WV ULl3/y43 PC'f~iJSn]~Sl~lU
SYNCHRONOUS CONTROL OF MEDTA IN A PEER-TO-PEER NETWORK
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates genE:rally to a system and method of creating and sharing E=nhancements to and in connection with a broadcast program to enhance the viewing experience of a number of viewers of the broadcast program.
More particularly, the present ioveni.ion concerns a method of synchronously controlling another party's media (computer, 0 television, etc.) in a peer-to-peer network configuration.
Prior art systems are known whi~~h integrate television broadcasts with other video or audio content such as a stream 5 of data broadcast over the Internet. Additionally, instant messaging and/or chat room interfa~:ing over the i.nternet, World-Wide-Web or other network is also known. Such prior art, however, does not allow one party to synchronously and dynamically control another party's media in a peer-to-peer 0 network to create a truly interactive display for a user.
BRTEF DESCRIPTION OF TH.E DRAWINGS
The present invention will be better understood by reading the following detailed description, taken together with the 5 drawings wherein:
FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of one exemplary system embodying the principles of the prt=_sent invention, wherein multiple users view a broadcast pr~:~gram and simultaneously share information over a wide area network;
0 FIG. 2 is a; more detailed schematic: diagram of each viewer display and manipulation system according to the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a more detailed schematic diagram il~_ustrating the inputs to a dynamic display controller of the present 5 invention an~~ an exemplary dynamically changed output;
FIG. 4 is diagram showing the multiple layers that are displayed on a viewer display device;
FTG. 5 shows a converged display including the multiple layers of FIG. 4, including a background layer for displaying a broadcast program and a user-prepared enhancement overlay layer:
FIG. 6 is a schematic diagram of another exemplary system embodying the principles of the present invention, wherein multiple system users enhance a broadcast program via a set of mufti-media tools provided by a Web server over the Internet;
FIG. 7 is another diagram showing the multiple layers that are displayed on a viewer display in the embodiment of FIG. 6;
FIG. 8 shows a converged display including the multiple layers of FIG. 7, including a broadcast program (background) layer, a user-prepared enhancement overlay layer and a mufti-media tool overlay layer; and FIG. 9 is a flow chart of one exemplary method of generating, providing and displaying user-prepared enhancements to a plurality of viewers of a broadcast program.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
A system 10, FIG. 1, on which the present invention can be utilized and which embodies the present invention, includes a plurality of mufti-media presentation systems (workstations) 12 maintained by a plurality of system users or viewers, typically at least two. (The term user and viewer will be used interchangeably in the remainder of this description and should be construed to mean a person who perceives a broadcast program using his or her senses, including but not limited to sight and hearing.) The term mufti-media presentation system is used herein to indicate a system capable or presenting audio and video information to a user. However, the wv v~r~ry:~~ Y(:'1'/U~Ul/SlalU
presentation.. of more than one media should not be construed as a limitation of the present invention. Examples of such multi-media presentaticn systems 12 include personal computer (PC) systems, PC televisions (PCTVs) and the like.
Each multi-media presentation system 12 typically includes a viewer computer 14, at least one display device 16, such as a monitor or television set, and at least one audio output 18, such as one or more speaker that may be an internal component of a television set display device or provided as a separate _0 speaker or multiple speakers. Each user multi-media presentation system 12 a:Lso includes at least one input device 20, such as a keyboard, mouse, digitizer pad, writing pad, microphone, camera or other point~.ng or input generating device which allows the user to provide user input the workstations 12.
As will be described more fully below, each multi-media presentation system 7_2 is typically adapted to receive at least one broadcast program signal 22, which may be provided in the form of broadcast television programming (including cable and ~;atellite television), closed circuit television, Internet web-TV or the like, received by means of a standard television broadcast signal over the air waves, cable television or satellite television, L:.tilizing a tuner in each user computer 14. In addition, each mul.ti-media presentation system inte~__°faces with a computer network 24, which may be provided in the form of a local. area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), telephone network or a global computer network, such as the Internet (World-Wide-Web).
The components of one example of a multi-media presentation system/workstation 12 are shown .in FIG. 2. The heart o.f each such system is the user computer a_4. Each user computer includes a central processing unit (CPU) 26, which controls WO 02/37943 PCT/USfll/5141f) the functions of the presentation system. The CPU interfaces a broadcast receiver 28, which itself receives, as its input, the broadcast program signal 22. In one embodiment, t:~.e broadcast receiver 28 is a broadcast channel tuner that receives broadcast signals from a source such as a television broadcasting station or other programming provider or source.
Each user computer 14 also includes one or more internal storage devices 30, such as a disk drive, memory or CD ROM
where data, including user input from other users or from within the same workstation, overlays, or other data related to the display on the user workstation may be stored. A
communications controller 32 is also provided in each user computer 14, to control inputs received from and outputs transmitted to the other viewers via computer network 24. The communications controller 32 may act as a second receiver for receiving a second data stream provided to the user computer over the computer network. In the preferred embodiment, the communications controller 32 may include a device such as a modem (for example, a telephone, RF, wireless or cable modem) and/or a network interface card that receives information from a local or wide area network.
A dynamic display controller 34 (also referred to herein as a broadcast browser) is also provided with each user computer 14. The dynamic display controller interfaces the CPU 26, broadcast receiver 28 and communications controller 32 and receives, as input, the multiple data streams provided to the user computer by one or more of the broadcast program signal 22, the computer network 22 (via the communications controller 32) and the internal storage device 30. The dynamic display controller 34 merges the multiple input signals and outputs a merged data signal to the display device 15. An audio processor 36 may also be provided, as necessary, to receive w v ~~ia ~y~~ PCT/USOl/51.~10 audio data from the multiple data sources and to provide the same to the audio output devices) 18.
In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, which is disclosed for illustrative lpurposes only and not considered ;~ limitation of the present invention, the dynamic display controller 34 is implemented as computer software in the form of- a browser user interfac.:e operating on the user computer 14 , which is typically a personal computer or other similar individual computer workstai.ion. Other embodiments contemplated include a client server: configuration whereby a user computer 14 is connected to a server (not shown) that contains all or at least part of such computer software forming the dynamic display contrcller 34.
Each mufti-media presentation system 12 also includes at least one input device 20, whi~~h allows a first user to direct input to the dynamic display controller 34 to control what. is displayed on the display device .1.6, -,thereby allowing the user to control (i.e. generate) their v_'._ewing experience and in addition, to control the saving and/or displaying of the experience to the remaining users of the system 10, as will be explained in greater detail below.
As can be seen more clearly from FI,~. 3, each user computer CPU 26 receives, as a first input, a first data stream, such as a mufti-media broadcast program signal 22 via broadcast receiver 28. It may also receive, a; a second input, a data stream 40 including one or more third party, user-prepared, enhancements or additions to the broadcast signal input by a system user using one or more input device 20. Typically the user would interject images ~'vide:o, hand drawn images, pictures, c~_ip art, or the like), objects, audio (voice or other sound;s)) and/or text (instanv: message (IM) or chat, which will be displayed on his or her display device 16. In WO 02/37943 PCTlUS01/51410 this manner, a user can dynamically create a user experience in accordance with his or her personal preferences. As will become more fully apparent below, this user can also share his or her dynamically created user-prepared enhancements with other system users, to enhance their viewing experience or allow others to further modify and share their experience as well. The user an also create a data stream which can control another user's viewing experience such as by controlling the broadcast station that another user's display device is tuned to, or store data to another user' s storage device for Later recall and displaying. ' As a third optional input, each user computer CPU may receive, via communications controller 32, a third data stream 42, which is made up of shared enhancements to the broadcast program signal which were created by other users) of the system and transmitted to the user's computer over the computer network 24.
The user computer CPU 26 merges the two or more data streams and provides a merged signal 44 to the display device 26. The CPU also provides, to communications controller 32 and under control of the dynamic display controller, a data stream made up of the user-prepared enhancements, which the communications controller 32, in turn, transmits as a shared enhancement data stream 42' to the other users of the system. The user enhanced data stream 42' can include information to be displayed on a display as well as trigger or alignment indications 47 which can be used to synchronize the user enhanced data stream 42' with a broadcast presentation en another user's display device. In this embodiment, the system may include, on one or more user workstations 12 pattern recognition software or other means to align the user enhanced data stream 42' with an image pattern on a broadcast signal W V U6IJ lyiJ YC'1'/USlil/51~10 using one or more well known pattern recognition or "signature" type algorithms. The enhanced data stream 42' may also be stored on the creating user's or rer_eiving user's internal storage device 30 for later replay or later transmission: to others.
As can be appreciated, using such a system, a user can enhance not only his or her viewing experience by preparing user-prepared enhancements, but he or she can also enhance the viewing experience of any or all users of the system by 20 sharing his or her user-prepared enhancements to the other users of the system o.r by forcinci the display device of another user to be switched to another display (i.e.
television channel) with or without enhancement, thereby creating a "community" viewing experience fo.r: any or all connected/subscribed users.
FIGS. 4 and 5 show how a layering or "overlay" strategy is utilized by the dynamic display controller 34 to control the display of the data provided by a broadcast signal and data representing user-prepared enhancements so that all of the data may be displayed in a single window or screen on each display device 16. The dynamic display controller displays, in a "backg:round" layer 50, the broaadcast signal. Then, an overlay is displayed in the same window in at least one additional layer 54 on top of the background layer 50. (It is understood ~~hat the order or laye_~_.s can be reversed, if desired.) In order to allow the broadcast signal in the background :Layer 50 to be visible through the second or overlay layer 54, the second layer utilizes a substantially transparent background 56 or, as is disclosed herein, a background from a too' set called or named "broadcast" to signify the .source of the background information.
WO 02/37943 PCT/USO1/S1~t10 The system also provided a plurality of user-selectable multi-media tools 56, which are provided in the form of a toolbar 58, typically although not necessarily displayed on the overlay layer 54. The toolbar 58 may be positioned to any portion of the screen as the user desires as is well known in the art. The user-selectable tools 56 allow a user to manipulate the overlay to modify the layers displayed on his or her display device.
Examples of user-selectable tools include drawing tools that allow a user to reference or comment on one or more objects appearing in the underlying broadcast signal on the background layer of the display. Such drawing tools may include lines, arrows, and text boxes, thought bubbles, speech bubbles and the like. The user-selectable tools may also include one or more graphic insertion tools, which are responsive to a user input, to insert a graphic (image, picture, drawing, video clip, etc.) obtained from a graphic library into the overlay being displayed in the additional layer 54. Such graphics libraries may be stored in internal storage 30 provided by the user computer or may be stored in remote databases, which are accessible via the computer network.
The user-selectable mufti-media tools may also include an audio device to receive, store, edit and/or otherwise provide user-prepared auditory enhancements to the broadcast program.
Of course, like the video signals transmitted to the other users, user-prepared auditory enhancements can also be transmitted to the additional system users over the computer network where they would be output on audio output devices included at each user's mufti-media presentation system.
In addition to the text, graphic and audio tools, the toolbar may also include a user-selectable delivery icon, which can be used by the user to trigger the delivery of any user-prepared yr v vc« i ywa Y('T/U SO1/51:110 enhancements to those of the plurality of additional system users who are included on a delivery list maintained by the user of the system that has created the user-prepared enhancements. Of course, only those: additional system users that are logged onto their systerl and viewing the same underlying broadcast program as the user creating the enhancements will be able to display or otherwise output the shared enhancements on their display or audio output devices however, they user created enhanced broadcast may be stored on a storage device of another user for viewing at la later time by the user.
When the multiple data streams ar<~ merged, the resulting display appearing on the display device will. appear in a single window 60, where the user-prepared enhancements will directly coincide with the portions of the underlying broadcast data stream to which they are directed if the user creating the enhancement creates and sends/stores them as they coincide with the broadcast signa'~ the:.
For example, speech bubbles 62 or tlnought bubb~_es 64 can be positioned adjacent a character 66 to which the speech or thought is to be attributed, text or speech inserted, arid then transmitted (such as by hitting the return key or clicking the "mouse" button) or stored such that the respective alignment of the enhancements with the broadcast signal is maintained.
Text boxes 68 may be positioned where they will minimize interference with important objects appearing in the underlying broadcast. Text boxes 68 may include an "instant message" or a chat window, both of which can also be used to change or affect the display of another user.
An additional tool may also included a tool to change the display of another user to a channel of the first user's choice either immediately or later.
WO 02/379:3 PCT/USO1/51410 FIGS. 6-8 .show an alternative embodiment of a system 10 for communicating between a plurality of mufti-media presentation participants. In this embodiment, each user mufti-media presentation system 12 interfaces with a Web server 70 via the Internet 72. The Web server 70 provides a mufti-media tool overlay 74 as well as a user-prepared enhancement overlay 76.
Each user mufti-media presentation system 12 is similar to those described above with respect to the embcdi.ment of FIGS.
1 and 2. However, instead of storing a mufti-media tool overlay in local system memory and having the dynamic display controller retrieve the overlay from the system memory, in this embodiment, each user computer accesses the web server 70, where the overlay information is maintained. Nonetheless, each user computer would still include a dynamic display controller 34 for merging the overlay information accessed and manipulated via the web server with the broadcast presentation 22 received directly by each user system.
In this embodiment, since multiple users will access a common mufti-media tool overlay 74, a display strategy utilizing three or more layers may be utilized. in this manner, each system user can access the same too overlay and use the tool overlay to create and store user-prepared enhancements to the broadcast signal that are stored on a third display layer 52.
Each user will have a unique third display layer 52, which may also be referred to as a user-prepared enhancement overlay.
While there will be a common mufti--media tools overlay, each user will create his or her own user-prepared enhancement overlay.
The user-prepared enhancement overlay will then be transmitted to the other users of the system in a manner similar to that described above with respect to the self-contained, peer-to-peer system of FIGS. 1 and 2. Once the layers are merged by YYV VGlJ~94J PC'1'1U501151410 the dynamic display controller, the use of transparent backgrounds on the each overlay layer will allow the display to appear as if the user-prepared enhancements were simply inserted into the underlying broadcas: as is shown in FIG. 8.
In order to emphasize user-prepared enhancements, a special tool may be provided with the plurality of mult.i-media tools.
This tool will be referred to as a "broadcast mute" tool. The purpose of the broadcast mute "tool" is to dampen or otherwise minimize thc~ interference of the underlying broadcast signal so that the user-prepared enhancement overlay appear more prominently in the merged display. One means by which the broadcast mute feature may emphasize the user-prepared enhancement overlay is to provide a video mute feature. The video mute feature may be implemented as a control for the brightness and/or contrast signal of the underlying broadcast signal sent to the display device. By lowering either or both of the brightness or contrast signal. to the display device, the appearance of the broadcast data in the merged display will be dampened so that the user-prepared enhancements will be more prominent. Since the purpose of the broadcast mute tool is to provide emphasis to the user-prepared enhancements, when such enhancements are provided to the remainder of the users as shared enhancements, selection of the broadcast mute tool will affect the underlying broao.cast signal of all users to whom the enhancement is shared.
In a similar manner as the broadcast mute tool, the tool set 58 may also include an audio mute to~:~l. The audio mute tool will operate generally in a similar manner to the video mute tool. However, instead of afi~ecting the underlying broadcast's video signal, it would al=i_ow audio er_hancements to be highlight:ed by reducing the volume of the underlying broadcast signal. Of course both the video mute and audio mute features could be used together.
A method of generating and providing user-prepared enhancements to a plurality of viewers of a broadcast program 100 is shown in FIG. 9. To util,~ze the method, a plurality of viewers of the broadcast program will utilize a display device for viewing the broadcast program. Each viewer w.i.ll also have a computer for controlling the display device and for interfacing each user to the other viewers over a computer network.
The method 100 begins by displaying a broadcast program in a background layer on at least one viewer display device, act 110. Next, at least one overlay layer is provided on each viewer display device, act 120. Each overlay layer includes a transparent background to allow the broadcast program being displayed on the background gayer to "bleed through", At least one of the overlay layers includes a plurality of user selectable mufti-media tools, which are responsive to user input, for manipulating at least one overlay layer by including user-prepared enhancements thereupon.
Then, user interaction with the provided mufti-media tools is monitored and any user-prepared enhancements input by a viewer using the tools is stored, act 130. The user-prepared enhancements are then transmitted to any additional users of the system who are viewing the underlying broadcast presentation, act 140. Preferably, the user-prepared enhancements are transmitted in response to a user selectable delivery icon so that the user can complete the user-prepared enhancement and then deliver the enhancement when he or she so desires and to whom he or she desires.
In act 150, the user-prepared enhancement that has been transmitted to the additional system users is either displayed 1?
on at least one overlay layer on ton of the broadcast layer being displayed on a display device at a receiving user's system or stored on a storage device which is part of the receiving user's system. Next, the ~.zser prepared enhancement that has beE:n received can be used to control the display of the receivir..g user including changing a broadcast channel of the user either immediately of at a predetermined time o:r date in the future.
Accordingly, the system and method described above, which embody the present invention, allows viewers of a broadcast presentation to enhance their cwn viewing experience and enhance the viewing experience cf oi,hers by dynamically and synchronously preparing, changing <~nd sharing mufti-media enhancements to the underlying broadcast presentation.
Modifications and substitutions by cne of ordinary skill in the art are considered to be within the scope of the present invention that is not to be limited e;~~cept by the claims which follow.