WO2001065413A1 - Staged image delivery system - Google Patents

Staged image delivery system Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2001065413A1
WO2001065413A1 PCT/US2001/006353 US0106353W WO0165413A1 WO 2001065413 A1 WO2001065413 A1 WO 2001065413A1 US 0106353 W US0106353 W US 0106353W WO 0165413 A1 WO0165413 A1 WO 0165413A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
version
computer
client computer
graphic image
image
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2001/006353
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
John M. Norton
Original Assignee
C.G.I. Technologies, Llc
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 US18523700P priority Critical
Priority to US60/185,237 priority
Priority to US68917900A priority
Priority to US09/689,179 priority
Application filed by C.G.I. Technologies, Llc filed Critical C.G.I. Technologies, Llc
Publication of WO2001065413A1 publication Critical patent/WO2001065413A1/en

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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F16/00Information retrieval; Database structures therefor; File system structures therefor
    • G06F16/90Details of database functions independent of the retrieved data types
    • G06F16/95Retrieval from the web
    • G06F16/957Browsing optimisation, e.g. caching or content distillation
    • G06F16/9577Optimising the visualization of content, e.g. distillation of HTML documents

Abstract

Images are delivered, received and displayed using a computer network (36) that allows for the images to be delivered in stages. This reduces the amount of time required to wait for an image, or a web page containing that image, to load on a display (40) at a computer (38). The user initially views a low-quality version of the image. For web pages, the page content loads with the low-quality version so that the user views the regular page quickly. The full image then loads in the background while the user decides whether to wait to view the full image or move on to another location or web page.

Description

STAGED IMAGE DELIVERY SYSTEM

Cross-Reference to Related Application

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/185,237, filed February 28, 2000, and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/208,978 filed June 2, 2000, both of which are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety.

Background of the Invention

Field of the Invention This invention relates generally to delivering, receiving, and displaying graphic images over networks having limited bandwidth. Description of the Related Art

Efforts to improve the delivery of pages on the World Wide Web generally focus on speed and quality. The. delivery of each page usually requires a certain amount of data to be transmitted over a communication system that has a limited bandwidth, such as a telephone line connected to a modem. Because of the limited bandwidth, a finite amount of time is required before the complete page can be received and displayed.

One or more graphic images are often included on a page. Graphic images often require large amounts of data to be sent, thus further increasing delivery time. In many situations, however, the viewer has little or no interest in the graphic images that are delivered. Often a user selects another page almost immediately after receiving the page. In these situations, the viewer receives little value for the time wasted while the page containing the graphic images is being delivered. If a high quality image of each product is always sent, the visitor wastes large amounts of time waiting to see images in which he has little interest. On the other hand, if small or low quality images are sent, the visitor may be unable to obtain the needed detail from the single image that ultimately turns out to be of significant interest.

The prior art contains methods and techniques for improving the speed of the transfer of graphic images. One effort to solve this problem is to reduce the size of the file containing the graphic image by reducing the quality of the graphic image. Although this is helpful when the viewer has little interest in the graphic image, it is often not an adequate solution when the viewer wants to study the graphic image more carefully to obtain more detail. This is particularly problematic for retail websites, which typically present a catalogue of products to a user, each product being illustrated by a graphic image. The user peruses the images quickly, often going through several pages before finding a product of potential interest. When the user finds a product, he or she often wants to study its picture more carefully to obtain more detailed information. This can be hindered by a reduced-quality version of an image.

Another approach to addressing this problem is to send a low-quality image of each object, with a link next to each image to a high quality image of the same object.

If interested in more detail, the user can select the link and a high quality images loads.

However, this approach requires the user to take action to see the high quality image and to wait long periods of time for the high quality image to load when selected.

Another prior art approach is to divide each image into an interlaced set of scan lines, to deliver and display the odd-numbered scan lines first, and to next deliver, interlace and display the even-numbered scan lines. With this approach, a rough approximation of each image is obtained in half of the amount of time. However, this rough approximation can be difficult to discern and inteφret. Using the retail website example of above, the visitor to such a site will again have difficulty shopping for items of interest. Further, only half of the loading time, at most, can be saved.

Accordingly, there exists a need in the art for a system and method of delivering quality graphic images without forcing a user to wait long periods for the delivery to occur.

Summary of the Invention

The present invention provides systems and methods for delivering, receiving and displaying graphic images over computer networks, such as the Internet. The graphic images are delivered, received and displayed in stages, such that multiple versions of an image are included in the process. The graphic images may also be delivered, received and displayed as part of web pages over the Internet. In this embodiment, web pages containing first versions of the graphic images are delivered, followed by one or more additional versions of the graphic images. The present invention delivers low-quality images in small files as first versions of images. After the first versions of the images, or web pages containing references to the first versions, have been sent, the invention then automatically delivers high-quality versions in larger files of the same images. These high quality images are the additional versions of the images, some of which may be referred to in this specification as second versions or final versions. Upon the arrival of each high quality image, its corresponding low-quality image on the page is replaced with the high-quality image. Where web pages are sent containing references to the versions of the graphic images, this replacement process typically occurs in the background, after the entire page (or at least the portion occupying the viewing window) has loaded, i.e., while the visitor is studying the page (or window).

The present invention allows the visitor to a web site to see and consider images quickly after requesting them. Although they are initially of low quality, the low quality is usually sufficient to enable the viewer to determine whether any are of interest. If none are of interest, he or she will be able to determine this and select another page quickly, without waiting for a set of high-quality images to load.

On the other hand, if another page is not requested promptly after the low- quality images have been loaded, this usually means that the visitor is more interested in something on the page. While the page is being studied, the low-quality images are steadily and automatically replaced by high-quality versions. By the time the visitor decides to study a particular image more carefully on the page, the high-quality version may already be in place, or at least may be in the process of loading.

The low-quality image may be a line art image that contains surfaces, each bounded by a line. The high-quality image may be the real-life image in which the surfaces consist of pixels having different colors.

In one embodiment, more than two images of sequentially-increasing quality are sent and substituted for viewing. Instead of merely sending a first image and then a higher-quality second image, for example, the invention sends a first, then a higher- quality second, and then a still higher-quality third image. The sequence may include more than three images of ever-increasing quality. In another embodiment of the invention, delivery of the high-quality image does not begin until at least a full window of the requested page (including the low-quality image) has been delivered.

Another embodiment of the invention includes a server computer, connected to a computer network, where the server computer delivers a first version of a graphic image. In one embodiment, the server computer is configured for connection to the Internet. The server computer delivers a web page containing a reference to the first version of the graphic image. After the first version of the graphic image is delivered, a second version of the graphic image is delivered from the server computer to a client computer.

This web page is received at the client computer and displayed on a display at the client computer. The first version may be displayed at a position on the web page, and the second version replaces the first and is displayed at the same position.

In another embodiment, the second version is delivered only if the client computer fails to request a different web page following receipt of the first version and prior to the delivery of the second version. In another embodiment, the second version is delivered after the web page containing the first version is delivered. The second version may also be delivered after a predetermined amount of time has passed since the delivery of the first version, or in an alternate embodiment, it may be delivered after a predetermined amount of time has passed since the delivery of the web page containing the first version of the graphic image has been delivered. In a still further embodiment, the second version is delivered if and when the user moves the mouse over the image of interest, an occurrence often referred to as a mouse rollover.

Brief Description of the Drawings

FIGS. 1 A and IB illustrate the delivery of sequential images to a display at a client computer using one embodiment of the present invention; FIG 2 is a flowchart of one method of delivery, reception and display of a graphic image using the invention; and

FIG 3 is a system component overview of the invention.

Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments of the Invention FIGS. 1A and IB show graphic images being loaded in stages on a web page in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The graphic image is delivered from a server computer. The graphic image may be any type of image capable of being stored and delivered over a computer network. The server computer is any device on which such a graphic image may be delivered. The server computer may also include a storage device, such as a disk drive, for storing the graphic image to be delivered. The server computer is connected to the Internet. In this embodiment, a first version of the graphic image is delivered from the server computer to the Internet through a connection between the server computer and the Internet. The first version of the image may be a line art image with each surface being bounded by a line. In an alternative embodiment, the first version is an image with each surface being of a single homogeneous color, such as a frame in an animation.

Any method of electronic communication currently known, and any method of connecting developed in the future, can be used in and is contemplated by the present invention. These methods include the Internet, local area networks, wide area networks, wireless connection methods, including infrared systems, and systems using fiber-optic communication technology. Other methods include dial-up modems, digital subscriber line (DSL) connections, and cable modems.

The client computer receives the first version of the graphic image from the Internet. The first version of the graphic image is usually of a very small file size, which may be a low quality rendering of the original graphic image. When the first version of the graphic image is received by the client computer, it is displayed on the display of the client computer.

In one embodiment, the first version is displayed in a web page on the display. FIG. 1A shows a web page 10 with a low quality image 12 on the page. FIG. 1A represents the screen the user of the system sees on the display of his or her computer after loading the first version of the graphic image.

The web page 10 contains a reference to the first version of the graphic image. This reference occurs using standard coding techniques for documents on the World Wide Web. An example of such a reference is an image identifier used to retrieve images for display. The display may be any device which is capable of displaying a graphic image. An example of such a device is a computer monitor, a cellular telephone display, or a display on a handheld wireless communication device.

FIG. IB shows the web page 10 with a high quality image 14 on the page. In this FIG., the entire content of the page has finished loading, with the high quality second image 14 being shown on the display. The system of this embodiment has delivered the first version and the second version in place of the first version, and has thus finished the staged delivery of the graphic image.

In one embodiment, the present invention delivers the second version after the loading page with the first version or after loading just a window of the page. In another embodiment, the invention delivers the second version of the graphic image 14 after a predetermined amount of time has passed since the delivery of the first version.

The time between image replacement could be the time it takes for the second, larger image to be transferred from the server. In an alternate embodiment, the invention delivers the second version after a predetermined amount of time has passed since the delivery of the web page containing the reference to the first version. In another embodiment, the invention sends the second version only if the client computer fails to request a different web page prior the delivery of the second version.

In a still further embodiment, the invention delivers the second version after a mouse pointer is placed over the first version.

Standard coding techniques are used to implement the embodiments of the present invention in which web pages reference graphic images. Web pages are documents on the World Wide Web that are created using programming languages that determine style, content, and performance features. An example of such a programming language is HTML (Hypertext Markup Language). The web pages of this embodiment of the present invention may be created using HTML or any other programming language currently known or developed in the future which may be used to create web pages.

A form of HTML, known as dynamic HTML (DHTML), may also be used to create the web pages of the embodiments of the present invention. DHTML coding techniques are also well known in the art. In these embodiments, DHTML web pages contain references to images using image identifiers that, when activated, load the objects that form the subject of the identifier. The first version of a graphic image may be one such object. It is loaded following the activation of the image identifier. The rest of web page, including background text and other content, loads with the first version. The loading of the rest of the web page may be performed concurrently with the loading of the first version of the graphic image. The image identifier that downloads the second version of the image is activated after the first version is delivered.

In one embodiment, the image identifier is activated before the full page has finished loading. In another embodiment, the image identifier that downloads the second version is activated after the full page or window has loaded. The second version of the image may thus be another object of the image identifier. The downloading of the second version occurs in the background of the page while a viewer is observing the content already loaded. Thus, the loading of the second version is unseen to the viewer, since all other material is already viewable in some form, whether in full or in the process of downloading, on the display. In one embodiment, the second version replaces the first version on the display.

Thus, when the viewer is viewing a page in the process of being downloaded, the first version of the graphic image will be seen on the display. When the second version has fully downloaded, the first version will cease to exist on the display of the client computer. The second version will therefore take the place of the first version.

Another embodiment also involves the use of HTML programming for performing the delivery and reception of graphic images using the Internet. In this embodiment, the loading of pages is static, such that web pages must be reloaded each time a new version of an image is delivered and received. Web pages are loaded on top of each other, such that a first web page containing the compressed first version of the image is loaded first, followed by a subsequent version of the image. This can be expanded to include one or more intermediate versions, where a web page containing each intermediate version is loaded successively after the page containing the previous version is loaded. FIG. 2 is a flowchart showing the process of delivering, receiving and displaying a graphic image. Block 22 shows the delivery of the first version of the graphic image. In this embodiment, a web page containing a reference to the first version of the graphic image is delivered to the Internet. It is contemplated that other mediums of delivery through which web pages may be delivered can also be used in the present invention, including any medium currently known or developed in the future through which web pages are transferred or delivered.

Block 24 shows the reception of the web page containing the first version of the graphic image from the Internet at the client computer. Block 26 shows the display of the web page containing the reference to the first version of the graphic image on the display of the client computer. The first version of the graphic image is displayed at a location of the display which may be computationally selected. The location of the image on the display may also be determined based upon the size and shape of the original graphic image.

Block 28 shows the step after a pre-determined event of delivering a second or final version of the graphic image to the computer network from the server computer. As discussed above, the pre-determined event even can be completion of the loading of the page, or window, a pre-determined amount of time, or the placement of a mouse pointer over the first version. Block 30 shows the reception of the second or final version from the computer network at the client computer.

Block 32 shows the step of displaying the second or final version of the graphic image on the display of the client computer. This version may appear at any location on the display, including replacing the first version at its original location.

FIG. 3 shows a structural system overview of the present invention. A server 34 stores web pages and may store files containing graphic images. The server 34 is coupled to the Internet 36, which is an example of a medium over which data pertaining to the web pages and graphic images are transmitted and received. The Internet 36 coupled the server 34 is also coupled to a client computer 38. A person may use the client computer 38 to display web pages and graphic images on a display 40.

It is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural and functional changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. The foregoing description of the embodiments of the invention have been presented for the puφoses of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. It is therefore intended that the scope of the invention be limited not by this detailed description, but rather by the claims appended hereto.

Claims

What is Claimed is:
1. A method of delivering a graphic image from a server computer to a client computer having a display over a computer network, comprising in order: delivering from the server computer to the computer network a first version of the graphic image that contains a plurality of surfaces, each surface in the image being of a single homogeneous color; receiving the first version from the computer network at the client computer; displaying the first version at a location on the display of the client computer; delivering from the server computer over the computer network a second version of the graphic image that contains a plurality of surfaces, at least one of the surfaces not being of a single homogeneous color; receiving the second version from the computer network at the client computer; and displaying the second version on the client computer at the same location on the display of the client computer as was the first version.
2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first version of the graphic image is an animation frame.
3. The method of claim 1, wherein the first version of the graphic image is a line art image.
4. The method of claim 1, wherein all surfaces in the first version are white in color.
5. The method of claim 1, wherein the second version replaces the first version on the display of the client computer.
6. The method of claim 1, wherein the first version of the graphic image is positioned on a web page that is delivered from the server computer to the client computer over the computer network.
7. The method of claim 6, wherein the second version is delivered by the server computer to the client computer over the computer network only if the client computer fails to request a different web page prior to the delivery of the second version.
8. The method of claim 6, wherein the second version is delivered by the server computer to the client computer over the computer network after the web page containing the first version has been delivered.
9. The method of claim 6, wherein the second version is delivered by the server computer to the client computer over the computer network a predetermined amount of time after delivery of the web page with the first version.
10. The method of claim 1, wherein the second version is delivered by the server computer to the client computer over the computer network a predetermined amount of time after delivery of the first version.
11. The method of claim 1 , wherein the client computer includes a mouse controlling a mouse pointer on the display and wherein the second version is delivered by the server computer to the client computer over the computer network when the mouse pointer is positioned over the first version.
12. The method of claim 1, wherein the computer network includes the Internet.
13. A server computer for connection to a computer network configured to deliver to the computer network a first version of a graphic image that contains a plurality of surfaces, each surface in the image being of a single homogeneous color, followed by a second version of the graphic image that contains a plurality of surfaces, at least one of the surfaces not being of a single homogeneous color.
14. The server computer of claim 13, further configured to deliver a web page containing the first version.
15. The server computer of claim 14, further configured to deliver the first version at a position on the web page and the second version at that same position.
16. The server computer of claim 14, further configured to deliver the second version to the client computer over the computer network only if the client computer fails to request a different web page following receipt of the first version and prior to the delivery of the second version.
17. The server computer of claim 14, further configured to deliver the second version to the client computer over the computer network after the web page containing the first version has been delivered.
18. The server computer of claim 14, further configured to deliver the second version to the client computer over the computer network a predetermined amount of time after delivery of the web page with the first version.
19. The server computer of claim 14, further configured to deliver the second version to the client computer over the computer network a predetermined amount of time after delivery of the first version.
20. The server computer of claim 13, further configured to deliver the second version to the client computer over the computer network a predetermined amount of time after delivery of the first version.
21. The server computer of claim 13 further configured to deliver the second version to the client computer over the computer network when a mouse pointer on the client computer is positioned over the first version.
22. The server computer of claim 14, further configured for connection to the Internet.
23. A system for delivering a graphic image over a computer network, comprising: a server computer for delivering a plurality of versions of the graphic image to the computer network, the plurality of versions including a first version having a plurality of surfaces wherein each surface in the image being of a single homogeneous color and a final version having a plurality of surfaces wherein at least one the surfaces is not of a single homogeneous color, the server computer delivering said first version of the graphic image first, followed by at least one of the plurality of versions, followed by the final version; and a client computer for receiving and displaying the plurality of versions of the graphic image from the computer network, the client computer displaying the first version first followed by at least one of the plurality of versions, followed by the final version.
24. The system of claim 23, wherein the first version of the graphic image is displayed as an animation frame.
25. The method of claim 23, wherein the first version of the graphic image is a line art image.
26. The method of claim 23, wherein all surfaces are white in color.
27. The system of claim 23, wherein the plurality of versions further includes a series of intermediate versions of the graphic image, the series of intermediate versions being delivered by the server computer, received at the client computer, and displayed at a location on a display at the client computer.
28. The system of claim 27, wherein the intermediate versions are displayed on the display at the client computer after the first version of the graphic image and before the final version of the graphic image.
29. The system of claim 27, wherein the plurality of versions further includes at least one intermediate version of the graphic image, the intermediate version being delivered by the server computer, received at the client computer, and displayed at a location on a display at the client computer. •
30. The system of claim 29, wherein the intermediate version is displayed on the display at the client computer after the first version of the graphic image and before the final version of the graphic image.
31. The system of claim 28, wherein said intermediate versions of said graphic image are displayed in an enhanced animation format, the enhanced animation format being of varying intermediate quality.
32. The system of claim 29, wherein said intermediate version of said graphic image is displayed in an enhanced animation format, the enhanced animation format being of varying intermediate quality.
33. The server computer of claim 27, further configured to deliver a web page containing the first version.
34. The server computer of claim 33, further configured to deliver the first version at a position on the web page and the final version at that same position.
35. The server computer of claim 33, further configured to deliver the final version to the client computer over the computer network only if the client computer fails to request a different web page following receipt of the first version and prior to the delivery of the final version.
36. The server computer of claim 33, further configured to deliver the final version to the client computer over the computer network after the web page containing the first version has been delivered.
37. The server computer of claim 33, further configured to deliver the final version to the client computer over the computer network a predetermined amount of time after delivery of the web page with the first version.
38. The server computer of claim 27, further configured to deliver the final version to the client computer over the computer network a predetermined amount of time after delivery of the first version.
39. The server computer of claim 27, further configured to deliver the final version to the client computer over the computer network when a mouse pointer on the client computer is positioned over the prior version.
40. The server computer of claim 27, further configured for connection to the Internet.
41. A method of delivering a graphic image from a server computer to a client computer having a display over a computer network, comprising in order: delivering from the server computer to the computer network a first version of the graphic image that contains a plurality of surfaces, the first version containing data representative of line boundaries of each surface area in the image; receiving the first version from the computer network at the client computer; displaying the first version at a location on the display of the client computer; delivering from the server computer over the computer network a second version of the graphic image that contains a plurality of surfaces, the second version containing data that is not representative of line boundaries of each surface area in the image; receiving the second version from the computer network at the client computer; and displaying the second version on the client computer at the same location on the display of the client computer as was the first version.
42. The method of claim 41, wherein the first version of the graphic image is an animation frame.
43. The method of claim 41, wherein the first version of the graphic image is a line art image.
44. The method of claim 41, wherein all surfaces are white in color.
45. The method of claim 41, wherein the second version replaces the first version.
46. The method of claim 43, wherein the computer network includes the Internet.
47. The method of claim 41, wherein the first version of the graphic image is positioned on a web page that is delivered from the server computer to the client computer over the computer network.
48. The method of claim 46, wherein the first version of the graphic image is positioned on a web page that is delivered from the server computer to the client computer over the Internet.
PCT/US2001/006353 2000-02-28 2001-02-28 Staged image delivery system WO2001065413A1 (en)

Priority Applications (4)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US18523700P true 2000-02-28 2000-02-28
US60/185,237 2000-02-28
US68917900A true 2000-10-11 2000-10-11
US09/689,179 2000-10-11

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