan, Paul Wang|
|Exporter la citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Citations de brevets (6), Référencé par (1), Classifications (12), Événements juridiques (2)|
|Liens externes: Patentscope, Espacenet|
An Internet Access Device
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to the Internet implemented delivery and consumption of computer and media services; also generally to broadcast, satellite and cable television reception and also generally to remote controls for computers or televisions. The present invention relates more particularly to a high-resolution video display device and a broadcast, cable or satellite receiver in conjunction with the use of a networked computer and global communications network to enable a user to select, schedule or view broadcast television content as well as Internet provided content by manipulating a single common user interface.
2. Prior Art
There is presently a convergence of technology, media formats and business models in the areas of entertainment, broadcasting and mass-marketed computer hardware and software. Content providers and distributors have long advertised their goods and services through the television media and are eager to sell their product through global computer networks such as the Internet. However, the public has, to date, adopted the Internet for consuming those goods and services mainly through the use of personal computers. Thus, the Internet has, to date, proven to have a limited ability to market these goods and services as successfully as they have been with television alone.
The cross-over products that are presently available for displaying Internet-based data on a television set are unsatisfactory. They do not provide easily manipulated interfaces, are bulky and cumbersome to set up or fail to provide optimal viewing quality across all modes of the multimedia formats transmitted to the system. Accordingly, a common, easily manipulated user interface, combined with a system designed to maximize screen resolution independently of the format of the data being transmitted to the system, would be helpful to the providers, distributors and consumers of the convergent goods and services.
SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
It is an object of the present invention to provide a broadcast, cable and satellite television receiver with software controlled hardware functions and a web-driven dynamic user interface.
It is an additional object of the present invention to display broadcast, cable and satellite or digitally formatted Internet-delivered content, even when said content is delivered in a variety of formats, in response to instructions accepted according to a uniform format through a dynamic user interface.
It is also an object of the present invention to permit a database management system to make a timely and detailed record of the delivery of content by the receiver and of the entry of instructions through the dynamic user interface. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
Figure 1 is a general diagram showing the system of the present invention, which includes a novel device for viewing television programming as well as allowing access to the Internet.
Figure 2 is a schematic block diagram of the major components of the present invention.
Figure 3 illustrates a sample graphical user interface that is employed with the web browsing features of the present invention.
Figure 4 is an illustration of a remote control device that can be used to control the operation of the present invention.
Figure five presents the remote control device with its top cover open.
Figure 6 is an alternative embodiment of the display device of the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
A novel apparatus and system for viewing television and permitting access to the Internet will now be described, hi the following description, for purposes of explanation, specific devices, method steps, component arrangements and constructions are set forth in order to provide a more thorough understanding of the invention. In other instances, well known manufacturing methods and structures have not been described so not to obscure the present invention unnecessarily. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art, however, that the present invention may be practiced without those specific details.
Referring first to Figure 1, an overall view of the system is shown. The system includes as an integral part of its operation, a display device 30. The display device 30 incorporates the functionality of a television, and also permits access to the Internet and viewing pages on the World Wide Web. The display device 30 is described in more detail with respect to Figure 2, below. The display device communicates with a computer server 34 over a communications link 33. The computer server 34 is typically associated with an Internet Service Provider. The Internet Service Provider provides a gateway for the user of the display device 30 to have access to the Internet.
The computer server 34 communicates over the Internet with a content server 40. The content server 40 in the system provides a source of information which can be accessed or downloaded over the Internet. The types of information which can be downloaded include music, video-on-demand and other similar items. As shown in Figure 1, the computer server 34 may be connected to more than one content server 40.
Referring next to Figure 2, a schematic block diagram of the major components of the display device 30 is shown. The display device is constructed so that it is able to display video signals that are supplied to the display device 30 in a number of different formats. These include a standard NTSC video signal (which is the common analog television signal in use today), high definition television (HDTV) signals, and computer generated signals. Each of these types of signals is formatted in a different manner, so the display device 30 includes novel circuitry to permit the display of all types of signals.
It is common in the art that current computer monitors are capable of displaying 1024 x 768 pixels of resolution. HDTV signals are video signals that typically have a higher resolution. Referring again to Figure 2, the display device 30 includes a momtor 50. The monitor 50 is capable of displaying a high resolution video signal. In the preferred embodiment, the monitor displays approximately 1024 x 768 pixels of video information. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art, however, that a different image resolution can be displayed without departing from the overall scope of the present invention. The only limitation is that the monitor should be able to display a video signal which is sufficient to display HDTV signals and Internet web pages without further signal processing. The monitor 50 includes a CPU 52. The function of the CPU 52 is to control the on-board functions of the monitor, including screen displays, horizontal and vertical positioning, image geometry and other similar functions. For example, the CPU 52 will permit information to be displayed on the monitor which includes items such as channel selected, volume control, time of day, and other similar features. The monitor 50 is capable of displaying pictures of varying size and resolution.
Coupled to the monitor 50 is a video and audio multiplexer 54. The video and audio multiplexer 54 is the primary input to the monitor 50. The function of multiplexer 50 is to select from one or more different input video signals and provide a single signal to the monitor 50 for display. The audio and video multiplexer 54 combines audio and video information into a single signal for transmission to the monitor 50. The operation of the multiplexer 54 is controlled by the CPU 51 which is located in the television control module 56.
The functionality of the television control module 56 will now be described. The purpose of the television control module is to include all of the circuitry necessary to operate and control the television functions of the present invention. As shown in Figure 2, the television control module includes a CPU 57. The CPU controls, among other things, the operation of the multiplexer 54. The multiplexer 54 selects from the various video input signals and selects one to be displayed on the monitor 50. Also coupled to the CPU 57 in the television control module 56 are the various control inputs for the monitor (such as brightness, contrast, picture size and the like) which are generally referred to with reference numeral 55 in Figure 2.
The input video signals are commonly referred to in Figure 2 with reference numerals 59 and 62. As noted above, various types of video signals can be input to the multiplexer. The input video signals can include HDTV, VGA and other high quality video signals which are referred to with reference numeral 59. The input video signals can also be supplied in NTSC format. These NTSC signals are collectively referred to with reference numeral 62. HDTV signals can take different formats, including YpbPr (component video), HDTV and RGBHV. The multiplexer 54 can also accept a video signal in VGA format. VGA is an abbreviation for Video Graphics Array and is the specific format that is commonly used in displaying computer data. When a high resolution video signal is to be displayed, it is selected by the multiplexer 54 and passed over cable 59 to the monitor 50.
The display of an NTSC video signal by the monitor is a special case. The standard NTSC format provides a single video image, or frame, which consists of 525 horizontal lines of vertical resolution. These 525 lines are divided into two fields. The first field consists of odd numbered lines and the second of even number lines. In the scanning process, all odd numbered lines are scanned first and displayed. After the odd numbered lines are scanned, then the even numbered lines are scanned and displayed. Thus, a single NTSC frame consists of two fields that are interlaced to display a single image consisting of 525 lines. (In fact, not all of these lines contain video information. In the NTSC format, some of the lines are intentionally left blank). The frames are sequentially displayed to make up the single frame. For every 1 second of video, there are 30 frames. The preferred embodiment of the monitor 50, as discussed above, is capable of displaying more than the 212 lines per field of the NTSC video signal. The present invention therefore includes a line doubler 63 that permits the NTSC format to be converted into a format having the larger number of lines that are capable of being displayed on the monitor 50. The line doubler 53 is part of the television control module 56, as illustrated in Figure 2. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the line doubler 53 could have been included separately from the television control module 56. As another alternative, the NTSC signal could be processed separately before it is supplied to the display device 30 of the present invention.
The line doubler 63 functions by separating the two interlaced signals that are present in the standard NTSC signal. The line doubler deinterlaces the image to convert the video stream from a standard 60 interlaced fields per second to 60 progressively scanned frames per second. The exact circuitry required to perform this conversion is known to those of skill in the art and will not be repeated herein.
The method of displaying an NTSC video signal on display device 30 of the present invention can now be described. The NTSC signal is provided to the display device 30 through input connector 62. The NTSC signal passes through cable 63 to the line doubler 56. The line doubler 56 converts the NTSC signal into a format, that is compatible with the display resolution of the monitor 50. The converted NTSC signal then passes through cable 63 to the multiplexer 54. As described above, the multiplexer 54 permits the appropriate video signal to be delivered to the monitor 50 for display.
The foregoing description has focused on the display of the HDTV and NTSC television signals, and on the display of computer generated images. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention can be modified to accept video signals which are formatted differently, and which are not included in the foregoing description. The exact details of the modifications to the preferred embodiment of the present invention which are necessary to permit display of such differently-formatted signals will be apparent to those skilled in the art. The display device 30 of the present invention is intended to be used to permit a user to view a regular television broadcast. The television signal can be delivered via cable television or through a satellite receiver. Alternatively, the present invention can capture over-the-air broadcast signals. If the video signal is delivered in an HDTV format, then it is processed and demodulated prior to being supplied to the display device 30. The HDTV signal in the preferred embodiment is demodulated using external circuitry into RGBHV or YpbPr formats. The demodulated signals are then supplied to the display device 30 at input connections 59. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that alternative embodiments of this structure can also be used with equal effectiveness. For example, the demodulation circuitry could be incorporated as part of the Internet Appliance 70 (described below). The display device could also include dedicated circuitry (analog or digital) to demodulate the input HDTV signal and convert it into formats accepted by the display device 30. Regardless of the demodulation scheme employed, the demodulated HDTV signal is supplied to the multiplexer through on of the input signals.
If the cable television signal is delivered in an NTSC format, then it will be supplied through input connector 62 of the television control module 56. As discussed above, the television control module 56 performs the functions necessary to display a television signal. A tuner 60 is provided which is coupled to the television control module 56. The tuner 60 permits the display device 30 to capture over-the-air broadcast television signals for display.
Also coupled to the multiplexer 54 is an Internet appliance 70. The Internet Appliance 70 is a microprocessor based device that includes sufficient hardware and software to allow a user to gain access to the Internet. The Internet Appliance 70 of the preferred embodiment has a standard PC architecture that is well known in the art. In its preferred embodiment, the Internet Appliance 70 is compatible with the "x86" family of microprocessors manufactured by the Intel Corporation. Other microprocessors may also be used to achieve results that are equivalent to the preferred embodiment. Other compatible microprocessors can be used. Other types of architecture can also be used for the Internet appliance that will achieve results equivalent to the preferred embodiment. The structure of these various devices is known or apparent to those skilled in the art. The different physical components of the Internet Appliance 70 will not, therefore, be described in additional detail. Instead, the following description focuses on the functionality of the Internet Appliance 70 and its various displays and screens that are shown on the monitor 50 when the display device 30 is used. The functionality of the Internet appliance 70 is achieved through suitable software and computer programming. The details of the software will be apparent to those skilled in the art.
The preferred embodiment of the present invention anticipates that Internet web pages will be displayed when the user selects a specific, pre-defined television chamiel. The display device does not actually tune to the reserved frequencies which are assigned by the Federal Communications Commission to the selected channel. Rather, the display device creates a "virtual" channel which appears to the ordinary user to be an actual broadcast channel. The channel selection indicator (not illustrated in Figure 1) of the monitor will indicate that the display device 30 is tuned to the preselected channel. However, the monitor 50 will accept its input from the Internet appliance 70. Typically the channel selected to display Internet web pages is one which is not commonly used for television broadcasts. In the preferred embodiment, the channel used for displaying Internet web pages is channel one. The user can also gain Internet access by tuning the monitor 30 to the preselected channel or by other control means.
When Internet access is chosen by the user, the output of the Internet appliance 70 is selected by the multiplexer 54 and supplied to the monitor 50. Because the Internet appliance 70 is microprocessor based, it can be programmed to perform a variety of functions, hi the preferred embodiment, the Internet appliance 70 is programmed to display a dedicated "Start Page" each time that the user selects Internet access or tunes the momtor 70 to television channel one.
Referring now to Figure 3, a sample graphical user interface (GUI) used for the start page is shown The GUI includes a number of navigation buttons generically referred to with reference numeral 100. The navigation buttons can be divided into different categories such as news, finance, sports, etc. Also located on the program guide is an address bar 102, which displays the URL/address of the web page being displayed. Referring again to Figure 3, the lower portion of the page displays an Internet-based graphic channel menu (GCM) 102. The GCM 102 includes a graphical representation of television shows that are currently being broadcast in the user's local area. The viewer can use the GCM to select and change television channels or select and activate various Internet web pages. The GCM uses conventional "point and click" technology well known in the prior art. The Internet appliance is programmed to include a web browser which permits the user to easily and quickly browse various web pages in the Internet.
The information used to construct the GCM is transmitted from the Internet to the display device 30. The present invention obtains programming for television shows in a manner which is different from prior art. For example, in United States Patent 5,541,738, programming information is transmitted along with the standard NTSC signal in the Vertical Blanking Interval ("VBI") portion of the signal. The VBI is normally empty and does not contain any information whatsoever. Using the method of the prior art, the VBI contains programming information that extracted from the NTSC signal when it is received by a television.
The present invention operates differently because the information is not part of the video signal. Instead, the information is obtained over the .Internet from computer server 40. The Internet Appliance 70 then processes the television programming information to create the GCM which is displayed. This allows greater flexibility in the operation of the display device. Also, the display device is not limited to information which is transmitted over a local television signal. Because the GCM is Internet-based, the Internet appliance can create a GCM is not dependent on the information that is transmitted in the video signal, and is similarly limited.
The use of the Internet appliance 70 to create the GCM allows the user to customize the GCM. For example, the user's favorite television channels can be located at the top of the GCM for quicker access. Also a plurality of different GCMs can be created by the Internet appliance, and the user can select from among the various choices. This permits, for example, a family to store and maintain various GCMs. Each member of the group would select their own GCM and customize it to meet their desired criteria.
Referring next to Figure 4, the display device 30 and the GCM are operated in the preferred embodiment, primarily through a remote control device 200. The remote control device 200 of the present invention includes buttons (referred to generically with reference numeral 202) for controlling the television functions of the display device 30. Such functions include channel selection, volume control and other such inputs. The remote control device 200 of the present invention communicates with the display device 30 by means of an infrared ('TR") transmitter located on the front edge of the remote control device 200. In alternative embodiments, other communications methods such as a low powered RF signal or a hardwired controller can also be employed.
Referring next to Figure 5, integrated with the television controls of the remote control device 200 is an alphanumeric keyboard 205 as well as Internet access buttons. The keyboard is accessed by lifting up the top surface 204 of the remote control device 200. Figures 4 and 5 illustrate a specific physical layout and arrangement for the preferred embodiment of the remote control device 200, and of the function buttons 202 and the keyboard 205. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that other arrangements of the keyboard layout can be used with equal effectiveness. The remote control device 200 additionally includes a pointing device that can be used to navigate the GCM and GUI. The pointing device can be the trackball as shown in Figure 5, or any equivalent mechanism. In the preferred embodiment, the pointing device generates a true 360° signal, permitting a wider and more flexible range of motion.
A unique feature of the remote control device 200 in the present invention is the method used to send communication and control signals to the display device 30. The television function keys 202 send a single IR signal pulse when depressed or otherwise activated. However, the keyboard and Internet keys 205 operate differently. The keyboard keys 205 send an IR signal while depressed and a second IR signal when the key is released. This communications protocol is generally known as "make or break" signaling. The specific circuitry known for both methods of signaling is well known in the art and need not be further detailed here.
Although implementation of the preferred embodiment of the display device 30 is directed with the use of the remote control device 200, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that other control mechanisms can also be employed. For example, the remote control 200 could be replaced with a standard, full sized keyboard (not illustrated) which is connected to the Internet appliance by a dedicated cable. Other input devices can also be used. The exact range of available control means will be apparent to those skilled in the art.
An alternative embodiment of the display device 30 is shown in Figure 6. hi this embodiment of the invention, the television control module has been combined with the Internet appliance into a single element. This arrangement results in a device which is lower-cost and which can be easily manufactured.
The description of the present invention has been made with respect to specific arrangements and constructions of an Internet access device. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the foregoing description is for illustrative purposes only and that various modifications can be made to the present invention without departing from the overall spirit and scope of the present invention. Thus, the full extent of the present invention is defined and limited only by the following claims.
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|Classification internationale||H04N5/44, H04N5/445, H04N5/00, H04N7/16|
|Classification coopérative||H04N2005/4419, H04N21/435, H04N21/4782, H04N21/4622, H04N21/42214, H04N7/012|
|Classification européenne||H04N21/462S, H04N21/4782|
|28 févr. 2002||AK||Designated states|
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