|Publication number||US20050003808 A1|
|Application number||US 10/879,920|
|Publication date||Jan 6, 2005|
|Filing date||Jun 29, 2004|
|Priority date||May 24, 2000|
|Also published as||US6804510|
|Publication number||10879920, 879920, US 2005/0003808 A1, US 2005/003808 A1, US 20050003808 A1, US 20050003808A1, US 2005003808 A1, US 2005003808A1, US-A1-20050003808, US-A1-2005003808, US2005/0003808A1, US2005/003808A1, US20050003808 A1, US20050003808A1, US2005003808 A1, US2005003808A1|
|Inventors||Cary Bates, John Santosuosso|
|Original Assignee||International Business Machines Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (9), Referenced by (11), Classifications (16)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a Continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/578,172, filed on May 24, 2000 by Cary Lee Bates et al., entitled “SELECTION OF ALTERNATE SOURCES FOR AUDIO BROADCAST SIGNALS RESPONSIVE TO EMBEDDED SOURCE IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION,” which application is incorporated by reference herein in its entirety.
The invention is generally related to the transmission and reception of audio broadcasts, e.g., from radio stations and the like.
Radio has been an important part of our culture for many years. Despite competition from relatively newer broadcast media such as television and the Internet, many people still find radio to be an important source of news, information, and entertainment. Radio has also significantly advanced since the days of analog AM and FM broadcasts. For example, radio broadcasts are now capable of being broadcast in a digital format, typically using a packet-based communication medium, and often providing better sound quality than with older analog technologies. Digital radio broadcasts are also capable of transmitting additional information to listeners, e.g., station call letters, program information, etc.
One continually strong market for radio stations has been listeners in automobiles, particularly due to the fact that visual information available from television and the Internet is not compatible with keeping one's eyes on the road. Mobile radio receivers commonly known as car radios or car stereos have long been provided as standard equipment in automobiles and other vehicles.
Mobile radio receivers have always suffered from the problem of varying signal strengths of audio broadcast signals such as radio broadcasts. Radio stations are capable of transmitting over only a certain geographical area, so the farther a receiver gets from a radio transmitter, the weaker the signal, and the poorer the reception by the receiver. Topographical factors such as buildings, tunnels, mountains, etc. can also affect signal strength. Thus, as a listener of a particular radio station rides along in an automobile, it is not uncommon for the reception of the audio broadcast signal to continually increase and decrease in quality. Furthermore, for travelers that are merely passing through a geographical area, such travelers will often eventually lose reception as they get farther away from the radio station.
More often than not, the signal strength of an audio broadcast signal will weaken at the most inopportune times, such as the last inning of a baseball game, during a news conference, during a breaking weather report, during a heated discussion on talk radio, etc. Missing out on an interesting broadcast can be significantly frustrating to listeners, so the risk of losing reception of an audio broadcast signal has always been considered to be a significant drawback of radio.
Outside of the knowledge of many listeners, however, is the fact that alternate sources of an audio broadcast signal may exist. For example, FCC regulations often limit the transmission power of radio stations in certain areas, requiring that radio stations broadcast over multiple carrier frequencies from geographically dispersed transmitters to adequately cover a particular listening area. In addition, many audio broadcast signals are now available on the Internet, and are capable of being accessed by suitable streaming programs executed by computers. When a listener is unaware of an alternate source of an audio broadcast signal, the listener is required to suffer through poor reception (if analog) or intermittent reception (if digital), or to manually search for other radio stations that may contain the desired information. And even if a listener is aware of a particular alternate source for an audio broadcast signal, the user is still required to manually interact with a radio receiver to select the alternate source.
Therefore, a significant need continues to exist in the art for a manner of alleviating the frustration associated with weak or lost reception of audio broadcast signals. In particular, a significant need continues to exist for a manner of facilitating the identification and reception of audio broadcast signals from alternate sources.
The invention addresses these and other problems associated with the prior art by providing an apparatus, program product, and method that utilize embedded source identity information within an audio broadcast signal to facilitate the reception of the audio broadcast signal from an alternate source. While the invention has a multitude of other uses that will become more apparent below, embedded source identity information may be used to facilitate the automated selection of an alternate source, e.g., in response to poor reception of the primary source of the audio broadcast signal, so that a listener is less likely to miss interesting portions of an audio broadcast.
Any number of different types of alternate sources may be identified by embedded source identity information consistent with the invention. For example, particularly where the audio broadcast signal is a radio broadcast from a radio station, embedded source identity information may identify another radio station that broadcasts the audio broadcast signal over a different frequency. Embedded source identity information may also be used to identify a telephone number that a listener may call to continue listening to the audio broadcast. Furthermore, embedded source identity information may be used to identify a network address (e.g., a URL) that a listener may be connected to over a computer network. It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of the instant disclosure that other alternate sources may be identified by embedded source identity information, and thus the invention is not limited to the particular types of alternate sources described herein.
It will also be appreciated that both the reception and the transmission of an audio broadcast may accommodate the use of embedded source identity information consistent with the invention.
From the standpoint of reception, an audio broadcast may be received in a manner consistent with the invention by receiving an audio broadcast signal from a first source, detecting a source identifier in the audio broadcast signal that identifies an alternate source for the audio broadcast signal, and receiving the audio broadcast signal from the alternate source identified by the source identifier.
From the standpoint of transmission, an audio signal may be transmitted in a manner consistent with the invention by embedding a source identifier within an audio signal, and broadcasting the audio signal with the source identifier embedded therein.
These and other advantages and features, which characterize the invention, are set forth in the claims annexed hereto and forming a further part hereof. However, for a better understanding of the invention, and of the advantages and objectives attained through its use, reference should be made to the Drawings, and to the accompanying descriptive matter, in which there is described exemplary embodiments of the invention.
The discussion hereinafter will focus on a specific implementation of the invention in the field of digital radio broadcasting, where an audio broadcast signal is transmitted in the form of a digital data stream incorporating streamed data packets carrying audio information representative of an audio broadcast. Consistent with the invention, one or more alternate sources of an audio broadcast are identified within the digital data stream through the use of source identity packets embedded periodically within the digital data stream. However, it will be appreciated by one of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of the instant disclosure that certain aspects of the invention will have applicability in other applications where audio signals may be broadcasted, e.g., analog radio broadcasts, etc. Thus, the invention is not limited to the specific implementations discussed herein.
Turning now to the Drawings, wherein like numbers denote like parts throughout the several views,
Receiver 10 may be implemented using practically any type of computer, computer system or other programmable electronic device. The CPU 12 thereof may include one or more processors (e.g., microprocessors or microcontrollers), and the memory may represent volatile or non-volatile solid state memories, magnetic storage media, optical storage media, or combinations of the same, as well as any supplemental levels of memory, e.g., cache memories, backup memories (e.g., programmable or flash memories), read-only memories, etc. In addition, the memory may be considered to include memory storage physically located elsewhere in a digital processing system, e.g., any cache memory in a processor, as well as any storage capacity used as a virtual memory, e.g., as stored on a mass storage device or on another device coupled over a network interconnection.
Receiver 10 typically operates under the control of an operating system, and executes various computer software applications, components, programs, objects, modules, etc. (e.g., control program 16, among others). Moreover, various applications, components, programs, objects, modules, etc. may also execute on one or more processors in another computer or other device coupled to such receiver via networked interconnections, e.g., in a distributed or client-server computing environment, whereby the processing required to implement the functions of a computer program may be allocated to multiple computers over a network.
In general, the routines executed to implement the embodiments of the invention, whether implemented as part of an operating system or a specific application, component, program, object, module or sequence of instructions will be referred to herein as “computer programs”. The computer programs typically comprise instructions that are resident at various times in various memory and storage devices in a computer, and that, when read and executed by one or more processors in a computer, cause that computer to perform the steps necessary to execute steps or elements embodying the various aspects of the invention. Moreover, while the invention has and hereinafter will be described in the context of fully functioning computers and computer systems, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the various embodiments of the invention are capable of being distributed as a program product in a variety of forms, and that the invention applies equally regardless of the particular type of signal bearing media used to actually carry out the distribution. Examples of signal bearing media include but are not limited to recordable type media such as volatile and non-volatile memory devices, floppy and other removable disks, hard disk drives, optical disks (e.g., CD-ROM's, DVD's, etc.), among others, and transmission type media such as digital and analog communication links.
Over-the-air digital packets are received by a tuner 18 coupled to an antenna 20, and are decoded by a decoder 22. Interaction with a user is supported via a user interface 24, which may include both a display panel for displaying information to a user as well as one or more buttons for receiving input from a user. Audio data packets decoded by decoder 22 are converted into an analog format by a digital-to-analog (D/A) converter 26, with the analog output of converter 26 fed to an amplifier 28 that drives one or more loudspeakers 30. It will be appreciated that the reception and decoding of digital data packets, the generation and emission of an audible signal based upon the information within such packets, and the interaction with a user are all well understood functions implemented by digital radio receivers.
An additional broadcast reception device, e.g., a cellular transceiver 32, may also be utilized in receiver 10 to support the reception of an audio broadcast signal from an alternate source. Cellular transceiver 32 permits receiver 10 to communicate over a cellular or other form of wireless network, and as such incorporates much of the functionality of a cellular telephone. In some implementations, cellular transceiver 32 may be implemented external from receiver 10, e.g., so that an existing cellular device such as a hard-wired automobile cellular telephone or a handheld cellular telephone, which is regularly used for normal cellular communications, may also be used to receive audio broadcasts when not being used for normal cellular communications.
Other broadcast reception devices may be incorporated into receiver 10 consistent with the invention, e.g., additional digital radio tuners, modems, wired telephone network interfaces, wireless Internet transceivers, etc. Moreover, in some implementations no additional broadcast reception device may be used.
In the illustrated implementation, the channel select buttons 48 are also utilized as soft-keys to access various menu options displayed on display 50. The current soft-key functions assigned to these buttons are represented by labels 52 displayed in proximity with the associated buttons 48.
Display 50 may be implemented using any of a number of known display technologies, including, for example, LCD's, LED's, etc. Moreover, it will be appreciated that a wide variety of alternate user interfaces may be used in the alternative. For example, display 50 may incorporate a touch screen to permit direct user input to the display. In other applications, alternate computer or other electronic device interfaces may be used, including keyboards, pointing devices, video displays, etc., as appropriate for the particular type of application within which the receiver is being used. The invention is therefore not limited to the particular user interface disclosed herein.
In the illustrated implementation, up to three possible alternate sources of an audio broadcast signal are supported for any given audio broadcast signal. First, an alternate source may be another carrier frequency, i.e., a different channel on the same or a different radio band (e.g., AM, FM, digital, etc.). The alternate source may be co-owned with, or separately owned from, the primary radio station. A separately owned radio station might be considered a suitable an alternate source, for example, if the radio station was broadcasting a syndicated program such as a talk show or sports broadcast that is provided to multiple radio stations.
Second, an alternate source may be a transmitter accessible via a wired or wireless telephone network. The transmitted information may be an audible signal, such that a listener is capable of listening to a broadcast simply by connecting to the transmitter using the cellular transceiver and amplifying the received information. In the alternative, the transmitted information may be non-audible information such as digital packets, which could be received and decoded in much the same manner as a radio broadcast.
Third, an alternate source may be a server accessible over a computer network such as the Internet. The transmitted information may conform to any number of known streaming protocols, among other formats. Moreover, the alternate source may be accessible by receiver 10 via a dedicated receiver or tuner, or may be accessible via an intermediate Internet Service Provider (ISP) or like party that is capable of interfacing the cellular network with the computer network, so that cellular transceiver 32 (
It will be appreciated that any combination of the above alternate sources may be used in different embodiments. Moreover, other forms of alternate sources of an audio broadcast signal will be apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of the instant disclosure.
Block 74 next performs a channel change operation to control the tuner to tune to a carrier frequency for a selected channel, an operation that is well understood in the art. Upon completion of block 74, control returns to block 64 to process additional events.
Block 84, for example, detects an audio packet, which is the packet type that includes the audio data representative of the audio broadcast signal. For each such packet, control passes to block 96 to stage the packet to be played over the speakers, in a manner well known in the art.
For information packets, which contain display information such as station call letters, program information, emergency information, etc., block 86 handles such packets by passing control to block 98 to initiate display of the included information on the display panel.
Blocks 88, 90 and 92 respectively detect three variations of a source identity packet—that is, the source identity information used to identify an alternate source associated with a particular audio broadcast signal. Block 88, for example, detects an alternate frequency packet, and passes control to block 100 to save the alternate frequency provided in such a packet in the saved frequency variable. Block 90 detects a phone number packet, and passes control to block 102 to save the telephone number included in such a packet in the saved phone number variable. Block 92 detects a URL packet, and passes control to block 104 to save the URL included in such a packet in the saved URL variable.
It will be appreciated that other types of packets may be provided in an audio broadcast signal to identify other types of alternate sources. Moreover, data formats other than packets may be used to transmit source identifying information consistent with the invention.
Returning to blocks 114 and 116, if either no alternate frequency exists, or if the signal at the alternate frequency is not stronger than the current (primary) signal, control passes to block 120. Also, returning to block 112, if the signal is not determined to be weak, control likewise passes to block 120.
Block 120 determines whether the signal has been altogether lost, e.g., whether the signal strength has fallen below another threshold that is even lower than that tested in block 112. If so, control passes to block 122. Otherwise, control returns to block 111.
Block 122 next determines whether a phone number and/or URL exists, i.e., whether values are stored in the saved phone number and saved URL variables. If either or both exist, control passes to call a use alternate source routine 124. Control then returns to block 111.
It is to be noted that soft-key functions are supported for selecting “cell phone”, “ISP”, or “cancel” in response to the prompt. As such, in response to a user selection of one of the soft-key functions, control passes from block 130 to block 132 to decode the returned selection. If a “cancel” option is selected, block 132 terminates routine 124 without selecting an alternate source. Otherwise, control passes to block 134 to determine whether “cell phone” was returned. If so, control passes to block 136 to dial the stored telephone number, and then to block 138 to determine whether a connection was established.
Returning to block 134, if “cell phone” was not returned (indicating “ISP” was returned), control passes to block 140 to dial an ISP telephone number (which is typically previously stored in the receiver) to connect the receiver to an ISP for connection to the Internet. Block 142 then logs in to the ISP, typically providing a user name and password as is well known in the art (also typically stored in the receiver). Control then passes to block 138 to verify whether a successful connection was made. In the alternative, rather than dialing an ISP to connect to the Internet, a persistent Internet connection may be supported, whereby blocks 140 and 142 may be omitted from routine 124.
If a connection cannot be established, block 138 terminates routine 124 without selecting an alternate source. In addition, an error message may be displayed. If, however, a connection is established, control passes to block 144 to begin playback of audio packets from the alternate source, including any decoding or formatting required to playback the audio broadcast signal from the alternate source on the receiver's speakers. In addition, for an Internet source, a request to access the specified URL is also forwarded over the computer network to initiate streaming of the audio broadcast signal.
Control then passes to enter a monitoring loop including blocks 146 and 148. Block 146 determines whether a sufficient signal from the primary source has again been reacquired, e.g., by periodically monitoring the single strength for the tuner when tuned to the frequency for the primary source of the audio broadcast signal. A threshold signal strength may need to be exceeded for a predetermined amount of time to trigger block 146, although other manners of determining that a signal has been reacquired may be used in the alternative.
If the primary signal has been reacquired, control passes to block 150 to tune the receiver to the primary source, then to block 152 to halt playback of the audio packets from the alternate source. Next block 154 terminates the connection to the alternate source, and routine 124 is complete.
Block 148 determines whether the current channel has been changed, indicating that a different audio broadcast signal is to be played back to the user. If so, control passes to block 152 to stop playback of the alternate source, and then to block 154 to terminate the connection to the alternate source. Routine 124 is then complete.
One or more alternate sources for the digital audio signal are shown in
Various modifications may be made to the illustrated embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example,
It will also be appreciated that source switching need not be performed relative to signal strength determinations. Rather, purely manual selection of alternate sources may be desirable in some embodiments.
Other modifications will become apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art. Therefore, the invention lies in the claims hereinafter appended.
|Cited Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US5852610 *||May 15, 1996||Dec 22, 1998||Olaniyan; Olajide O.||Remote broadcast listening system which receives radio/broadcast signals using receivers which includes antennas and interconnects receivers to customer telephones/interface means|
|US6081907 *||Jun 9, 1997||Jun 27, 2000||Microsoft Corporation||Data delivery system and method for delivering data and redundant information over a unidirectional network|
|US6389463 *||Jun 16, 1999||May 14, 2002||Im Networks, Inc.||Internet radio receiver having a rotary knob for selecting audio content provider designations and negotiating internet access to URLS associated with the designations|
|US6618585 *||Dec 14, 1999||Sep 9, 2003||Nortel Networks Limited||Internet-enable broadcast receiving apparatus|
|US6804510 *||May 24, 2000||Oct 12, 2004||International Business Machines Corporation||Selection of alternate sources for audio broadcast signals responsive to embedded source identification information|
|US6904270 *||Feb 12, 2003||Jun 7, 2005||Hark C. Chan||Radio receiver for processing digital and analog audio signals|
|US6975835 *||Sep 7, 1999||Dec 13, 2005||Sonigistix Corporation||Method and apparatus for an interactive Web Radio system that broadcasts a digital markup language|
|US7054653 *||Oct 4, 2001||May 30, 2006||Nokia Corporation||Two channel communication system based on RDS datastream broadcasting and the integration of digital mobile terminal and VHF/FM radio receiver|
|US20010034220 *||May 23, 2001||Oct 25, 2001||International Business Machines Corporation||Method and apparatus for automotive radio time shifting personalized to multiple drivers|
|Citing Patent||Filing date||Publication date||Applicant||Title|
|US7113739 *||Mar 19, 2002||Sep 26, 2006||Hitachi, Ltd.||Digital broadcast receiver|
|US7555259||Sep 18, 2006||Jun 30, 2009||Hitachi, Ltd.||Digital broadcast receiver|
|US7826793 *||Sep 14, 2006||Nov 2, 2010||Lg Electronics Inc.||Digital broadcast system and method for a mobile terminal|
|US8990870 *||Aug 8, 2011||Mar 24, 2015||Echostar Technologies L.L.C.||Multi-source assisted content delivering system|
|US20030129941 *||Feb 21, 2003||Jul 10, 2003||Hitachi, Ltd.||Digital broadcast receiver|
|US20060245605 *||Apr 27, 2006||Nov 2, 2006||Nec Corporation||Broadcast receiver, broadcast reception control program, and reception channel switching method|
|US20130042280 *||Aug 8, 2011||Feb 14, 2013||Echostar Technologies L.L.C.||Multi-Source Assisted Content Delivering System|
|US20140018006 *||Jul 12, 2012||Jan 16, 2014||GM Global Technology Operations LLC||Broadcast content for vehicle audio systems|
|DE102007027022A1 *||Jun 8, 2007||Dec 11, 2008||Vodafone Holding Gmbh||Mobile radio terminal for communication in mobile network according to universal mobile telecommunications system standard, has module for receiving and processing of multi media service|
|DE102007027022B4 *||Jun 8, 2007||May 20, 2009||Vodafone Holding Gmbh||Mobilfunkendgerät für DVB-H- und MBMS-Multimediadienst|
|EP2269333A2 *||Apr 1, 2009||Jan 5, 2011||Ipwireless Inc||Method and apparatus for outputting media content|
|International Classification||H04Q7/22, H04M1/60, H04H20/26, H04H20/93, H04H60/82, H04H1/00, H04H60/91|
|Cooperative Classification||H04H20/26, H04M1/6041, H04H60/82, H04H20/24, H04H60/91, H04H20/93|
|European Classification||H04H20/24, H04H20/26|