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交互式电视节目导视系统及其方法

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Publication number
CN1867068A
CN1867068A CN 200610077777 CN200610077777A CN1867068A CN 1867068 A CN1867068 A CN 1867068A CN 200610077777 CN200610077777 CN 200610077777 CN 200610077777 A CN200610077777 A CN 200610077777A CN 1867068 A CN1867068 A CN 1867068A
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CN
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Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
guide
programs
program
server
users
Prior art date
Application number
CN 200610077777
Other languages
English (en)
Inventor
迈克尔·D·埃里斯
威廉·L·托马斯
托马斯·R·莱蒙斯
Original Assignee
联合视频制品公司
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    • HELECTRICITY
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    • 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
    • H04N21/433Content storage operation, e.g. storage operation in response to a pause request, caching operations
    • H04N21/4334Recording operations
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    • H04N21/21Server components or server architectures
    • H04N21/214Specialised server platform, e.g. server located in an airplane, hotel, hospital
    • H04N21/2143Specialised server platform, e.g. server located in an airplane, hotel, hospital located in a single building, e.g. hotel, hospital or museum
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    • H04N21/21Server components or server architectures
    • H04N21/222Secondary servers, e.g. proxy server, cable television Head-end
    • H04N21/2225Local VOD servers
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    • H04N21/23113Content storage operation, e.g. caching movies for short term storage, replicating data over plural servers, prioritizing data for deletion involving housekeeping operations for stored content, e.g. prioritizing content for deletion because of storage space restrictions
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Abstract

提供一种交互式电视节目导视系统。交互式电视节目导视提供给用户机会来选择用于在远程媒体服务器上录像的节目。也可在本地媒体服务器上将节目录像。节目导视提供给用户对于自媒体服务器中回放的节目的类似VCR控制以及对于节目的实时地高速缓存过的副本的同样控制。节目导视还提供给用户机会来指定接受礼品者以便为他将节目录像。

Description

交互式电视节目导视系统及其方法

本申请是申请日为1999年7月13日、名称为“基于客户-服务器的交互式电视节目导视系统”的第200410030100.5号发明专利申请的分案申请。

技术领域

本发明涉及交互式电视节目导视系统,更具体地涉及允许用户在媒体服务器上将节目录像和节目导视数据记录的交互式电视节目导视系统。

背景技术

有线电视、卫星电视和广播电视系统提供给观众大量电视频道。传统上观众参考印刷的电视节目单来确定特定时间内播送的节目。最近以来,开发了交互式电视节目导视,它允许在用户电视机上显示电视节目信息。交互式电视节目导视允许用户使用远程控制来浏览电视节目单。在典型的节目导视中,按照预定的或用户规定的分类来显示电视节目清单的不同组合。清单通常用列表、网格或表格形式显示。

节目清单和其他节目导视数据通常由卫星上行线路设备提供给多个有线系统首端。每个首端将节目导视数据传播至多个用户。交互式电视节目导视通常实施于用户的机顶盒中。通常机顶盒连至用户的电视机和录像机。在例如1996年12月19日发布的Knee等人的PCT专利申请发布号WO 96/41478中描述了电子电视节目导视。通常机顶盒连至用户的电视机和录像机。在例如1997年9月5日提交的Ellis等人的美国专利申请系列号08/924,239中描述了允许用户将节目录像的节目导视系统,它在此处全部引为参考。

这类系统在一些方面具有缺陷。机顶盒和录像机(VCR)的处理和存储能力通常有限。这反过来又限制导视的功能。录像机可能明显地给家庭电视设备增加费用。它们是机械系统,易于损坏,而它们的恰当操作又部分地取决于用户对它们的合适操作(即要记住放入录像带)。在某些系统中与节目导视一起操作VCR可能是复杂过程,因而可能使用户受挫。此外,用户不用多台录像机就无法同时录像多个节目,而在观看一个节目时要另一个节目将录像就需要附加硬件或功能强的机顶盒。在例如1998年6月16日提交的Lemmons等人的美国专利申请系列号60/089,487中描述了允许用户将一个节目录像而同时观看另一个节目的节目导视系统,它在此处全部引为参考。

已经开发了使用硬盘技术存储节目的系统。在例如1998年9月17日提交的Hassell等人的美国专利申请系列号09/157,256中描述了具有数字存储设备的交互式电视节目导视系统。基于硬盘的产品已经由California州Sunnyvale的TiVo公司及California州Mountainview的Replay Netwroks公司开发出来。这些系统的缺陷在于它们需要用户家中的附加设备,这将增加用户家庭电视设备的费用。这类系统的用户家中如不用多台录像机就无法同时录像多个节目。

某些当今电视平台支持机顶盒与首端之间的返回路径。已经开发了基于客户-服务器的节目导视,其中机顶盒用作客户机,它通过返回路径与位于首端处的服务器通信。这些服务器通常响应于由机顶盒生成的请求而将节目清单信息(例如节目名称和播送时间)提供给机顶盒。

也已经开发了点播视频(VOD)系统。这类系统通常把由首端传播的所有节目或者所选节目子集录像。在前一种方案中,在服务器处需要很大的存储量以保证用户所需全部视频都可供使用。在后一种方案中,用户只限于观看首端操作员决定录像的那些节目。在例如1995年2月9日发布的Buhro等人的PCT专利申请发布号WO95/04431 A2中描述了用于将音频和视频信号存储和传播的系统。在例如1998年5月12日发布的Girard等人的美国专利号5,751,282中描述了允许用户使用电子节目导视按照要求调用节目的系统。

在一种称为“盒子,,的有线电视系统中,观众可以告诉有线操作员,请求从音乐视频库存中挑选播送特定音乐视频。所请求的视频在专用频道上播送给所有观众观看。此方案具有一些缺陷。首先,用户使用他们的电视设备点播节目时不方便。其次,观众必须等待其他观众点播的节目播送完之后才能观看他们自己的节目。还有,观众限于只能选择库存中现有的视频。某些观众可能希望点播库存中所没有的音乐视频。这些观众没有办法选择视频以供存库或观看其他视频。

在一种称为“你的选择TV”的有线电视系统中,以前播送过的电视节目在一组专用电视频道上重复播送。观众可以付很少费用来点播重复的节目。然而,这种重复是在规定时间内实现的,这对于观众可能不方便。还有,可能没有观众所需要的节目,因为将哪些节目节目是由有线系统操作员决定的。在例如1998年4月23日发布的MacRae等人的PCT专利申请发布号WO 98/17064中描述了允许访问因特网的电视系统。

发明内容

因此本发明的目的是提供一种节目导视系统,它允许用户指示服务器将一定节目录像以备稍后按照要求回放给用户。

依据本发明的一个方面,提供了一种用于在交互式电视节目导视系统中使用的方法,其中该系统向用户提供对节目的访问,所述方法包括:提供多个用户设备,其中每个用户设备被配置用于呈现视频;提供服务器,该服务器连接到多个用户设备中的每一个,并且被配置用于向多个用户设备提供视频;将节目记录到服务器上,其中记录在服务器上的节目是用户选择的;从多个用户设备中的一个给定用户设备的用户接收播放记录在服务器上的节目的指示;响应于接收到该指示,从服务器中访问所述节目;以及向给定用户设备的用户显示所述节目。

依据本发明的另一个方面,提供了一种向用户提供对节目的访问的交互式电视节目导视系统,该交互式电视节目导视系统包括:包括一给定用户设备的多个用户设备,其中多个用户设备中的每一个被配置用于呈现视频;服务器,连接到多个用户设备中的每一个,并且被配置用于:向多个用户设备提供视频;以及记录用户选择的节目;以及至少部分地在电路上实现的交互式电视节目导视,其中该交互式电视节目导视被编程用于:从给定用户设备的用户接收播放记录在服务器上的节目的指示;响应于接收到该指示,从服务器中访问所述节目;以及向给定用户设备的用户显示所述节目。

通过提供一种响应于用户请求而在远程媒体服务器处将节目录像的节目导视系统,可以根据本发明的原理来完成本发明的这个和其他目的。主设备向多个电视传播设备提供节目导视数据。电视传播设备使用任何合适手段(例如连续地、周期地、响应于请求或命令等)将节目导视数据传播至多个交互式电视节目导视。交互式电视节目导视可以全部地实施于用户的电视设备上。选代地,通过使用合适的基于客户-服务器的方案或者分布式方案,节目导视可以部分地实施于用户的电视设备上和部分地实施于服务器上。

远程媒体服务器可以位于节目导视传播设备处,或者位于其他合适的传播设备处(例如有线系统首端,广播传播设备,卫星电视传播设备,或者任何其他合适类型的电视传播设备)。远程媒体服务器可以将节目录像,以及如果需要则将节目导视数据记录。远程媒体服务器还可以记录与节目相关联的数据,例如在垂直消隐期间(VBI)或数字数据道内载带的数据。节目、与节目相关联的数据、节目导视数据或它们的任何合适组合都可以响应于由交互式电视节目导视所生成的请求而加以录像或记录。由远程媒体服务器录像的节目可以使用任何合适的点播视频或近似点播视频方案来传播至用户。用户也可以在他们家庭中具有本地媒体服务器(例如个人计算机),用于将节目录像,以及如果需要则将导视数据记录。

附图说明

附图和以下优选实施例的详细描述将使本发明的进一步特征、它的特性和不同优点更为明显。

图1是根据本发明的说明性系统的原理框图。

图2a-2e是根据本发明的图1的交互式节目导视设备的说明性布置的原理图。

图3是用于显示根据本发明的图2a-2e的存储设备的的说明性布置的原理图。

图4是用于显示由图3的存储设备所保持的媒体目录的的说明性布置的原理图。

图5是用于显示如何将节目录像的说明性数据流图。

图6a和6b用于阐述当根据本发明为多个用户回放单个节目时用户指针的使用。

图7是根据本发明的图2a-2e的用户电视设备的说明性布置的原理图。

图8显示根据本发明的图7的远程控制的说明性布置的原理图。

图9是根据本发明的图7的说明性用户电视设备的一部分的一般化原理框图。

图10显示根据本发明的可由节目导视显示的用于向用户提供对不同节目导视功能的调用的说明性主菜单屏幕。

图11a显示根据本发明的其中按照时间来显示节目清单的说明性节目清单屏幕。

图11b显示根据本发明的其中按照频道来显示节目清单的说明性节目清单屏幕。

图11c显示根据本发明的其中按照分类来显示节目清单的说明性节目清单屏幕。

图12a和12b显示根据本发明的其中显示每次观看付费节目清单的说明性节目导视显示屏幕。

图13a显示当用户改换频道时根据本发明的可由节目导视显示的说明性FLIP显示。

图13b显示当用户表示希望浏览用户正观看的频道以外的其他频道的节目清单时根据本发明的可由节目导视显示的说明性BROWSE显示。

图14a显示当用户表示希望将节目录像时根据本发明的可由节目导视显示的说明性录像覆盖画面。

图14b显示当用户正在观看节目导视显示屏幕时可由节目导视显示的说明性录像覆盖画面。当用户表示希望将节目录像时可以显示该覆盖画面。

图14c和14d显示用于标示将节目录像的费用以及向用户提供机会来确认录像操作的说明性录像覆盖画面。

图14e显示当用户表示希望录像节目组中的一部分的节目时可由节目导视显示的说明性覆盖画面。

图15a显示说明性的每次观看付费点播覆盖画面。

图15b显示说明性的每次观看付费点播确认覆盖画面。

图16显示当用户选择受版权保护的节目来录像时可由节目导视显示的说明性录像覆盖画面。

图17显示用于向用户提供机会点播每次观看付费节目包的说明性节目导视显示屏幕。

图18a显示当用户正在观看电视节目时可由节目导视显示的说明性目录覆盖画面。当用户表示希望观看已经为用户在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上或图7的本地媒体服务器上录像的节目目录时可以显示该覆盖画面。

图18b显示当用户正观看节目导视显示屏幕时可由节目导视显示的说明性目录覆盖画面。当用户表示希望观看已经为用户在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上或图7的本地媒体服务器上录像的节目目录时可以显示该覆盖画面。

图18c显示当用户正观看根据本发明的按照分类显示清单的显示屏幕时可由节目导视显示的说明性目录覆盖画面。

图18d显示当用户表示希望访问为用户在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上或图7的本地媒体服务器上录像的节目目录时可由节目导视显示的说明性目录屏幕。

图18e显示当用户表示希望访问例如图14d中所示的但其中录像的节目清单按照不同方法分类的不同目录屏幕时可由节目导视显示的说明性目录菜单屏幕。

图18f显示用户已经选择由媒体服务器录像但尚未录像的节目的说明性目录屏幕。

图19显示当用户表示希望回放节目时可由节目导视显示的说明性覆盖画面。该覆盖画面标示对回放的收费。

图20显示当用户表示希望观看关于已经为用户在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上录像的节目的信息时可由节目导视显示的说明性全信息屏幕。

图21显示当用户表示希望录像或回放由父母锁死的节目时可由节目导视显示的说明性覆盖画面。

图22显示用于向用户提供对于录像在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上或图7的本地媒体服务器上的节目的控制的说明性覆盖画面。

图23显示当用户表示希望实时地将在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上或图7的本地媒体服务器上的节目进行高速缓存时可由节目导视显示的说明性覆盖画面。

图24显示为在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上或图7的本地媒体服务器上将节目录像或从中回放节目用户可在其上进行不同设置的说明性设置屏幕。

图25a和25b是用于向用户提供机会以便根据本发明定义超节目的说明性超节目屏幕。

图26是根据本发明在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上或图7的本地媒体服务器上将节目录像及其相关联的节目导视数据记录时所涉及的主要步骤的说明性流程图。

图27是根据本发明在图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器上或图7的本地媒体服务器上将节目录像及其相关联的节目导视数据记录时所涉及说明性步骤的更为详细的流程图。

图28是根据本发明从图2a-2e的远程媒体服务器中或图7的本地媒体服务器中回放节目及其相关联的节目导视数据时所涉及的主要步骤的说明性流程图。

图29是根据本发明从图2a一2e的远程媒体服务器中或图7的本地媒体服务器中回放节目及其相关联的节目导视数据时所涉及说明性步骤的更为详细的流程图。

图30是根据本发明向用户提供机会以便访问曾经实时地高速缓存的节目版本时所涉及的说明性步骤的流程图。

图31是根据本发明向用户提供机会以便定义和回放超节目时所涉及的说明性步骤的流程图。

具体实施方式

图1中显示根据本发明的说明性系统10。主设备12通过通信线路18从节目导视数据源14中提供节目导视数据给交互式节目导视电视设备17。最好有交互式节目导视电视设备17的多个部件或设施,其中每个由相应的通信线路18连至主设备12,此处为避免图纸过分复杂而只显示了交互式节目导视电视设备17的一个部件或设施。

线路18可以是卫星线路,电话网线路,电缆或光纤线路,微波线路,因特网连接,这些线路的组合或者任何其他合适的通信线路。如果希望在线路18上除数据信号外还传播视频信号,则具有相对高带宽的线路例如卫星线路一般比相对低带宽的线路例如电话线更为优选。

由主设备12传播至交互式节目导视电视设备17的节目导视数据可以包括电视节目编排数据(例如节目标识符、时间、标题和说明)及电视节目清单以外的用于服务的其他数据(例如帮助文本、每次观看付费信息、气候信息、运动信息、音乐频道信息、相关联的因特网网络线路、相关联的软件等)。节目导视数据还可包括每个节目的每次显示用的独一的标识符,节目组(例如系列节目、小系列节目、可点播的节目包等)的标识符,或任何其他合适的标识符。如此处所用,“节目”和“节目编排”名词系指在正常的、高价的、每次观看付费的、音乐的、或其他类型电视频道上播送的任何类型的演播或广告,它可能包括电影、每次观看付费节目、运动项目、音乐节目、广告或任何其他合适类型的电视节目。

交互式节目导视电视设备17可以通过通信线路197连至记费系统199。通信线路197可以是任何合适的通信线路,例如串行连接、并行连接、通用串行总线(USB)连接、电话线路、计算机网络线路、因特网连接或任何其他合适的通信线路。记费系统199自交互式节目导视电视设备17中接收关于在交互式节目导视电视设备17上点播的、录像的或回放的节目的信息。记费系统199可以是任何基于计算机的系统,适用于为用户生成帐单或者基于自交互式节目导视电视设备17中收到的信息来在用户帐号上进行信用借贷。

在交互式节目导视电视设备17上实施交互式电视节目导视。图2a-2e中显示交互式节目导视电视设备17的五个布置。如图所示,交互式节目导视电视设备17可以包括位于节目导视传播设备16处的节目导视传播设备21及用户电视设备22。

交互式电视节目导视可以使用图2a和2c的布置全部地在用户电视设备22上运行,或者可以使用如图2b和2d中所示合适的客户-服务器或分布式处理布置来部分地在用户电视设备22上和部分地在交互式节目导视电视设备17上运行。节目导视传播设备16可以是任何合适的传播设备,及可能具有传播设备21。

图2a、2b、2c和2d的传播设备21是适用于通过通信路径20向用户电视设备22提供节目导视数据的设备。传播设备21可以包括例如合适的传输硬件,用于在电视频道边带上,在电视频道的垂直消隐期间内使用带内数字信号,使用带外数字信号或依靠任何其他合适的数据传输技术来传播节目导视数据。模拟或数字视频信号(例如电视节目)可以由传播设备21在通信路径20上通过多条电视频道传播至用户电视设备22。选代地,视频信号可以自某些其他合适的传播设备例如有线系统首端、广播传播设备、卫星电视传播设备或任何其他合适类型的电视传播设备传播至用户电视设备22。

通信路径20可以是任何适合于传播节目导视数据的通信路径。通信路径20可以包括例如卫星线路、电话网线路、电缆或光纤线路、微波线路、因特网连接、电缆上数据服务接口规范(DOCSIS)连接、这类线路的组合、或者任何其他合适的通信线路。通信路径20最好具有足够的带宽以便允许节目导视传播设备16或另一个传播设备传播电视节目编排至用户电视设备22。虽然为避免图纸过分复杂而只在图2a-2d中显示一件用户电视设备22和一条通信路径20,但通常有用户电视设备22的多个部件,以及多个相关联的通信路径20。如果需要,电视节目编排和节目导视数据可以在单独的通信路径上提供。

图2b显示基于客户-服务器的或分布式交互节目导视系统中的交互式节目导视电视设备17的说明性布置。如图2b中所示,传播设备21可以包括节目导视服务器25。节目导视服务器25可以使用硬件和软件的任何合适组合以便提供基于客户-服务器的节目导视。节目导视服务器25可以例如运行一个合适的数据库引擎(例如Mocrosoft的SQL服务器),以及响应于由实施于用户电视设备22上的节目导视客户所生成的查询来提供节目导视数据。如果需要,节目导视服务器25可以位于主设备12处或其他位置处,例如有线系统首端、广播传播设备、卫星电视传播设备或任何其他合适类型的电视传播设备处。

节目导视可以使用任何合适的基于客户-服务器的方案自节目导视服务器25中检索节目导视数据。节目导视可以例如将SQL请求作为消息传送至节目导视服务器25。在另一个合适的方案中,节目导视可以使用一个或多个远程过程调用来调用驻留于节目导视服务器25上的远程过程。节目导视服务器25可以为这些调用的远程过程执行SQL语句。在又一个合适的方案中,由节目导视执行的客户对象可以使用例如对象请求代理程序(ORB)与由节目导视服务器25运行的服务器对象通信。这可能涉及使用例如Microsoft的分布式部件对象模型(DCOM)方案。

如果需要,在交互式节目导视电视设备17上实施的节目导视可以使用任何合适的网络和传输层协议在通信路径20上与节目导视服务器25通信。它们可以例如使用协议堆栈来通信,该协议堆栈包括排序的包交换/因特网包交换(SPX/IPX)层,传输控制协议/因特网协议(TCP/IP)层,Appletalk事务协议/数据包传送协议(ATP/DDP)层,DOCSIS或任何其他合适的网络和传输层协议。

图2c和2d显示说明性基于因特网的交互式电视节目导视系统。电视传播设备16可以例如包括因特网服务系统61。因特网服务系统61可以使用能够使用基于因特网的方案(例如超文本传输协议(HTTP))向导视提供节目导视数据的硬件和软件的任何其他合适组合。如果需要,因特网服务系统61可以位于与节目导视传播设备16分开的其他设备处。

如果节目导视实施于交互式节目导视电视设备17的用户电视设备22上,如图2c所示,则因特网服务系统61(或在节目导视传播设备16处的连至因特网服务系统61的其他合适设备)可以使用任何合适的基于因特网的方案(例如在传输控制协议/因特网协议(TCP/IP)类型线路上使用超文本传输协议(HTTP))通过因特网或通过节目导视传播设备21提供节目导视数据给用户电视设备22。如果实施于交互式节目导视电视设备17上的节目导视是如图2d所示的客户-服务器导视,则节目导视服务器25可以自因特网服务系统61处获得节目导视数据。然而节目导视也可使用因特网连接自因特网服务系统61处获得节目导视数据。

在另一个合适的布置中,传播设备21可以包括计算机设备或其他合适硬件,在其上实施交互式电视节目导视的第一部分或版本。节目导视的第二部分或版本可以实施于用户电视设备22上。交互式节目导视的这两个版本或部分可以使用任何合适的对等通信方案(例如传送消息、远程过程调用等)通信以及在电视传播设备16与用户电视设备22之间分布式地完成交互式节目导视功能。

图2e中显示另一个合适的布置,其中在交互式节目导视电视设备17上实施一个在线节目导视。在1997年9月18日提交的Boyer等人的美国专利申请系列号08/938,028中描述了在线节目导视系统,它在此处全部引为参考。用户可以具有个人计算机(PC)231,在其上实施节目导视客户或网络浏览器。个人计算机231可以通过因特网连接233连至因特网服务系统235。因特网服务系统235可以使用能够提供在线节目导视服务器应用程序或网站的计算机硬件和软件的任何合适组合。

因特网服务系统235可以连至节目导视传播设备16的远程媒体服务器24。在另一个合适的布置中,如果因特网服务系统235具有合适的处理电路、内存和存储设备,则远程媒体服务器24的录像和回放功能可以包括于因特网服务系统235中。

远程媒体服务器24可以响应于录像和回放请求而按照要求将节目和节目导视数据记录和回放。录像和回放请求可能由实施于因特网服务系统235中的节目导视服务器应用程序或网络应用程序所生成。录像和回放请求也可能由实施于个人计算机231上的交互式节目导视客户所生成及可以由因特网服务系统235提供给远程媒体服务器24。节目和节目导视数据可以由因特网服务系统235使用合适的实时因特网视频方案(例如使用M-Bone)来提供给个人计算机231,或者可以由个人计算机231下载和存储以供回放之用。

图2a、2b、2c、2d和2e的远程媒体服务器24用于将节目、节目导视数据、或它们的任何合适组合记录,以及可以响应于由节目导视生成的请求而向用户电视设备22提供它们之中的一个或两个。远程媒体服务器24也可记录相关联的数据,例如在模拟电视频道的垂直消隐期间(VBI)内或者数字电视频道上数字数据道上载带的数据。与节目相关联的数据的例子是副标题、文本道、音乐信息道、附加视频格式、附加语言或其他附加数据。如此处所用,录像和回放“节目编排”或“节目”的录相和回放可以包括但不必要求与节目相关联的数据的记录和回放。所示远程媒体服务器24位于节目导视传播设备16处,但也可位于单独的传播设备(例如有线系统首端、广播传播设备、卫星电视传播设备、或任何其他合适类型的电视传播设备)处。

远程媒体服务器24可以基于适合于按照要求录像和回放节目或节目导视数据的硬件和软件的任何合适的组合。如此处所定义,词组“按照要求录像”系指响应于用户选择需要录像的节目而录像一个节目或记录节目导视数据。不必要在进行选择的同时实际地将节目录像。例如,可以在安排的广播时间之前选择供录像的节目而在播送所选节目时进行录像。

远程媒体服务器24可以包括处理电路11、内存13和存储设备15。处理电路11可以包括任何合适的处理器例如微处理器或微处理器组,以及其他处理电路例如高速缓存电路、直接存储器存取(DMA)电路、数字化电路和输入/输出(I/O)电路。处理电路11还可包括适合于将存于存储设备15上的节目和数据文件解码的电路以及将它们转换为合适的视频信号以供传播设备21传播的电路。如果节目编排作为活动图像专家组(MPEG)MPEG-2文件存储,则处理电路11可以包括例如用于将文件解码和将它们转换为国家电视标准委员会(NTSC)视频信号的解码器。在另一个合适的方案中,处理电路将MPEG-2文件送至传播设备21以便作为MPEG-2数据流传播至用户。MPEG-2数据流可由用户电视设备22解码和显示。

内存13可以是任何合适于将用于完成处理电路11功能的计算机代码进行高速缓存和存储的存储器。内存13可当回放或将节目录像时用于将视频节目、视频节目的一部分或供处理电路11用的节目导视数据进行高速缓存。

存储设备15可以是任何适合于将节目编排文件和相关联的节目导视数据记录的存储设备。图3中显示存储设备15的一个合适的布置。图3的存储设备布置只是说明性的。存储设备15可以包括任何合适的可录像存储系统和媒体。存储设备15可以包括例如磁带阵列51、光盘存储组53、冗余独立盘阵列(RAID)55、任何其他合适的海量存储系统或它们的任何合适组合。磁带阵列51可以包括任何合适的高速海量存储磁带阵列,例如8mm磁带阵列。磁带阵列51可以为存于光盘存储组53或RAID 55中的节目提供后备(back-up)或存库(archive)。

光盘存储组53可以是任何合适的可录像光盘存储系统。光盘存储组53可以在可录像光盘(CD)或数字通用盘(DVD)上将节目录像。在回放时,光盘存储组53上所存节目和数据可以暂时存于RAID 55上的虚拟存储器中(例如交换文件中)以供内存13使用,或者可以直接提供给内存13(例如通过处理电路11中的合适的DMA电路)以备解码之用。

存储设备15可以用数百千兆字节、垓字节或更多字节的数量级来衡量。虽然这涉及相当数量的资源,存储设备15仍然比为每个节目编排时间槽录像由首端传播的每个节目(或它们的大子集)的系统需要较少存储量。因为本发明通常只需录像那些由用户选择的节目,不必日常地录像那些不太流行的节目,因而能减少系统的总存储要求。如果每个用户个别地录像他或她自己的节目副本,则存储设备15也可小于全部用户在他们自己家中所保持的总存储量。如果需要,远程媒体服务器24可以为每个用户分配特定存储量。此存储量可以是固定的也可是可配置的。

可以用一个或多个目录中保持的指针来指向所录像的节目。每个用户的指针目录可以例如存储于内存13或RAID 55中。用户目录也可就地由节目导视保持。图4中显示用户目录和其他目录的说明性布置。每个用户目录59可以包括每个已经为用户录像的节目的一个标识符和一个指向在其上初始地将节目录像的存储设备的指针。在此例子中,节目1和3曾经初始地录像于光盘存储组53上。节目4和2是初始地录像于RAID 55上。节目也可录像于磁带组51上以及如果需要也可在不同存储设备上录像单个节目的不同部分,但为避免使图纸过于复杂,本发明的这些方面未示于图4中。

每个存储设备可以保持一个媒体目录61和一个媒体存储器63。如此处所用,媒体存储器是任何用于存储节目、节目导视数据的物理存储设备或存储媒体或它们的合适组合或它们的虚拟分区,也可包括整个具有一个分区或没有分区的存储设备或存储媒体。每个媒体目录61可以包括一个由存储设备录像的节目的清单。每个媒体目录61也可包括指向存于媒体存储器63中的节目的位置的指针。如果需要,磁带阵列51可用于将存于可选的存储组53或RAID 55中的节目按照预定时间(例如一个月)进行存库。此外,可由光盘存储组53为RAID 55(未示出)将节目进行存库。节目3是已经由磁带阵列51存库的节目的例子。如果需要,媒体目录61入口可以指向磁带阵列51上的媒体目录61反映存库情况。

响应于由实施于交互式节目导视电视设备17上的节目导视所生成的录像请求,远程媒体服务器24在存储设备15上将节目和相关联的节目导视数据记录。如此处所定义,“录像请求”是任何命令、请求、消息、远程过程调用、基于对象的通信或任何其他类型的内部过程或基于内部对象的通信,用于允许节目导视传播关于用户希望在媒体服务器上录像的节目的信息。

图5中显示用于阐述如何由远程媒体服务器24将节目录像的说明性数据流图。由实施于交互式节目导视电视设备17上的节目导视生成的录像请求可以在请求队列110中排队以供合并之用。合并器115可以是一个在远程媒体服务器24上运行的过程。合并器115将同一个节目的多个录像请求合并及将个别的和组合的录像作业放置于作业队列120中。

除非多个用户已经请求录像一个节目,实际上可能不希望录像该节目。在所请求的节目播送之前的一定时间间隔内,合并器115可以检查作业队列120以便判断是否有足够多的用户已经请求录像该节目。如果没有足够多的用户,则合并器115可以生成一条消息,由传播设备21送回至发出请求的一个用户或多个用户。当节目导视收到这一消息后,节目导视可以通知用户没有录像该节目。选代地,节目导视可以请求由本地媒体服务器例如图6的本地媒体服务器29来录像该节目,或者可以自己在存储设备上录像该节目。

图5中还显示作业队列120中的说明性入口121。入口121可以包括例如日期、开始时间、结束时间(或者持续时间)、频道以及已经被选择以供在远程媒体服务器24上录像的那些节目的标识符。这些入口也可包括曾经选择供录像用的每个节目的用户清单。图5显示例如节目2已被用户1和用户2选择请求录像。如果节目是流行的,则许多用户会请求将它录像。

录像机125可以是一个在远程媒体服务器24的处理电路11上运行的适合于监视作业队列120的和在存储设备15上将节目录像的过程。远程媒体服务器24的处理电路11可以包括例如一个或多个调谐器、数字编码器或数字解码器,用于调谐至由传播设备21提供的节目编排或否则选择由传播设备21提供的节目编排并且将节目格式化以供远程媒体服务器24录像之用。模拟和数字调谐器和解码器的任何合适组合今后称为调谐器以便简化讨论。录像机125可以根据作业队列120中的入口在特定时间内将一个或多个调谐器引向特定频道(模拟的或数字的)。在此例中,录像机125可以在1999年12月21日将第一调谐器调谐至频道4以便为用户1将节目1录像。录像机125还可在相同时间内将第二调谐器调谐至频道5以便为用户1和用户2将节目2录像。远程媒体服务器24所需调谐器数量的上限可以是由传播设备21传播的频道数。这些调谐器可以基于使用一个或多个集成电路实施的调谐和解码电路。

如果需要,录像机125可指令处理电路11将节目编排和节目导视数据编码为数字文件(例如MPEG-2文件)或为数字数据流(例如MPEG-2数据流)。存储设备15可以使用例如合适的DMA技术来记录这些文件或数据流。如果需要,处理电路11可使用任何合适的数字压缩算法将这些数字文件或数据流压缩。

在其上已经录像了节目的存储设备可以向录像机125提供一个指向所录像的节目在媒体目录61中的入口的指针。这可以自动地完成或者响应于由录像机125生成的查询而完成。如果用户目录59(图4)由远程媒体服务器24保持,则录像机125可能将入口放置于已经选择供录像用节目的用户的用户目录59中。如果由节目导视就地保持用户目录59的副本,则节目导视可以例如通过节目导视服务器25或使用任何其他合适的方案来下载用户目录。选代地,节目导视可以只将指针下载至媒体目录入口内。如果用户目录59只由节目导视保持,则节目导视可以在发出合适的对于指针的请求之后响应于录像请求自动地接收或者使用任何其他合适的方案接收指向其中列出节目的媒体目录61的指针。

响应于由实施于交互式节目导视电视设备17上的节目导视所生成的检索请求,远程媒体服务器24自存储设备15中检索节目。处理电路11可以如下地处理请求:在用户的用户目录59中搜索被请求的节目,然后根据目录中的指针发出合适的检索命令(或请求)至存储设备15。例如,当用户1请求播放节目1时,处理电路11发出合适的检索命令至光盘存储组53。该节目自媒体存储器63中检索出来并且可能传输至内存13(例如通过处理电路11中的DMA电路)以便由处理电路11解码以及传播至用户电视设备22。如果需要,处理电路可以用数字形式传播被请求的节目至传播设备21以便传播至用户电视设备22。

如果被请求的节目已经存库(例如存于原先存储该节目的存储设备以外的存储设备上),则原先存储设备可以响应于由处理电路11生成的命令(或请求)而发出合适的检索命令至存库存储设备。例如,当用户1请求检索节目3以供回放时,处理电路11可发出检索命令至光盘存储组53。接着光盘存储组53检验其媒体目录61,确定节目3已经存库,及发出检索请求至磁带阵列51。磁带阵列51自其媒体存储器63中检索节目,并且使用任何合适的互连(例如并行的连接,小计算机系统接口(SCSI)连接(例如宽SCSI-2、快宽SCSI-2,特别SCSI-3等),通用串行总线(USB)连接或任何其他合适连接)将其传输至光盘存储组53。选代地,存库设备(在此例中为磁带阵列51)可以直接将节目传输至内存13(例如通过处理电路11的DMA电路)。如果需要,处理电路11可以判断节目是否已经存库,及可能发出请求至磁带阵列51。

在系统运行时,可能有多个用户请求回放单个节目以致一个用户的节目回放将覆盖另一个用户的节目回放。远程媒体服务器24可以通过例如向每个用户赋予一个指向该节目内该用户当今观看位置的指针而同时地为多个用户回放同一个节目。一个合适的方案可能涉及将整个节目或它的一部分以数字形式在内存13中进行高速缓存。

图6a和6b阐述如何使用指针为多个用户同时地播放同一个节目。在远程媒体服务器24收到对节目的请求后,远程媒体服务器24向发出请求的用户赋予一个指针并且检索全部或一部分所请求的节目。图6a阐述远程媒体服务器24将正为三个用户同时播放的整个两小时的电影进行高速缓存。图6b阐述远程媒体服务器24为三个用户中的每一个按照预定时间(例如15分钟)将所请求的电影进行高速缓存。

当电影进行放映时,远程媒体服务器24可以将每个用户的指针增量。远程媒体服务器24也可预先将节目的预定时间的部分(例如下一个5分钟)解码以便当用户的指针前进时,该视频节目已经准备好由传播设备21传播。如果用户退回查看电影,则远程媒体服务器24可以使用户的指针后退(即将它向左移动)并且预先将电影的先前部分解码。

如果远程媒体服务器24只将节目的一部分进行高速缓存,如图6b中所示,则它只能在内存13中将每个部分的单个副本进行高速缓存。当用户1操作使电影进至例如分钟15时,远程媒体服务器24可以检查分钟15至30的内容是否早已被高速缓存了。在此例中,它们早已被高速缓存以及该副本(用户2正指向它)可以用于用户1。如果分钟15至30的内容并未高速缓存过,则媒体服务器25可以将它们预先拾取和预先解码一个合适量(例如5分钟)以使用户1的视频流不被中断。如果需要,媒体服务器25可以连续地预先拾取下一个15分钟(或更少时间)的数据。

节目导视数据和录像的视频节目可以使用任何合适方案或者作为合适的模拟视频信号(例如NTSC视频信号)或者以合适的数字格式(例如作为MPEG-2文件或作为MPEG-2数据流)由传播设备21传播至用户电视设备22。例如,节目和节目导视数据可以由媒体服务器24回放并且传播至用户电视设备22以供实时观看。如果节目和节目导视数据作为数字数据流传播,则用户电视设备22可以实时地将数据流解码。这类按照要求的节目和节目导视数据可以根据用户设置的爱好来回放。在第二合适方案中,节目和节目导视数据作为一个或多个数字文件或作为数字数据流传播,并且由用户电视设备22存储以备回放。在第三合适方案中,节目和节目导视数据由远程媒体服务器24回放并且使用合适的近似点播(NVOD)方案根据在模拟或数字频道上的计划进行传播。在又一个合适的方案中,远程媒体服务器24可以在准备送至用户的物理媒体例如DVD或录像带上将节目和节目导视数据录像。也可使用这些方案的任何组合或任何其他合适的方案。

图7中显示用户电视设备22的说明性布置。图7的用户电视设备22在输入端26处自传播设备中接收模拟视频或数字视频流。来自节目导视传播设备16的数据也在输入端26处接收。在正常电视观看期间,用户将机顶盒调谐至所需电视频道(模拟或数字)。该电视频道的信号然后提供于视频输出端30。在输出端30处提供的信号通常或是预定频道(例如频道3或4)上的射频(RF)信号,或是模拟解调的视频信号,但也能是在合适的数字总线(例如使用电机和电子工程师学会(IEEE)1394标准(未示出)的总线)上提供给电视机36的数字信号。输出端30处的视频信号由可选的辅助存储设备32接收。

交互式电视节目导视或节目导视客户可以在机顶盒上、在电视机36上、在可选的数字存储设备31上(如果电视机36或可选的数字存储设备31具有合适的处理电路和存储器的话)或在合适的连至电视机36的模拟或数字接收机上运行。交互式电视节目导视也可配合地同时在电视机36和机顶盒28两者上运行。在例如1998年11月5日提交的Ellis的美国专利申请系列号09/186,598中描述了在其中配合的交互式电视应用程序在多个设备上运行的交互式电视应用系统,它在此处全部引为参考。

辅助存储设备32可以是任何合适类型的模拟或数字节目存储设备或播放机(例如录像机、数字式视频盘(DVD)播放机等)。节目录像和其它特征可由机顶盒28使用控制路径34加以控制。如果辅助存储设备32是例如录像机,则通常控制路径34涉及红外发射机的使用,该红外发射机与正常时自例如远程控制40的远程控制中接收命令的录像机中红外接收机耦合。远程控制40可用于控制机顶盒28、辅助存储设备32和电视机36。

如果需要,用户可以在可选的数字存储设备31上以数字形式将节目、节目导视数据或它们的组合录像。数字存储设备31可以是可写光盘存储设备(例如能够播放可录像DVD光盘的DVD播放机)、磁存储设备(例如盘驱动器或数字磁带)或任何其他数字存储设备。在例如1998年9月17日提交的Hassell等人的美国专利申请系列号09/157,256中描述了具有数字存储设备的交互式电视节目导视系统,它在此处全部引为参考。

数字存储设备31可包含于机顶盒28之中或它可以是通过输出端口和合适接口连至机顶盒28的外部设备。数字存储设备31可以例如包含于本地媒体服务器29中。如果需要,机顶盒28中的处理电路将收到的视频信号、音频信号和数据信号格式化为数字文件格式。优选地,文件格式是一种开放式文件格式,例如活动图像专家组(MPEG)MPEG-2标准或活动联合照片专家组(MJPEG)标准。所得数据通过合适总线(例如使用电机和电子工程师学会(IEEE)1394标准的总线)流至数字存储设备31并且存于数字存储设备31中。在另一个合适的方案中,可自传播设备21接收MPEG-2数据流或文件系列并且存于数字存储设备31中。例如,可以存储来自电视传播设备16的由用户使用远程媒体服务器录像的节目的文件。当需要时可将这类数字文件回放给用户。

在通常的节目导视系统中,辅助存储设备32或数字存储设备31是用于向用户提供将节目录像的能力所必需的。但在实现本发明时就不需要这类存储设备,因为用户可以在远程媒体服务器24上将节目录像。实际上这类存储设备可以在用户电视设备22中略去而对节目导视功能影响最小甚至没有影响,从而进一步使用户电视设备22的费用最低。

电视机36自辅助存储设备32中通过通信路径38接收视频信号。通信路径38上的视频信号可以或在回放预先录像的存储媒体(例如录像机或可录像数字视频盘)时由辅助存储设备32生成,或在回放预先录像的数字视频节目(例如由用户在远程媒体服务器24处或本地媒体服务器29处录像的视频节目)时由数字存储设备31生成,可以自机顶盒28送过去,如果辅助存储设备32不包括于用户电视设备22中则可以通过机顶盒28直接提供给电视机36,或者可以直接由电视机36接收。在正常观看电视期间,提供给电视机36的视频信号对应于用户已经用机顶盒28调谐到的所需频道。当机顶盒28用于回放存于数字存储设备31中的信息时,或当机顶盒28用于将数字视频流或自电视传播设备16传播出来的数字文件解码时也可由机顶盒28提供视频信号至电视机36。

机顶盒28可以具有通信设备37,用于通过通信路径20直接与节目导视服务器25、远程媒体服务器24或因特网服务系统61通信。如果需要,通信设备37还支持用户电视设备22与本地媒体服务器29之间通过通信路径167的通信。通信路径167可以是任何合适的线路,例如串行或并行线路、网络线路、因特网连接、DOCSIS线路、无线电线路、红外线路或任何其他合适的有线或无线的数字或模拟线路。

通信设备37可以是调制解调器(例如任何合适的模拟或数字标准、蜂窝式或有线调制解调器),网络接口卡(例如以太网卡、令牌环卡等)或其他合适的通信设备。通信设备37也可是具有因特网连接(例如图2c和2d中所示布置)的个人计算机。如果需要,电视机36也可具有这类合适的通信设备。在选代的方案中,用户电视设备22可以使用合适的返回路径或通信路径20通过传播设备21与远程媒体服务器24或因特网服务系统61通信。

节目导视可以使用任何合适的网络和传输层协议在通信路径20上与节目导视服务器25、远程媒体服务器24或因特网服务系统61通信。可以使用协议堆栈,它包括例如排序的包交换/因特网包交换(SPX/IPX)层,传输控制协议/因特网协议(TCP/IP)层,Appletalk事务协议/数据包传送协议(ATP/DDP)层或任何其他合适的网络和传输层协议。如果需要也可使用DOCSIS。这些协议也可用于与本地媒体服务器29通信,但实际上其他合适的协议也可用于与服务器29通信,例如Sun Microsystems的Jini联网协议。

本地媒体服务器29可以是在用户家庭中的适合于按照要求存储和回放节目的设备。本地媒体服务器29可以是例如通过以太网连接连至机顶盒28的个人计算机,标准串行或并行端口,通用串行总线,IEEE 1394总线等。

本地媒体服务器29可能具有处理电路35。内存35和存储设备37。处理电路33可以包括任何合适的例如微处理器或一组微处理器的处理器,以及其他例如高速缓存电路、直接存储器存取(DMA)电路和输入/输出(I/O)电路的处理电路。处理电路33也可包括适合于按照要求将节目录像的电路。处理电路33也可包括适合于将存于存储设备37上的节目和数据文件解码和将它们转换为合适的视频信号以供用户电视设备22回放之用的电路。如果节目编排作为MPEG-2文件进行存储,则处理电路33可以包括例如用于将文件解码和将它们转换为国家电视标准委员会(NTSC)视频信号的MPEG-2解码器。

内存35可以是任何适合于将用于完成处理电路33功能的计算机代码进行高速缓存和进行存储的内存。内存35也可在为用户播放节目时将处理电路33的视频节目或视频节目一部分进行高速缓存。存储设备37可以是任何适合于将节目编排文件和相关联的节目导视数据记录的存储设备。存储设备37可以是例如合适的具有以千兆字节或更多字节计的容量的硬盘。用户目录例如图4的用户目录59可以由处理电路33保持并且存于内存35、存储设备37或两者之中。

图8显示远程控制40的说明性布置。远程控制40可以具有任何合适的用于向用户提供机会以便改变频道、在节目导视内漫游、调用节目导视功能、控制存储设备或媒体服务器的按钮或键或任何其他合适的键。更具体地,用户可以按下数字键801以便输入频道号、父母控制代码、购买代码等。用户可以按下“Guide”键805以便例如访问节目导视,及按下箭头键803、页面向上键805和页面向下键807以便在导视内漫游。用户可以按下“PLAY”键809、“FF”键811、“REW”键813、“REC”键815、“STOP”键819和“PAUSE”键817以便在媒体服务器或存储设备上将节目播放、快速前进、退回、录像、停止和暂时中断。

图9中显示图7的用户电视设备22的更一般化的实施例。如图9中所示,来自节目导视传播设备16(图1)的节目导视数据由用户电视设备22的控制电路42接收。控制电路42的功能可使用图7的机顶盒布置来提供。选代地,这些功能可以组合入先进的电视接收机(例如数字电视接收机或高分辨率电视(HDTV)接收机),个人计算机电视机(PC/TV)或者任何其他合适的布置中。如果需要,可以使用这些布置的组合。

图9的用户电视设备22可以具有用于将节目编排录像的辅助存储设备47,数字存储设备49或它们的任何合适组合。如果需要可以省略辅助存储设备47和数字存储设备49。辅助存储设备47可以是任何合适类型的模拟或数字节目存储设备(例如录像机、数字式通用盘(DVD)等)。节目录像和其他特征可由控制电路42进行控制。数字存储设备49可以是例如可写光盘存储设备(例如能够播放可录像DVD盘的DVD播放机),磁存储设备(例如盘驱动器或数字磁带)或任何其他数字存储设备。

存储器63可以是任何适合于存储供控制电路42用的节目导视应用指令和节目导视数据的内存或其他存储设备,例如随机存取存储器(RAM)、只读存储器(ROM),闪烁存储器,硬盘驱动器,这些设备的组合等。存储器63也可用于将视频信号进行高速缓存。节目导视也可存储由远程媒体服务器存于存储器63中的用户目录59的副本。节目导视也例如作为节目导视数据流的一部分来接收用户目录59的副本。在合适的方案中,任何时候当输入目录59时例如当用户将节目录像、删除节目或当节目存放时间太长而由远程媒体服务器24自动地删除该节目时,用户目录59可以自动地下载至节目导视。选代地,节目导视可以自节目导视服务器25或远程媒体服务器24中获得用户目录59的副本。在另一个合适的方案中,节目导视可以在存储器63中保持用户目录59。节目导视可以包括指向在传输至远程媒体服务器24的检索请求中媒体目录61的指针。

图9的用户电视设备22可以具有通信设备51,用于支持用户电视设备22与远程媒体服务器24或者因特网服务系统61之间通过通信路径20的通信。通信设备51也可支持用户电视设备22与本地媒体服务器29之间的通信。通信设备51可以是调制解调器(例如任何合适的模拟或数字标准、蜂窝式、或有线调制解调器),网络接口卡(例如以太网卡、令牌环卡等)或其他合适的通信设备。

用户使用用户输入设备46来控制用户电视设备22的操作。用户输入设备46可以是指示设备,无线远程控制,键盘,触摸屏,声音识别系统,基于笔的计算机设备或任何其他合适的用户输入设备。为观看电视,用户指令控制电路42在显示设备45上显示所需电视频道。为调用节目导视的功能,用户指令实施于交互式节目导视电视设备17上的节目导视来生成主菜单或其他所需节目导视显示屏,以便在显示设备45上显示。

当用户表示希望调用交互式电视节目导视时(例如使用远程控制40上的“MENU”键),节目导视即生成合适的节目导视显示屏以便在显示设备45上显示。可以生成例如图10的说明性主菜单屏幕100的主菜单屏幕,用于向用户提供机会调用不同节目导视功能。主菜单屏幕可以包含不同广告、标识语等。

图10的说明性主菜单100包括具有可选择节目导视特征106的菜单102。如果需要,特征106可以根据特征类型加以组织。在菜单102中,例如节目导视选项106已经组织为三列。标以“TV GUIDE”的列是与列表有关的特征,标以“MSO SHOWCASE”的列是与多个系统操作员(MSO)有关的特征,及标以“VIEWER SERVICE”的列是与观众有关的特征。当用户自菜单102中选择一个特征时,交互式电视节目导视可以为该节目导视特征生成一个显示屏。

主菜单屏幕100可以包括一个或多个可选择广告108。可选择广告108可以例如包括文本和为每次观看付费节目作广告的图像。当用户选择一个可选择广告108时,节目导视可以显示信息(例如每次观看付费信息)或采取其他与广告内容相关的操作。如果需要,可以呈现纯文本广告,如可选择广告条110所示。

主菜单屏幕100也可包括其他屏幕单元。可以例如使用例如产品商标标识语图像112那样的产品商标标识语图像来标示节目导视产品的商标。可以例如使用服务供应商标识语图像114那样的服务供应商标识语图像来呈现电视服务供应商的标识。可以在时钟显示区116中显示当今时间。此外,如果节目导视支持传输消息功能,则可以使用例如标示器图像118的合适标示器来向用户标示来自有线操作员的邮件正等待着用户。

交互式电视节目导视的一项功能可以是向用户提供机会来观看电视节目清单。用户可以通过例如在与节目清单相关的所需节目导视选项(例如“movies”选项)上放置增亮区120来表示希望观看节目清单。当用户在远程控制40上按下合适键(例如“GUIDE”键)时节目导视也可呈现节目清单。当用户表示希望观看电视节目清单时,节目导视可以从由节目导视传播设备16提供的数据流中、从服务器25中或从存储器63中获得节目清单数据以及为在监视器45上显示而生成合适的节目清单屏幕。节目清单屏幕可以包含根据一个或多个组织准则(例如根据节目分类)而组织的节目清单的一个或多个组或表。

节目清单屏幕可以全部地或部分地覆盖于用户正观看的节目之上。当节目处于“browse”模式中时,也可将清单覆盖于或否则放置于同一屏幕中。节目导视可以例如向用户提供机会以便按照时间、按照频道、按照一系列分类(例如电影、运动、儿童等)来观看清单,或者也可允许用户按照标题搜索清单。可使用任何合适的清单、列表、网格或其他合适的显示布置来显示节目清单。如果需要,节目清单显示屏幕可以包括可选择的广告、产品商标标识语图像、服务供应商商标图像、时钟或任何其他合适的标示器或图像。

用户可以通过例如自菜单102中选择一个可选择特征来表示希望按照时间、按照频道或按照分类观看节目清单。作为响应,节目导视可以在合适的清单显示屏幕上显示节目清单。图11a、11b和11c分别阐述按照时间、按照频道和按照分类显示节目清单。图11a、11b和11c的节目清单显示屏幕130、135和140可以包括增亮区151、用于将当今节目清单150增亮。用户可以使用用户输入设备46输入合适的命令而放置增亮区151。例如,如果用户输入设备46具有一个键盘,则用户能够使用向上、向下、向左和向右箭头键放置增亮区151。也可使用远程控制40上的箭头键放置增亮区151从而将远程节目清单摇向左、摇向右、摇向上和摇向下。选代地,也可使用触摸感受屏、轨迹球、声音识别设备、基于笔的计算机设备或其他合适设备来移动增亮区151或选择节目清单而不使用增亮区151。在又一个方案中,用户可以向声音请求识别系统讲出一个电视节目清单。这些选择节目清单的方法只是说明性的。如果需要,可以使用任何其他用于选择节目清单或节目导视中其他项目的合适方案。

节目导视可以提供给用户机会以便在其他时间或其他频道观看节目清单。用户可以例如使用左和右箭头键来改变时间片(当节目清单按照时间呈现时,如图11a中所示),或者改变频道(当节目清单按照频道呈现时,如图11b中所示)来表示希望调用其他时间或频道的清单。响应于这一表示,节目导视可以例如将节目清单滚动或换页以便显示附加的节目清单。

图11a、11b和11c的节目清单屏幕也可包括由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29录像的或选择以供录像的节目的清单。录像的节目可以例如在清单的前部显示。准备录像的节目可以显示于清单中正常位置上,以及如果需要则可具有一个用于标示它们准备录像的图标。图11a显示例如计划在1999年6月5日下午10:30录像的“Ilove Vucy”的清单。该清单具有用于标示准备录像的节目的清单的图标299。图11b显示例如曾经在1999年6月1日11:00录像的喜剧″Saturday Night Live″的录像副本的喜剧节目清单。图11c显示例如曾经在1999年5月31日下午9:00录像的电影″Perfect Body″的录像副本的电影清单。

图11a、11b和11c所显示的已录像的节目和计划录像的节目的清单与正常节目清单的清单显示格式略有不同。例如,已经录像节目的实际的或预料的录像日期被显示出来。如果需要,任何其他合适的方案可用于标示某些清单用于已经录像的节目的或计划录像的节目。这类清单可以具有不同颜色、不同字体、带有阴影、带有图标或任何其他用于标示它们不是正常节目清单的显示。选代地,这类清单可以从节目清单屏幕中略去。

节目导视也可提供给用户机会以便观看每次观看付费节目的清单。用户可以例如选择图10的主菜单102的“PPV时间”屏上特征而表示希望观看每次观看付费节目清单。作为响应,节目导视可以按照时间显示每次观看付费节目清单,如图12a的时间屏幕203的每次观看付费清单所阐述的。如同其他清单屏幕一样,用户可以向上和向下滚动以便观看附加频道的每次观看付费清单。用户可以使箭头向右而观看附加时间片的节目清单。用户也可例如使箭头向右而选择可选择广告。

节目导视也可提供给用户机会以便按照标题观看每次观看付费节目清单。用户可以例如从图10的主菜单102中选择“PPV标题”可选择特征而表示希望观看每次观看付费节目清单。作为响应,节目导视可以如图12b的标题屏幕211的每次观看付费节目清单中所示地来按照标题显示每次观看付费节目清单。节目导视可提供给用户机会以便使用例如向左箭头来增亮可选择广告。

交互式节目导视可允许用户在观看电视节目时观看节目清单,例如在电视节目之上覆盖画面“FLIP”或“BROWSE”显示区。图13a显示只要用户改变电视频道,节目导视就显示的说明性FLIP显示200。FLIP显示可以包含与当今节目相关联的信息,例如节目标题210、播放时间215、当今频道号216和当今频道的呼叫字符225。FLIP显示也可包括多个图像,例如商标标识语230、赞助商图像、频道标识语图像、邮件标示器、可选择广告或任何其他合适图像。也可显示节目的收费率。如果需要,商标标识语230可以由可选择信息图标替代或与它一起使用。用户可以例如按下远程控制40上的“INFO”键以便获得当今显示于FLIP显示200中的节目的附加节目信息。

FLIP显示200也可包括收费率标示器227,用于标示当今节目的级别。如果节目导视提供父母控制特征,则可由节目导视检查用户所调谐的每个频道的节目级别以便判断该节目是否满足先前由用户建立的父母控制设置。如果无法接受节目级别,则节目导视可能例如不显示视频节目而只显示FLIP条和提示,要求输入对父母控制代码。

图13b显示当用户表示希望在给定时间片内浏览节目清单时节目导视可能显示的说明性“BROWSE”覆盖画面或显示(例如使用远程控制40上的“browse”键)。用户可以例如使用远程控制箭头键浏览节目清单。不像FLIP显示那样,BROWSE显示允许用户在浏览关于在其他频道上或其他时间内播放的节目的信息的同时继续观看特定频道(例如频道178)上的节目。

图13a和13b的FLIP和BROWSE覆盖画面已经被显示为包括显示于覆盖画面之左的商标标识语。标识语也可例如在用户浏览节目清单时或在频道之间跳转时为不同赞助商作广告。如果用户在预定时间内显示覆盖画面或条,则标识语可能在同一覆盖画面或条内变化。标识语可以例如在标识语广告清单中自动地轮换,在清单中每个广告都显示之后回至第一个广告。商标标识语也可由基于文本的广告替代。

除用这种和其他方法提供给用户机会以便调用电视节目编排和节目导视数据以外,节目导视可以提供给用户机会以便在远程媒体服务器24处或在本地媒体服务器29处按照要求将节目录像,以便观看已经录像或已被选择准备录像的节目的清单或目录,以及以便按照要求播放来自远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29的视频节目和相关联的节目导视数据。节目导视也可提供给用户机会以便录像一系列节目或其他节目组(例如每次观看付费节目包)。在例如同时提交的Knudson等人的美国专利申请系列号09/330792(律师文件号UV-56)中描述了用于提供给用户机会以便将节目系列录像的节目导视系统,它在此处全部引为参考。用户可以在观看节目或者在将其清单增亮之后例如按下远程控制40上的“RECORD”键来表示希望按照要求来将节目或节目组录像。

图14a和14b显示当用户表示希望在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上将节目录像时可由节目导视显示的说明性覆盖画面1331。当例如用户表示希望录像用户正在观看的节目时(如图14a中所示),可以显示覆盖画面1331。选代地,当例如用户将清单增亮和表示希望录像所列节目时(例如通过按下远程控制40上的“RECORD”键)(如图14b中所示),可将覆盖画面1331覆盖于节目清单显示屏幕上。覆盖画面1331可以提示用户例如选择“Yes”来确认录像请求。所有这些提供给用户机会以便将节目录像的方法只是说明性的及任何其他合适的方案都可使用。

图14c和14d显示附加的说明性覆盖画面1339,它可以例如替代图14a和14b的覆盖画面1331。选代地,当用户在图13a和13b的覆盖画面1331中选择“Yes”时,节目导视可以显示覆盖画面1339。覆盖画面1339向用户标示在远程媒体服务器24上录像所选节目的收费。覆盖画面1339还提供给用户机会以便确认或删除录像操作。

显示于覆盖画面1339中的收费可以基于任何合适的收费方案。用户可以例如根据节目的长度在每个录像的基础上付费,或者可以在一定时间内(例如每月一次)为无限制录像付出普通订户费用。节目导视传播设备16可以向记费系统199提供收费率和其他合适的节目导视数据(例如标题、播送时间等)。记费系统199可以生成一个送至用户的帐单,或可以自动地扣除用户帐户。

图14e显示当用户例如选择作为节目组中一部分的节目时节目导视可能显示的说明性覆盖画面1339。覆盖画面1337可以向用户标示该节目是节目组(在此例中是节目系列)的一部分以及提示用户确认用户是否希望录像该组中全部节目。如果用户选择“Yes”,则远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29可以录像该组中全部节目。如果用户选择“No”,则节目导视可能显示图14a、14b、14c或14d的覆盖画面1331以便提示用户确认只录像该显示内容。

节目导视可以提供给用户机会以便录像每次观看付费的节目和节目包。图15a中显示说明性的每次观看付费点播覆盖画面370。当例如用户将每次观看付费节目清单增亮及按下远程控制40上的“order”键或任何合适的键时,节目导视可以显示每次观看付费点播覆盖画面370。每次观看付费点播覆盖画面370可以显示点播信息374,及可以提示用户输入购买代码以便点播所选每次观看付费节目。用户可以使用例如数字键或远程控制40来输入购买代码,或选择“CANCEL”特征376来删除购买操作并且回至上一个屏幕。节目导视也可提供给用户机会以便使用图15b的说明性点播确认覆盖画面380来确认每次观看付费的点播。如果需要,节目导视可显示图15b的点播确认覆盖画面380而不是每次观看付费点播覆盖画面370以便提供给用户机会来点播每次观看付费节目而不必要求用户输入购买代码。

可使用任何合适的方案来设置覆盖画面370和380中显示的收费率。无论用户观看还是录像一个每次观看付费节目,收费率都例如相同。选代地,当用户只录像每次观看付费节目时,收费率可能不同。在另一个合适的方案中,可以根据节目长度来规定不同的每次观看付费节目收费率。在又一个合适的方案中,用户可以在预定时间内(例如一个月)为录像任何数量的每次观看付费节目而只付出普通订户费用。可由节目导视传播设备16提供收费率至记费系统199以便向用户收费或否则扣除用户的帐户。

当用户选择来自图12a和12b的每次观看付费节目清单屏幕203或211来表示希望录像每次观看付费节目包时,节目导视可以显示一个包点播屏幕,例如图17的包点播屏幕811。包点播屏幕811可能向用户提示要求输入购买代码。在用户输入正确的购买代码后,节目导视从节目导视传播设备16或另一个合适的传播设备中点播每次观看付费节目包。

可以使用任何合适的方案设置如图17中所示节目包的收费率。可以例如是无论用户观看节目包内每个每次观看付费节目还是用户录像每个节目收费率都相同。选代地,当用户录像节目包中的一个或多个每次观看付费节目而不是观看它们时用户付出不同费用。在另一个方案中,可以根据包中每个节目的不同长度来收取每次观看付费节目的不同费用。在又一个方案中,用户可以在预定时间内(例如一个月)为录像任何数量的每次观看付费节目而只付出普通订户费用。可由节目导视传播设备16提供收费率至记费系统199以便向用户收费或否则扣除用户的帐户。

当用户表示希望在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上录像一个节目或节目组时(或可能希望确认节目的录像时),节目导视生成一个录像请求,由通信设备51(图9)通过通信路径20或31传输至合适的远程媒体服务器。该录像请求可以包括例如用户希望录像的节目的标识符,用户的标识符和,以及如果需要则与该节目和用户相关的任何其他信息。如果用户曾经表示希望将节目组录像,则该请求可以包括组标识符或组成节目的节目标识符。

当播放一个所选节目或一组中的节目时(可能是选择节目以供录像的时候),远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29可以将节目录像和任何相关联的节目导视数据记录。节目导视数据可能使用指针作为与节目相关联的文件加以存储。如果节目导视保持用户目录的副本,则一旦录像了所选节目,远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29即可向节目导视提供一份用户目录59的副本。选代地,远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29可以提供一个指向媒体存储器63上节目位置处的指针。在又一个合适的方案中,用户目录59可以唯一地只由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29保持,而在请求时提供给节目导视。

实际上,某些节目可能受版权保护。主设备12、节目导视传播设备16或另一个传播设备可以例如规定某些节目为不可录像的。当用户表示希望录像一个受版权保护的节目时,节目导视可以向用户标示不能录像该节目,如图16中所示。

节目导视可以提供给用户机会以便调用已经为用户在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上录像的节目的目录或其他这类清单。用户可以在远程控制40上按下“DIR”键或从主菜单107中选择“Directory”特征,从而表示希望调用所录像节目的目录或清单。图18a和18b显示当用户表示希望观看用户已经在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上录像的节目目录时可由节目导视显示的说明性覆盖画面320。图18a显示覆盖于用户正在观看的频道的视频节目之上的覆盖画面320。图18b显示覆盖于节目清单屏幕之上的覆盖画面320。覆盖画面320可以显示任何关于用户已经选择以供远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29录像的节目编排的信息。覆盖画面320可以显示例如所录像节目的频道和标题、将它们录像的日期和时间或任何其他合适的信息。

所录像节目的节目清单可以按照频道、主题、用户或按照任何其他合适的准则加以组织。实际上,可以根据在其上显示覆盖画面的显示屏幕的类型来在覆盖画面上显示所录像节目的节目清单。在图18b中,例如按照时间显示清单,因为在其上显示清单的显示屏幕是按照时间来显示节目清单的。图18c显示电影分类中所录像节目的清单,因为在其上显示清单的显示屏幕只显示电影清单。图18b和18c是说明性的,及可以使用任何合适的准则。此外,当节目清单覆盖于用户正观看的视频节目之上时,可以使用显示准则或根据主题来显示节目清单。

图18d显示当用户表示希望观看用户已经在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上录像的节目的目录时,可由节目导视显示的说明性目录屏幕350。目录屏幕350可以显示与节目相关的信息,例如由覆盖画面320所显示的信息。目录屏幕350也可包括其他节目导视显示屏幕单元,例如可选择广告、服务供应商标识语、商标标识语、广告条等。如果需要,目录屏幕350可以作为覆盖画面加以显示以及此处描述的任何覆盖画面都可以作为显示屏幕加以呈现。这类显示屏幕或可为全显示屏幕或部分显示屏幕。部分显示屏幕可以包含减小尺寸的视频窗口(例如用于显示当今电视频道)。

在另一个合适的方案中,当用户例如在远程控制40上按下“DIR”键或从主菜单102中选择“Directory”特征时,节目导视可显示目录菜单。图18e显示说明性目录菜单屏幕370。目录菜单屏幕370可以提供给用户机会来观看例如图18d中所示的但却用不同方法分类的所录像节目的目录。例如,当用户选择“By Time”特征371时,节目导视可以显示根据节目录像时的日期和时间来分类的所录像节目的目录。例如,当用户选择“Movies”特征373、“Sports”特征375、“Children”特征377或“Adults”特征379时,节目导视可以分别显示电影、运动、儿童节目或成人节目的所录像节目的目录。所列分类可以预先确定或者根据用户已经录像的电影来确定。例如,如果用户只录像了电影,则只显示“Movies”特征373。如果用户已经录像了电影和儿童节目,则可以显示“Movies”特征373和“Children”特征377。

节目导视也可提供给用户机会以便观看用户已经选择以供媒体服务器录像但尚未录像的节目的目录。图18f显示当用户例如从目录菜单屏幕370中选择“Pending Selections”特征381时可由节目导视显示的说明性挂起节目目录屏幕390。

可以使用任何合适的方案由节目导视获得显示于图11a、11b、11c、12a和12b(图18a和18b)的清单屏幕中,显示于覆盖画面320中或显示于目录屏幕350或390(图18d和18f)中的信息。例如,可由节目导视将具有全部所显示信息的用户目录59的副本存于存储器49中。在又一个合适的方案中,可由节目导视保持用户目录59的副本,其中包括全部与所录像节目相关的节目导视数据(例如节目清单信息、因特网连接、软件等),而可由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29保持具有该节目可用的全部节目导视数据的一个小子集(例如节目标识符和指针)的用户目录59的副本。在又一个合适的方案中,节目导视可以保持用户目录59,其中包括目录中节目的节目导视数据。选代地,可以保持较小目录,其中例如只有节目标识符,而节目导视可以根据该标识符从来自节目导视传播设备16或来自节目导视服务器25的连续地提供的节目导视数据流中获得节目导视数据。在又一个合适的方案中,可由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29保持全部用户目录59以及按照要求将它们提供给节目导视使用。这些不同方案只是说明性的,及如果需要可以使用任何合适的用于保持用户目录和将它提供给用户以供调用的方案。

一旦用户已经选择在远程媒体服务器24上录像的节目以供回放,节目导视可以向用户标示回放节目的费用并且提示用户确认回放操作。图19显示一个说明性覆盖画面1901,其中标示这一费用及其中提示用户确认回放操作。显示于覆盖画面1901中的费用可以使用任何合适的方案加以确定。用户可以按照普通收费率为每次回放付费。选代地,用户可以根据所选节目的时间长度来付费。在又一个合适的方案中,用户可以定购服务,其中允许用户在周期基础上(例如按月)按照普通费用无限制地回放。在又一个合适的方案中,用户可以按照预定数量回放节目而按照普通收费率付费。可由节目导视传播设备16提供收费率给记费系统199以便向用户收费或否则扣除用户的帐户。

一旦用户已经选择清单及表示希望回放其相关联的节目时(及如果需要则确认回放操作),节目导视可以发出回放请求至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29。如果需要,可以回放节目而不播放广告。节目导视可以例如提供给用户机会在设置屏幕上设置“skipcommercials”选项。选代地,用户可以快速通过广告。

如果需要,节目导视可以替代地发出检索请求至远程媒体服务器24。与指令远程媒体服务器24既检索又回放所请求节目的回放请求相反,检索请求不必涉及立即回放。相反,可以从存储设备15中检索请求的节目并且提供给用户电视设备22。如此处所用,“检索请求”系指任何命令、请求、消息、远程过程调用、基于对象的通信或任何其他类型的内部过程或基于内部对象的通信,从而使节目导视能够传播信息至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29以便指定用户希望检索的节目。所检索节目然后可以存于存储器44(图6)中,数字存储设备31(图6)中,辅助存储设备32(图6)中或本地媒体服务器29(图6)中。当用户希望观看已经检索出并且就地存储的节目时,用户电视设备20可以被指令回放该节目。如果所检索节目存于本地媒体服务器29上,则用户电视设备可以检索它及然后播放它或者可以请求本地媒体服务器29直接播放它。

节目导视可以提供给用户机会来观看由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29录像的节目的附加信息。图20显示当用户表示希望观看关于已经由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29录像的节目的信息时可能显示的说明性全信息屏幕161。例如,当用户在将目录中的节目清单或所录像节目的其他清单增亮之后按下远程控制40上的“INFO”键时,即可显示全信息屏幕161。

全信息屏幕161可以包括信息窗口162、其中可以显示所录像节目的简单描述。显示于信息窗口162中的信息可以在以前将节目录像时由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29存储,也可在将节目录像时由节目导视存储,也可在显示全信息屏幕161时由节目导视检索,或者可以由节目导视使用任何其他合适的方案获得。

节目导视可以提供给用户机会来按照要求播放先前用户在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上录像的节目。远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29可以响应于由节目导视生成的回放请求来按照要求播放节目。如此处所用,“回放请求”系指任何命令、请求、消息、远程过程调用、基于对象的通信或任何其他类型的内部过程或基于内部对象的通信,从而使节目导视能够传播信息至媒体服务器以便指定用户希望回放的节目。当用户表示希望观看已经录像的节目时,节目导视可以生成回放请求。用户可以例如增亮目录中的清单或列表及按下远程控制40上的“PLAY”键而表示希望观看已经录像的节目。

当用户表示希望观看已经录像的节目时,节目导视生成一个回放请求并且由通信设备51通过通信路径20或31将它传输至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29。回放请求可能包括例如用户希望回放的节目的标识符、用户标识符等。如果例如节目导视保持用户目录59或用户目录59的副本,则回放请求可能包括一个指向存储设备15上媒体目录的指针。远程媒体服务器24从存储设备15中检索所请求节目并且将它提供给传播设备21以供作为合适的视频信号(例如NTSC视频信号、MPEG-2等)进行传播。本地媒体服务器29可以从存储设备37中检索所请求节目并且将它作为合适的视频信号(例如NTSC视频信号、MPEG-2等)提供给用户电视设备22。如果准备回放所请求节目,则传播设备21实时地传播该节目。如果只是检索所请求节目,则传播设备21可以用压缩格式(例如作为压缩的视频文件)将该节目传输至用户电视设备21。

远程媒体服务器24也可检索任何与所录像节目相关联的所录像节目导视数据并且提供所检索数据给传播设备21或节目导视服务器25以供节目导视调用。选代地,远程媒体服务器24可以直接提供所检索数据给节目导视。本地媒体服务器29可以通过通信路径29提供数据给用户电视设备22。节目导视可以调用所检索节目导视数据并且将它呈现给用户以使用户能够就在初始地播放节目时与回放期间的数据进行交互操作。如果例如相关联的节目数据是用户在初始地播放节目时可能已经调用的计算机软件,则该软件可以响应于来自用户的表示希望调用该软件的标示而由节目导视加以下载。

该软件可以存于例如数字存储设备49中以使用户能够在回放期间调用该软件。这类软件可以是例如交互式电视应用程序,例如采购应用程序,用于允许用户在播放节目期间发出采购货物的命令。

另一个可以存储的节目导视数据的例子是与所录像节目相关联的因特网连接。该连接可以由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29来检索并且当用户回放节目时由节目导视加以下载。节目导视可以在节目导视显示屏幕或覆盖画面中显示该连接。因特网连接例如可显示于在回放期间显示于节目之上的覆盖画面之中。节目导视可以提供给用户机会以便选择因特网连接及从而指令节目导视启动网络浏览器。

节目导视可以提供给用户机会来对节目和节目导视数据进行父母控制。节目导视可以例如提供给用户机会设置父母控制代码和父母控制准则(例如级别、标题、频道等)。当用户表示希望在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上将节目录像或回放节目时,节目导视会将存于例如用户目录中的节目特性(例如它的级别、标题、频道等)与父母控制准则进行比较。如果该节目不满足该准则(例如它的级别过于成熟),则节目导视可能提示用户输入父母控制代码。只当输入恰当的父母控制代码后,节目导视才允许用户录像或回放节目。图21显示可由节目导视在电视频道上或节目导视显示屏幕上显示的用于提示用户输入父母控制代码的说明性覆盖画面2111。图21显示在具有由节目导视关闭的被反对的节目的电视频道上显示的覆盖画面2111。

节目导视可以提供给用户对所录像节目的类似VCR控制。远程控制40可能具有类似于通常模拟录像机上的按钮的键。在另一个合适的方案中,用户输入设备46(图9)可以具有一个带有类似于VCR功能的键的键盘。选代地,用户可以选择对应于这类功能的屏上特征。可以使用任何其他合适的用于提供给用户对所录像节目的类似VCR控制的方案。用户可以例如通过表示希望来将节目暂停、停止、退回、快速前进或播放(例如通过按下远程控制40上合适的键)而做到这点。

可以通过例如部分地或全部地按照要求将点播节目编排内容下载至数字存储设备49(图9)而由节目导视就地完成这些特征。选代地,节目导视响应于用户输入而实时地生成合适的请求(例如快速前进、退回、越过和暂停请求)。这些请求可以传输至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29以供处理之用。如此处所用,对所录像节目的类似VCR控制的请求系指任何命令、请求、消息、远程过程调用、基于对象的通信或任何其他类型的内部过程或基于内部对象的通信,从而使节目导视能够传播信息至媒体服务器,以便指定用户希望控制的节目。

图22显示用于向用户提供对于已经录像在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上的节目的类似VCR控制的说明性覆盖画面2201。当用户例如按下远程控制40上的合适的键从而表示希望将视频节目停止、播放、快速前进、退回或暂停时,节目导视可以标示已经按下哪个键。例如,如果用户将视频节目快速前进,节目导视可以将覆盖画面2201的“FAST FORWARD”按钮部分增亮。

节目导视也可提供给用户机会来实时地将节目进行高速缓存。此特征允许用户观看例如在他必须暂时离开他正观看节目的房间时本来观看不到的节目部分。用户可以按下远程控制40上的“PAUSE”键来表示希望当观看中断时能够在远程媒体服务器24上将节目录像。节目导视可以例如向用户标示用于高速缓存的费用和提示用户确认录像操作,从而作出响应,如图23中所示。一旦用户已经确认录像操作或者当不需为录像操作付费时,节目导视可以发出录像请求至远程媒体服务器24。此时远程媒体服务器24可以开始将节目录像,直至节目结束。当中断结束后(例如用户回至他或她的座位后),用户可以表示希望继续观看节目。远程媒体服务器24可以在将所播放节目的其余部分继续进行高速缓存的同时回放已经高速缓存过的节目副本,直至所播放节目结束。用户可以通过例如快速前进而在广告或其他不感兴趣内容的播放过程中赶上所播放节目。

当用户表示希望将实时地高速缓存过的节目“退回”至用户开始录像的地方时,远程媒体服务器24可以检查存储设备15以便判断是否有任何其他用户已经录像了该节目或者该节目仍然可用。如果没有节目的其他副本可用,则用户可能被限制于只能退回至用户开始录像的地方。如果需要,远程媒体服务器可以自动地将所有现有节目、正在观看的节目或者一定订户所需节目进行高速缓存或否则暂时地录像下来,从而向用户或订户提供能力以便具有对这些高速缓存过或录像过的节目的完全类似VCR控制。如果需要,本地媒体服务器29可以用类似方式将节目进行高速缓存。

节目导视也可提供给用户机会来管理在远程媒体服务器24和本地媒体服务器29上存储的内容。节目导视可以例如提供给用户机会来删除不再需要的节目。用户可以通过将所录像节目的清单增亮及按下远程控制40上的“DEL”键,通过选择节目导视显示屏幕的屏上特征例如全信息屏幕161的特征159(图20),或者使用任何其他合适的方案来表示希望删除节目。当用户表示希望删除已录像节目时,节目导视可以生成删除请求并且通过通信设备51将它传输至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29。删除请求可以是任何合适的请求、消息、基于对象的通信、远程过程调用等。

在收到删除请求后,远程媒体服务器24(对于在相同的或不同的家庭范围内的用户)或本地媒体服务器29(对于相同家庭范围内的用户)可以判断是否曾有多个用户请求过所选节目的副本。如果只有一个用户请求过录像该节目,则远程媒体服务器24可以发出一条删除命令至存有被选准备删除的节目的存储设备。该合适的存储设备从它的媒体存储器63(图4)中删除所选节目并且相应地更新媒体目录61和用户目录59。如果多个用户曾经请求过将该节目录像,则远程媒体服务器24可以删除用户目录59中该节目的入口。如果节目导视保持用户目录59,则节目导视删除该入口。本地媒体服务器可以用类似方式删除节目。

如果需要,远程媒体服务器24和本地媒体服务器29可以自动地删除节目。例如当用户在预定时间内不调用一个节目时,可以做到这点。远程媒体服务器24和本地媒体服务器29也可自动地删除正在实时地进行高速缓存的节目的各部分。例如,实时高速缓存可以限制于十分钟录像,从而限制用户可能退回的长度。远程媒体服务器24可以例如将节目传输至可以送给用户的物理媒体上。另一个合适的方案涉及在所有用户都已观看过节目后将它们删除。用户可以为在服务器29或服务器24上将节目录像而付一定费用。如果用户付费,他可以按照每个所用存储设备付费,按照每个所录像节目付费,按照每次回放付费,或者按照普通收费率付费等。

节目导视可以提供给用户机会来设置关于如何在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上将节目录像或回放节目的不同设定。当用户例如选择主菜单102中的“Setup”特征从而表示希望设置这些特征时,节目导视可以显示一个设置屏幕。图24中显示说明性设置屏幕2401。

如图24中所示,用户可以设置用户电视设备22可能用来播放节目的音频语言、音频格式和视频格式。用户可以例如使箭头向右或向左来改变设定。用户可以例如使箭头向上或向下而在设定之间变动。合适的音频格式可能包括单声、立体声、环绕声等。合适的视频格式可以包括正规的、高分辨率电视机(HDTV)、宽屏幕、窄屏幕等。如果在数字音频道上有语言可用,则用户也可选择用于播放音频节目的语言。

节目导视可以在录像请求中包括所选语言、音频格式和视频格式。远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29可以只用标示的格式和语言来将节目录像,如果它们作为与节目相关联的节目数据一部分而可用的话。选代地,节目导视可以在回放请求中包括所选语言、音频格式和视频格式。远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29可以用所有可用的音频和视频格式和语言来将节目录像,而当有请求时只用所选格式和语言(或任何缺省格式或语言)来回放节目。

节目导视也可允许用户定义“超节目”。超节目是一系列节目或节目段,导视可以序列地按照特定序列回放它们。在例如以上所述的Hassell等人的美国专利申请系列号09/157,256中描述了使用交互式电视节目导视在数字存储设备上录像超节目。用户可以例如使用用户输入设备46输入合适的命令,从而表示希望调用节目导视的超节目特征。如果用户输入设备46是一个远程控制例如图8的远程控制40,则用户可以例如在将目录清单屏幕350(图18d)中的节目清单增亮后使用远程控制40上的“SUPER”键,或者从节目导视显示屏幕中或从当选择节目清单时由节目导视提供的屏上选项的清单中选择屏上“Super-Program”选项。

节目导视也可提供给用户能力来命名超节目和在远程媒体服务器24上、在本地媒体服务器29上、或在可选的数字存储设备49上存储它们。所命名的超节目的入口可以保存于由远程媒体服务器24、本地媒体服务器29或节目导视保持的用户目录中以及可以显示于任何合适的列出节目目录入口的屏幕上(例如图18d的目录屏幕350)。选代地,节目导视可以在超节目目录屏幕(例如专用于列出超节目清单的目录屏幕)上列出超节目清单。例如,当目录屏幕350由节目导视显示时,节目导视提供给用户机会来选择命名的超节目。

当用户选择命名的超节目时,节目导视可以生成一个超节目屏幕,以便显示于显示设备45上。节目导视也可向用户提供用于完成超节目功能(例如播放、传输或编辑超节目)的选项的屏上清单。当用户表示希望定义一个超节目时,节目导视生成一个超节目屏幕,以便显示于显示设备45上。图25a和25b中显示说明性超节目屏幕130。

超节目屏幕130可以组织为三个区域。区域131显示由远程媒体服务器24、本地媒体服务器29、数字存储设备49或它们的任何组合所录像的节目目录。区域132标示超节目序列。视频反馈区137显示包括于超节目内的节目各部分。在对用户录像实行限制的方案中,可以例如显示录像中剩余时间以便向用户标示在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上还剩余多少时间可供录像之用。

超节目屏幕130的三个区域只当需要时才呈现出来。例如,只当节目导视向用户提供机会来选择所录像节目时才显示区域131。一旦用户已经选择一个节目,就可以删去区域131并且在它原来的地方显示区域132,同时节目导视向用户提供机会来定义包括在超节目中的节目段。只当响应于用户向节目导视表示要显示节目段时才显示视频反馈区137。因此,可能不必要立即显示全部三个区域。

为定义一个超节目,用户标示将哪些节目包括入超节目序列中。节目导视也可给予用户能力来在当今超节目中包括其他预先定义的超节目。区域131列出所录像节目和超节目。如果用户接口是远程控制例如图8的远程控制40,则用户可以使用向上和向下箭头键来选择所需节目或超节目。用户也可使用远程控制40上的“INFO”键或在由节目导视提供的屏上选项清单中选择合适的选项来访问与入口相关联的其他信息。节目导视可以生成全信息屏幕例如图20的全信息屏幕161,它包含当按下“INFO”键时与所选录像相关联的信息。

任何时候当用户选择一个节目时,节目导视在超节目序列中的确定位置(例如在序列的结束处)处放置所选入口。如图25a中所示,例如用户早已选择第一段入口“Braveheart”。用户当今正选择第二段入口“Kiss The Girls”。这些段入口都列于第二区132内。用户然后具有用于定义准备播放的节目的播放段的选项。标示器135标示当今定义的播放段。

如果用户希望定义一个播放段,则用户可以如此做,例如使用标记136(图25b)并且将标记移至节目内所需时间处来定义该段。如图25b中所示,用户使用增亮区134(由节目导视在标记中一个的上面定位)来移动标记136以便定义播放段。当标记136是单独地定位时,节目导视可以显示对应于视频反馈区137中标记136的节目部分。节目导视可以例如发出回放请求至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29,它们包括一个用户指针,指向节目中所需位置或者指向距离当今位置的位移。选代地,节目导视可以传播合适的请求至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29以便调整远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上的一个或多个用户指针。当用户结束定义播放段时,用户可以按下远程控制40上的“OK”键。作为响应,节目导视将增亮区134放置于第一区131中以便允许用户定义超节目序列中的另一个入口。

当用户已经结束对超节目的定义后,用户可以使用用户输入设备46发出合适的命令。如果用户输入设备46是远程控制例如图8的远程控制40,则用户能够使用“PLAY”键来完成对超节目的编辑及播放超节目。用户也能从由节目导视提供的屏上选项的清单中选择屏上“PLAY”特征。用户可以在已经定义超节目之后的任何时间内播放该超节目。

当用户按下“PLAY”时,节目导视可以发出回放请求至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29,或者可以发出合适的指令至数字存储设备49以便根据定义的超节目序列读取节目和相关联的节目数据。回放请求可以例如包含指向由超节目序列定义的节目中的位置的指针。节目导视然后指令用户电视设备22以适合于在显示设备45上显示的格式提供超节目中的节目和任何相关联的数据,以便犹如正在用户观看那些初始地播放节目那样供用户使用。如果显示设备45是电视机,则例如用户电视设备22可以将节目自它们的数字格式转换为合适的RF或解调视频信号以供在监视器45上显示之用。

用户可以将超节目存储起来以备稍后回放之用。用户可以使用用户输入设备46来例如发出合适的命令以便表示希望将回放延后。如果用户电视设备46是远程控制例如图8的远程控制40,则用户可以使用远程控制40上的“EXIT”键或选择屏上“Exit”选项。节目导视可以响应于将回放延后的表示而将回放序列存储起来(或在存储器63中,或在数字存储设备49中,或在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29中)。随后用户可以例如在目录屏幕350中选择超节目来调用超节目。然后节目导视可以使用先前输入的选择和定义的播放段来生成超节目屏幕并且提供给用户机会来将节目和节目段增加、编辑或重新排序。用户发出合适的命令(例如按下远程控制40上的“PLAY”键)来播放超节目。

图26-31是在操作本发明系统中所涉及步骤的说明性流程图。图26-31中所示步骤是说明性的及可以用任何合适的序列完成。如果需要也可删除不同步骤。

图26是在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上将节目录像和节目导视数据记录中所涉及的主要步骤的说明性流程图。在步骤2610,节目导视提供给用户机会以便选择在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上录像的节目。可以通过例如提供给用户机会以便或者直接地或者同时使用FLIP覆盖画面在观看节目时将它录像而完成这个步骤。也可提供给用户机会来选择节目清单而完成这个步骤。可以由节目导视在不同类型的节目清单屏幕上呈现节目清单,例如由时间屏幕130(图11a)呈现的节目清单,由频道屏幕135(图11b)呈现的节目清单,由分类屏幕(图11c)呈现的节目清单,及在Browse覆盖画面中或在任何其他合适类型的节目导视显示屏幕上。选代地,用户可以通过因特网例如图2e的布置来调用节目清单。用户也可在观看节目时按下远程控制40上的“PAUSE”或“REWIND”键来将节目录像以便实时地将节目进行高速缓存。

用户也可通过设置用于定义用户希望录像的节目类型的搜索查询来选择由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29录像的节目。用户可以例如定义布尔表达式,以便根据合适的参数或多个参数将节目录像。合适的参数可以包括任何与节目相关联的节目导视数据,例如节目标题、节目内的演员、节目主题或分类、节目级别、节目信息区内的文字或任何其他合适的节目导视数据。

当用户选择或指定供录像的节目时,节目导视生成一个录像请求(步骤2620)。此步骤可以或与步骤2610并发地执行,或在步骤2610后立即执行,或在步骤2610后不远的时间内例如就在节目开始前执行。当用户表示希望将节目组录像时,该请求可以包括一个组标识符或组成节目的节目标识符。在又一个方案中,节目导视可以重复步骤2620来为组内每个节目生成单独的录像请求。

一个或多个录像请求可以在步骤2640中传输至录像媒体服务器。传输录像请求时可能涉及任何合适的通信协议堆栈的使用。例如可以使用TCP/IP、IPX/SPX、DOCSIS或任何其他合适的协议或协议组。如果要求用户为录像付费,则节目导视传播设备16可以在步骤2650处将记费信息提供给记费系统199(图1)。记费信息可以包括所选节目的标题、它的标识符、它的长度、录像所需费用或任何其他合适的信息。记费系统199可以分别在步骤2655和2657向发出请求的用户收费或扣除用户帐户。

在步骤2660和2680处分别将节目及其相关联节目导视数据记录在记录媒体服务器上。如果需要,可以用任何合适的序列,也可并发地完成步骤2660和2680。步骤2660可以包括记录与节目相关联的数据。也可例如当自动地实时地将节目进行高速缓存时由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29自动地完成步骤2680。

图27是在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29上将节目、节目导视数据或它们的任何组合记录时所涉及说明性步骤的更详细的流程图(例如图26的步骤2660和2680)。在步骤2810,由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29接收录像请求。在步骤2820,将录像请求在作业队列中排队。在步骤2840,将类似的请求合并。合并的和未合并的请求都在步骤2860处排队。

在步骤2880,可以检查作业队列以便判断是否已经有足够的用户请求将每个节目录像。可以在例如计划播送节目之前15分钟内检查作业队列的入口。如果请求给定节目的用户太少,则可以通知对该节目发出请求的用户(步骤2890),以及节目导视可以例如使用本地媒体服务器29、可选的数字存储设备49(图9)或者可选的辅助存储设备47(图9)来就地将节目录像(步骤2900)。选代地,可以在物理媒体上将节目录像并且将它送至用户(步骤2905)。

在步骤2910,将节目导视传播设备16处的合适设备(例如传播设备21)调谐至在其上载带所请求节目的频道(模拟的或数字的),例如可以响应于远程媒体服务器24的请求而完成这步。在步骤2920,在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29的存储设备上以模拟或数字格式将节目录像。

用户目录可在步骤2940处加以更新。可由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29或节目导视或它们的任何组合来保持用户目录。由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29保持的用户目录可在步骤2945处更新。本地媒体服务器29只能为在存储设备37(图7)上录像的节目保持用户目录,或者可以保持由远程媒体服务器24为本地媒体服务器29的一个或多个用户保持的用户目录的副本。

节目导视可以为一个或多个用户就地在存储器63(图9)中、在可选的数字存储设备49中或在可选的辅助存储设备47中保持用户目录(步骤2950)。由节目导视保持的用户目录可以反映由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29或它们两者存储的节目,以及如果需要也可由节目导视在本地媒体服务器29上保持该用户目录。可能希望节目导视唯一地保持用户目录。然而,在又一个合适的方案中,节目导视可以保持由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29保持的用户目录的副本。选代地,可以由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29唯一地保持用户目录并且按照要求来提供给节目导视。

图28是从远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29中回放节目、节目导视数据或它们的任何组合时涉及的主要步骤的说明性流程图。在步骤2700,节目导视提供给用户机会以便从远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29中选择所录像节目以供回放之用。可以向用户呈现所录像节目的命令而完成这步。目录可以覆盖于用户正观看的电视节目之上(例如图18a的覆盖画面320),可以覆盖于节目导视显示屏幕之上(例如图18b和18c的覆盖画面320),可以显示于专用节目导视显示屏幕中(例如图18d的目录屏幕350),或者可以显示于网页内例如图2e的布置中那样。选代地,可以在例如图11a、11b和11c中所示的正规节目清单屏幕上呈现给用户所录像节目或为录像而选择的节目的节目清单。

用户可以例如从清单或其他节目导视显示屏幕中选择节目清单来选择或指定供回放的节目。在用户指定回放的节目后(例如通过选择清单和按下远程控制40上的“PLAY”键),节目导视生成一个回放请求并且将它传输至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29(步骤2720和2740)。可以使用例如TCP/IP、IPX/SPX、DOCSIS或任何其他合适的协议或协议组来传输回放请求。如果要求用户为回放节目付费,则节目导视传播设备16可以在步骤2750向记费系统199(图1)提供记费信息。记费信息可以包括所选节目的标题、它的标识符、它的长度、回放记费或任何其他合适的信息。记费系统199可以在步骤2755和2757处分别向发出请求的用户给出帐单或扣除用户帐户。在步骤2760和2780,从将节目录像的媒体服务器中回放节目及其相关联的节目导视数据并且呈现给用户(例如在图7的用户电视机36上或图2e的PC231上)。

图29是从远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29中回放节目时涉及的说明性步骤的更详细的流程图。在步骤2960,由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29将所选供回放的节目的一部分进行高速缓存。如果系统资源允许,则例如可能希望将整个节目进行高速缓存。步骤2960也可包括步骤2965,其中远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29判断该节目部分是否早已进行过高速缓存(即是否为另一个用户高速缓存过)。如果如此,则可能不需要另一个副本。

在步骤2980,远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29传播节目至用户电视设备22以供回放之用。在步骤2990处在用户电视设备22上或PC231上回放节目及其相关联的节目导视数据。可以使用任何合适的方案传播和回放节目及节目导视数据。例如,可由远程媒体服务器24回放节目及节目导视数据并且将它们传播至用户电视设备22以供实时观看。如果节目及节目导视数据作为数字数据流被传送,则用户电视设备22可以实时地将数据流解码。这类按照要求的节目和节目导视数据可以根据用户所设置的爱好进行传播和回放。在第二合适的方案中,节目和节目导视数据作为一个或多个数字文件或作为一个数字数据流被传播,以及由电视设备22存储以备回放之用。在第三合适的方案中,由远程媒体服务器24回放节目和节目导视数据并且按照计划使用合适的近似点播视频(NVOD)方案在模拟或数字频道上传播它们。在又一个合适的方案中,远程媒体服务器24可以在准备送给用户的物理媒体例如DVD或录像带上将节目和节目导视数据记录。也可使用这些方案的任何组合或任何其他合适的方案。

在步骤3000,节目导视向用户提供节目的类似VCR控制。节目导视可以显示一个覆盖画面例如图22的覆盖画面141,用于向用户标示何时用户曾经将节目停止、暂停、退回或快速前进过。在步骤3010,远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29可以调整节目部分内的用户指针,或者移动指针至下一个节目部分。可以在例如正常播放节目时或当控制节目例如将它快速前进时将用户指针向前移动。在节目部分的开始处或结束处之外的地方调整用户指针之前的合适时刻,可以将前一个或下一个节目部分进行高速缓存(步骤2960)。可以将节目导视数据呈现和再呈现以使它能跟踪正由用户使用交互式电视节目导视进行控制的节目。

图30是向用户提供机会以便访问节目的实时地高速缓存过的版本时所涉及的说明性步骤的流程图。在步骤3020,远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29将正在播放的节目进行高速缓存。可由远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29完成步骤3020,也可当用户表示希望将节目实时地进行高速缓存时(例如在观看节目时按下远程控制40上的“PAUSE”键)完成该步。在步骤3040,当向用户提供节目的类似VCR控制时在用户电视设备22上播放节目。当用户表示希望完成类似VCR功能时,节目导视可以发出请求至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29以便将用户指针调整至高速缓存过的副本中的用户观看位置。当用户看完高速缓存过的副本时,例如当节目结束时,或当用户快速前进至结束处时,或当用户按下停止键时,节目导视可以发出删除请求至远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29以便将它删除,它也能被自动地删除。

在图31中叙述提供本发明的超节目特征时所涉及的步骤。在步骤3110,节目导视将节目和相关联的节目导视数据记录在远程媒体服务器24或本地媒体服务器29或数字存储设备49上。在步骤3120处定义超节目序列。这可包括在如步骤3140中叙述的显示设备45上显示超节目屏幕,例如图25a和25b的超节目屏幕130。在步骤3160,由节目导视在显示设备45上列出所录像节目,以及在步骤3180处节目导视提供给用户机会以便选择所列出节目。在步骤3200,节目导视提供给用户机会以便定义播放段。如步骤3220所标示的,节目导视可显示用于定义播放段的播放段标示器和标记。在步骤3240,节目导视在显示设备45上显示视频反馈区。在步骤3260,节目导视根据超节目序列在显示设备45上显示作为超节目序列中的一部分的节目、播放段和相关联的节目数据。

以上所述只用于阐述本发明原理,以及熟悉技术的人可在不背离本发明的范围和实质的情况下作出不同修改。

Claims (24)

1.一种用于在交互式电视节目导视系统中使用的方法,其中该系统向用户提供对节目的访问,所述方法包括:提供多个用户设备,其中每个用户设备被配置用于呈现视频;提供服务器,该服务器连接到多个用户设备中的每一个,并且被配置用于向多个用户设备提供视频;将节目记录到服务器上,其中记录在服务器上的节目是用户选择的;从多个用户设备中的一个给定用户设备的用户接收播放记录在服务器上的节目的指示;响应于接收到该指示,从服务器中访问所述节目;以及向给定用户设备的用户显示所述节目。
2.根据权利要求1的方法,其中,多个用户设备中的至少一个具有存储设备,并且所述方法进一步包括:在给定用户设备的存储设备上存储所述节目。
3.根据权利要求1的方法,进一步包括:从多个用户设备中的至少一个其它用户设备的至少一个其它用户接收至少一个播放存储在服务器上的节目的其它指示;以及向所述至少一个其它用户设备的所述至少一个其它用户显示所述节目,其中,向给定用户设备的用户显示节目,与向所述至少一个其它用户设备的所述至少一个其它用户显示节目是同时进行的。
4.根据权利要求1的方法,其中,记录在服务器上的节目是由给定用户设备的用户选择的。
5.根据权利要求1的方法,其中,记录在服务器上的节目是由与给定用户设备的用户不同的至少一个其它用户选择的。
6.根据权利要求5的方法,其中,所述至少一个其它用户位于与给定用户设备不同的用户设备处。
7.根据权利要求1的方法,进一步包括:向给定用户设备的用户提供指示希望删除由服务器记录的节目的机会;以及响应于用户指示希望删除节目,从服务器中删除所希望的节目。
8.根据权利要求1的方法,其中,给定用户设备的用户和至少一个其它用户选择要记录在服务器上的节目,并且所述方法进一步包括:向给定用户设备的用户和所述至少一个其它用户提供指示希望删除记录在服务器上的节目的机会;以及响应于给定用户设备的用户和所述至少一个其它用户中的一个用户指示希望删除节目,在服务器上所记录的、用于该至少一个用户的节目目录中删除记录在服务器上的节目入口。
9.根据权利要求8的方法,进一步包括:响应于给定用户设备的用户和所述至少一个其它用户中的另一个用户指示希望删除节目,从服务器中删除记录在服务器上的节目。
10.根据权利要求1的方法,进一步包括:在服务器上记录节目导视数据和节目。
11.根据权利要求1的方法,其中,所述服务器是远程媒体服务器。
12.根据权利要求1的方法,其中,所述服务器是本地媒体服务器。
13.一种向用户提供对节目的访问的交互式电视节目导视系统,该交互式电视节目导视系统包括:包括一给定用户设备的多个用户设备,其中多个用户设备中的每一个被配置用于呈现视频;服务器,连接到多个用户设备中的每一个,并且被配置用于:向多个用户设备提供视频;以及记录用户选择的节目;以及至少部分地在电路上实现的交互式电视节目导视,其中该交互式电视节目导视被编程用于:从给定用户设备的用户接收播放记录在服务器上的节目的指示;响应于接收到该指示,从服务器中访问所述节目;以及向给定用户设备的用户显示所述节目。
14.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,该交互式电视节目导视被进一步编程用于在给定用户设备的存储设备上存储所述节目。
15.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,该交互式电视节目导视被进一步编程用于:从多个用户设备中的至少一个其它用户设备的至少一个其它用户接收至少一个播放存储在服务器上的节目的其它指示;以及向所述至少一个其它用户设备的所述至少一个其它用户显示所述节目,其中,向给定用户设备的用户显示节目,与向所述至少一个其它用户设备的所述至少一个其它用户显示节目是同时进行的。
16.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,记录在服务器上的节目是由给定用户设备的用户选择的。
17.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,记录在服务器上的节目是由与给定用户设备的用户不同的至少一个其它用户选择的。
18.根据权利要求17的系统,其中,所述至少一个其它用户位于与给定用户设备不同的用户设备处。
19.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,该交互式电视节目导视被进一步编程用于:向给定用户设备的用户提供指示希望删除由服务器记录的节目的机会;以及响应于用户指示希望删除节目,从服务器中删除所希望的节目。
20.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,给定用户设备的用户和至少一个其它用户选择要记录在服务器上的节目,并且所述交互式电视节目导视被进一步编程用于:向给定用户设备的用户和所述至少一个其它用户提供指示希望删除记录在服务器上的节目的机会;以及响应于给定用户设备的用户和所述至少一个其它用户中的一个用户指示希望删除节目,在服务器上所记录的、用于该至少一个用户的节目目录中删除记录在服务器上的节目入口。
21.根据权利要求20的系统,其中,所述交互式电视节目导视被进一步编程用于:响应于给定用户设备的用户和所述至少一个其它用户中的另一个用户指示希望删除节目,从服务器中删除记录在服务器上的节目。
22.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,所述服务器被进一步配置用于记录节目导视数据和节目。
23.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,所述服务器是远程媒体服务器。
24.根据权利要求13的系统,其中,所述服务器是本地媒体服务器。
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