US20110078323A1 - Rules-based user preferences for stream switching in an internet radio player - Google Patents

Rules-based user preferences for stream switching in an internet radio player Download PDF

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Publication number
US20110078323A1
US20110078323A1 US12568670 US56867009A US2011078323A1 US 20110078323 A1 US20110078323 A1 US 20110078323A1 US 12568670 US12568670 US 12568670 US 56867009 A US56867009 A US 56867009A US 2011078323 A1 US2011078323 A1 US 2011078323A1
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Prior art keywords
internet
radio
stream
audio
play
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US12568670
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Richard D. Wooden
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iHeartMedia Management Services Inc
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iHeartMedia Management Services Inc
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    • 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
    • H04N7/163Authorising the user terminal, e.g. by paying; Registering the use of a subscription channel, e.g. billing by receiver means only
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/40Services or applications
    • H04L65/4069Services related to one way streaming
    • H04L65/4092Control of source by destination, e.g. user controlling streaming rate of server
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L65/00Network arrangements or protocols for real-time communications
    • H04L65/60Media handling, encoding, streaming or conversion
    • H04L65/601Media manipulation, adaptation or conversion
    • H04L65/602Media manipulation, adaptation or conversion at the source
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/30Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications involving profiles
    • H04L67/306User profiles
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04LTRANSMISSION OF DIGITAL INFORMATION, e.g. TELEGRAPHIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04L67/00Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications
    • H04L67/32Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications for scheduling or organising the servicing of application requests, e.g. requests for application data transmissions involving the analysis and optimisation of the required network resources
    • H04L67/325Network-specific arrangements or communication protocols supporting networked applications for scheduling or organising the servicing of application requests, e.g. requests for application data transmissions involving the analysis and optimisation of the required network resources whereby a time schedule is established for servicing the requests
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/45Management operations performed by the client for facilitating the reception of or the interaction with the content or administrating data related to the end-user or to the client device itself, e.g. learning user preferences for recommending movies, resolving scheduling conflicts
    • H04N21/458Scheduling content for creating a personalised stream, e.g. by combining a locally stored advertisement with an incoming stream; Updating operations, e.g. for OS modules ; time-related management operations
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/45Management operations performed by the client for facilitating the reception of or the interaction with the content or administrating data related to the end-user or to the client device itself, e.g. learning user preferences for recommending movies, resolving scheduling conflicts
    • H04N21/462Content or additional data management, e.g. creating a master electronic program guide from data received from the Internet and a Head-end, controlling the complexity of a video stream by scaling the resolution or bit-rate based on the client capabilities
    • H04N21/4622Retrieving content or additional data from different sources, e.g. from a broadcast channel and the Internet
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • 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
    • H04N21/475End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data
    • H04N21/4755End-user interface for inputting end-user data, e.g. personal identification number [PIN], preference data for defining user preferences, e.g. favourite actors or genre
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/60Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand] using Network structure or processes specifically adapted for video distribution between server and client or between remote clients; Control signaling specific to video distribution between clients, server and network components, e.g. to video encoder or decoder; 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
    • H04N21/61Network physical structure; Signal processing
    • H04N21/6106Network physical structure; Signal processing specially adapted to the downstream path of the transmission network
    • H04N21/6125Network physical structure; Signal processing specially adapted to the downstream path of the transmission network involving transmission via Internet
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television, VOD [Video On Demand]
    • H04N21/80Generation or processing of content or additional data by content creator independently of the distribution process; Content per se
    • H04N21/81Monomedia components thereof
    • H04N21/8106Monomedia components thereof involving special audio data, e.g. different tracks for different languages

Abstract

An internet radio player provides more personalized streaming audio content by assigning play amounts to different stream sources, and then playing streams from the different sources at a playback device for play times corresponding to the respective play amounts. The play time for a given stream is calculated as a user-defined percentage for the associated stream source multiplied by an expected listening period. The different stream sources can include different musical genres, news, sports, weather, or traffic. Play amounts are automatically adjusted based on user selection of the currently-playing stream source for increased or decreased play. A particular stream can also be played at a predetermined clock time, and the streams can further be ordered for play according to user preference. The present invention accordingly provides a richer listening experience than that attained by listening to a single internet radio stream, even if the single stream already reflects a user's preferences.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0001]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0002]
    The present invention generally relates to the electronic transfer of consumer media, and more particularly to a system and method for providing internet users with a set of preferences for streaming audio media in order to enhance their listening experiences.
  • [0003]
    2. Description of the Related Art
  • [0004]
    Contemporary methods of listening to music often involve use of the Internet to obtain access to digital audio media. One way of listening to music which involves use of the Internet is downloading an audio file to a computer, phone, portable media player, etc., using a standard communications protocol such as file transfer protocol (FTP). When the audio file is downloaded, the file is essentially copied from its source (a remote server) to a local device which can then store the audio file. This means that a device such as a personal computer would have a digital copy of the audio file. With this audio file, a listener can do many things, such as listen to the audio file when desired, copy the file to another device or location, or mix the audio file with another sound track. Once a listener has obtained a copy of an audio file, they do not require a connection to the Internet in order to listen to the audio file since it can be accessed directly from the local device onto which it was initially downloaded.
  • [0005]
    An alternative to downloading audio (or video) content from the Internet is to stream the content from the Internet. When audio content is streamed over the Internet, a listener has real-time access to the audio reproduction, but access is much more limited when compared to downloading audio files. Streamed audio data is transferred using a different protocol than those used for regular file downloads like FTP, so that listeners are not able to obtain an actual copy of the audio file. For example, the real time streaming protocol (RTSP) is commonly used to establish and control media sessions between client-server end points. Clients can issue simple commands such as play and pause to facilitate real-time control of the playback of media files from the server. This listening alternative has several significant differences from downloading audio files. The most notable difference is that, since a listener does not have an actual copy of the audio file, the listener cannot transfer the file to other devices (e.g., portable or hand-held devices). This limitation is specifically designed to reduce the pirating of music. Also, if a listener does not have access to the Internet then he or she has no way of streaming a given audio file, and a low-speed or unreliable connection will result in poor reproduction quality.
  • [0006]
    Internet media sources which provide streaming of audio data over the Internet include internet radio stations. An internet radio station can for example stream the same content as a traditional (terrestrial) radio station, or can stream setlists pre-programmed by human programmers with or without a disc jockey. Internet radio stations are similar to terrestrial radio stations in that they broadcast songs over a communications medium. However, internet radio stations are often more personalized than terrestrial radio stations. For example, some internet radio stations allow listeners to provide input or feedback such as selecting a particular genre, artist or format. These stations then apply a simple matching algorithm to the listener feedback to create a sequence for their streaming media. The internet music service Pandora provides more advanced streaming internet radio stations that are generally enabled by the user based on a seed artist or song. A recommendation engine then uses rules to match other content that the user may like to the seed selection based on characteristics assigned to each song by a Pandora professional. Another variant of this service includes Last.fm, where the internet radio station's program is based on aggregations of its users' listening habits. These preferences result in streams that the user can select from after assigning seeds for each stream and then refining the selections by use of a “more of this” feature or “less of this” feature for each song played.
  • [0007]
    The foregoing internet radio stations may be considered non-interactive forms of personalized internet streaming. An interactive service is one which allows a listener to receive a stream where the listener has the power to dictate the songs being played, such as typical listener-supported internet radio stations which allow the audience to select specific songs to be included in a station's playlist. Conversely, a broadcast-type transmission in which only the station makes the musical selections is non-interactive. Thus, Pandora and Last.fm are non-interactive because the broadcaster is making the music selections, although the listener is indirectly influencing the songs being played. The interactive or non-interactive nature of a stream can affect royalties or other fees that are required for transmission and performance of the streamed content.
  • [0008]
    Several of these avenues for various listening experiences are illustrated in the generalized process of FIG. 1 for an internet radio end user listening to streaming internet radio content. The listener can provide basic feedback to one or more internet radio stations which create a first media sequence (10). The listener can also select a seed song or artist to allow one or more additional internet radio stations to program a second media sequence using a recommendation engine (12). One or more other radio stations provide a third media sequence produced by human programmers without input or feedback from the listeners (14). These media sequences are available to the listener over the Internet as a plurality of internet radio streaming media content (16). An internet radio player software application running on a computer or hand-held device presents the various internet radio station choices for selection by the listener (18). The listener then selects a single station based on personal preference, such as music genre, artist, station call sign, etc. (20). The player application accordingly sets up a streaming connection with the chosen “Content A” internet radio streaming media (22), and outputs the selected stream to the audio system for the listening enjoyment of the user (24).
  • [0009]
    There are several disadvantages to the internet radio station platforms mentioned above. Those internet radio stations which have only pre-programmed playlists lack the ability for any personalization or customizing. If a listener is listening to a song on a pre-programmed playlist, there is no way for the listener to indicate their like or dislike for that song, so the playlist is unable to adapt to a user preference. Pre-programmed playlists may also consistently play certain songs from a genre or subgenre which the listener actively dislikes. Those internet radio stations with playlists that are personalized based on a specific genre, artist, format, etc., are still somewhat restricting to listeners because oftentimes, although a listener might greatly like one specific song by a specific artist, they might not like other songs by that same artist or other versions (covers) of the song. Similarly, if a listener likes a specific artist from a specific genre, they might not like all artists of that same genre. Those internet radio stations with personalized playlists based on a recommendation engine (similar to Pandora) offer more adaptability and personalization than the previously mentioned internet radio stations. However, recommendation engines have limitations too. Oftentimes the algorithms which govern recommendation engines do not agree with user preferences. For example, the recommendation engine must determine exactly what aspect of a song is being referred to whenever the user indicates the “more of this” preference for the song. The recommendation engine's interpretation of what “more of this” means could be very far off from what a given user actually intends. The various characteristics associated with the songs that are used by the recommendation engine also depend on subjective judgments by the station professionals.
  • [0010]
    In light of the foregoing, it would be desirable to devise an improved method of presenting streaming content from the Internet, particularly music, which enables a user to craft an even more customized listening experience. It would be further advantageous if the method could afford listeners more variety and options when it comes to choosing which internet radio stations to listen to.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0011]
    The foregoing objects are achieved in a method of personalizing streaming media content, by assigning respective play amounts to a plurality of different stream sources connected to a network, and successively playing a plurality of streams from the different stream sources at a playback device in communication with the network, wherein the plurality of streams are played for play times which generally correspond to the respective play amounts. The streaming media content can be audio content, in which case the playback device includes an audio output device, e.g., speakers. In the illustrative implementation, the play time for a given stream is calculated as a user-defined percentage for the stream source associated with the given steam multiplied by an expected listening period. The different stream sources can include different musical genres, as well as news, sports, weather, or traffic.
  • [0012]
    The play amounts can be automatically adjusted based on a user selection of one of the stream sources for increased or decreased play. A particular stream can also be played at a predetermined clock time, and the streams can further be ordered for play according to a user preference.
  • [0013]
    The above as well as additional objectives, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent in the following detailed written description.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0014]
    The present invention may be better understood, and its numerous objects, features, and advantages made apparent to those skilled in the art by referencing the accompanying drawings.
  • [0015]
    FIG. 1 is a chart illustrating the logical flow for a conventional process in which a user selects an internet radio station for listening;
  • [0016]
    FIG. 2 is a hub-and-spoke diagram of a streaming media system with the Internet at the center acting as a communications medium through which multiple users can access streaming internet radio stations having different content (music genres, sports, etc.) based on their preferences in accordance with one implementation of the present invention;
  • [0017]
    FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a computer system programmed to present streaming internet radio station media in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; and
  • [0018]
    FIG. 4 is a chart illustrating the logical flow for an internet radio station presentation process in which a user assigns preferences to access a variety of different internet radio streams in accordance with one implementation of the present invention.
  • [0019]
    The use of the same reference symbols in different drawings indicates similar or identical items.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)
  • [0020]
    With reference now to the figures, and in particular with reference to FIG. 2, there is depicted one embodiment 30 of a streaming media system contemplated by the present invention. Streaming media system 30 is generally comprised of the Internet 32, streaming internet radio stations 34 a, 34 b, 34 c, 34 d which provide a plurality of audio selections, and playback devices 36 a, 36 b, 36 c, 36 d which include audio receivers for different listeners A-D. While the present invention is particularly suited for internet radio transmissions, it can alternatively be used with any other communications medium besides the Internet, including private networks such as cellular networks, local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), or wireless local area networks (WLANs) which provide different streaming stations or channels to multiple listeners. The illustration of only four streaming internet radio stations 34 a, 34 b, 34 c, 34 d is exemplary as there could be any number of streaming internet stations. Similarly, the illustration of only four playback devices 36 a, 36 b, 36 c, 36 d should not be construed in a limiting sense.
  • [0021]
    Internet radio stations 34 a, 34 b, 34 c, 34 d can provide individually-selectable streaming audio content. In this embodiment, internet radio station 34 a plays rock music, internet radio station 34 b plays country music, internet radio station 34 c plays hip-hop music, and internet radio station 34 d provides sports information in an audio form. These stations can employ any of the personalization techniques described above in the Background section. For example, rock station 34 a may stream a playlist programmed by a basic matching algorithm using an artist selection by the listener, country station 34 b may stream a playlist selected according to a recommendation engine responsive to a seed song chosen by the listener, and hip-hop station 34 c may stream a pre-programmed playlist that is independent of any listener feedback or input. Internet radio stations 34 a, 34 b, 34 c, 34 d can transmit their streams using any convenient protocols, such as the real time streaming protocol (RTSP).
  • [0022]
    Playback devices 36 a, 36 b, 36 c, 36 d can include hardware and software for connecting to network 32 or an intermediary agent, software and an audio system (one or more speakers) for receiving the streams from the network-based audio sources according to their protocols and reproducing audible output from the radio station streams, and a user interface which allows the listener to assign preference settings for streaming content as described further below. The playback devices may be personal computer systems such as that described in conjunction with FIG. 3, or may alternatively be special-purpose digital electronic devices such as “smart” phones or other wireless handheld devices (e.g., an IPhone® or Blackberry®). The playback devices are assigned some type of network identifiers such as media access control (MAC) addresses to facilitate direct communication with the streaming audio sources.
  • [0023]
    In the illustrative embodiment each playback device 36 a, 36 b, 36 c, 36 d can execute a streaming internet radio station playback application which includes the aforementioned user interface and audio reproduction software. A given listener manually enters an internet address or uniform resource locator (URL) for any desired internet radio station, or imports network addresses from an external file. The listener can customize the listening experience by defining preference settings for each selected internet radio station. In the preferred implementation the preference settings are numbers representing a percentage of total play time. Respective play amounts are then assigned to the different listener selections based on these percentages, and the different streams are successively played for play times which generally correspond to the respective play amounts.
  • [0024]
    For example, Listener A can control playback device 36 a to define a 50% play time for rock station 34 a and a 50% play time for hip-hop station 34 c to create the total listening experience. Using an expected listening period of one hour, the playback application can enable the stream from rock station 34 a for thirty minutes and then enable the stream from hip-hop station 34 c for another thirty minutes, continuing to switch between these two streams every thirty minutes for as long as the internet radio player application is running to meet the expected percent play time for each internet radio stream. Listener B can control playback device 36 b to define a 40% play time for rock station 34 a and a 60% play time for country station 34 b. Listener C can control playback device 36 c to define a 60% play time for rock station 34 a, a 30% play time for country station 34 b, and a 10% play time for sports station 34 d. Listener D only likes hip-hop music and so can control playback device 36 c to define a 100% play time for hip-hop station 34 c.
  • [0025]
    The number of internet radio stations and their play percentages are merely representative, and the user can select any number of internet radio streams and any percent of time for playback of a given stream, limited only by the number of stations available and the granularity allowed by the preferences in the specific internet radio player. The play times can alternatively be entered by the user as absolute values (e.g., minutes), rather than percentages. The invention is also not limited to musical streams, and could by way of example and without limitation also encompass news, weather, and traffic stations or focused advertising streams. Alternatively, selected streams could all be the same musical genre but include different radio station formats. The streams could additionally be video rather than audio, or multimedia, as well as text-only streams for the hearing-impaired. If a playback device is able to store the streaming data for later playback, e.g., in a local cache, these stored streams can be reproduced in accordance with the player-defined schedule.
  • [0026]
    Any of the listeners can refine the percent play for each stream by activating features of the user interface in real-time to invoke the rule-based exposure parameter selected by the listener, for example, duration. Buttons labeled “more of this stream” or “less of this stream” can be activated while a song is playing. If the “more of this stream” button is selected then the internet radio player automatically adjusts the play time for the currently-playing stream, for example incrementing the percentage by a preset value (e.g., 5%), and the percentages for other selected radio stations are appropriately adjusted (e.g., by reducing the percentages pro-rata with rounding of percentages to whole numbers). If the “less of this stream” button is selected then the internet radio player similarly adjusts the play time for that stream downward while increasing the other selected streams' play times.
  • [0027]
    A player constructed in accordance with the present invention may advantageously allow the user to adjust the expected listening period and thereby more accurately accommodate the intended proportions of streaming content. The player may have an added feature allowing the user to set a preferred order of the streams. The player may also assign different output volumes for the different selected streams.
  • [0028]
    Actual play times of musical content from each stream might be less than desired due to the insertion of commercials, disc jockey banter, etc., so the play times might only generally correspond to the respective play amounts. More intelligent players could further attempt to switch between streams at a break point in the current stream, e.g., waiting until after the end of a song, which can be determined by white space (no audio transmission for a short predefined period) or from signals encoded in the streaming transmission. A player can also be programmed to enable a stream to be scheduled, within its percentage constraint, at a specific time or times during the day such as the top-of-hour, every 15 or 30 minutes, etc. For example, Listener C has programmed playback device 36 c to play sports station 34 d beginning at 15 minutes after the hour.
  • [0029]
    The present invention accordingly provides a richer listening experience than that attained by just listening to any single internet radio stream, even if the single stream already reflects a user's preferences. However, the degree of personalization should not be considered interactive since the stream switching control is all client-side. All radio station features such as commercials or promotions are still being enabled, within the percent constraints, without listener intervention. Nevertheless, other implementations could allow for varying levels of interactivity, such as allowing the user to enable a “more of this” or “less of this” feature or similar listener exposure metrics for specific content within a stream; for example a user may choose to have “more of this” type of commercial (for cars, restaurants, travel etc.) or “less of this” type of commercial.
  • [0030]
    With further reference to FIG. 3, there is depicted one embodiment 36 of a computer system in which the present invention may be implemented to provide preferential stream switching. Computer system 36 is a symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) system having a plurality of processors 42 a, 42 b connected to a system bus 44. System bus 44 is further connected to a combined memory controller/host bridge (MC/HB) 46 which provides an interface to system memory 48. System memory 48 may be a local memory device or alternatively may include a plurality of distributed memory devices, preferably dynamic random-access memory (DRAM). There may be additional structures in the memory hierarchy which are not depicted, such as on-board (L1) and second-level (L2) or third-level (L3) caches.
  • [0031]
    MC/HB 46 also has an interface to peripheral component interconnect (PCI) Express links 50 a, 50 b, 50 c. Each PCI Express (PCIe) link 50 a, 50 b is connected to a respective PCIe adaptor 52 a, 52 b, and each PCIe adaptor 52 a, 52 b is connected to a respective input/output (I/O) device 54 a, 54 b. MC/HB 46 may additionally have an interface to an I/O bus 56 which is connected to a switch (I/O fabric) 58. Switch 58 provides a fan-out for the I/O bus to a plurality of PCI links 50 d, 50 e, 50 f. These PCI links are connected to more PCIe adaptors 52 c, 52 d, 52 e which in turn support more I/O devices 54 c, 54 d, 54 e. The I/O devices may include, without limitation, a keyboard, a graphical pointing device (mouse), a microphone, a display device, speakers, a permanent storage device (hard disk drive) or an array of such storage devices, an optical disk drive, and a network card for connection to the Internet. Each PCIe adaptor provides an interface between the PCI link and the respective I/O device. MC/HB 46 provides a low latency path through which processors 42 a, 42 b may access PCI devices mapped anywhere within bus memory or I/O address spaces. MC/HB 46 further provides a high bandwidth path to allow the PCI devices to access memory 48. Switch 58 may provide peer-to-peer communications between different endpoints and this data traffic does not need to be forwarded to MC/HB 46 if it does not involve cache-coherent memory transfers. Switch 58 is shown as a separate logical component but it could be integrated into MC/HB 46.
  • [0032]
    In this embodiment, PCI link 50 c connects MC/HB 46 to a service processor interface 60 to allow communications between I/O device 54 a and a service processor 62. Service processor 62 is connected to processors 42 a, 42 b via a JTAG interface 64, and uses an attention line 66 which interrupts the operation of processors 42 a, 42 b. Service processor 62 may have its own local memory 68, and is connected to read-only memory (ROM) 70 which stores various program instructions for system startup. Service processor 62 may also have access to a hardware operator panel 72 to provide system status and diagnostic information.
  • [0033]
    In alternative embodiments computer system 36 may include modifications of these hardware components or their interconnections, or additional components, so the depicted example should not be construed as implying any architectural limitations with respect to the present invention.
  • [0034]
    When computer system 36 is initially powered up, service processor 62 uses JTAG interface 64 to interrogate the system (host) processors 42 a, 42 b and MC/HB 46. After completing the interrogation, service processor 62 acquires an inventory and topology for computer system 36. Service processor 62 then executes various tests such as built-in-self-tests (BISTs), basic assurance tests (BATs), and memory tests on the components of computer system 36. Any error information for failures detected during the testing is reported by service processor 62 to operator panel 72. If a valid configuration of system resources is still possible after taking out any components found to be faulty during the testing then computer system 36 is allowed to proceed. Executable code is loaded into memory 48 and service processor 62 releases host processors 42 a, 42 b for execution of the program code, e.g., an operating system (OS) which is used to launch applications and in particular the internet radio player application of the present invention, the output of which may be sent to an audio device of the system (an I/O device 54). While host processors 42 a, 42 b are executing program code, service processor 62 may enter a mode of monitoring and reporting any operating parameters or errors, such as the cooling fan speed and operation, thermal sensors, power supply regulators, and recoverable and non-recoverable errors reported by any of processors 42 a, 42 b, memory 48, and MC/HB 46. Service processor 62 may take further action based on the type of errors or defined thresholds.
  • [0035]
    While the illustrative implementation provides program instructions embodying the present invention on a disk drive of computer system 36, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the invention can be embodied in a digital program product utilizing other machine-readable or storage media. The program instructions may be written in the C++ programming language for an AIX environment or in other programming languages suitable for other operating system platforms. Computer system 36 carries out program instructions for an internet radio player that uses novel preference techniques to switch between multiple media streams. Accordingly, a program embodying the invention may include conventional aspects of various internet radio players, and these details will become apparent to those skilled in the art upon reference to this disclosure.
  • [0036]
    The present invention may be further understood with reference to the chart of FIG. 4 illustrating the logical flow for one implementation of a user-customized streaming experience. The listener can provide basic feedback to one or more internet radio stations which create a first media sequence (80). The listener can also select a seed song or artist to allow one or more additional internet radio stations to program a second media sequence using a recommendation engine (82). One or more other radio stations provide a third media sequence produced by human programmers without input or feedback from the listeners (84). These media sequences are available to the listener over the Internet as a plurality of internet radio streaming media content (86). The internet radio player software application running on computer system 36 can present the various internet radio station choices for selection by the listener (88). The listener then selects a plurality of stations based on personal preference, such as music genre, artist, station call sign, etc., to create a desired variety of media streams (90). For each selected station a play time percentage is assigned. In this example internet radio streaming media content A is chosen for X-percent of the time (92), internet radio streaming media content B is chosen for Y-percent of the time (94), and internet radio streaming media content C is chosen for Z-percent of the time (96). The number of streams the listener chooses is arbitrary, as well as the percentage listening times for each stream. If the sum of the percentages does not add to 100%, the player can either query the user for corrected percentages or automatically adjust the percentages using the appropriate multiplicative factor.
  • [0037]
    Separately from the user preferences defined in boxes 92, 94 and 96, there are additional user settings and stream provider rules which govern the internet radio player output (98). These settings and rules can for example define the minimum play time per stream or order of streams (100). The settings and rules can also be used to establish rules for stream play and options for intermixing streams (102). Using these settings and rules, the internet radio player output to the audio system can be sequenced as a single stream with switching between the internet radio streaming media content A, B, and C based on the percent play time for each respective stream (104). One realization of this process for an expected listening period of 30 minutes with 20% assigned to internet radio streaming media content A, 50% assigned to internet radio streaming media content B, and 30% assigned to internet radio streaming media content C, would lead to stream A playing for 6 minutes (106), stream C playing for 15 minutes (108), and stream B playing for 9 minutes (110). The final result is the listener hearing the single sequenced stream via the audio system (112).
  • [0038]
    Although the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments, this description is not meant to be construed in a limiting sense. Various modifications of the disclosed embodiments, as well as alternative embodiments of the invention, will become apparent to persons skilled in the art upon reference to the description of the invention. For example, while the invention has been described in the context of internet radio stations, it could be used with other types of media content such as webcasts, podcasts, simulcasts or pre-recorded programs. Furthermore, while the exemplary embodiments provide the stream switching locally, the invention contemplates the use of a remote computer system (essentially similar to computer system 36) as a proxy server which can receive the listener selections and preferences, and can then perform the switching to provide a single, uninterrupted stream to the playback device. It is therefore contemplated that such modifications can be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the present invention as defined in the appended claims.

Claims (26)

  1. 1. A method of personalizing streaming media content, comprising:
    assigning respective play amounts to a plurality of different stream sources connected to a network; and
    successively playing a plurality of streams from the different stream sources at a playback device, wherein the plurality of streams are played for play times which generally correspond to the respective play amounts.
  2. 2. The method of claim 1 wherein the streaming media content is audio content, the playback device includes an audio output device, and said playing reproduces audible output at the audio output device.
  3. 3. The method of claim 1, further comprising automatically adjusting the play amounts based on a user selection of one of the stream sources for increased or decreased play.
  4. 4. The method of claim 1 wherein the different stream sources include at least two different musical genres.
  5. 5. The method of claim 1 wherein the play time for a given stream is calculated as a user-defined percentage for the stream source associated with the given steam multiplied by an expected listening period.
  6. 6. The method of claim 1 wherein at least one of the streams is played at a predetermined clock time.
  7. 7. The method of claim 1 wherein the streams are ordered for play according to a user preference.
  8. 8. A playback device comprising:
    one or more processors which process program instructions;
    a network device connected to said one or more processors for communication with a network;
    a memory device connected to said one or more processors;
    a media output device connected to said one or more processors; and
    program instructions residing in said memory device for personalizing streaming media content by assigning respective play amounts to a plurality of different stream sources connected to the network, and successively playing a plurality of streams from the different stream sources at the media output device, wherein the plurality of streams are played for play times which generally correspond to the respective play amounts.
  9. 9. The playback device of claim 8 wherein the streaming media content is audio content, and the media output device is an audio output device.
  10. 10. The playback device of claim 8 wherein said program instructions further automatically adjust the play amounts based on a user selection of one of the stream sources for increased or decreased play.
  11. 11. The playback device of claim 8 wherein the different stream sources include at least two different musical genres.
  12. 12. The playback device of claim 8 wherein said program instructions calculate the play time for a given stream as a user-defined percentage for the stream source associated with the given steam multiplied by an expected listening period.
  13. 13. The playback device of claim 8 wherein at least one of the streams is played at a predetermined clock time.
  14. 14. The playback device of claim 8 wherein the streams are ordered for play according to a user preference.
  15. 15. A digital program product comprising:
    a machine-readable storage medium; and
    program instructions residing in said medium for personalizing streaming media content by assigning respective play amounts to a plurality of different stream sources connected to a network, and successively playing a plurality of streams from the different stream sources at a media output device, wherein the plurality of streams are played for play times which generally correspond to the respective play amounts.
  16. 16. The digital program product of claim 15 wherein the streaming media content is audio content, and the media output device is an audio output device.
  17. 17. The digital program product of claim 15 wherein said program instructions further automatically adjust the play amounts based on a user selection of one of the stream sources for increased or decreased play.
  18. 18. The digital program product of claim 15 wherein the different stream sources include at least two different musical genres.
  19. 19. The digital program product of claim 15 wherein said program instructions calculate the play time for a given stream as a user-defined percentage for the stream source associated with the given steam multiplied by an expected listening period.
  20. 20. The digital program product of claim 15 wherein at least one of the streams is played at a predetermined clock time.
  21. 21. The digital program product of claim 15 wherein the streams are ordered for play according to a user preference.
  22. 22. A method of customizing streaming audio content, comprising:
    providing an audio receiver with a plurality of audio selections, the plurality of audio selections having individually-selectable, network-based audio sources;
    receiving listener selections of more than one of the individually-selectable, network-based audio sources for the audio receiver;
    associating the listener selections with network addresses that correspond to the individually-selectable, network-based audio sources;
    receiving a listener exposure metric, indicating a rule-based exposure parameter selected by the listener; and
    successively switching the audio receiver to the individually-selectable, network-based audio sources in response to the listener selections and the listener exposure metric to provide a customized audio stream to the audio receiver.
  23. 23. The method of claim 22 wherein the listener exposure metric is received real-time during playing of audio content from one of the individually-selectable, network-based audio sources by the audio receiver.
  24. 24. The method of claim 22 wherein the rule-based exposure parameter is a duration that an audio selection is played by the audio receiver.
  25. 25. The method of claim 22 wherein the individually-selectable, network-based audio sources include at least two sources having different radio station formats.
  26. 26. The method of claim 22 wherein the plurality of audio selections include at least two different audio selections from the group consisting of: music, sports, news, weather, traffic, and focused advertising.
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