|公開號||PCT/1993/7318, PCT/US/1993/007318, PCT/US/1993/07318, PCT/US/93/007318, PCT/US/93/07318, PCT/US1993/007318, PCT/US1993/07318, PCT/US1993007318, PCT/US199307318, PCT/US93/007318, PCT/US93/07318, PCT/US93007318, PCT/US9307318, WO 1994/003894 A1, WO 1994003894 A1, WO 1994003894A1, WO 9403894 A1, WO 9403894A1, WO-A1-1994003894, WO-A1-9403894, WO1994/003894A1, WO1994003894 A1, WO1994003894A1, WO9403894 A1, WO9403894A1|
|發明人||Gary Raymond Early|
|匯出書目資料||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|專利引用 (3), 被以下專利引用 (36), 分類 (12), 法律事件 (7)|
|外部連結: Patentscope, 歐洲專利局|
BROADBAND SERVICES DELIVERY SYSTEM TECHNICAL FIELD
The present invention relates to video and audio delivery systems, and more particularly to a system for delivering interactive video and audio programs to a plurality of independent remote user locations.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Present cable entertainment options are somewhat limited. Current cable television options are restricted to either signing up for a movie channel and being limited to viewing what the channel offers or using a pay-per-view channel allowing the user to pay only for the movies the user chooses to watch but at a much higher per movie price.
The major problem with these options is the lack of control over which movies are shown and the time at which the movies are shown. If the selections chosen by the cable programmer or hotel operator are not interesting or convenient, the selections have no entertainment value to the user. Another problem with cable channels is the lack of interactive capability. The user is limited to watching a selection in the time and manner presented by the cable channel.
The other option to cable entertainment is renting or purchasing a video cassette recording of a movie. However, the alternative requires the user to travel to a store stocking the desired video cassette to obtain a copy of the movie, and then the desired movie may not be available at the store when the user desires to rent or buy it.
Thus, a need has arisen for a method and apparatus to present an entertainment selection to the user's location at a time and manner chosen by the user individual. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention overcomes the foregoing and other problems by creating a broadband service delivery system. The apparatus of the present invention is operated by a central controller which is the heart of the system. The controller presents to a user a menu of recorded selections at the user's location, or the user may directly select a specific entertainment selection (e.g. a movie) by entering its coded index number. The controller receives instructions over a local area network from the remote user requesting a particular selection. The selection is maintained in a recorded library of entertainment and educational programs. The controller responds to these instructions by commanding a robotic loader to retrieve a record of the requested selection from the library and load the record into one of a plurality of record playback drives.
The controller also activates a transmission system to have the requested selection transmitted to the user location and also records the use of the selection for accounting purposes. The interface with the user location is interactive allowing the selection to be viewed by the user in any manner desired. However, a maximum time limit is set on the period a user may control a particular selection to prevent monopolization of a selection. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
For a more complete understanding of the present invention and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
FIGURE 1 is a block diagram of a broadband services delivery system in accordance with the present invention.
FIGURES 2a and 2b is a flow diagram illustrating the operation of the broadband services delivery system.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Referring now to FIGURE 1 wherein there is shown a block diagram of the broadband delivery system of the present invention. A plurality of user locations 2 are interconnected by an interface channel 3 to enable communication with a system controller 4. The controller 4 is the central unit of the system and interconnects to all components of the system. Storage of the control software of the system and other data is provided in a memory 6 as a part of the controller 4.
An input terminal or console 8 connects to the controller 4 to allow a system operator to access the system for the input of control information and for setting desired accounting procedures. Also, a printer 10 connects to the controller 4 for printing billing statements to users.
A library 12 of recorded entertainment, e.g. a record library, is connected to the controller 4 through a standard RS-232 interface. The library 12 contains a variety of entertainment and educational selections archived in a data base stored in the memory 6 of the controller 4. The library 12 is of modular construction and consists of a plurality of storage areas for receiving a storage tray containing a record. Sections of the library 12 may be easily added to or removed from the library 12 since it consists of a plurality of storage modules.
The library 12 is interactive with a robotic loader 14. The robotic loader 14 handles a single storage tray for loading and unloading into one of a plurality of playback drives 16. The playback drives 16 receive a storage tray from the robotic loader 14 and retrieves the data stored on the enclosed recorded medium for transmission to a user location 2. Each playback drive 16 is connected to the controller 4 through a port concentrator (not shown) via a standard RS-232 or SCSI interface. The port concentrator allows the controller 4 to be attached to up to one hundred playback drives 16 through a single input/output port. The playback drives 16 are constructed in a modular fashion allowing for the addition or removal of drives with minimal effects on the system.
The playback drives 16 are selected to withstand extensive use with limited downtime. Typically, a playback drive 16 will play both A and B sides of a record without flipping the record. The video output from the drive 16 follows National Television Standards Committee video format specifications. The audio output is digital two channel stereo with an output level of at least 500 mV. The playback drives 16 play both Constant Angular Velocity and Constant Linear Velocity records.
Each playback drive 16 and the controller 4 are connected to a broadband video switch 18 as a part of a local area network. The switch 18 is of conventional design and no further description is required for an understanding of the present invention. The switch 18 receives a plurality of inputs from the playback drives 16 and connects one of these inputs to a single user or multiple user locations 2 requesting a selection. The connection is made through a provider supplied local area network.
To maintain the library 12 current with desired entertainment and educational selections, the controller 4 includes an archive function 20 to track the location and usage of the individual records. The archive function 20 tracks each entertainment and educational record in the system. Thus, when a request for a particular selection is received from a user location 2, the system locates the selection and responds to the request. If the selection is not available, it may be reserved for a user location 2 at the next available time period. The archive function 20 also records the time a selection is actuated in a playback drive 16 allowing the controller 4 to predict when the selection will next be available for use. The archive function 20 also assigns unique n-digit codes to each selection within the system to allow a user to directly request a selection without going through the menu selections, to be discussed later. Finally, the archive function 20 allows the controller 4 to maintain record queuing in the event a selection is on multiple records.
The controller 4 also contains an accounting function 22 allowing the generation of user billing information. The accounting function 22 allows the controller 4 to track usage of recorded entertainment and educational programs, to track any selection request delivered or rejected, and to track any type of date and time stamp entry by the system for each user location 2. Using this data, the accounting function 22 generates accounting reports and provides a hard copy by means of the system printer 10. The accounting function 22 also provides the option of generating accounting reports showing different information or different formats of accounting information.
A menu function 24 is available in the controller 4 to allow a user to browse through the available selections before making a choice. The menu function 24 maintains a data base of all available selections within the library 12. The menu function 24 initially offers the user broad categories of selections such as horror, drama, science fiction, etc. or categories offering selections by actor, actress or director. The user makes a selection within these broad categories. Another aspect of the menu function 24 allows a user to directly access a selection by entering its assigned multi-digit code. This allows the user to bypass the step of scrolling through a selection menu.
The controller 4 includes a robotic function 26 to control the mechanical operation of the robotic loader 14. The robotic function 26 converts user requests received over the local area network into commands for the robotic loader 14 to retrieve a record from the library 12 and load the record into a playback drive 16. The robotic function 26 also generates commands to the robotic loader 14 to remove a record when a showing of the selection is complete.
The interactive function 28 as a part of the controller 4 permits the user to have the same playback or interactive capabilities that exist in a VCR. The interactive function 28 allows the user to search or backup the selection, as well as chapter search, scan, pause, start or exit. However, the interactive function 28 does not allow user abuse of these capabilities. A user is limited to controlling a record for a period of time equal to the length of the program on the record plus a predetermined time period. A diagnostic function 30 is programmed into the controller 4 to enable self-check of the included functions and interconnected hardware of the system. Start-up diagnostics will identify any discrepancies during system initialization. System self-diagnostics will report unit failures to the controller 4 allowing corrective measures to be taken. Also included are off-line diagnostics to aid in fault isolation during repair of the system.
Finally, a switching function 31 enables the controller 4 to control the broadband video switch 18. The switching function 31 also enables a playback drive 16 transmitting a requested selection to be connected to a single user location 2 or multiple user locations requesting the selection. Referring now to FIGURE 2, there is illustrated a flow chart for describing how the system functions in response to a user request. In response to a request, a user location 2 is presented a list of available selections at step 40. The controller 4 monitors the user location at step 42 for a request for a recorded selection. When inquiry step 44 determines the user location has made a request, the controller 4 activates the archive function 20 to process the request at step 46 and determine if the requested selection is presently available. If the selection is available, the robotic function 26 is actuated at step 48 to command the robotic loader 14 to retrieve the selected record from its storage area in the library 12 and load the record into an available playback drive 16. The archive function 20 notes the "in use" status of the selected record at step 50, and the accounting function 22 records the use of the record by the user for future billing purposes at step 52.
The controller 4 next sends a command to the playback drive 16 containing the record to begin transmission of the selection at step 54. The controller 4 actuates the broadband video switch 18 and the switching function 31 at step 56 to selectively connect the output of the playback drive 16 to the requesting user location or locations 2. During viewing of the selection, the user location 2 is monitored at step 58 to determine if an interactive function request, such as, pause or rewind, has been requested. If an interactive function request is detected, the controller 4 determines at step 59 if the interactive time period has expired. If not, the interactive function 28 within the controller 4 is activated to process the request, and the controller 4 generates the proper command to the playback drive 16 at step 60. If the interactive time period has expired, the request is not carried out. After an interactive function request has been completed or if no interactive function has been requested, the controller 4 will next determine at inquiry step 62 if the selection has ended. If the selection has not ended, control returns to step 58. If the selection has ended, the controller 4 will interrupt the connection between the user location 2 and the playback drive 16 at step 64, and the playback device 16 is stopped at step 66. The robotic function 26 next commands the robotic loader 14 to unload the record selection from the playback drive 16 and store the selection at step 68 in a location in the library 12 identified by the archive function 20. The archive function 20 will then identify at step 70 that the record is again available for use by other user locations 2. If the requested record selection was not available at step 46, the controller 4 determines at inquiry step 72 if the user location 2 desires to reserve the selection for its next available time slot. If so, the controller 4 reserves at step 74 the time slot for the user. If not, the user is allowed to exit the system.
Although a preferred embodiment of the invention has been illustrated in the accompanying drawing and described in the foregoing Detailed Description, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiment disclosed, but includes of numerous rearrangements and modifications of parts and elements without departing from the spirit of the invention.
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|國際專利分類號||H04N7/173, G11B27/11, G11B27/36, G11B27/00|
|合作分類||G11B27/002, G11B27/36, G11B2220/41, G11B27/11, H04N7/17336|
|歐洲分類號||H04N7/173B4, G11B27/00A, G11B27/11|
|1994年2月17日||AL||Designated countries for regional patents|
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