AU766265B2 - Method and apparatus for providing an interactive program guide with headend processing - Google Patents

Method and apparatus for providing an interactive program guide with headend processing Download PDF

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Publication number
AU766265B2
AU766265B2 AU37635/99A AU3763599A AU766265B2 AU 766265 B2 AU766265 B2 AU 766265B2 AU 37635/99 A AU37635/99 A AU 37635/99A AU 3763599 A AU3763599 A AU 3763599A AU 766265 B2 AU766265 B2 AU 766265B2
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AU
Australia
Prior art keywords
information
set
database
hierarchy
data streams
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Ceased
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AU37635/99A
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AU3763599A (en
Inventor
Ted R. Michaud
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ARRIS Technology Inc
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ARRIS Technology Inc
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Priority to US7075998A priority Critical
Priority to US09/070759 priority
Application filed by ARRIS Technology Inc filed Critical ARRIS Technology Inc
Priority to PCT/US1999/009057 priority patent/WO1999057904A1/en
Publication of AU3763599A publication Critical patent/AU3763599A/en
Application granted granted Critical
Publication of AU766265B2 publication Critical patent/AU766265B2/en
Anticipated expiration legal-status Critical
Application status is Ceased legal-status Critical

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04HBROADCAST COMMUNICATION
    • H04H60/00Arrangements for broadcast applications with a direct linking to broadcast information or broadcast space-time; Broadcast-related systems
    • H04H60/68Systems specially adapted for using specific information, e.g. geographical or meteorological information
    • H04H60/72Systems specially adapted for using specific information, e.g. geographical or meteorological information using EPGs [Electronic Programme Guides]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/20Servers specifically adapted for the distribution of content, e.g. VOD servers; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/25Management operations performed by the server for facilitating the content distribution or administrating data related to end-users or client devices, e.g. end-user or client device authentication, learning user preferences for recommending movies
    • H04N21/262Content or additional data distribution scheduling, e.g. sending additional data at off-peak times, updating software modules, calculating the carousel transmission frequency, delaying a video stream transmission, generating play-lists
    • H04N21/26283Content or additional data distribution scheduling, e.g. sending additional data at off-peak times, updating software modules, calculating the carousel transmission frequency, delaying a video stream transmission, generating play-lists for associating distribution time parameters to content, e.g. to generate electronic program guide data
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/435Processing of additional data, e.g. decrypting of additional data, reconstructing software from modules extracted from the transport stream
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/47End-user applications
    • H04N21/472End-user interface for requesting content, additional data or services; End-user interface for interacting with content, e.g. for content reservation or setting reminders, for requesting event notification, for manipulating displayed content
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/60Network structure or processes for video distribution between server and client or between remote clients; Control signalling between clients, server and network components; Transmission of management data between server and client, e.g. sending from server to client commands for recording incoming content stream; Communication details between server and client 
    • H04N21/63Control signaling related to video distribution between client, server and network components; Network processes for video distribution between server and clients or between remote clients, e.g. transmitting basic layer and enhancement layers over different transmission paths, setting up a peer-to-peer communication via Internet between remote STB's; Communication protocols; Addressing
    • H04N21/64Addressing
    • H04N21/6408Unicasting
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/80Generation or processing of content or additional data by content creator independently of the distribution process; Content per se
    • H04N21/83Generation or processing of protective or descriptive data associated with content; Content structuring
    • H04N21/84Generation or processing of descriptive data, e.g. content descriptors
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/16Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems
    • H04N7/162Authorising the user terminal, e.g. by paying; Registering the use of a subscription channel, e.g. billing
    • H04N7/165Centralised control of user terminal ; Registering at central
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N7/00Television systems
    • H04N7/16Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems
    • H04N7/173Analogue secrecy systems; Analogue subscription systems with two-way working, e.g. subscriber sending a programme selection signal
    • H04N7/17309Transmission or handling of upstream communications
    • H04N7/17318Direct or substantially direct transmission and handling of requests
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04HBROADCAST COMMUNICATION
    • H04H20/00Arrangements for broadcast or for distribution combined with broadcast
    • H04H20/16Arrangements for broadcast or for distribution of identical information repeatedly
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04HBROADCAST COMMUNICATION
    • H04H20/00Arrangements for broadcast or for distribution combined with broadcast
    • H04H20/28Arrangements for simultaneous broadcast of plural pieces of information
    • H04H20/33Arrangements for simultaneous broadcast of plural pieces of information by plural channels
    • H04H20/34Arrangements for simultaneous broadcast of plural pieces of information by plural channels using an out-of-band subcarrier signal
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04HBROADCAST COMMUNICATION
    • H04H2201/00Aspects of broadcast communication
    • H04H2201/30Aspects of broadcast communication characterised by the use of a return channel, e.g. for collecting users' opinions, for returning broadcast space/time information or for requesting data
    • H04H2201/37Aspects of broadcast communication characterised by the use of a return channel, e.g. for collecting users' opinions, for returning broadcast space/time information or for requesting data via a different channel
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04HBROADCAST COMMUNICATION
    • H04H2201/00Aspects of broadcast communication
    • H04H2201/40Aspects of broadcast communication characterised in that additional data relating to the broadcast data are available via a different channel than the broadcast channel
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04HBROADCAST COMMUNICATION
    • H04H2201/00Aspects of broadcast communication
    • H04H2201/70Aspects of broadcast communication characterised in that receivers can be addressed

Description

-1- TITLE OF THE INVENTION Method and Apparatus for Providing an Interactive Program Guide with Headend Processing FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to the field of distributing television programming information. More particularly, the present invention relates to a method and apparatus for providing an interactive program guide in which program information is processed centrally by a service provider and is downloaded directly to viewer's screens thereby eliminating the need for extensive and expensive memory at the viewer's location.

S° 10 BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Any discussion of the prior art throughout the specification should in no way be considered as an admission that such prior art is widely known or forms part of common general knowledge in the field.

Due to the phenomenal popularity of television in modem culture, the number of 15 television stations in a metropolitan area and the number of channels a cable network o and satellite system support increases regularly. The result is a large and growing S: number of programs which are of potential interest to a particular viewer. To inform viewers of available programming a number of devices have been developed.

Traditionally, published program guides provided in magazines or by local newspapers have been a standard means of ascertaining available programming.

However, as the amount of programming available increases, newspapers become more selective of the listings provided. Other published guides may attempt to list all available IP Australia Documents recelveC o 0.

o 6 JUN 2001 l Batch No: E= WO 99/57904 PCT/US99/09057 2 programming. However, the guide becomes so lengthy that it is no longer useful for the viewer who wishes to quickly determine what programming is available or wishes to find all the listings for a particular type of programming. Moreover, published program listings cannot be updated to reflect last minute schedule changes and additions.

To overcame the problems inherent in published program listings, electronic program guides have been developed. These systems involve storing an electronic program guide in electronic memory within the viewer's television or within a set-top terminal connected to the viewer's television. The user can then access the program guide for display on the television screen.

For example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,288,809 to Yabe and 4,052,719 to Hutt et al. (both incorporated herein by reference) describe such a system in which alphanumeric program information is transmitted during the blank field intervals of the incoming video signals. The information is identified by an identification code and is stored in a memory associated with a viewer's television where it can be recalled for display on the television screen.

The memory is a random access memory (RAM), and the programming information is continuously updated through the transmission of new information in the blank field intervals of the incoming signal.

Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 4,203,130 to Doumit et al.

(incorporated herein by reference) describes thedisplay of program schedule information and other data to cable WO 99/57904 PCT/US99/09057 3 subscribers. The programming information is included in the television signal transmitted over the cable and is stored in memory associated with the viewer's television where it can be retrieved and displayed. The display utilizes the entire television screen.

U.S. Patent No. 4,751,578 to Reiter et al.

(incorporated herein by reference) discloses a similar system for providing programming information. However, the display taught by Reiter et al. can utilize the entire screen or can be an overlay on, or window in, the televised programming being received. Programming information is stored in a local RAM and is updated by information encoded in the television signal, provided over a telephone link, or recorded on magnetic cards or floppy disks.

A similar electronic programming guide is also taught in U.S. Patent No. 4,706,121 to Young (incorporated herein by reference). The Young system stores electronic programming information in a memory at the viewer's location, and can be used to program a connected VCR to record the listed programs without the viewer transferring and re-entering the program information to the VCR.

A problem with all these prior systems is the use of memory at the viewer's location to store the electronic program guide. As the number of available channels and programs proliferates, more and more memory must be provided to store the associated electronic program -4guide. This increases the expense and bulk of electronic program equipment obtained by the viewer.

Accordingly, there is a need in the art for a method and system of providing electronic television programming information which can be continuously updated, searched and organized upon request from the viewer, and which is not limited by the a viewer's memory unit and processing hardware.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the present invention to overcome or ameliorate at least one of the disadvantages of the prior art, or to provide a useful alternative.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a system for disseminating electronic program guide information comprising: an electronic program information database maintained by a network service provider; and a headend processor which accesses said database, sorts and compiles oo. 15 information from said database, and transmits said information to a set-top terminal which displays said information on a television, wherein said headend processor sorts said information in said database according to categories determined by an operator of the headend processor and arranges said categories in a hierarchy, said headend processor transmitting said hierarchy of categorically sorted information as data streams V 20 in an out-of-band channel to set-top terminals, said data streams including a directory signal which provides said set-top terminals with a directory of said hierarchy of categorically sorted information such that said set-top terminals may extract information from said data streams using said directory signal in response to user inputs indicating desired information.

In the preferred embodiment there is no need for each set-top terminal to download and store a copy of the database for local use. Therefore, preferably, the settop terminal does not store in memory all the information from the database.

According to another aspect of the present invention there is provided a method for disseminating electronic program guide information to set-top terminals of subscribers for direct display on a television set, the method comprising the steps of providing a headend processor for sorting and compiling information from an electronic program information database maintained by a network service provider; sorting, with said headend processor, said information in said database according to categories determined by an operator of the headend processor and arranging said categories in a hierarchy; transmitting said hierarchy of categorically sorted information as data streams in an out-of-band channel; and providing with said data streams a directory signal which provides said set-top terminals with a directory of said hierarchy of categorically sorted information such that said set-top terminals may extract information from said data 15 streams using said directory signal in response to user inputs indicating desired information.

oo.o .Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, throughout the description and the claims, the words 'comprise', 'comprising', and the like are to be construed in an inclusive sense as opposed to an exclusive or exhaustive sense; that is to say, in the V. 20 sense of"including, but not limited to".

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS **The accompanying drawings illustrate the present invention and are a part of the specification. Together with the following description, the drawings demonstrate and explain the principles of the present invention by way of example only.

-6- Fig. 1 is a diagram of a system according to the present invention; and Fig. 2 is a flowchart showing the processing steps of a first embodiment of the present invention.

*o gig/ 6 7 DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The present invention will now be described with reference to the drawings.

As shown in Fig. 1, the basic components of a system according to the present invention are a television set 102 which-is connected to a set-top terminal 101. As will be appreciated, the functions of the set-top terminal could be incorporated into the I( 10 television set 102 during manufacture without effect on the principles of the present invention.

The set-top terminal 101 in the illustrated example is connected via a cable network to a cable television service.provider. Specifically, the set-top terminal 101 is connected to a central headend processor 103 maintained by the service provider. The processor 103 has access to a program information database 104 which is constantly updated with the latest television programming information.

20 As will be understood, all the many subscribers to the network of the service provider will have individual television sets and set-top terminals. All of which will be connected to the headend processor 103. While illustrated using a cable television network, it will be 25 appreciated that the present invention could also be practiced with a satellite or conventional broadcast television network.

The present invention takes advantage of the higher band-width television networks, particularly cable 8 networks, to provide an interactive electronic program guide in a broadcast television environment. According to the principles of the present invention, the electronic database of program information 104 is stored at a headend facility, i.e. the service provider or cable television company, and is not stored locally at each subscriber's television set 102.

The information in the headend database 104 is processed by the headend processor 103 and is compiled 10 and transmitted over the television network to subscriber's television se.ts 102 for display.

Accordingly, there is no need for the entire database'104 to be transmitted and stored locally at each subscriber-!s set-top terminal 101.

The headend processor 103 may provide program information in various formats and on various bases. For example, the processor 103 may provide the programming information on a broadcast carousel that continuously runs through the listing of available programs with the user being able to interactively switch to any of the listed programs by indicating a selection on the programming guide.

Accordingly, a set-top terminal 101 or television Scomponent receiving the information need have only 25 minimal processing and memory capabilities. Moreover, a central server acts as the headend processor 103 making it easier to update or correct the program information database 104. Therefore, the integrity of the-database is enhanced.

-9- However, as illustrated in Fig. 2, under the principles of the present invention, the headend processor provides a hierarchy of data streams each matching a particular category of programming information which can be accessed by subscribers.

First, the program information database is compiled 201. Then the database is sorted according to programming category 202. Categories of programming may include, for example, the next four hours of all programs available, all sporting events being televised on the current day, all adventure movies being shown this evening.

The program guide database 104 includes, for example, the program title, broadcast time and channel for each program available. The categorization or segmentation of the data is important in that it determines the minimum granularity of the database 104. The server operator creates the appropriate database segmentation rules to guide the server's operation. The operator will also support the sorting of the database by creating sort categories and hierarchies.

The headend processor 103 will then create separate lists of the programs 15 available in each particular category during a specified time period 202. These categorical listings are then arranged into the sort hierarchy 203, e.g. adventure movies •and romance movies fall under a single hierarchical category of "movies".

The network operator will then direct the server to partition the database components into various streams for broadcast on the network. The subscribers using their personal equipment, e.g. a set-top terminal 101, can then access the stream of data ••containing the programming information desired by the subscriber directly from the headend server 103.

The headend processor 103 will also include a directory signal component that will support the set-top terminals 101 in accessing the database components in the hierarchy of broadcast data streams 204. Under the principles of the present invention, an out-of-band communication channel is used to broadcast the directory information to all set-top terminals 205. The ability to include the short-term database files with the directory information in the broadcast stream provides a more flexible application environment. The server and network operator may also provide an access control system that allows access to various segments of the database to be sold to subscribers.

In this embodiment, the set top terminal 101 includes the necessary hardware and software to receive the directory information detailing the database segmentation and hierarchy 206 and to use that directory information to navigate through the hierarchy of database segments in the data streams as directed by a subscriber 207. The set-top terminal 101 then displays the selected program information for the subscriber 208.

The preceding description has been presented only to illustrate and describe the 15 invention. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to any precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching.

The preferred embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application. The preceding description is 20 intended to enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention in various •embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use S"contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the following **"claims.

Claims (5)

1. A system for disseminating electronic program guide information comprising: an electronic program information database maintained by a network service provider; and a headend processor which accesses said database, sorts and compiles information from said database, and transmits said information to a set-top terminal which displays said information on a television, wherein said headend processor sorts said information in said database according to categories determined by an operator of the headend processor and arranges said categories in a hierarchy, said headend processor transmitting said hierarchy of categorically sorted information as data streams in an out-of-band channel to set-top terminals, said data streams including a directory signal which provides said set-top terminals with a directory of said hierarchy of categorically sorted information such that said set-top terminals may extract information from said data streams using said directory signal in response to user inputs indicating desired information.
2. A system as claimed in claim 1, wherein said set-top terminal does not store in °memory all the information from said database.
3. A method for disseminating electronic program guide information to set-top terminals of subscribers for direct display on a television set, the method comprising the steps of providing a headend processor for sorting and compiling information from an •electronic program information database maintained by a network service provider; sorting, with said headend processor, said information in said database according to categories determined by an operator of the headend processor and arranging said -12- categories in a hierarchy; transmitting said hierarchy of categorically sorted information as data streams in an out-of-band channel; and providing with said data streams a directory signal which provides said set-top terminals with a directory of said hierarchy of categorically sorted information such that said set-top terminals may extract information from said data streams using said directory signal in response to user inputs indicating desired information.
4. A system for disseminating electronic program guide information, substantially as herein described with reference to any one of the embodiments of the invention illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
5. A method for disseminating electronic program guide information, substantially as herein described with reference to any one of the embodiments of the invention illustrated in the accompanying drawings. DATED this 3 0 th day of JUNE, 2003 BALDWIN SHELSTON WATERS Attorneys for: GENERAL INSTRUMENT CORPORATION °o oo e oo*e
AU37635/99A 1998-05-01 1999-04-27 Method and apparatus for providing an interactive program guide with headend processing Ceased AU766265B2 (en)

Priority Applications (3)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US7075998A true 1998-05-01 1998-05-01
US09/070759 1998-05-01
PCT/US1999/009057 WO1999057904A1 (en) 1998-05-01 1999-04-27 Method and apparatus for providing an interactive program guide with headend processing

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AU3763599A AU3763599A (en) 1999-11-23
AU766265B2 true AU766265B2 (en) 2003-10-09

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Country Status (8)

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EP (1) EP1078527A1 (en)
JP (1) JP2002514864A (en)
CN (1) CN1178506C (en)
AU (1) AU766265B2 (en)
BR (1) BR9910183A (en)
CA (1) CA2331092A1 (en)
TW (1) TW492252B (en)
WO (1) WO1999057904A1 (en)

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WO1999057904A1 (en) 1999-11-11
CA2331092A1 (en) 1999-11-11
AU3763599A (en) 1999-11-23
CN1178506C (en) 2004-12-01
TW492252B (en) 2002-06-21
CN1308815A (en) 2001-08-15
BR9910183A (en) 2001-12-11
JP2002514864A (en) 2002-05-21
EP1078527A1 (en) 2001-02-28

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