US 20090210897 A9
A client server arrangement for downloading media content filters from a server device to a client device. The media content filters define portions of a separate audio visual presentation containing potentially objectionable subject matter. Depending on user selections, identified portions of the audio/visual presentation may be skipped and/or muted during play. In one particular implementation, the client device, e.g., a DVD player, is configured to initiate a connection with a server device. Upon successful connection, the server device transmits one or more media content filters to the client device. The client device may be configured to determine whether a particular media content filter is available, to facilitate deletion of some existing media content filters in order to secure adequate memory space, and to ensure that the media player has an active account, before initiating a connection with the server device. The server device may be configured to determine whether the media player is associated with an active user account, whether a requested filter is available, and whether adequate memory space is available at the media player, before transmitting media content filters to the client device.
1. A method for downloading at least one media content filter from a remote storage comprising:
establishing communication with the remote storage;
requesting the at least one media content filter;
receiving the at least one media content filter from the remote storage; and
locally storing the at least one media content filter in a local storage.
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15. A client device configured to perform the operations of
16. A method for transmitting at least one media content filter from a remote storage to a local storage of a media player, the method comprising:
establishing a connection with the media player;
receiving an identification of the at least one media content filter requested from the media player;
determining whether the at least one media content filter is available; and
transmitting the at least one media content filter to the media player.
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The present application is a non-provisional application claiming priority to pending provisional application No. 60/620,902 titled “Method and User Interface for Downloading Audio and Video Content Filters to a Media Player” filed on Oct. 20, 2004, which is hereby incorporated by reference herein.
The present application is also related to:
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/694,873, entitled “Multimedia Content Navigation and Playback,” filed Oct. 23, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,898,799 which issued May 24, 2005;
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/695,102, entitled “Delivery of Navigation Data for Playback of Audio and Video Content,” filed Oct. 23, 2000, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,889,383 which issued May 3, 2005; and
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/104,924 filed Apr. 12, 2005, which claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/561,851 filed on Apr. 12, 2004, and also claims priority to and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/694,873 filed on Oct. 23, 2000, and claims priority to and is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/695,102 filed on Oct. 23, 2000.
Each of the above referenced related applications and patents are hereby incorporated by reference herein.
Aspects of the invention relate generally to the use of content filters for filtered playback of multimedia content, such as movies or other audio-video content, playable on a digital video disk or digital versatile disk (DVD) player, or similar media player. More specifically, the invention relates to downloading multimedia content filters to a client device, such as a media player, from a server device by way of some communication medium, such as a dialup connection, network connection, internet, etc.
Technology currently exists which allows the user of a DVD player to filter objectionable content of a DVD-resident audio or video presentation, such as a motion picture, during playback on the player. This technology allows, for example, the viewing of a movie originally containing more adult-oriented content by younger, less mature viewers. Generally, the filtering function is provided by a media content “filter” resident within the DVD player that specifically applies to a particular audio or video presentation, such as a movie. The filter, which is typically stored within a nonvolatile logic memory, such as flash memory, indicates which portions of the audio or video presentation are to be skipped, or which audio portions are to be muted, by the DVD player during playback. Typically, whether the filter is employed for a particular playback of the presentation may be determined by the user by way of a menu selection system provided by the DVD player. Further, different forms of objectionable content, such as profane language, sexually explicit content, and so on, may also be selectively filtered by way of the menu system. In some systems, the filtering system may be protected by way of a user-defined password so that those not privy to the password are unable to defeat the filtering mechanism.
Each filter specific to a particular presentation is typically produced at some point after a DVD of the presentation has been released. Thus, while some filters for preexisting movies may be pre-installed in the DVD player, the player normally also includes a method of accepting and storing new filters as they are produced. Typically, filters are installed by way of a CD, DVD, or other disc readable by the DVD player. Therefore, a user inserts the disc containing the filters of interest into the tray or slot normally employed for playback. The DVD player, recognizing the disc as one containing filters, installs the filters from the disc, possibly at the guidance of the user by way of the player menu system.
While filter delivery and installation via a disc is convenient, additional methods of installing the content filters in a DVD player that do not require the shipment of a disc from a filter provider to the user or consumer may be advantageous.
Generally, embodiments of the present invention provide a method and associated user interface for downloading audio and/or video content filters to a DVD player or similar media player over a data communication medium.
One particular configuration of the present invention is a method for downloading at least one media content filter from a remote storage. The configuration comprises establishing communication with the remote storage; requesting the at least one media content filter; receiving the at least one media content filter from the remote storage; and locally storing the at least one media content filter in a local storage.
Another particular configuration of the present invention is a method for transmitting at least one media content filter from a remote storage to a local storage of a media player, the method comprises establishing a connection with the media player; receiving an identification of the at least one media content filter requested from the media player; determining whether the at least one media content filter is available; and transmitting the at least one media content filter to the media player.
Embodiments and advantages of the invention will be realized by those skilled in the art upon reading the detailed description of the invention, presented below.
The client computing platform 12 includes media filtering capability of some sort. Additionally, the storage 18 of the server 16 includes corresponding media filter files. Generally, the media filtering capability employs the media filtering files in order to alter play of a multimedia presentation according to user selections. In some particular arrangements, the media filtering capability and media filter files are those described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,898,799 and 6,889,383 and U.S. application Ser. No. 11/104,924 referenced and incorporated above. In these particular arrangements, media filter files are provided for various movie titles available on some form of memory suitable for storing video and/or audio, such as DVD. The media filter files define portions of a movie that are associated with various types of scenes and language potentially unsuitable for certain audiences, such as portions of a movie with graphic violence, gory violence, sexually explicit behavior, explicit drug use, etc. A user may elect to have certain types of scenes skipped or muted. The media filtering capability monitors play of the movie and scenes identified in the filter file. When the media filtering capability identifies an elected type of scene, it operates to perform a skip of the scene or to mute the audio associated with the scene.
Whether or not filter updates via CD or DVD are allowed, the user is provided in the menus of
The user may choose to obtain a filter by way of the “Filtered Play” menu option shown in the menus of
If the Download button of the
In one embodiment of the invention, the initial activation of a media player after purchase may be implemented by way of a single code that may activate all media players equipped to install media content filters from the filter provider. Such a code may even be published on a website, or included with the documentation supplied with the player. On the other hand, a first reactivation, such as after a user account was terminated, would be implemented by way of a second, more private, code specifically employable for that media player. Further reactivations, if allowed, would each likely require separate reactivation codes as well.
Upon reactivation of an inactive account (operation 30) or verification of the active status of the player (operation 26), the media player determines whether the movie is scheduled to have a filter file. In one example, the player checks a Master Index residing within the player to determine if the content on the currently loaded disc will ever have a corresponding filter (operation 34 of
If the disc content is the potential target of a filter, the media player checks the Master Index to determine if such a filter is available for download (operation 36). If the Master Index indicates that the filter is not available, the player then determines whether the Master Index has been updated recently from the filter provider (operation 38). Updating of the Master Index may be considered recent if it has occurred, for example, within the last twelve hours. In other embodiments, an update may be considered recent only if it has occurred within the last few minutes or hours, or within the last few days or weeks. If the information in the Master Index is considered up-to-date, the media player presents the menu of
If the Master Index indicates that a filter associated with the loaded disc is available, or if the Master Index has not been updated recently, the DVD player may additionally check if there is any available memory for an additional filter (operation 42). Determinations of sufficient memory is identified at several times in the methods described herein. It is possible to eliminate or rearrange the time of these determinations, or eliminate the determinations altogether. A method for deleting filters in order to provide sufficient memory for a new filter is described in detail below. At the time of determining whether there is sufficient memory in the local storage for additional filters, the player or server may further determine whether the particular filter for the movie has been recently deleted from the player, or whether it has been deleted repeatedly. In such instances, the player may prohibit a connection with the server or the server may prohibit downloading of the filter. Such prohibition may be necessary at times to prohibit frequent unnecessary connections to the server or other system abuse.
Assuming available memory space for a filter, the media player then provides the menu of
In another embodiment, the filter provider server may actually be a computer not located at the site of the filter provider. For example, the server may actually be a computer located in the home of the user or is on a network accessible by the user, wherein the computer has downloaded the files from the filter provider or another source. In that case, the media player may connect to the home computer containing the filters by any means, including phone connection, Internet, Universal Serial Bus (USB), or wireless (for example, infrared) connection. Alternatively, the client may be a computer separate from the media player. Filter files are downloaded to memory of the client, and then transferred to the media player memory. The transfer may occur over a communication medium or the filters may be stored to a removable memory media and physically transported to the media player.
Once the user presses the Get Filter button, the media player (client) checks an internal memory location to determine the type of account the user maintains with the filter provider (server). Such information is typically loaded into the media player the first time the media player connects to the filter provider server. As a result, if the next connection will be the initial connection, the player may assume a particular type of account prior to downloading the actual account information from the filter provider server. If the user possesses a “single filter” account, which allows the user to purchase single filters one at a time from the filter provider, the media player displays the menu of
Alternatively, the user may instead elect to purchase the single filter by selecting the Purchase button of
Returning to the menu of
Prior to connecting with the filter provider, the media player may optionally check whether enough memory space is available to store new filters (operation 48). The player may further make the determination based on the type of account. More specifically, if the user has a single filter account, memory space for only a single filter is required. However, if a subscriber account is involved, several filters may be downloaded during any given connection with the server. For example, if the user subscription allows fifteen filters to be downloaded per connection, space for fifteen additional filters should be available. In either case, if enough space is currently available in the internal memory of the media player, the connection process ensues, as described below (
If, instead, available player memory space is lacking, existing filters have to be deleted in order to have sufficient space for new filters. In one particular implementation, the player displays the menu of
If the media player then determines that enough space is available for the expected number of filters to be downloaded (operation 54), the media player may begin initiating a connection with the filter provider (operation 56). The nature of the actual connection may take on any number of forms. In one particular example, the connection with the filter provider may be a simple modulator-demodulator (modem) dialup connection, for which only the phone number of the filter provider providing dialup access to the filters is required. The user may also have to enter a user name and password. Alternatively the player may automatically transmit the user name and password when a connection to the server is established. The phone number may be preprogrammed in the media player by the player manufacturer, or may be a number provided to the user by the filter provider. In the latter situation, the media player would provide the menu of
Alternatively or in addition to a direct dialup connection, the media player may allow the user to employ his own Internet service provider (ISP) to connect with the filter provider via the Internet. In that case, the media player may allow an option to preload into the media player information required to initiate an Internet connection. For example, the menu of
In other embodiments, the media player may receive the ISP information and similar data via another method than remote control. For example, the user may store the information on a transferable medium (such as a CD, a memory stick, or the like) by way of a computer or similar device having a suitable human-interface input device, such as a keyboard, and then transfer that information to the media player, for example by way of the DVD reader of the DVD player, a memory stick interface, or other interface of the media player that receives the memory medium. In an alternative embodiment, the ISP connection information or similar data may be generated on a computer and sent by way of the Internet directly to the media player by its own Internet connection. In either case, the ISP information or other data normally transferable from the user to the player by way of remote control or other standard means would be stored in the player more quickly and efficiently.
After the ISP information is entered, the player may then test the connection using the entered information while displaying the menu of
The dialup number or ISP information discussed above may be provided at any point prior to the media player attempting to establish a connection with the filter provider. For example, the user may program the information into the media player before a disc is inserted into the player for viewing.
Presuming the required connection information has been loaded into the media player, a connection to obtain a filter may commence (operation 56). The media player dials the programmed phone number to establish the connection. While the connection is being attempted, the player presents the menu of
Generally, as described below, the operations executed by both the server and the client player while the connection is active are structured such that connection time is reduced, thus making the use of the remote connection between player and the server both time- and cost-efficient. In another embodiment, efficiency may not be of prime importance, thus allowing a different ordering of operations during the connection.
If the connection to the server of the filter provider is successful, the media player then transmits to the server an indication of the identity of the media player, usually in the form of the player serial number (operation 58). The server then consults a local database for information concerning the player and account, and may transmit some information to the player (operation 60). For example, the server may access any information associated with the account identified with the serial number, such as the account name, which may be transmitted to the media player. Also, the account information in the local database may be updated with any pertinent information available to the server at the time, such as the time of the current connection. Any customer service messages, such as a new customer service phone number or new dialup number, may be transmitted to the media player for display via a menu.
The server also determines the status of the player and related account (operation 62). Upon receipt of an account, the media player may transmit information regarding the currently-requested filter download (operation 64). This information includes the filter ID number, associated filter version and expected price of the filter, if obtainable within the Master Index residing within the player. If the filter information is not available via the Master Index, the player may send some other indication of the identity of the loaded disc in lieu thereof. Also, the player may send an indication of the amount of free space available for filters in the memory of the player.
If the server cannot identify an account associated with the received player serial number (operation 62), the server may transmit an activation code to the player (operation 66). The player may then display a new account message, similar to the menu of
If the server was able to identify an account in the database with the player serial number, but determines that the account is not current (deactivated) (operation 62), the server will transmit a reactivation code to the media player, as described above, and then subsequently close the connection (operation 68). The media player then provides the user information via the menu of
Presuming the server has verified the active status of the connected player, the server then determines whether the requested filter (by way of the filter ID and version previously transferred by the player) is available (operation 72). If the filter is not available, the server indicates so to the player, which informs the user by way of the menu of
If the requested filter is available (operation 72), the server determines which type of account is involved: a single filter account or a subscription account. In one embodiment, if the account of the single filter type, the server determines the current price of the filter (operation 76). The server may then compare the current price with the expected price (if any) relayed by the player from the Master Index (operation 78). If the price has changed, the server may send a message to be displayed on the menu of
Regardless of the type of account involved, the server then prepares to transfer the one or more filters to be downloaded to the DVD player (operation 86). More specifically, the server places the requested filter (and additional filters, if a subscription account is involved) in a transmission queue for transmission to the player via the connection, and initiates the transfer. The server may also send a wait time associated with the requested filter to the player. Generally, the wait time indicates the next time the player will be allowed request download of this same filter to prevent multiple attempts to download the filter within a short time span. In one embodiment, the wait time may be transferred to the player in the case the filter is not yet available. In that case, the wait time may be set such that the player will not request that filter until the next possible time the filter is available for download.
In one particular implementation, if the user's account is a subscription then the server will attempt to send extra (high-use) filters, in addition to the particular filter associated with the movie, as described below before closing the connection. Sending the extra filters optimizes the use of the connection, and can help to eliminate the need for establishing later connections.
In addition, the server may update the account information, update a log indicating the player connected to the server, and update a transaction log to reflect the current filters to be purchased and downloaded. This information may be processed immediately, or may be batch processed at predetermined intervals, such as, for example, once per hour. Also, the server may also send an updated Master Index to be stored in the media player for later access by the user, as described above, as well as an indication of the filters to be downloaded via the connection to the player.
Once the filters are placed in the queue, and the transfer is initiated, the media player begins receiving each filter, one at a time, stores (or “commits”) the filter received to the filter storage area of the player, and then responds via the connection to the server with an indication that the filter has been committed (operation 88). In another embodiment, the media player receives multiple filters in a single burst, and commits them before responding to the server. The server then records the identity of the filter that has been committed by the player, updates the transmission queue by removing the committed filter, and updates the account to indicate the commission of the filter (operation 90).
The server then tracks the number of free memory blocks available in the player by reducing the number of available memory blocks in the player (as indicated previously by the player) by the amount of memory occupied by the transferred filter committed by the player (operation 92). Further, the server sends an indicator, such as a flag, to determine whether the player has enough free memory blocks in order to continue receiving filters. In response to the continue flag, the player checks if sufficient memory remains for another filter, and responds to the server with an indication (operation 94).
Next, the server determines if there is sufficient memory space to continue (operation 96). If insufficient memory remains for more filters in the queue to be transferred, the server indicates an estimated amount of available memory required for a subsequent download of filters. The player then closes the connection and displays a warning to the user by way of the menu of
If, on the other hand, sufficient free memory is available for downloading another filter, the player determines if the next filter to be downloaded is already loaded into the player (operation 102). If so, the player informs the server, which then updates the queue and the account as if the filter had been transmitted to the media player. Otherwise, the server again checks if any filters remain in the queue, and downloads the next filter to the player (operation 104). Downloading of each filter may effectively encompass operations 86-96.
Once the queue is empty (operation 106), indicating all filters have been downloaded, or if the transfer was interrupted for some reason, such as insufficient memory in the player, the server may indicate to the player an estimated amount of space that may be required for the next filter (or series of filters) remaining in the queue to be downloaded (operation 98). The size of the estimated amount of space depends upon, for example, whether a single filter account or a subscription account is involved. In one embodiment, the filter memory within the media player is defined in terms of “blocks” of some predetermined size. Even if the number of filters to be transmitted is known the indication of the amount of space for the filters to be downloaded remains an estimate, as each filter may occupy a different number of blocks in memory. In one embodiment, the estimate may be a “worst case” estimate, determined by the largest filter possible or currently available from the filter provider.
At the conclusion of the transfer, the player then determines whether the filter associated with the loaded disc has been received (operation 108). If so, the connection is closed, and an indication that the download is complete is provided by the menu of
Throughout the time a connection is maintained between the server and the player, the server may track the elapsed time while awaiting a response from the player. In one embodiment, if the elapsed time exceeds a predetermined threshold, such as, for example, twenty seconds, the server may close the connection with the player.
Disclosed herein are several embodiments of a method and associated user interface for downloading media content filters to a media player or similar device from a filter provider by way of a phone, the Internet, or other remote connection. While the disclosed embodiments are described in specific terms, other embodiments encompassing principles of the invention are also possible. For example, while embodiments discuss a phone connection, other methods of connecting electronic devices, such as by way of wireless networking, may also be employed. Also, while specific examples of menus presented to the user have been provided, many other ways of presenting the same or related information may be employed to the same end. Further, while specific examples particularly discuss a DVD player, other types of media players capable of displaying movies and similar media presentations, may also be utilized within the scope of the invention.
Throughout the application, reference is made to the filter storage memory of the media player. While such memory is ordinarily thought of as memory integrated circuits permanently installed on a printed circuit board of the player, removable storage media may also be used to store the filters employed by the player. For example, memory sticks, USB sticks, removable flash memory, and the like, connectable to the an interface of the player accessible by the user, may be employed to similar end. As a result, a removable storage medium may be coupled with a home computer of the user. The user may then download the filters over the Internet from the filter provider, storing those filters into the removable storage medium. The medium could then be removed from the home computer, and connected to the media player by way of an interface of the player designed for the medium, such as a USB port. The player could then access the filters for use in filtering the content of the DVDs associated with those filters.
Further, operations and menus are presented in one particular order. The order, however, is but one example of the way that operations and menus may be provided. Operations and menus may be rearranged, modified, or eliminated in any particular implementation while still conforming to aspects of the invention.