WO2006070343A2 - Freeze and record - Google Patents

Freeze and record Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2006070343A2
WO2006070343A2 PCT/IL2004/001176 IL2004001176W WO2006070343A2 WO 2006070343 A2 WO2006070343 A2 WO 2006070343A2 IL 2004001176 W IL2004001176 W IL 2004001176W WO 2006070343 A2 WO2006070343 A2 WO 2006070343A2
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
method according
rendering
pvr
freeze
video
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/IL2004/001176
Other languages
French (fr)
Other versions
WO2006070343A3 (en
Inventor
Yonatan Silver
Perry Smith
Shabtai Atlow
Original Assignee
Nds 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
Application filed by Nds Limited filed Critical Nds Limited
Priority to PCT/IL2004/001176 priority Critical patent/WO2006070343A2/en
Publication of WO2006070343A2 publication Critical patent/WO2006070343A2/en
Publication of WO2006070343A3 publication Critical patent/WO2006070343A3/en

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Classifications

    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/41Structure of client; Structure of client peripherals
    • H04N21/414Specialised client platforms, e.g. receiver in car or embedded in a mobile appliance
    • H04N21/4147PVR [Personal Video Recorder]
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • H04N21/40Client devices specifically adapted for the reception of or interaction with content, e.g. set-top-box [STB]; Operations thereof
    • H04N21/43Processing of content or additional data, e.g. demultiplexing additional data from a digital video stream; Elementary client operations, e.g. monitoring of home network, synchronizing decoder's clock; Client middleware
    • H04N21/433Content storage operation, e.g. storage operation in response to a pause request, caching operations
    • H04N21/4333Processing operations in response to a pause request
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N21/00Selective content distribution, e.g. interactive television or video on demand [VOD]
    • 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
    • H04N21/488Data services, e.g. news ticker
    • H04N21/4882Data services, e.g. news ticker for displaying messages, e.g. warnings, reminders
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04NPICTORIAL COMMUNICATION, e.g. TELEVISION
    • H04N5/00Details of television systems
    • H04N5/76Television signal recording

Abstract

A method of video control for use in a personal video recording (PVR) environment, the method including establishing, in non-real time, a condition to be fulfilled, suspending rendering in response to an occurrence of an event other than a real time user request to suspend rendering, recording on the PVR at least one of video and audio, receiving confirmation that the condition has been met, and in response to the receiving, resuming rendering at the point where the rendering was suspended. Related apparatus and methods are also described.

Description

FREEZE AND RECORD

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to personal video recorders (PVRs) in general, and more particularly to methods of control over viewing content on PVRs.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

European Patent Application EP 1175093 of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. describes an audio and video recording and reproduction apparatus including an audio signal switch section for outputting one of a first audio signal having a first volume level and a second audio signal having a second volume level by a switching operation; and a mute section for muting the first audio signal which is output from the audio signal switch section when the audio signal switch section switches the second audio signal to the first audio signal.

European Patent E0713628 and corresponding PCT application

WO9417631 of RCA Thomson Licensing Corp. describes a digital video tape record/playback apparatus for processing a high definition television signal including a provision for controlling the occurrence of high priority image information. Such information is selectively recorded at normal speed in tape tracks within predetermined regions so as to appear along a tape head scanning path associated with predetermined tape playback speeds greater than normal (e.g., 2Ox normal). Input high priority data cells may be reordered or duplicated for recording in the predetermined tape regions in other than received order. In either case, the input datastream is massaged to produce a viewable image in a fast playback mode.

US Patent 6,166,780 to Bray describes a method and apparatus for analyzing the closed captioned aspect of a video signal for specific undesirable words or phrases and then muting the audio portion of those words or phrases while not affecting the video portion therein, while simultaneously modifying the closed caption signal in order to display only acceptable words or phrases.

Japanese Patent 3371659, abstracted in Patent Abstracts of Japan 09-

180295, 11 July 1997, of Sony Corp., describes a method to initiate a video recording operation if a video recording inhibit is released by putting the recording operation into standby condition while the recording is inhibited and / or muted muting the signals to be recorded. The received signals are supplied to a copy inhibit detecting circuit and a program ID detecting circuit as well as an audio muting circuit and a video muting circuit as video and audio signals. A microcomputer controls the circuit.

Japanese Patent 3351256, abstracted in Patent Abstracts of Japan 10- 074345, 17 March 1998, of Sony Corp., describes a method to simplify the channel selection operation and to easily comprehend the channel being selected without updating the channel by operating a channel up and down key and releasing audio mute by making no change in the channel of a TV tuner until the presently selected channel is confirmed by the presence of audio. If no change is required for the currently selected channel, the channel selection menu is closed. If another channel is to be selected, the up or down key is operated. When the audio mute is released, the audio signals of the selected channel are outputted, and the channel selection is confirmed.

Published US Patent Application 20030063893 of Read describes a method and apparatus for rapid channel change in a personal video recorder (PVR). Immediately after a channel change command is received, the PVR directs video directly to its output for display on a television display, bypassing the normal process of storing the video to the hard disk drive and then retrieving the video for display. This permits channel change speed to be limited only by the speed that a tuner's channel can be changed and not by the speed of the disk drive and associated processes for storage and retrieval of programming from the new channel. Output from the hard disk drive is used when special effects such as live pause are desired.

US Patents 4,632,126 to Aguilar; 5,720,619 to Fisslinger; and

5,896,164 to Orbach et al. all describe various biofeedback systems utilizing a television display.

PCT application WO 00/01149, published 6 January 2000, of NDS Limited, and corresponding national phase US continuation application 09/515,118 of Wachtfogel, et al. describes a PVR system. The present invention may be useful when used in conjunction with PVR system of the type described in PCT application WO 00/01149 and corresponding US continuation application 09/515,118.

The use of confirmatory dialog boxes or prompts by interactive systems is well known. The disclosures of all references mentioned above and throughout the present specification, as well as the disclosures of all references mentioned in those references, are hereby incorporated herein by reference.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention seeks to provide an improved method for controlling how and when content stored on a PVR can be viewed. In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, an event is preferably defined in advance of viewing time. When the event occurs, preferably at least one of a video freeze and an audio mute occurs. Content is preferably recorded by the PVR. An on screen display (OSD) preferably appears on a video display. The OSD preferably informs a viewer of a cause of the at least one of the video freeze and the audio mute. The viewer is preferably given an opportunity to indicate that the cause of the at least one of the video freeze and the audio mute has been rectified. Viewing preferably resumes from the .point where the at least one of the video freeze and the audio mute occurred.

There is thus provided in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention establishing, in non-real time, a condition to be fulfilled, suspending rendering in response to an occurrence of an event other than a real time user request to suspend rendering, recording on the PVR at least one of video, and audio, receiving confirmation that the condition has been met, and in response to the receiving, resuming rendering at the point where the rendering was suspended.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the suspending rendering includes at least one of freezing a video displayed on a video display, and muting a corresponding audio stream accompanying the video.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the resuming rendering includes at least one of unfreezing the video display, and unmuting the audio. Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention after the suspending rendering, an on-screen display (OSD) is displayed to a viewer, the on-screen display displaying at least one of a reason the rendering has been suspended, and an instruction as to how to fulfill the condition.

Moreover in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the OSD is perceptible to at least one human sense. Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention not rendering a requested channel after a viewer initiated channel change request.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention after a viewer initiated channel change request, recording the video and audio of the requested channel.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the event is defined by a broadcast headend.

Moreover in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the event is defined by the viewer.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the event is defined by a third party.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the event is time dependent. Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the event depends on at least one of the end of a particular television program, and the completion of at least one game played on a television associated with the PVR.

Moreover in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the resuming rendering is initiated by a broadcast headend.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the resuming rendering is initiated by the viewer.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the resuming rendering is initiated by the third party. Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the condition to be fulfilled includes the taking of medicine.

Moreover in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the condition includes taking out garbage.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the condition includes washing dirty dishes.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the condition includes cleaning a room. Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the condition includes exercising.

Moreover in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the condition includes settling a financial account. Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the condition includes at least one of completing a homework assignment, listening to a lecture, and taking a test.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the condition to be fulfilled includes performing an action to the satisfaction of the third party.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the third party includes a parent or guardian of the viewer.

Moreover in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the third party includes at least one of a physician, a physician's aide, a nurse, a patient, a legal guardian, a care-taker, and a family member.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the third party includes a broadcaster.

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the third party includes an educator or a representative of an educational institution.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the resuming rendering is contingent on entry of a personal identification number (PIN).

Moreover in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention a measuring device is operatively associated with the PVR, the measuring device outputting a signal indicative of a measurement performed by the measuring device, the event including receipt of the signal by the PVR.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the device performs measuring of any of ambient temperature, outside temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, pollen count, concentration of ambient carbon monoxide, heart rate, and body temperature. Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the suspending rendering occurs in response to a signal from the broadcast headend.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention determining not to perform the suspending rendering based, at least in part, on at least one of viewer profile, viewing history, location, and preprogramming.

Moreover in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the PVR resolves freeze and record resource conflicts by at least one of not invoking a freeze and record process, delaying invoking the freeze and record process, and closing competing processes.

Further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the suspending rendering includes displaying a broadcast special effect

Still further in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the broadcast special effect includes at least one of slow motion, stopping and starting a display, and dimming the display.

Additionally in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention the freeze and record system, based on channel surfing behavior, performs at least one of allocating PVR recording resources, and deallocating PVR recording resources.

There is also provided in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention a personal video recorder (PVR) video controller including an interface, the interface being operative to allow, in non-real time, establishing a condition to be fulfilled, a rendering suspender, the rendering suspender operative to suspend rendering in response to an occurrence of an event other than a real time user request to suspend rendering, a recorder, recording on the

PVR at least one of the video, and the audio, a receiver receiving confirmation that the condition has been met, and a rendering resumer, the rendering resumer resuming rendering at the point where the rendering was suspended. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The present invention will be understood and appreciated more fully from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the drawings in which: Fig. IA is a simplified pictorial illustration of a freeze and record system implemented in a PVR, the freeze and record system being depicted in a passive state, constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. IB is a simplified pictorial illustration of the freeze and record system of Fig. IA, implemented in the PVR, the freeze and record system being depicted in an active state;

Fig. 1C is a simplified pictorial illustration of the freeze and record system of Fig. IA, implemented in the PVR, a viewer depicted as taking steps to resume normal viewing; Fig.2A is a simplified pictorial illustration of an alternative preferred embodiment of the freeze and record system of Fig. IA, implemented in the PVR, the freeze and record system being depicted in the passive state;

Fig. 2B is a simplified pictorial illustration of the freeze and record system of Fig. 2A, implemented in the PVR, the freeze and record system being depicted in the active state;

Fig. 2C is a simplified pictorial illustration of the freeze and record system of Fig. 2A, implemented in the PVR, the viewer depicted as taking steps to resume normal viewing;

Fig. 3 is a simplified pictorial illustration of a preferred method of configuring the freeze and record system of Fig. IA; and

Fig. 4 is a simplified flowchart illustration of a preferred method of operation of a preferred embodiment of the present invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Reference is now made to Fig. IA which is a simplified pictorial illustration of a freeze and record system implemented in a PVR, the freeze and record system being depicted in a passive state, constructed and operative in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The system of Fig. IA preferably comprises a personal video recorder (PVR) 100, the freeze and record system 105, and a television 110. The system receives a video input 30 and produces an output, depicted in Fig. IA as video out 40. It is appreciated that subcombination comprising the personal video recorder (PVR) 100 and the freeze and record system 105 comprises an alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention, without the other elements shown in Fig. 1. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the video out 40 output as depicted in Figs. IA -1C may additionally and preferably also comprise audio output and data output.

The PVR 100 typically comprises standard hardware and software components, as are known in the art. It is appreciated that the freeze and record system- 105 depicted in Fig. IA is a logical component comprised in the PVR 100, and maybe implemented, as appropriate, in the hardware and software components comprising the PVR 100.

The PVR is connected to the television 110 (conventional wired or wireless connection not shown), and the video and audio output of the PVR 100 are preferably rendered on the television 110. The term "render", in all of its grammatical forms, is used throughout the present description and claims to mean displaying video and / or playing out audio. It is understood that when the freeze and record system 105 is in the passive state, rendering proceeds normally. When the freeze and record system 105 is in an active state, rendering is suspended.

Suspending the rendering comprises at least one of: freezing the video display on the television 110; and muting an audio stream accompanying the video. The freeze and record system 105 preferably enables users to establish, in advance of use of the freeze and record system 105, a condition to be fulfilled. Examples of the condition to be fulfilled include, but are not limited to: taking medicine; completing a homework assignment; taking out garbage; washing dirty dishes; cleaning a room; exercising; settling a financial account; listening to a lecture; and taking a test.

It is appreciated that the conditions to be fulfilled could be combined in any appropriate combination. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, examples of combinations of conditions to be fulfilled include: talcing medicine and exercising; listening to a lecture and taking a test; and washing dirty dishes and taking out garbage. A viewer 120 is depicted watching the television 110. Depicted beside the viewer are medicine 130, a cup of water 140 and a remote control device 150. The remote control device 150 remotely controls the PVR 100.

Reference is now made to Fig. IB, which is a simplified pictorial illustration of the freeze and record system 105 of Fig. IA, implemented in the PVR 100, the freeze and record system 105 being depicted in the active state. As explained above, the condition was preferably set in advance of the scenes depicted in Figs. IA and IB. In the present example, the condition is that the viewer 120 must take his medicine 130 at a certain time. At the time set in the condition, the freeze and record system 105 comprised in the PVR 100 switches into the active state. Rendering is now suspended. The video input 30 is now passed by the freeze and record system

105 to the PVR 100 storage unit 60. The freeze and record system 105 outputs frozen video and on-screen display (OSD) 50 to the television 110. The OSD 160 output by the PVR 100 appears on the television 110. The viewer 120 is depicted in Fig. IB as holding the cup of water 140, as part of the process of taking the medicine 130. The OSD 160 provides a reminder to the viewer 120 to: "Take your medicine." It is appreciated that the OSD 160 is preferable, but not required. It is further appreciated that the term "OSD" in the present disclosure and claims refers to any stimulus which is perceptible to a human sense, sent to the viewer 120 when rendering is suspended. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, an audio signal may be played out instead of and / or in addition to the on screen display appearing on the television screen. The OSD 160 preferably also contains an instruction to the viewer 120; in this example the instruction is depicted as "Press Select to Continue". The viewer 120 preferably presses select on the remote control 150 to signal to the freeze and record system 105 on the PVR 100 that the condition, in this example, "taking medicine", has been met. If the viewer 120 attempts to change channels while the freeze and record system 105 is in the active state, the PVR 100 preferably does not render the requested channel on the television 110. Rather, the requested channel is preferably recorded on the storage media 60 comprised in the PVR 100.

It is further appreciated that at times certain PVR recording resources may be limited. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, there may be inadequate space for further recording on the PVR disk, or the number of available tuners may be exceeded by the number of channel change requests. In certain preferred embodiments of the present invention, the freeze and record system 105 preferably allocates recording resources according to routines known in the art for recognition of channel surfing behavior. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if there are two tuners comprised in the PVR, and the viewer attempts three channel changes, the freeze and record system 105 will have to allocate the two tuners among the three channels. The freeze and record system 105 will therefore allocate the two tuners to two of the three channels based on known selection methods based on channel surfing behavior. A system and method for implementing PVR behavior based on viewer recognition of channel surfing behavior is described in PCT application WO 00/01149, and corresponding national phase US continuation application 09/515,118 of Wachtfogel, et al.

Reference is now made to Fig. 1C, which is a simplified pictorial illustration of the freeze and record system 105 of Fig. IA, implemented in the PVR 100, a viewer depicted as taking steps to resume normal viewing. The viewer 120 is depicted in Fig. 1C as drinking from the cup of water 140 after taking the medicine 130. At the same time, the viewer 120 is seen holding the remote control 150, after pressing select. Pressing select by the viewer 120 preferably causes the OSD 160 (Fig. IB) to cease being displayed on the television 110. Rendering is preferably resumed. It is appreciated that rather than render the video and play corresponding audio which is currently available in a broadcast stream, the PYR 100 preferably resumes rendering at the point where the rendering was suspended. The PVR 100 preferably continues to record the real-time broadcast stream for future playback, thereby preferably ensuring a continued uninterrupted viewing experience. Recording the real-time broadcast stream for future playback is well known in the art and described, for example, in PCT application WO 00/01149, published 6 January 2000, of NDS Limited, and corresponding national phase US continuation application 09/515,118 of Wachtfogel, et al.

Similarly, if the viewer 120 attempted to change channels while the freeze and record system 105 is in the active state, and the PVR 100 did not render the requested channel on the television 110, the PVR 100 preferably resumes rendering at the point where the channel change was attempted. The PVR 100 preferably continues to record the real-time broadcast stream of the new channel for future playback, thereby preferably ensuring a continued uninterrupted viewing experience. Reference is now made to Fig. 2A, which is a simplified pictorial illustration of an alternative preferred embodiment of the freeze and record system

105 of Fig. IA, implemented in the PVR 100, the freeze and record system 105 being depicted in the passive state. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention depicted in Figs.2A - 2C, the condition which has been established in advance of the use of the freeze and record system is completing a homework assignment.

The viewer 220, now depicted as a youngster, is watching the television 110. The PVR 100 receives the input video in 30 stream. As the freeze and record system 105 is in the passive state, video out 40 is output to the television 110. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the video out 40 output as depicted in Fig. 2 A - 2C may additionally and preferably also comprise audio output and data output. A school textbook 230 and the remote control 150 are depicted beside the viewer 220.

Reference is now made to Fig. 2B, which is a simplified pictorial illustration of the freeze and record system 105 of Fig. 2 A, implemented in the PVR 100, the freeze and record system 105 being depicted in the active state. As explained above, the condition was preferably set in advance of the scenes depicted in Figs.2A and 2B. In the present example, the condition is that the viewer 120 must perform the homework assignment at a certain time. At the time set in the condition, the freeze and record system 105 comprised in the PVR 100 switches into the active state. Rendering is now suspended. The video input 30 is now passed by the freeze and record system 105 to the PVR 100 storage unit 60. The freeze and record system 105 outputs frozen video and on-screen display (OSD) 50 to the television 110. The OSD 260 output by the PVR 100 appears on the television 110. The OSD 260 provides a reminder to the viewer 120 to: "Do your homework". The OSD 260 preferably also contains an instruction to the viewer 120; in this example the instruction is depicted as "Press Select to Continue". The viewer 220 preferably presses select on the remote control 150 to signal to the freeze and record system 105 on the PVR 100 that the condition, in this example, "doing homework", has been met. If the viewer 220 attempts to change channels while the freeze and record system 105 is in the active state, the PVR 100 preferably does not render the requested channel on the television 110. Rather, the requested channel is preferably recorded on the storage media 60 comprised in the PVR 100.

Reference is now made to Fig. 2C, which is a simplified pictorial illustration of the freeze and record system of Fig.2A, implemented in the PVR 100, the viewer 220 depicted as taking steps to resume normal viewing. The viewer 220 is depicted in Fig. 2C as closing the textbook 230, presumably after finishing a homework assignment. At the same time, the viewer 220 is seen holding the remote control 150, after pressing select. Pressing select by the viewer 220 preferably causes the OSD 260 (Fig. 2B) to disappear from the television 110 Rendering is preferably resumed. It is appreciated that rather than render the video and play corresponding audio which is currently available in a broadcast stream, the PVR 100 preferably resumes rendering at the point where the rendering was suspended. The PVR 100 preferably continues to record the real-time broadcast stream for future playback, thereby preferably ensuring a continued uninterrupted viewing experience. Recording the real-time broadcast stream for future playback is well known in the art and described, for example, in PCT application WO 00/01149, published 6 January 2000, of NDS Limited, and corresponding national phase US continuation application 09/515,118 of Wachtfogel, et al. The event may be defined and the resuming rendering may be initiated by any number of interested parties. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the event may be defined and the resuming rendering may be initiated by: a broadcast headend; the viewer 110 (Fig. IA); a third party.

It is appreciated that the event may comprise a time dependent event.

Alternatively, the event may depend on the occurrence of another event. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, an event may depend on the end of a particular television program, and the completion of at least one game played on the television.

It is further appreciated that in a preferred embodiment of the present invention where the event must be performed to the satisfaction of the third party, the third party may include at least one of: a parent; a physician; a physician' s aid; a nurse; a patient; a care-taker; a family member; a legal guardian; an educator; a representative of an educational institution; and a broadcaster.

Reference is now made, once again, to Figs. IB and additionally to Fig. 1 C. In an alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention, where the event must be performed to the satisfaction of the third party, and the trustworthiness of the viewer 120 is in doubt, the freeze and record system 105 may require entering a password, such as a personal identification number (PIN). For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, in the example depicted in Figs. IA - 1C, if the third party has reasons to doubt that the viewer 120 will take the medicine 130, after pressing select on the remote control 150 in order to dismiss the OSD 160, the system, may preferably be configured to prompt the viewer 120 to enter a PIN. It is appreciated that the use of the PIN to ensure the honesty of the viewer 120 presumes that the PIN is known to the third party, and not to the viewer 120. Until such time as the PIN is satisfactorily entered, rendering remains suspended. Once the PIN is satisfactorily entered, rendering is resumed.

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention, performance of the task may provide the PIN; for example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, where the condition is taking a test, the PIN may comprise the answer to one or more of the test questions. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if the PIN is 1812, and the test is a history test, the student may be required answer the question: "In what year did Napoleon capture Moscow?".

In some preferred embodiments of the present invention the freeze and record system 105 may preferably be switched between the active and passive states by any device that is capable of translating one or more physical conditions into a signal or combination of signals which the freeze and record system 105 is preferably equipped to measure, read or receive. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, freeze and record system 105 may be equipped with a thermometer, enabling the freeze and record system 105 to measure temperature. Additional well-known devices combined with the freeze and record system 105 may preferably enabling measuring, reading or receiving humidity, barometric pressure, pollen count, concentration of carbon monoxide in the air, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and so forth. An appropriate OSD may preferably be associated with each of the aforementioned items. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if the carbon monoxide exceeds a certain threshold, the OSD may read: "Ambient carbon monoxide approaching dangerous levels. It is recommended that you take steps to correct this or evacuate the room".

There may preferably be cases whereby fulfilling the condition causes the freeze and record system 105 to automatically resume rendering. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if the carbon monoxide exceeds a certain threshold, the OSD may read: "Ambient carbon monoxide approaching dangerous levels. Open the window". In such a case, since, presumably, opening the window increases the flow of air into the room and increases the flow of carbon monoxide out of the room, and thereby opening the window decreases the concentration of ambient carbon monoxide in the room, which may preferably be sufficient to cause the freeze and record system 1005 to resume rendering without further intervention from the viewer.

In another alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention, the broadcast headend may preferably activate the freeze and record system 105. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, in the event of a hurricane warning, the broadcast headend may preferably activate the freeze and record system 105, and display an appropriate OSD. Alternatively, the broadcast headend may override the freeze and record system 105 on the basis of severity and location of a problem and force the PVR to resume rendering. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, in the event of a hurricane warning, the broadcast headend may preferably override the freeze and record system 105, and display an appropriate broadcast. In some preferred embodiment of the present invention, an emergency threshold may preferably be part of the freeze and record system 105. The broadcast headend may preferably assign an emergency broadcast a threshold rating. Should the threshold rating exceed the emergency threshold, the broadcast headend may preferably activate the freeze and record system 105, or alternatively, the broadcast headend may preferably override the freeze and record system 105. Alternatively, for example, where viewer discretion is recommended, the broadcast headend may preferably activate the freeze and record system 105, and display an appropriate OSD. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if a surgical procedure is to be broadcast, the broadcast headend may preferably activate the freeze and record system 105, and display an appropriate OSD. An alternative example would be where the broadcast headend activates the freeze and record system 105 at a particularly dramatic point in a broadcast. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the broadcast headend may invoke the freeze and record system 105 just as a major goal is about to be scored in a football game.

In yet another alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention, various factors, such as, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, viewer profile, viewing history, viewer payment history, viewer location, and preprogramming may preferably enable the freeze and record system 105 to automatically override an event which would normally switch the freeze and record system 105 into active mode. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if the viewer is a doctor, and a surgical procedure is to be broadcast, the surgical procedure itself being a trigger for a freeze and record system 105 event, the freeze and record system 105 may automatically override the event based on the viewer profile data indicating that the viewer is a doctor. As another example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if the viewer has already paid to watch a specific program, and a point in the program is a trigger for a freeze and record system 105 event, the freeze and record system 105may automatically override the event based on an indication in viewer payment history indicting that the viewer has already paid to watch the specific program. Alternatively, the freeze and record system 105 may preferably only activate the event if viewer payment history indicates that the viewer has not already paid to watch the program.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, where the PVR is lacking resources needed to invoke the freeze and record system 105, and the PVR receives a command to invoke the freeze and record system 105, the PVR may preferably resolve the ensuing resource conflict in at least one of the following ways: by not invoking the freeze and record system 105; by delaying invoking the freeze and record system 105 until PVR resources become available; and by closing alternative competing PVR processes. In still another alternative preferred embodiment of the present invention, the freeze and record system 105 may preferably be operative to receive a signal from one of the aforementioned well-known devices or the broadcast headend, the signal preferably containing an instruction addressed to the freeze and record system 105 to switch into either the active or passive state. Alternatively, the signal could preferably contain values to be used by the freeze and record system 105 as at least one factor in determining whether or not to switch into either the active or passive state. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, a heart monitoring device may signal to the freeze and record system 105 that a viewer's heart rate is exceeding an acceptable threshold, and therefore the freeze and record system 105 may preferably enter the active state. It is appreciated that the "freeze" which occurs when the freeze and record system 105 becomes active may include special effects known in the art. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the freeze may include slow motion, stopping and starting the display, dimming the display, and so forth.

Reference is now made to Fig. 3, which is a simplified pictorial illustration of a preferred method of configuring the freeze and record system of Fig. IA. As was mentioned above, with reference to the discussion of Fig. IA, the freeze and record system preferably enables users to establish, in advance of use of the freeze and record system, a condition to be fulfilled. A user 510 of the freeze and record system is depicted as using the remote control 150 to configure the freeze and record system of the PVR 100. Using a graphical user interface, preferably comprised in the electronic program guide of the PVR 100, the user 510 accesses a freeze and record menu, which is rendered on the television 110. The exemplary freeze and record menu as illustrated in Fig.3 comprises two columns, a time column 520, and a condition column 530. The time column 520 presents a list of times 525, shown in the present non-limiting example as increasing in five minute increments. A cursor 528, shown in the present non-limiting example as a rectangle, shows that 12:00 has been selected. Arrows 540 above and below the time column indicate that using the up / down arrows on the remote control 150, the user 510 is preferably able to move the cursor 528 up and down the list of times.

Similarly, the condition column 530 shows a list of conditions 535. A cursor 538, shown in the present non-limiting example as a rectangle indicates that "wash dishes" has been selected. Arrows above and below the time column indicate that using the up / down arrows on the remote control 150, the user 510 is preferably able to move the cursor 538 up and down the list of conditions.

It is appreciated that the method shown in Fig. 3 is shown by way of example, and not meant to limit alternative preferred implementations of the method of configuring the freeze and record system. It is also appreciated that throughout the present disclosure, references to the use of a remote control 150 as a way of sending signals to the PVR 100 are understood to be given without limiting the generality of the present invention. Alternative appropriate ways of sending signals to the PVR 100 include an infra-red keyboard constructed to be operative with the PVR, a microphone, and a PVR control panel located on the face plate of the PVR 100.

It is appreciated that alternative interfaces for configuring the freeze and record system to the interface presented in Fig. 3 can be envisioned. For example, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the user 510 may preferably enter a time and items into a fill-in field in the interface. Reference is now made to Fig. 4, which is a simplified flowchart illustration of a preferred method of operation of a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The method of Fig. 4 is believed to be self-explanatory with reference to the above discussion.

It is appreciated that various features of the invention which are, for clarity, described in the contexts of separate embodiments may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the invention which are, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment may also be provided separately or in any suitable subcombination.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the present invention is not limited by what has been particularly shown and described hereinabove. Rather the scope of the invention is defined only by the claims which follow:

Claims

What is claimed is:CLAIMS
1. A method of video control for use in a personal video recorder (PVR) environment, the method comprising: establishing, in non-real time, a condition to be fulfilled; suspending rendering in response to an occurrence of an event other than a real time user request to suspend rendering; recording on the PVR at least one of: video; and audio; receiving confirmation that the condition has been met; and in response to the receiving, resuming rendering at the point where the rendering was suspended.
2. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the suspending rendering comprises at least one of: freezing a video displayed on a video display; and muting a corresponding audio stream accompanying the video.
3. The method according to either claim 1 or claim 2 and wherein the resuming rendering comprises at least one of: unfreezing the video display; and unmuting the audio.
4. The method according to claim 1 and also comprising, after the suspending rendering, displaying an on-screen display (OSD) to a viewer, the onscreen display displaying at least one of: a reason the rendering has been suspended; and an instruction as to how to fulfill the condition.
5. The method according to claim 4 and wherein the OSD is perceptible to at least one human sense.
6. The method according to claim 1 and also comprising not rendering a requested channel after a viewer initiated channel change request.
7. The method according to claim 6 and also comprising, after a viewer initiated channel change request, recording the video and audio of the requested channel.
8. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the event is defined by a broadcast headend.
9. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the event is defined by the viewer.
10. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the event is defined by a third party.
11. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the event is time dependent.
12. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the event depends on at least one of: the end of a particular television program; and the completion of at least one game played on a television associated with the PVR.
13. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the resuming rendering is initiated by a broadcast headend.
14. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the resuming rendering s initiated by the viewer.
15. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the resuming rendering is initiated by the third party.
16. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the condition to be fulfilled comprises the taking of medicine.
17. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the condition comprises taking out garbage.
18. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the condition comprises washing dirty dishes.
19. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the condition comprises cleaning a room.
20. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the condition comprises exercising.
21. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the condition comprises settling a financial account.
22. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the condition comprises at least one of: completing a homework assignment; listening to a lecture; and taking a test.
23. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the condition to be fulfilled comprises performing an action to the satisfaction of the third party;
24. The method according to claim 23 and wherein the third party comprises a parent or guardian of the viewer.
25. The method according to claim 23 and wherein the third party comprises at least one of: a physician; a physician's aide; a nurse; a patient; a legal guardian; a care-taker; and a family member.
26. The method according to claim 23 and wherein the third party comprises a broadcaster.
27. The method according to claim 23 and wherein the third party comprises an educator or a representative of an educational institution.
28. The method according to any of claims 23 - 27 and wherein the resuming rendering is contingent on entry of a personal identification number (PIN).
29. The method according of claim 1 and also comprising a measuring device operatively associated with the PVR, the measuring device outputting a signal indicative of a measurement performed by the measuring device, the event comprising receipt of the signal by the PVR.
30. The method according to claim 29 and wherein the device performs measuring of any of: ambient temperature; outside temperature; humidity; barometric pressure; pollen count; concentration of ambient carbon monoxide; heart rate; and body temperature.
31. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the suspending rendering occurs in response to a signal from the broadcast headend.
32. The method according to claim 1 and also comprising determining not to perform the suspending rendering based, at least in part, on at least one of: viewer profile; viewing history; location; and preprogramming.
33. The method according to claims 1 and also comprising the PVR resolving freeze and record resource conflicts by at least one of: not invoking a freeze and record process; delaying invoking the freeze and record process; and closing competing processes.
34. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the suspending rendering comprises displaying a broadcast special effect.
35. The method according to claim 34 and wherein the broadcast special effect comprises at least one of: slow motion; stopping and starting a display; and dimming the display.
36. The method according to claim 1 and wherein the freeze and record system, based on channel surfing behavior, performs at least one of: allocating PVR recording resources; and deallocating PVR recording resources.
37. A personal video recorder (PVR) video controller comprising: an interface, the interface being operative to allow, in non-real time, establishing a condition to be fulfilled; a rendering suspender, the rendering suspender operative to suspend rendering in response to an occurrence of an event other than a real time user request to suspend rendering; a recorder, recording on the PVR at least one of: the video; and the audio; a receiver receiving confirmation that the condition has been met; and a rendering resumer, the rendering resumer resuming rendering at the point where the rendering was suspended.
PCT/IL2004/001176 2004-12-29 2004-12-29 Freeze and record WO2006070343A2 (en)

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