WO2001061704A1 - Audio playback device - Google Patents

Audio playback device Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2001061704A1
WO2001061704A1 PCT/GB2001/000462 GB0100462W WO0161704A1 WO 2001061704 A1 WO2001061704 A1 WO 2001061704A1 GB 0100462 W GB0100462 W GB 0100462W WO 0161704 A1 WO0161704 A1 WO 0161704A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
playback device
host system
device
means
memory
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/GB2001/000462
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Alan Welsh Sinclair
David John Savage
Original Assignee
Digmedia, Inc.
Digmedia Limited
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to GB0003864.6 priority Critical
Priority to GB0003864A priority patent/GB0003864D0/en
Application filed by Digmedia, Inc., Digmedia Limited filed Critical Digmedia, Inc.
Publication of WO2001061704A1 publication Critical patent/WO2001061704A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G11INFORMATION STORAGE
    • G11CSTATIC STORES
    • G11C7/00Arrangements for writing information into, or reading information out from, a digital store
    • G11C7/16Storage of analogue signals in digital stores using an arrangement comprising analogue/digital [A/D] converters, digital memories and digital/analogue [D/A] converters 
    • GPHYSICS
    • G11INFORMATION STORAGE
    • G11CSTATIC STORES
    • G11C2207/00Indexing scheme relating to arrangements for writing information into, or reading information out from, a digital store
    • G11C2207/16Solid state audio

Abstract

An audio playback device capable of being fitted to an existing host system to enable the combination to playback compressed audio files with the playback device appearing to the host system as a memory device.

Description

AUDIO PLAYBACK DEVICE

The present invention relates to devices for playback of audio data which has been stored in a compressed format, such as music in the popular MP3 compression format. The increasing availability of music in a compressed format, in particular MP3 format, and the ease with which compressed audio files can be transferred from suppliers to the consumer via the Internet, has led to consumer devices for decompressing and playing such audio files being increasingly in demand. To date, it has been necessary to purchase a dedicated music system or unit which has been designed specifically for the purpose of playing back music stored in a compressed format, for example, MP3 portable player devices and car-based MP3 systems making use of solid state memory have been designed. The only alternative is to play MP3 files using a home computer system in which the necessary hardware and software is installed in order to enable playback of MP3 files.

It is an aim of the present invention to provide a playback device which can be fitted to an existing host system incorporating a microprocessor/controller to enable the playback device to play back compressed audio files such as MP3 files.

Accordingly, the present invention provides a playback device in the form of a module for connecting to a host system incorporating a microprocessor/controller and which when connected appears to the host system as a memory device, the device comprising: interface means of the memory interface type, for interfacing with the host system to which the playback device is connected in use thereof; first solid-state m-mory means for storing compressed digital audio data; decompression means for decompressing the compressed digital audio data stored in said first memory means; d gital-t ^-analogue (D/A) converter means for converting the decompressed digital audio data to an analogue signal for audio playback; and second solid-state memory means for storing control software for uploading to the host system via said interface means to be executed in the host system with the executed command signals being exported via said interface means to the device, for controlling operation of the playback device. In particular, the control software is preferably for controlling operation of the decompression means and may also be for controlling the D/A converter means .

The playback device preferably further includes audio playback means such as, for example, audio driver circuitry and/or an output connector for connection to a loud speaker device or headphones. These audio playback means may also be present in the host system and the control software is configured to cause the host system to upload the decompressed digital audio data from the playback device to the host system via the interface means for output via the audio playback system of the host system.

The playback device of the invention has the advantage that it can be plugged into a memory slot of a host system such as a games machine, a mobile telephone, a personal digital assistant (PDA) or a palm top computer, to convert the host system into an audio playback device for playing the compressed audio files stored in the memory of the playback device. The invention enables an audio player function to be added to a host system at minimum cost by utilising available resources (such as the host microprocessor/controller) in the host system to control the operation of the playback device.

It will be appreciated that the playback device does not need to incorporate a controller, control of the playback device being effected by the host system which uses the control software uploaded from the playback device to control the operation of the functional features of the device .

The decompression means in the device preferably decompresses the compressed audio m real time.

The interface means may be any suitable memory interface such as, for example, CF, PC Card, IDE, ΞPI, or MC interface.

The first and second solid-state memory means of the playback device are preferably writable memory such as flash memory, or may alternatively be read-only memory. The first and second memory means may, for example, be separate dedicated areas of memory, or even two sets of interspersed memory locations, in a flash memory card.

The playback device may comprise first and second modules which are removably inter-connectable . The first module may incorporate said interface means for interfacing to the host system and the second module may be a removable memory card incorporating said first and second memory means .

Alternatively, the playback device may be provided as a single module which preferably conforms to conventional memory module standards such as Compact Flash, PC Card, MultiMediaCard, and Memory Stick, or proprietary module formats defined for attachment to specific equipment such as portable games machines. Such standards define the electrical and logical characteristics of the interface to the module, and also the physical characteristics of the connector and the dimensions of the module. Thus, for example, the playback device may be provided as a single cartridge for engaging with a complementary cartridge slot provided on the host system.

The playback device may optionally be a cartridge which incorporates a section conforming to the physical requirements for a module standard, together with an extension section, such that the section conforming to said module standard can be engaged with a complementary slot in a host system, which slot s intended for a module conforming to said module standard.

According to a further aspect of the invention, we provide an audio playback system comprising a playback device as above described and a host system to which the playback device is removably connected. The host system may include audio playback means such as a D/A converter, audio drive circuitry and/or loudspeaker means .

Preferred embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example only and with reference to the following figures in which: Fig. 1 s a schematic block diagram of a playback device according to one embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 2(a) is a front view of the playback device of Fig. 1 interfaced with a host system in the form of a mobile telephone; Fig 2 (b) is a schematic side view of the host system of Fig. 2(a) without the playback device interfaced therewith; and

Fig. 3 is a schematic block diagram of the playback device of Fig. 1 interfaced to a host system. Fig. 1 shows, in block diagram form, a playback device

1 in the form of a removable memory card for connection to a host system (not shown) via a compact flash card interface 2. The device 1 incorporates first solid-state memory means in the form of a flash memory 3 for storing compressed digital audio data such as MP3 audio files, with second solid-state memory means in the form of some memory locations 4 in the same flash ne ory being reserved for storing control code. The oevice 1 also includes decompression means in the form of an MP3 decoder 5 in communication with the flash memory 3 for decoding (decompressing) the compressed audio files.

In this embodiment device 1 also has a digital-to- analogue (D/A) converter 6 for converting the decompressed raw digital data into an analogue output signal suitable for audio playback and an analogue output connector 7 to which headphones may be attached to the device 1 for listening to the analogue output signal. In another embodiment the D/A converter and audio output are provided within the host system which may be used in addition to or alternatively to those provided in the playback device.

Operation of the device 1 is controlled by the host system via the compact flash card interface 2 and further host interface circuitry 8 included in the device 1. In use, when the removable card device 1 is connected to the host system via the compact flash card interface 2 the control code 4 stored in the flash memory is uploaded to the host system via the host interface 8 and compact flash interface 2 of the device 1, to be executed by a microprocessor/controller in the host system and the executed command signals are re-exported to the device 1 to control operation of the device 1, n particular to control operation of the decoder 5. The control code may also include code for controlling operation of the D/A converter 6, if desired. Operation of the device 1 can be further controlled by a user via user controls forming part of the host system (e.g. buttons, keypad) which, once the control code 4 stored in the device 1 has been uploaded to the host system, will respond appropriately to input commands made by the user. As shown in Figs. 2(a) and (b) , the host system may be, for example, a mobile phone 10 which has a complementary slot 12 for receiving the removable card device 1. Alternatively, the host system could be a games unit, PDA, palm top, or any other mobile computer or communication system or module. In each case the host system comprises a microprocessor/controller and the card device 1 appears _.o the host system as a memory device.

The compresseπ audio files stored in the flash memory 3 need not be MP3 files, but could be audio files in any suitable compression format. The compressed audio files may also have been encrypted, in which case the device 1 will further incorporate a decrypter 14 (shown in broken lines in Fig. 1) , which may be included in the decoder 5 if desired, for decrypting the audio files. The decoder 5 (and decrypter, where provided) is designed so as to perform real-time decoding of the compressed audio files, so that real-time playback of the files is achieved by the device 1. Suitable such decoders are already known e.g. Fraunhoffer Multimedia group decoders, Xing decoders (these two types of decoder are implemented in software), or Micronas or Intermetall decoders (which are implemented in hardware) .

In a modification the flash memory 3, 4 is provided as a memory card which is removably connected to the remainder of the playback device.

The operation of the playback device 1 when connected to a typical host system 10 will now be described in further detail with reference to Fig. 3. As shown in Fig. 3, the host 10 incorporates a card interface 15 which communicates with the host interface 8 of the playback device 1 via the compact flash card interface 2. The host's microprocessor 17 functions as a controller for controlling the operation of the playback device 1, as above described, once the control code 4 has been uploaded from the playback device to the host system 10. The host 10 incorporates a random access memory 16 within its microprocessor/controller 17 for storage and execution of control code 4 uploaded from the playback device 1, and may also incorporate a hard disk 19 in which the control code 4 uploaded from the playback device 1 can be stored. Operation of the playback device 1 can be controlled by a user via the user control keypad 21 provided on the host 10 and an LCD display 23 of the host 10 can display further user information. In the embodiment illustrated in Fig. 3, audio playback of the decoded raw digital data is achieved in the host system 10 by means of the controller 17 which routes the decoded data from decoder 5 in device 1 to a D/A converter 24 in the host 10. The D/A converter 24 in turn forwards an analogue output signal to audio driver circuitry 25 and subsequently to a loudspeaker device 26, both provided in the host 10. It will be appreciated that where such audio playback means are available in the host 10, the playback device need not itself incorporate the D/A converter 6 or headphones connector 7. To illustrate this point, these two components are shown m broken line in Fig. 3

It will be appreciated that the playback device 1 according to any of the above-described embodiments appears as a memory device to the host system and all control operations on the device 1 by the host system are carried out via the memory interface 2. The playback device 1 is entirely controlled by the host system microprocessor/controller, and thus no keypad or other user interface controls are required on the playback device 1 itself. Furthermore, the control code 4 stored in the flash memory of the device 1 is designed to enable the host system microprocessor/controller to operate the playback device 1 without having any prior "knowledge" of the compression format of the stored audio files or of the control code stored itself (prior to the control code being uploaded into the host system) .

Claims

1. A playback device (1) in the form of a module for connecting to a host system (10) incorporating a microprocessor/controller and which when connected appears to the host system as a memory device, the device (1) comprising : interface means (2) of the memory interface type, for interfacing with the host system (10) to which the playback device (1) is connected in use thereof; first solid-state memory means (3) for storing compressed digital audio data; decompression means (5) for decompressing the compressed digital audio data stored in said first memory means ( 3 ) ; digital-to-analogue (D/A) converter means (6) for converting the decompressed digital audio data to an analogue signal for audio playback; and second solid-state memory means (4) for storing control software for uploading to the host system (10) via said interface means (2) to be executed in the host system with the executed command signals being exported via said interface means (2) to the device (1), for controlling operation of the playback device (1) .
2. A playback device as claimed in claim 1, further including audio playback means comprising audio driver circuitry and an output connection to a loudspeaker device or headphones .
3. A playback device as claimed in either preceding claim, wherein the memory type interface is any one of a CF, PC card, IDE or MMC interface.
. A playback device as claimec'. in any preceding claim, wherein the first and second sol-.d-state memory means are provided by flash memory.
5. A playback device as claimed in claim 4, wherein the flash memory is a releasable module.
6. An audio playback system comprising a host system incorporating a microprocessing/controller and having a slot for receiving a memory device and a playback device in the form of a module removably connected to said host system via said slot, said playback device being as claimed in any preceding claim.
PCT/GB2001/000462 2000-02-19 2001-02-06 Audio playback device WO2001061704A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB0003864.6 2000-02-19
GB0003864A GB0003864D0 (en) 2000-02-19 2000-02-19 Audio playback device

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AU3041101A AU3041101A (en) 2000-02-19 2001-02-06 Audio playback device

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO2001061704A1 true WO2001061704A1 (en) 2001-08-23

Family

ID=9885960

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/GB2001/000462 WO2001061704A1 (en) 2000-02-19 2001-02-06 Audio playback device

Country Status (3)

Country Link
AU (1) AU3041101A (en)
GB (1) GB0003864D0 (en)
WO (1) WO2001061704A1 (en)

Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US7987007B2 (en) 2002-03-18 2011-07-26 Creative Technology Ltd Memory module with audio playback mode

Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0706114A2 (en) * 1994-10-03 1996-04-10 AT&T GLOBAL INFORMATION SOLUTIONS INTERNATIONAL INC. Apparatus and method for recording and organizing audio data
US5715422A (en) * 1994-03-01 1998-02-03 New Media Corp. Data-storage and processing card having on-board data, processing instructions, and processing memory
EP0835013A2 (en) * 1996-10-03 1998-04-08 Nokia Mobile Phones Ltd. Modular mobile communication system

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5715422A (en) * 1994-03-01 1998-02-03 New Media Corp. Data-storage and processing card having on-board data, processing instructions, and processing memory
EP0706114A2 (en) * 1994-10-03 1996-04-10 AT&T GLOBAL INFORMATION SOLUTIONS INTERNATIONAL INC. Apparatus and method for recording and organizing audio data
EP0835013A2 (en) * 1996-10-03 1998-04-08 Nokia Mobile Phones Ltd. Modular mobile communication system

Cited By (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US7987007B2 (en) 2002-03-18 2011-07-26 Creative Technology Ltd Memory module with audio playback mode

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date
GB0003864D0 (en) 2000-04-05
AU3041101A (en) 2001-08-27

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