|Publication number||US20050050578 A1|
|Application number||US 10/652,793|
|Publication date||Mar 3, 2005|
|Filing date||Aug 29, 2003|
|Priority date||Aug 29, 2003|
|Also published as||US8160418, US9071860, US20100325679, US20120174178|
|Publication number||10652793, 652793, US 2005/0050578 A1, US 2005/050578 A1, US 20050050578 A1, US 20050050578A1, US 2005050578 A1, US 2005050578A1, US-A1-20050050578, US-A1-2005050578, US2005/0050578A1, US2005/050578A1, US20050050578 A1, US20050050578A1, US2005050578 A1, US2005050578A1|
|Original Assignee||Sony Corporation And Sony Electronics Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (17), Referenced by (42), Classifications (17), Legal Events (1)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
A portion of the material in this patent document is subject to copyright protection under the copyright laws of the United States and of other countries. The owner of the copyright rights has no objection to the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the patent disclosure, as it appears in the United States Patent and Trademark Office publicly available file or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright rights whatsoever. The copyright owner does not hereby waive any of its rights to have this patent document maintained in secrecy, including without limitation its rights pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 1.14.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention pertains generally to devices for recording and playing back of media content, and more particularly to automatically transferring content between devices connected over a network, and restoring content subsequent to user deletion.
2. Description of Related Art
Media devices such as personal video recorders (PVRs), digital video recorders (DVRs), set-top-boxes (STBs), Web TV systems, and the like are increasingly incorporating random data storage units, in particular hard disk drives, allowing media content to be retained and accessed as desired. The capacity of these disk drives often allows a large number of programs and full-length motion pictures to be retained. The term PVR, or video recording device, will be utilized herein to refer to all such described media devices having random access storage capability upon which media content can be recorded and retained.
As the disk becomes full of recorded content, additional content can not be recorded until some content is either deleted, moved to another device, or transferred off the unit onto a removable media. If the PVR is configured for timed recording, the system will be unable to record the scheduled programming. On current video recorders the user needs to delete elements of the existing content prior to the recording of additional content to free sufficient video content space upon which additional video content may be recorded.
When content is marked for deletion on a PVR, the actual content may be erased or the storage allocations remapped to free the content space for other content. When mistakes are made in marking content for deletion on current video recorders, the deleted content can not be “undeleted”. Examples of content deletion “mistakes” include a user inadvertently selecting the wrong content for deletion, a spouse or family member deleting content important to the individual, or the content being automatically deleted in response to the lapse of retention time period, or other retention control parameter.
Therefore, a need exists for systems and methods that overcome problems associated with content recording and deletion as outlined above. The present invention satisfies those needs, as well as others, and overcomes the deficiencies of previously developed personal video recording systems.
The present invention provides methods and systems for improving user control of retained content. A method of automated intelligent content shifting is described wherein a PVR connected over a network, such as a wired or wireless LAN, or power-line communications (PLC) network, can move content to another storage device connected on the network to balance content storage which allows additional content to be recorded. The content shifting being preferably performed in response to content status along with user preference settings and user preference information received from a preference engine within the PVR that tracks user preferences with regard to program recording and viewing. A method of recovering content marked for deletion is also described wherein content marked for deletion is only overwritten as the space is utilized, up to that time allowing the content to be recovered.
In one embodiment, the automated content shifting is performed within a an apparatus, herein referred to as a video storage device, or personal video recorder (PVR), for recording and playing back video streams, which comprises one or more of the following in combination:
In one embodiment, the method of redistributing (transferring) content between PVRs generally comprises one or more of the following steps in combination:
In one embodiment, restoration of content can be implemented within an electronic device for recording and playing back video streams that generally comprises one or more of the following in combination:
Preferably the present invention does not allow the user to erase all content referenced in the replacement list, although they may optionally change or select the order of content replacement. Furthermore, the system can be optionally configured to allow a specific content element in the replacement list to be physically erased, or deallocated, such as in the case of recorded content deemed inappropriate for viewing within the household wherein complete removal of the content from the system is desired.
To restore deleted content, the apparatus preferably comprises means for restoring video content which has been removed from the play list and whose content storage space has not yet been reallocated to other content, back onto the play list in response to an undeletion command from the user directed at the content. The means for restoring video content preferably comprising programming executable by the computer processor for carrying out the operations of: (i) receiving a user command to undelete an element of content previously deleted from the play list; and (ii) moving pointers to remaining portions of the element of content from a replacement list (queue) back into the play list.
The method steps for allowing deleted media content within a PVR to be restored is preferably performed in response to programming executable on a computer processor within the PVR, which in one embodiment can generally be considered to comprise one or more of the following steps in combination:
The present invention described above may be implemented in a number of alternative ways, and can provide a number of beneficial aspects, including but not limited to the following.
An aspect of the invention provides automated transfer of content between networked devices configured for storing video streams, so that recording operations are not hindered on a given device by lack of available recording space.
Another aspect of the invention provides for user control of the thresholds utilized for determining if content is to be transferred between devices on the network.
Another aspect of the invention provides for selecting content for transfer based on the user selected categorization of the content, such as archival, temporary, permanent, and so forth.
Another aspect of the invention provides for selecting content for transfer based on information about the devices on the network, content history (status), user preferences settings, and user preference information which may be provided by a preference engine executing on the system.
Another aspect of the invention provides an automated content deletion mechanism wherein content is intelligently deleted in response to content status, user preference settings, user preference information from a preference engine, and the need or availability of content storage space by other video recorder devices communicating over the network.
Another aspect of the invention provides a content deletion mechanism wherein content subject to a user deletion command can be subsequently restored as an available program listed on the content play list.
Another aspect of the invention provides a content deletion mechanism wherein content can be restored so long as any of it remains in a replacement list having not been utilized for storing additional content.
A still further aspect of the invention is that the reuse of content from the replacement list can be subject to user preferences and information about the history of the content, such as if, or which portions, were played back.
Further aspects of the invention will be brought out in the following portions of the specification, wherein the detailed description is for the purpose of fully disclosing preferred embodiments of the invention without placing limitations thereon.
The invention will be more fully understood by reference to the following drawings which are for illustrative purposes only:
Referring more specifically to the drawings, for illustrative purposes the present invention is embodied in the apparatus generally shown in
1. Automated Content Shifting from a Networked PVR.
A video recorder device (PVR) having connectivity over a network, such as a power-line network within a residential setting, according to this aspect of the invention automatically moves recorded content around to balance the storage utilization on various networked recorder units toward optimizing network wide user “value” of the content retained on the PVRs connected to the network. The PVR device of the invention generally performs automated content deletion and distribution, preferably performed intelligently in response to content status user preferences. The invention is applicable to PVRs (or other devices capable of storing content) which are interconnected over a communication network or link.
Storage balancing between PVRs on the network is preferably performed in response to content status, user preference settings, and user preference information such as derived from a preference engine within the PVR which determines user preferences from monitoring system usage and from preferences entered by the user. As the storage availability on a particular PVR drops below a threshold (predetermined, relative, or variable), the PVR searches for other units on the network with sufficient storage space and transfers elements of content to the other unit. The programming is then deleted from the first PVR providing room for storing additional content, such as broadcast programming according to manually activated recording or a recording schedule. The viewer can retrieve the content from any of the networked units and watch the content from the originating PVR, or from the other devices connecting to the network and configured for viewing network content.
Additionally, if storage availability on a first PVR increases, such as resulting from automated or user deletion of one or more content elements, then a message can be sent to other PVRs and storage balancing initiated. Storage balancing occurs in this case as the first PVR with “extra” available content space alerts other PVRs which can then shift content to the first PVR.
In general, the content transfer can be initiated in response to any sufficient change in content space availability within a video recorder, or change in upcoming needs for additional space (i.e. scheduled recording).
Communication between video recorder devices over the network can operate in combination with automated content deletion, wherein the need expressed for content space by a first PVR results in a second PVR deleting content of low value so that a transfer of content from the first PVR may take place. The system is configured to allow assessing the relative value of content elements on a network wide basis, so that the content which is retained has the estimated highest value to the user.
The media stream can be transferred by codec 16 over bus 12 to a data storage subsystem 22 for recording. Data storage subsystem 22 is exemplified with a storage interface 24 shown connected to a hard disk drive 26. It will be appreciated that other forms of data storage may be utilized additionally or alternatively in place of hard disk drive 26, for example solid state storage, removable media storage, and so forth. It should be appreciated that multiple data storage devices may be supported within the PVR, which may include removable media drives that provide archival access to data and streams.
PVR 10 can be networked in a number of alternative ways according to the invention, with other devices configured for storage and retrieval of media streams. For example, a network interface 28 may comprise a wired or wireless interface to a LAN. Another preferred networking method is that of a power-line communication (PLC) network, to which the PVR is connected via a PLC interface 30 connecting through a power-line 32, and preferably supporting an encryption/decryption means 34.
Media streams, such as broadcast programming received through a cable, satellite antenna, or conventional VHF/UHF antenna, may be received through tuner 14 for storage on data storage device, or subsystem, 22. Similarly content may be received over network interface 28 or power-line communications interface 30, from other devices for storage on data storage subsystem 22. To replay a recorded stream, codec 16 receives the media stream from data storage subsystem 22 over bus 12 and decodes it for output.
User control of PVR 10 may be according to any convenient method, such as received through a panel mounted command interface 36 from one or more devices 38, such as a keypad, keyboard, discrete buttons, cursor control device (pointing device), other input sources and combinations thereof. PVR operations may be alternatively or additionally controlled remotely through a wireless interface 40, receiving input from a wireless device 42, such as a remote control unit utilizing infrared (IR) communication, wireless communication, and so forth.
Operation of the circuitry connected to bus 12 is controlled by a central processor 44 in combination with memory 46 which contains both programming executable on processor 44 along with data utilized by the programming. It should be appreciated that various devices, such as PVRs, DVRs, STBs, and the like which are configured for storing and accessing media content, such as on a hard disk drive, can be configured with programming according to the teachings of the present invention. A preference engine may be integrated within processor 44 in combination with memory 46 (or alternatively a separate processor), which tracks user viewing habits and can preferably accept direct user feedback on preferences. The user preference engine allows “intelligent” decisions to be made regarding the distribution of PVR content. User preference engines are generally known in the art, wherein the details of implementation are not disclosed herein.
A check is performed on the sufficiency of remaining content storage space as per block 54. If at least the minimum space is available, then no transfers are necessary and execution can return to other processing at block 56. However, if it is determined at block 54 that insufficient content space remains in this PVR, then the PVR will initiate communication with other devices adapted for content storage and retrieval over the network as per block 58. From this communication the PVR gathers information on the availability of content storage on these other content storage and retrieval units. If insufficient space exists on these other units as represented by block 60, or if they are otherwise not configured for transferring content between devices on the network, then a transfer cannot be performed and execution returns as per block 56. Preferably, in this situation the system is configured for generating an alert to the user about the insufficient level of remaining disk space, in particular if upcoming (i.e. within 24 hours) scheduled recording times exceed the available content storage space.
If it is determined at block 60 that sufficient content is available at one of the other devices, then processing continues. If more than one video storage device is available for receiving the content, then a decision is made as to which video storage device to store the content on, such as the device with the most available space, or the device upon which this content is typically played, or any other desired selection metric. It is then determined at block 62 which element or elements of content are to be transferred. Although not shown on the flowchart, these decisions are based on user preference settings, and user preference information, such as received from a preference engine, which are preferably utilized in combination with status information for the content (i.e. when recorded, when watched, category, etc.) References are then established to the content as per block 64 within the program in preparing for the transfer. For example a pointer is loaded to a first allocation entry associated with the content, wherein each allocation entry contains a pointer to subsequent blocks within the content. Alternatively, other structures can be prepared for executing a transfer operation of the content.
Copying of the video content from a first video storage device to the selected destination device commences at block 66 over the network. Blocks of content are copied until all content has been transferred as detected at block 68. After copying the content to the destination, it is preferable that the destination content be verified as represented by block 70. This verification, for example, may comprise checksumming or otherwise performing algorithms on the data blocks to generate signatures for comparing the source data and destination data. Typically the signature is included with the data transferred, wherein the destination compares the signature with the results of the same or equivalent signature generation algorithm to perform the verification. If the copy operation is found to be in error, then an error handler represented by block 74 is preferably executed which logs the error and can attempt recovery, such as retrying the copy operation a given number of times. In response to a successful transfer, the source content is marked for deletion as per block 72 prior to a return at block 56.
In a similar manner to the above the automatic transfer of content to other video storage devices (PVRs) on the network can be triggered in response to other preference choices. For example, a threshold may be set on the PVR wherein if the available storage space exceeds this threshold, such as in response to content deletion on the PVR, then the other PVRs are alerted over the network to the content availability. The network of PVRs are thereby kept apprised of available content space so that content may be intelligently distributed to maximize the value of content retained network wide.
In another example any sufficient change in available content space, or need for additional storage (i.e. upcoming recordings listed on a recording schedule) can trigger a communication over the network wherein the video storage devices determine if content transfer is warranted and can execute the necessary transfer of content.
Automatic content deletion can be integral to the content distribution performed within the system. Automatic content deletion being preferably performed in response to information from the preference engine. For example, when more space is needed on a first PVR, then information from the preference engine is used to determine which programs are the least likely to be missed by the user (of lowest value), which are then subject to deletion by generating a deletion directive. For example, if the user really enjoys westerns directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, as indicated by information collected from the preference engine, then the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany's” could be deleted before “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”, all other aspects of the decision being equal.
Furthermore, distribution of content is performed in keeping with the preferences of the user as determined by the preference engine. For example, if the show “Sex and the City” is normally recorded in the living room, but watched in the bedroom, the preference engine of the system recognizes this and will attempt to store the content on the PVR in the bedroom. If the viewer really likes the movie “Shrek” a copy of the movie may be retained on multiple devices. If the television in the bedroom is capable of showing high definition (HD) television, the preference engine may attempt to store the content on a PVR associated with an HD television. The preference engine can determine user preferences based on what content is recorded, viewed, deleted, moved, and can track information about the viewing systems associated with each PVR, and so forth.
2. Content Deletion and Recovery.
Another aspect of the invention provides a method wherein content “deleted” by the user, or deleted automatically, can be recovered by the user. Content which is “deleted”, that is which has been marked for deletion in response to a deletion directive, such as from a user or automated content deletion and distribution programming, is moved to a replacement queue, according to the present invention, in which the content is only overwritten as the space is utilized for recording additional content. The invention also provides mechanisms wherein the status of the content marked for deletion is taken into account along with user preference settings, and user preference information from the preference engine. Examples of aspects affecting the determination of which content is to be overwritten include the category of content, the elapsed time since the content was recorded, the extent to which the content has been accessed, user viewing preferences, user storage preferences, and other similar aspects of preference.
When an element of content is marked for deletion, such as in response to a user choice, or in response to an automated deletion and distribution function, such as when the program retention interval for the content has expired, the content is not removed from hard disk storage. Instead of physically deleting the content, a pointer to the storage areas associated with the content are put into a queue with the content remaining untouched until those content sections reach the top of the queue, or are otherwise selected, for use in storing additional content. Until the storage spaces holding the content have been reused, the content (or portions thereof) can be restored to the list of content available for playing, also referred to as a “play list”, or “now playing list”, and viewed. The collection of space occupied by the content marked for deletion preferably can not be physically erased or deleted in total, until the space utilized for storing the content is needed for storing additional content.
Space is reclaimed, therefore, on as as-needed basis using a caching replacement algorithm to determine how the space associated with content marked for deletion is to be reused based on queue entries. The caching replacement algorithm according to the invention can utilize a number of criteria for determining ordering of content within the queue, such as content status, user preference settings, and preference information received from the preference engine. By way of example a few of these preferences may include a viewer preference score derived from the preference engine, the original category of content (i.e. temporary, permanent, and so forth), the viewing state of the content (viewed, partially viewed, not viewed, and so forth), the length of time it has been marked for deletion, and other characteristics. The caching replacement algorithm of the system can reclaim for reuse portions of content that has already been accessed or viewed, prior to portions of the program that have not yet been accessed or viewed.
It will be appreciated that the caching replacement algorithm can determine the original placement of pointers to the content areas within the queue, and can also modify queue placements by reordering queue contents at any desired time in response to user preferences, system information, and/or events.
The method steps illustrated in
The system responds as per block 94 by moving the content, or preferably pointers to the content, to the replacement list wherein it no longer is displayed within the play list and appears deleted. The content is not, however, physically deleted or lost which can occur for example by dropping the head allocation pointer in a chain of blocks allocated to the content. The “deleted” content remains in the replacement list as represented by block 96, which is stored on the random access storage device (i.e. hard drive), unless that storage space is needed for the recording of other streams. The replacement list can be structured as a queue (i.e. first-in-first-out, FIFO, queue), linked list, or other form of data structure.
The reuse of the content storage space taken up by the “deleted content” can be determined on a first deleted basis, and/or other selection criterion. Preferably, content reuse is also intelligently driven in response to content status, user preference settings, and user preference information, such as information received from the preference engine. Examples of selection criterion include basing the decision on the content history, such as the user categorization of the content (i.e. archive, temporary, permanent, and so forth), when content was recorded, has it been played, what portion has been played, and other information preferably utilized in combination with user preferences and history of the content itself.
At some subsequent time, which could be days or even weeks later depending on the frequency of PVR use, the user realizes that content has been deleted to which access is desired. The user enters a command to the PVR system to gain access to remaining content elements stored in the replacement list. The user can then select a listed element of content from within the replacement list as represented by block 98. The content is preferably listed in the replacement list so long as any of the sections of data remain and have not been reallocated for the storage of new content.
For example, the system may be configured to free up portions of content which have been watched by the user prior to unwatched portions, wherein it handles updating allocation pointer strings, or similar allocation mechanisms, as necessary to retain the association between the name of the content and the remaining unwatched content portions thereof.
The content selected by the user for “undeletion”, is then restored to the play list as per block 100, such as by moving the content, or more preferably one or more pointers or data structures referring to the content, back into the play list along with the information about the content. If only a portion of the content can be restored, then the system preferably notifies the user prior to completing content restoration to the play list, thereby allowing the user to decline restoration of incomplete content. The user may be notified as to what content was overwritten, such as “First 15 minutes not available, was viewed mm/dd/yy” or similar. After restoring content to the play list, the sequence is completed as represented by the return from the procedure in block 102, unless other optional restoration steps are performed, such as entering notes from a user, undeleting other elements of content from the replacement list and so forth. Furthermore, the system preferably includes a notification within the play list if only a portion of the content could be restored, this serves as a reminder to the person that restored the content, and a notification to other parties of the incomplete nature of the restored content.
Although the description above contains many details, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention but as merely providing illustrations of some of the presently preferred embodiments of this invention. Therefore, it will be appreciated that the scope of the present invention fully encompasses other embodiments which may become obvious to those skilled in the art, and that the scope of the present invention is accordingly to be limited by nothing other than the appended claims, in which reference to an element in the singular is not intended to mean “one and only one” unless explicitly so stated, but rather “one or more.” All structural, chemical, and functional equivalents to the elements of the above-described preferred embodiment that are known to those of ordinary skill in the art are expressly incorporated herein by reference and are intended to be encompassed by the present claims. Moreover, it is not necessary for a device or method to address each and every problem sought to be solved by the present invention, for it to be encompassed by the present claims. Furthermore, no element, component, or method step in the present disclosure is intended to be dedicated to the public regardless of whether the element, component, or method step is explicitly recited in the claims. No claim element herein is to be construed under the provisions of 35 U.S.C. 112, sixth paragraph, unless the element is expressly recited using the phrase “means for.”
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|U.S. Classification||725/143, 386/E05.001|
|Cooperative Classification||H04N21/4147, H04N21/44222, H04N21/4335, H04N21/4532, H04N5/76, H04N21/4135, H04N21/43615|
|European Classification||H04N21/4147, H04N21/45M3, H04N21/4335, H04N21/442E2, H04N21/41P7, H04N21/436H, H04N5/76|
|Aug 29, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SONY ELECTRONICS INC., NEW JERSEY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:RYAL, KIM A.;REEL/FRAME:014472/0158
Effective date: 20030820
Owner name: SONY CORPORATION, JAPAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:RYAL, KIM A.;REEL/FRAME:014472/0158
Effective date: 20030820