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Publication numberUS20070113261 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/651,288
Publication dateMay 17, 2007
Filing dateJan 8, 2007
Priority dateNov 8, 1999
Also published asUS7191462
Publication number11651288, 651288, US 2007/0113261 A1, US 2007/113261 A1, US 20070113261 A1, US 20070113261A1, US 2007113261 A1, US 2007113261A1, US-A1-20070113261, US-A1-2007113261, US2007/0113261A1, US2007/113261A1, US20070113261 A1, US20070113261A1, US2007113261 A1, US2007113261A1
InventorsKendyl Roman, Carl Daniel
Original AssigneeKendyl A. Roman
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
System for transmitting video streams using a plurality of levels of quality over a data network to a remote receiver
US 20070113261 A1
Abstract
A method of and apparatus for transmitting video images allows a viewer to receive at a receiving display device, all or a selected portion of a video stream of frames, in a storage-efficient format from a transmitting device and view the received video stream of frames before the transmission is complete. The video system also allows a viewer to receive at the receiving device, all or a selected portion of a video stream of frames, in a high-resolution format, by marking sections of interest within the received stream of frames in the storage-efficient format and requesting enhancement of those marked sections of interest. This apparatus preferably includes a source device, a transmitting device and at least one receiving device. Preferably, the transmitting device and the receiving device communicate over a network such as the Internet Protocol network. Alternatively, the transmitting device and the receiving device communicate over any appropriate data network. The transmitting device transmits the video images to the receiving device for display and storage at the receiving device. The receiving device is also capable of communicating with the transmitting device while simultaneously receiving video images. The source device is preferably a medical test device such as an ultrasound, a sonogram, an echocardiogram, and the like. Alternatively, the source device can be any video capture or storage device capable of sourcing a stream of video frames.
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Claims(55)
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36. A method of transmitting a video stream over a data network from a first location to a second location in a first digitally compressed format and then retransmitting, based on one or more actions of a user at the second location, at least a section of the video stream in a higher quality second digitally compressed format,
wherein the video stream comprises a plurality of sections, including said section, and
wherein a transmitting device at the first location is configured to compress any of said video sections with one or more compression settings resulting in a plurality of levels of quality, including the first digitally compressed format and at least the higher quality digitally compressed format,
the method comprising the steps of:
a) generating the plurality of video sections at a video source device at the first location;
b) transferring the plurality of video sections from the video source device to the transmitting device in an original video format as a video stream;
c) saving the original video stream from the video source device on the transmitting device as a first saved video stream;
d) converting the original video stream from the original video format to the first digitally compressed format as each frame of the original video stream is received from the video source device at the transmitting device,
wherein the first digitally compressed format is a storage-efficient and transmission-efficient format having lower quality than the second digitally compressed format,
wherein the frames of the video stream in the first digitally compressed format contain significantly less information than the second digitally compressed format;
e) transmitting the video stream in the first digitally compressed format over the data network from the transmitting device to a receiving device at the second location;
f) saving the video stream in the first digitally compressed format on the receiving device at the second location as a second saved video stream;
g) decompressing the video stream in the first digitally compressed format at the receiving device;
h) displaying the decompressed video stream on a display device to the user at the second location as the video stream in the first digitally compressed format is being received at the second location;
i) marking a section of the displayed stream at the second location based on one or more actions of the user;
j) returning a request over the data network from the receiving device to the transmitting device for an enhanced version of the marked section of the video stream;
k) processing, at the transmitting device, the request for an enhanced version of the marked section of the video stream to select the requested section from the first saved video stream;
l) converting at least the requested section to the enhanced second digitally compressed format;
wherein the second digitally compressed format is a less storage-efficient and less transmission-efficient format having higher quality than the first digitally compressed format,
wherein the frames of the video stream in the second digitally compressed format contain significantly more information than the first digitally compressed format, and
wherein the frames of the video stream in the second digital compressed format contain substantially the same quality of information contained in the first saved stream of video images;
m) transmitting the requested section in the enhanced second digitally compressed format, corresponding to the requested section, over the data network from the transmitting device to the receiving device at the second location;
n) saving the requested section in the second digitally compressed format on the receiving device at the second location;
o) decompressing the requested section in the second digitally compressed format at the receiving device; and
p) displaying the decompressed requested section in a decompressed enhanced quality on the display device to the user at the second location while the video stream in the first digitally compressed format continues to be received at the second location;
wherein the first location is distinct and remote from the second location, whereby the user at the second location views a low quality version of the video stream while the frames of the video stream are being transmitted, the section of the displayed video is marked, the marked section is retransmitted and displayed in higher quality, and the user views the retransmitted section in higher quality while transmission of the low quality video stream continues.
37. A method of transmitting a video stream over a data network from a first location to a second location in a first digitally compressed format and then retransmitting, based on one or more actions of a user at the second location, at least a section of the video stream in another digitally compressed format having higher quality,
wherein the video stream comprises a plurality of sections, including said section, and
wherein a transmitting device at the first location is configured to compress any of said video sections with one or more of compression settings resulting in a plurality of levels of quality, including the first digitally compressed format and at least the higher quality digitally compressed format,
the method comprising the steps of:
a) digitally obtaining the plurality of video sections in an original video format at the first location;
b) saving the digital video on the transmitting device as a first saved video stream;
c) converting the original video stream from the original video format to the first digitally compressed format at the transmitting device,
wherein the first digitally compressed format is a storage-efficient and transmission-efficient format having lower quality than the another digitally compressed format,
wherein the frames of the video stream in the first digitally compressed format contain significantly less information than the second digitally compressed format;
d) transmitting the video stream in the first digitally compressed format over the data network from the transmitting device to a receiving device at the second location;
e) saving the video stream in the first digitally compressed format on the receiving device at the second location as a second saved video stream;
f) decompressing the video stream in the first digitally compressed format at the receiving device;
g) displaying the decompressed video stream on a display device to the user at the second location as the video stream in the first digitally compressed format is being received at the second location;
h) forming a request for the section of the video stream displayed at the second location based on one or more actions of the user;
i) returning the request over the data network from the receiving device to the transmitting device for an enhanced version of the requested section of the video stream;
j) processing, at the transmitting device, the request for the enhanced version of the requested section of the video stream to select the requested section from the first saved video stream;
k) converting at least the requested section to the enhanced digitally compressed format;
wherein the enhanced digitally compressed format is a less storage-efficient and less transmission-efficient format having higher quality than the first digitally compressed format, and
wherein the frames of the video stream in the enhanced digitally compressed format contain significantly more information than the first digitally compressed format;
l) transmitting the requested section in the enhanced digitally compressed format, corresponding to the requested section, over the data network from the transmitting device to the receiving device at the second location;
m) saving the requested section in the enhanced digitally compressed format on the receiving device at the second location;
n) decompressing the requested section in the enhanced digitally compressed format at the receiving device; and
o) displaying the decompressed requested section in a decompressed enhanced quality on the display device to the user at the second location while the video stream in the first digitally compressed format continues to be received at the second location;
wherein the first location is distinct and remote from the second location, whereby the user at the second location views a low quality version of the video stream, namely, the version in the first digitally compressed format, while the frames of the video stream are being transmitted, the section of the displayed video is requested, the requested section is retransmitted and displayed in higher quality, and the user views the retransmitted section in higher quality while transmission of the video stream in the first digitally compressed format continues.
38. The method of claim 37 wherein the plurality of levels of quality include a third digitally compressed format having even higher quality than the said enhanced digitally compressed format, the method further comprising the steps of:
a) forming a second request for at least a portion of said section of the video stream displayed at the second location in the enhanced digitally compressed format;
b) returning the second request over the data network from the receiving device to the transmitting device for a further enhanced version of the second requested portion of the video stream;
c) processing, at the transmitting device, the second request to select the second requested portion from the first saved video stream;
d) converting at least the second requested portion to the third digitally compressed format;
wherein the third digitally compressed format is a less storage-efficient and less transmission-efficient format having higher quality than the enhanced digitally compressed format, and
wherein the frames of the video stream in the third digitally compressed format contain significantly more information than the enhanced digitally compressed format;
e) transmitting the second requested portion in the third digitally compressed format, corresponding to the second requested portion, over the data network from the transmitting device to the receiving device;
f) saving the second requested portion in the third digitally compressed format on the receiving device at the second location;
g) decompressing the second requested portion in the third digitally compressed format at the receiving device; and
h) displaying the decompressed second requested portion in a decompressed third quality on the display device to the user at the second location;
whereby the user at the second location first views a low quality version of the video stream, namely, the version in the first digitally compressed format, then, the user views the first retransmitted section in the enhanced digitally compressed format, and then the user views at least the portion of the enhanced section in the further enhanced third digitally compressed format.
39. A method of transmitting a video stream over a data network from a first location to a second location in a first digitally compressed format and then retransmitting at least a section of the video stream in a higher quality second digitally compressed format,
wherein the video stream comprises a plurality of sections, including said section, and
wherein a transmitting device at the first location is configured to compress any of said video sections with compression settings resulting in a plurality of levels of quality, including the first digitally compressed format and at least the higher quality digitally compressed format,
the method comprising the steps of:
a) storing the plurality of video sections of the original video stream as a first saved video stream at the transmitting device at the first location;
b) converting the original video stream from the original video format to the first digitally compressed format,
wherein the first digitally compressed format is a storage-efficient and transmission-efficient format having lower quality than the second digitally compressed format,
wherein the frames of the video stream in the first digitally compressed format contain significantly less information than the second digitally compressed format;
c) transmitting the video stream in the first digitally compressed format over the data network from the transmitting device to a receiving device at the second location;
d) decompressing the video stream in the first digitally compressed format at the receiving device;
e) displaying the decompressed video stream on a display device to the user at the second location;
f) returning a request over the data network from the receiving device to the transmitting device for an enhanced version of the section of the video stream;
g) processing, at the transmitting device, the request for an enhanced version of the section of the video stream to select the requested section from the first saved video stream;
h) converting at least the requested section to the enhanced second digitally compressed format;
wherein the second digitally compressed format is a less storage-efficient and less transmission-efficient format having higher quality than the first digitally compressed format, and
wherein the frames of the video stream in the second digitally compressed format contain significantly more information than the first digitally compressed format;
i) transmitting the requested section in the enhanced second digitally compressed format, corresponding to the requested section, over the data network from the transmitting device to the receiving device at the second location;
j) decompressing the requested section in the second digitally compressed format at the receiving device; and
k) displaying the decompressed requested section in a decompressed enhanced quality on the display device to the user at the second location;
wherein the first location is distinct and remote from the second location, whereby the user at the second location views a low quality version of the video stream, the section is retransmitted and displayed in higher quality, and the user views the retransmitted section in higher quality.
40. The method of claim 39 wherein the frames of the video stream in the second digital compressed format contain substantially the same quality of information contained in the first saved stream of video images.
41. The method of claim 39 further comprising a step of saving the video stream in the first digitally compressed format on the receiving device at the second location as a second saved video stream.
42. The method of claim 39 further comprising a step of saving the requested section in the second digitally compressed format on the receiving device at the second location.
43. The method of claim 39 wherein the original video stream is generated by a video source device.
44. The method of claim 43 where in the video source device is a medical test device.
45. A receiving device for receiving a video stream over a data network from a first location at a second location in a first digitally compressed format and then receiving at least a section of the video stream in a higher quality second digitally compressed format,
wherein the first location is distinct and remote from the second location,
wherein the receiving device is at the second location,
wherein the video stream comprises a plurality of sections, including said section, and
wherein the receiving device is configured to decompress any of said video sections with any of a plurality of levels of quality, including the first digitally compressed format and at least the higher quality digitally compressed format,
the receiving device comprising:
a) a network interface, connected to the data network, for receiving data from the data network and for sending a request for the section in the higher quality second digitally compressed format,
b) a received storage device, connected to the network interface, for at least temporarily storing the video sections;
c) a decompressor, connected to the received storage device, configured to decompress at least the first digitally compressed format and the higher quality second digitally compressed format,
wherein the first digitally compressed format is a storage-efficient and transmission-efficient format having lower quality than the second digitally compressed format,
wherein the frames of the video stream in the first digitally compressed format contain significantly less information than the second digitally compressed format,
wherein the second digitally compressed format is a less storage-efficient and less transmission-efficient format having higher quality than the first digitally compressed format, and
wherein the frames of the video stream in the second digitally compressed format contain significantly more information than the first digitally compressed format;
d) a display device, connected to the decompressor, for displaying the decompressed video stream to the user at the second location;
e) a central processing unit, connected to the network interface, the display device, and an input device;
f) the input device, connected to the central processing unit, for receiving input from a user;
wherein the central processing unit monitors inputs from the user and issues the request for the section in the higher quality second digitally compressed format based at least one input from the user, and
whereby the user at the second location views the video stream in the low quality format, the requested section is received, decompressed, and displayed by the receiving device in higher quality, and the user views the requested section in higher quality.
46. The receiving device of claim 45, wherein the video stream received over the data network from a first location in the first digitally compressed format is saved in the received storage device.
47. The receiving device of claim 45, wherein the section in the higher quality second digitally compressed format in saved in the received storage device.
48. The receiving device of claim 45, wherein the video stream received over the data network from a first location in the first digitally compressed format is saved in the received storage device as a local movie, and
wherein at least one section in the higher quality second digitally compressed format replaces the corresponding section of the video stream in the first digitally compressed format.
49. A system, comprising at least one receiving device according to claim 45, for transmitting the video stream over the data network from the first location to the second location in the first digitally compressed format and then retransmitting at least the section of the video stream in the higher quality second digitally compressed format, the system comprising:
a) the at least one receiving device, communicating over the data network,
b) a transmitting device at the first location, communicating over the data network, said transmitting device comprising:
i) a storage device configured for storing the original video stream; and
ii) a controller coupled to the storage device and configured for coupling to the receiving device for controlling transmission of the video stream from the storage device to the receiving device, wherein the video stream is transmitted to the receiving device in the first digitally compressed format and then the requested section is transmitted to the receiving device in the second digitally compressed format.
50. A system, comprising at least one receiving device according to claim 45, for transmitting the video stream over the data network from the first location to the second location in the first digitally compressed format and then retransmitting at least the section of the video stream in the higher quality second digitally compressed format, the system comprising:
a) the at least one receiving device, communicating over the data network,
b) a server at the first location, communicating over the data network, said server comprising:
i) a storage device configured for storing the video stream; and
ii) a controller coupled to the storage device and configured for coupling to the receiving device for controlling transmission of the video stream from the storage device to the receiving device, wherein the video stream is transmitted to the receiving device in the first digitally compressed format and then the requested section is transmitted to the receiving device in the second digitally compressed format.
51. The system of claim 49 wherein the transmitting device is configured to compress the original video stream in the first digitally compressed format, and wherein, upon receipt of the request for the section of interest, the transmitting device is configured to compress the requested section in the second digitally compressed format.
52. The receiving device of claim 45 further comprising a section determining means for determining the section to be requested.
53. The receiving device of claim 52 further comprising a fast-forward and rewind function,
wherein the section determining means determines if the user views a particular section within the video stream for a predetermined period of time and automatically requests the particular section in the second format.
54. The method of claim 39 wherein the step of returning a request for an enhanced version of the section of the video stream is based on the user actions,
wherein the user explicitly requests the section.
55. The method of claim 39 wherein the step of returning a request for an enhanced version of the section of the video stream is based on the user actions,
wherein the request is implied by the actions of the user,
whereby the user implicitly requests the portion to be retransmitted.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of communications systems. More particularly, the present invention relates to the field of video communications systems transmitting video data from a source device to a receiving device.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In the last decade, there have been tremendous advances in medical devices which have greatly improved the ability to diagnose and treat patients. Ultrasounds, sonograms and echocardiograms are just a few modern tools developed to accurately diagnose patients with coronary problems, kidney stones, tumors, and other diseases without conducting risky and expensive exploratory surgeries. These tools are especially useful because they have the capability of being more accurate than exploratory surgeries and do not pose an additional risk to patients.

Given the benefits of ultrasounds, sonograms and echocardiograms these tools are in widespread use in many hospitals, clinics, testing facilities, and individual doctors' offices. Many doctors primarily base their diagnosis on the results from ultrasounds, sonograms and echocardiograms. While these tools allow doctors to make their diagnosis without costly, risky, and time consuming exploratory surgeries, an error in administering an ultrasound, sonogram and echocardiogram can lead to a wrong diagnosis. A wrong diagnosis can be catastrophic for the patient. By receiving an incorrect diagnosis, the patient can potentially fail to receive needed medical treatment and/or be unnecessarily treated. Whether needed medical treatment is withheld or unnecessary medical treatment is given due to an erroneous test result from an ultrasound, sonogram and echocardiogram, the patient unnecessarily suffers.

The doctor is generally not at the test when the study is performed on the patient. The tests are typically performed and later reviewed by the doctor after the patient has left the technician's office. The test is recorded in a video or movie format and then later played by the doctor to make their diagnosis.

A video picture or frame is made up of a number of horizontal lines included within the video display. To display a video picture or frame the video system begins at the top of the screen and displays the information within the composite video signal one horizontal line at a time. The information for each horizontal line is contained within a horizontal period of the composite video signal. After each horizontal period, the video system moves to the next line and displays the information within the next horizontal period of the composite video system. This continues until the video system reaches the bottom line on the video display. After displaying the video information on the bottom line of the video display, the video system must reset itself to the top of the display in order to begin displaying the next frame. In order to allow the system to reset itself to the top of the video display a vertical blanking period is included within the composite video signal, after the video information for each frame. This vertical blanking period allows the video system to reset to the top of the video display and begin displaying the information for the horizontal lines of the next frame. Therefore, a number of horizontal periods, enough to comprise a frame or screen, are strung together, within the composite video signal. Between each frame, the composite video signal includes a vertical blanking period which allows the video system to perform a vertical reset and prepare to display the next frame by moving back up to the top of the video display.

A schematic block diagram of a typical configuration including a display device 10 and an external image source 12 coupled together through a network 14 is illustrated in FIG. 1. The network 14 can be an intranet connection, internet connection or a direct connection between the display device 10 and the external image source 12. A user can view a movie or stream of video frames at the display device 10 which is transmitted from the source device 12. Currently, such a video stream can be transmitted from the source device 12 to the display device 10 in a number of ways. In order to view a movie transmitted from the source device 12, at the display device 10, in typical systems, the entire video stream of frames within the movie is transmitted and stored at the display device 10 and then viewed by the user. This method has the disadvantage that it can be very time consuming, because it requires that the entire movie is sent to the display device 10, before viewing of the movie can begin at the display device 10. Depending on the size of the movie and the speed of the connection between the display device 10 and the source device 12, this can be a significant delay from the time the video stream is transmitted until the user can start watching the movie at the display device 10.

In another prior system, frames of the movie are sent interactively as the movie was recorded. This has the disadvantage or requiring the movie to be transmitted in the format in which it was recorded. This format may not be suitable for efficient transmission. This system also has the disadvantage that the movie is not stored at the display device 10 and must be re-transmitted for each viewing.

In still another prior system, frames of the movie are interactively transcoded to a storage-efficient encoding format either before transmission or as the frames are being transmitted. This system has the disadvantage of not allowing the viewer to see frames of the movie as originally recorded. Depending on the encoding format used, a user of such a system may notice a significant decrease in image quality. This system also has the disadvantage that the movie is not stored at the display device and must be re-transmitted for each viewing.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A method of and apparatus for transmitting video images allows a viewer to receive at a receiving display device, all or a selected portion of a video stream of frames, in a storage-efficient format from a transmitting device and view the received video stream of frames before the transmission is complete. The video system also allows a viewer to receive at the receiving device, all or a selected portion of a video stream of frames, in a high-resolution format, by marking sections of interest within the received stream of frames in the storage-efficient format and requesting enhancement of those marked sections of interest. This apparatus preferably includes a source device, a transmitting device and at least one receiving device. Preferably, the transmitting device and the receiving device communicate over a network such as the Internet Protocol network. Alternatively, the transmitting device and the receiving device communicate over any appropriate data network. The transmitting device transmits the video images to the receiving device for display and storage at the receiving device. The receiving device is also capable of communicating with the transmitting device while simultaneously receiving video images. The source device is preferably a medical test device such as an ultrasound, a sonogram, an echocardiogram, and the like. Alternatively, the source device can be any video capture or storage device capable of sourcing a stream of video frames.

In one aspect of the present invention, a method of transmitting a video stream of images from a source device to a receiving device includes the steps of transmitting the video stream of images in a first format to the receiving device, receiving a request for an enhanced version of a marked portion of the video stream of images from the receiving device and transmitting the marked portion of the video stream of images in a second format, wherein the second format represents an enhanced version of the first format. The method further includes the step of storing the original video stream of images at the receiving device. The method further includes the step of storing the marked portion of the video stream of images to replace a corresponding portion of the original video stream of images. The method further includes the step of generating the video stream of images and transmitting the video stream of images to the source device. Preferably, the step of generating is performed by a medical test device which is one of the group of an ultrasound, sonogram and echocardiogram device. The method further includes the step of displaying the video stream of images at the receiving device. The method further includes the step of marking the marked portion of the video stream of images at the receiving device. The step of displaying includes a fast-forward and rewind function. The step of transmitting the video stream of images and the step of displaying are performed simultaneously such that a received portion of the video stream of images is displayed while a remaining portion of the video stream of images is transmitted. The method further includes the step of adding annotations to the video stream of images. The method further includes the step of determining if a user views a particular image within the video stream of images for a predetermined period of time and automatically transmitting the particular image in the second format. If the request for an enhanced version is received while the step of transmitting the video stream of images is being performed, then the step of transmitting the video stream of images is paused while the step of transmitting the marked portion is performed, and resumed once the step of transmitting the marked portion is completed.

In another aspect of the present invention, a transmitting device for transmitting a video stream of images to a receiving device includes a storage device configured for receiving and storing a stream of images and a controller coupled to the storage device and configured for coupling to the receiving device for controlling transmission of the stream of images from the storage device to the receiving device, wherein the stream of images are transmitted to the receiving device in a first format and then a requested portion of the stream of images are transmitted to the receiving device in a second format, and further wherein the second format represents an enhanced version of the first format. The transmitting device further includes a source device coupled to the storage device for generating the stream of images and transmitting the stream of images to the storage device. The source device is preferably a medical test device which is one of an ultrasound, a sonogram and an echocardiogram. The transmitting device further includes a network interface circuit coupled to the storage device and to the controller for communicating with the receiving device over a network. The receiving device includes a display for displaying the stream of images and an input device for marking the requested portion of the stream of images. The network is preferably an Internet Protocol network. Received frames within the stream of images are displayed at the receiving device while a remaining portion of the stream of images is transmitted. The receiving device further includes a received storage device for storing the stream of images. The requested portion of the stream of images is stored in the second format and a remaining portion of the stream of images is stored in the first format at the received storage device.

In yet another aspect of the present invention, a system for transmitting a video stream of images from a source device to a receiving device includes a source device for generating the video stream of images, a transmitting device coupled to the source device to receive and store the video stream of images and a receiving device coupled to the transmitting device to receive the video stream of images in a first format, display the video stream of images for a user to mark one or more sections of interest, transmit a request for an enhanced version of the sections of interest and receive from the transmitting device the sections of interest within the video stream of images in a second format, wherein the second format represents an enhanced version of the first format. The source device is preferably a medical test device which is one of an ultrasound, a sonogram and an echocardiogram. The receiving device is coupled to the transmitting device through a network. The receiving device includes a display for displaying the stream of images and an input device for marking the requested portion of the stream of images. The receiving device further includes a received storage device for storing the video stream of images. The sections of interest within the video stream of images are stored in the second format and a remaining portion of the video stream of images is stored in the first format at the received storage device. Received frames within the video stream of images are displayed at the receiving device while a remaining portion of the video stream of images is transmitted.

In still another aspect of the present invention, a method of transmitting a video stream of images from a source to a receiving device for display and storage at the receiving device includes the steps of transmitting the video stream of images in a first format to the receiving device, displaying the video stream of images in the first format at the receiving device, allowing a user to mark sections of interest within the video stream of images and transmitting the sections of interest to the receiving device in a second format, wherein the second format represents an enhanced version of the first format. The method further includes the step of displaying the sections of interest in the second format at the receiving device. The method further includes the step of storing the sections of interest in the second format and a remaining portion of the video stream of images in the first format at the receiving device. The step of transmitting the video stream of images and the step of displaying the video stream of images in the first format are performed simultaneously, such that a received portion of the video stream of images is displayed while a remaining portion of the video stream of images is transmitted. The step of displaying includes a fast-forward and rewind function. The method further includes the step of generating the video stream of images and transmitting the video stream of images to the source device. The step of generating is preferably performed by a medical test device which is one of a group of an ultrasound, sonogram and echocardiogram device.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a schematic block diagram of a typical configuration including a display device and an external image source coupled together through a network.

FIG. 2 illustrates a block diagram of a video system according to the present invention for transmitting video images from one location to another.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The video system of the present invention includes a video source device, such as an ultrasound, sonogram or echocardiogram device, which generates video images. A transmitting device coupled to the video source device receives and stores the video images in collections or movies. The transmitting device is also configured to be coupled to a server and one or more receiving devices through a network for transmitting the captured movies. The transmitting device can either transmit the movies directly to a receiving device or to the server for storage. If stored at the server, a receiving device can access the server through the network to download a movie.

When downloaded from either the server or the transmitting device to a receiving device, the frames are first transmitted in a low-resolution, storage-efficient format. A user can view received frames in the storage-efficient format, at the receiving device, as the remaining frames within the movie are being transmitted. The user can also mark sections of interest within the movie as they are viewing the movie. When the user then activates an enhance function, the frames within the marked sections of interest are sent from the server or transmitting device to the receiving device in an enhanced, high-resolution format for viewing by the user at the receiving device.

As frames are received at the receiving device, the data representing the frames is stored at the receiving device. If an enhanced, high-resolution version of a frame is received at the receiving device, the enhanced, high-resolution version of the frame is saved over the storage-efficient format of the frame which was previously received.

FIG. 2 illustrates a video system 100 according to the present invention for transmitting video images from one location to another. The video system 100 preferably includes a video source 101, a video cassette recorder 102, a transmitter 103, a recorded video device 104, a computer network 105, a server 150, a plurality of receivers 106, and data links 110, 115, 120, 125 and 145. Preferably, the video source 101 includes the video cassette recorder 102 or other storage means, such as a hard disk or writable CD-Rom, and is coupled to the transmitter 103 via the data link 110. The data link 110 is preferably a Super-Video (S-Video) connection. The transmitter 103 is also preferably coupled to the recorded video device 104 and the computer network 105 via the data links 115 and 120, respectively.

Preferably, the server 150 is coupled to the computer network 105 through the datalink 145. Preferably, the plurality of receivers 106 are coupled to the computer network 105 via the data links 125. Each of the plurality of receivers 106 are preferably a computer system having a display, central processing unit, and input device. The data links 120, 125 and 145 preferably link each of the plurality of receivers 106 to the computer network 105. The data links 125 include any appropriate connection to the computer network 105 including T1 communication lines, DSL links, cellular links, microwave transmission, land lines, twisted pair cable, and the like. The video system 100 shown in FIG. 2 is merely illustrative and is only meant to show the preferred embodiment of the present invention. In alternate embodiments, additional servers, transmitters, video sources, and receivers could be included without departing from the spirit and scope of the video system 100.

The video source 101 preferably provides the video system 100 with at least one video image. The video source 101 is capable of providing either a real-time video image or a pre-recorded video image. For example, to provide a real-time video image, the video source 101 preferably includes a real-time input device 130. This real-time input device 130 is preferably a medical measurement device such as an ultrasound, sonogram and echocardiogram, and the like. Alternatively, this real-time input device 130 could be any other appropriate image capturing device including a video camera and a still camera. The pre-recorded video image is preferably provided by the storage device 102. Preferably, the storage device 102 is configured to record the real-time video images produced by the real-time input device 130 and play these pre-recorded video images at a later time. In addition to recording real-time video images and re-playing them, the video cassette recorder 102 is also preferably configured to accept and play a pre-recorded video cassette tape. The video source 101 is preferably configured to transfer the video image to the transmitter 103 via the data link 110.

The recorded video device 104 is preferably coupled to the transmitter 103 via the data link 115. Preferably, the recorded video device 104 stores video images received by the transmitter 103 for playback at a later time. The recorded video device 104 allows the transmitter 103 to distribute these video images to the server 150 and the plurality of receivers 106 at a later time. In addition, the recorded video device 104 also preferably serves as a mass storage device to store data that is unrelated to the video images.

The transmitter 103 preferably controls the flow of video images from both the video source 101 and the recorded video component 104 over the computer network 105 to any number of the plurality of receivers 106, directly, or to the server 150. The transmitter 103 preferably compresses the video images in any known format prior to transmission to one of the plurality of receivers 106 or to the server 150. Further, the transmitter 103 preferably monitors and selectively establishes connections with the computer network 105 over the data link 120.

In the video system 100, the computer network 105 is preferably an Internet Protocol network. In alternate embodiments, the computer network 105 is any appropriate data network, including a direct connection. The computer network 105 is configured to transmit information between the server 150, the plurality of receivers 106 and the transmitter 103.

The plurality of receivers 106 are preferably configured to selectively receive a stream of video images from the transmitter 103 or from the server 150 over the computer network 105. For example, at least one of the plurality of receivers 106 is programmed to receive a stream of video images from the transmitter 103 or from the server 150. Accordingly, only the selected ones of the plurality of receivers 106 are capable of receiving the stream of video images from the transmitter 103 or from the server 150. In addition to receiving the stream of video images, the selected ones of the plurality of receivers 106 are also capable of transmitting instructions to the transmitter 103 or to the server 150 over the computer network 105.

The plurality of receivers 106 preferably reside in a remote location relative to the transmitter 103 and the server 150. Preferably, the plurality of receivers 106 selectively receive the flow of video images from the transmitter 103 or the server 150 and also selectively respond to the transmitter 103 or the server 150 with instructions.

Each of the plurality of receivers 106 preferably includes a video controller, a video client, and a video play device. Preferably, the video controller relays information regarding the frame size, frame rate, compression algorithm, and other parameters being transmitted to the transmitter 103 or to the server 150, as appropriate. Thus, a user interfacing with one of the plurality of receivers 106 is able to modify the frame size, frame rate, compression algorithm, and other parameters of the incoming stream of video images to one of the plurality of receivers 106. Since the plurality of receivers 106, the transmitter 103 and the server 150 are preferably located in remote locations, by interfacing with the video controller of the receiver 106, the user is able to remotely control video parameters such as frame size, frame rate, compression algorithm, and the like which are included within the video settings at the transmitter 103 or the server 150.

The receiving device 106 preferably receives the compressed stream of video images from the server 150 or the transmitter 103. The video client within the receiving device 106 preferably includes a decompressor which is configured to decompress the compressed stream of video images to form a representation of the original, uncompressed stream of video images. After the compressed stream of video images is processed by the decompressor, the resulting stream of video images is ready to be displayed.

In operation, when transmitting directly to the receiving devices 106, the transmitter 103 acts as a server that is connected to an appropriate data network. For most movies captured by the transmitter 103, within the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the transmitter 103 will transmit the movies for storage at the server 150. The server 150 then will transmit the movies to the receiving devices 106, as appropriate, when the receiving devices 106 access the server 150 over the computer network 105.

Preferably, each of the plurality of receivers 106 individually acts as a stand-alone computer system connected to the data network. The server 150 selectively enables a data stream of video images to be transmitted to an appropriate one or more of the plurality of receivers 106. In order for a particular receiver 106 to receive the data stream of video images from the transmitter 103, the receiver 106 logs onto the server 150 through the computer network 105. Preferably, the computer network 105 is the Internet Protocol network. Alternatively, the computer network 105 is any appropriate data network. Typically, in the preferred embodiment, this log on is accomplished by connecting through an Internet service provider. A connection between the server 150 and the particular receiver 106 is preferably established through the computer network 105 (FIG. 1). The particular receiver 106 preferably communicates with the server 150 over the computer network 105 and furnishes a user identification, a password, or another form of identification and verification. Once the server 150 identifies the particular receiver 106 as an approved user, the server 150 allows the data stream of video images to be transmitted to the particular receiver 106 over the computer network 105. The transmitter 103 is capable of simultaneously transmitting the data stream of video images to multiple receivers 106, if appropriate.

When receiving a movie or recorded stream of video images from either a transmitter 103 or the server 150, utilizing the video system of the present invention, a receiving device 106 receives all or a selected portion of the movie in a storage-efficient format. This storage-efficient format allows a faster transmission of the movie from either a transmitter 103 or the server 150 to a receiving device 106, but provides the user a lesser quality video picture when displayed on the receiving device 106. The user then views the movie in this storage-efficient format in order to determine if there are portions of the movie that the user wants to see in an enhanced format. The user does not have to wait for the entire movie to be received, but can begin viewing the transmitted frames in the storage-efficient format as the remaining video frame data within the movie is being transmitted to the receiving device 106.

While viewing the movie in the storage-efficient format, the user can mark portions of the movie, referred to herein as sections of interest, to receive in an enhanced, high-resolution format. The receiving device 106 then transmits a request to the appropriate one of the transmitting device 103 or the server 150 to receive the frames within the marked sections of interest in an enhanced, high-resolution format. In response to this request, the transmitting device 103 or the server 150 transmits the frames within the marked sections of interest in the high-resolution format. The user can then view the frames within the sections of interest in this high-resolution format. The user can also begin viewing transmitted enhanced frames while the remaining enhanced frames within the section of interest are being transmitted.

If the request for enhanced frames within a section of interest occurs while the transfer of portions of the movie in the storage-efficient format is being completed, then the transfer of frames within the storage-efficient format is preferably interrupted until the enhanced frames are transferred. After the enhanced frames within the sections of interest have been transferred, the transfer of frames within the storage efficient format is then resumed from the point that it was interrupted.

The receiving device 106 also preferably stores a local copy of the movie that is received from either the transmitting device 103 or the server 150, including both the storage-efficient frames and the enhanced frames within the sections of interest. When enhanced frames within a section of interest are received the enhanced frames are stored over the corresponding previously received frames in the storage-efficient format. Accordingly, the local copy of the movie will include frames in the enhanced format in marked sections of interest and frames within the storage-efficient format in the remaining portions of the movie. A user can use controls such as play, pause, fast-forward, reverse-play, rewind, skip to next mark and skip to previous mark, to interactively control the portion of the movie that is currently being displayed at the receiving device 106.

Preferably, a transmitting device 103 or server 150, for transmitting video frames to a receiving device 106, includes an open function which establishes a connection between a receiving device 106 and a movie stored at the transmitting device 103 or the server 150. The transmitting device 103 or server 150 also includes a transfer frames function which transfers a specified range of frames within a movie, encoded using a specified encoding scheme, to the requesting receiving device 106.

Preferably, a receiving device 106 for receiving video frames from a transmitting device 103 or the server 150 includes an open function which requests a connection to a movie stored on the transmitting device 103 or the server 150. The receiving device 106 also includes a mark-in function, used to establish a beginning or in-point of a section of interest within a movie to be transferred, and a mark-out function, used to establish an end or out-point of the section of interest to be transferred. The receiving device 106 also includes an enhance function which is used to request from the transmitting device 103 or the server 150, an enhanced, high-resolution copy of the frames between the in-point mark and the out-point mark, denoting the section of interest previously established by the user. As discussed above, the receiving device 106 also includes transport control functions such as play, pause, fast-forward, reverse-play, rewind, skip to next mark and skip to previous mark, which are used to control the display of frames within the movie being displayed.

The receiving device 106 also includes a status display function which displays the status of each frame of the movie, as it is being displayed, as well as the current position of the player and the location of any flags or markers in the movie. The status of a frame is one of either transferred, specifying that the frame has already been transferred from the transmitting device, not-transferred, specifying that the frame has not yet been transferred from the transmitting device or enhanced, specifying that the enhanced, high-resolution version of the frame has been transferred from the transmitting device. The receiving device 106 also includes an accept frames function which accepts frames sent from the transmitting device 103 or the server 150 and stores them in a local copy of the movie which is built interactively. When the connection to the transmitting device 103 or the server 150 is eventually closed, the local movie stored at the receiving device 106 is a valid movie which may be replayed on the receiving device 106 at any time. In this stored local copy, if enhanced versions of frames were received, then the enhanced versions of frames are preferably saved to replace the previously received storage-efficient version of the frames. Alternatively, both versions of frames are saved in the local copy at the receiving device 106.

The storage-efficient format in which the video frames of a movie are first transmitted from the transmitting device 103 or the server 150 to the receiving device 106 is a low-resolution format which allows the video frames to be transmitted much faster between the transmitting device 103 or the server 150 and the receiving device 106. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the storage-efficient format requires 150 kbytes per second. The storage-efficient format is a trade-off between speed and quality. Frames in this format can be transferred faster than in the high-resolution format, but the quality of the frames, when displayed, is poorer, due to the lower resolution. However, preferably, the quality of frames in the storage-efficient format is good enough to allow the viewer to see the basic images within the frame and determine whether or not they would like an enhanced version of the frame.

The enhanced, high-resolution format in which marked sections of interest are transmitted from the transmitting device 103 or the server 150 to the receiving device 106 takes longer to transmit than frames within the storage-efficient format. However, when displayed, the quality of frames in the enhanced, high-resolution format is much greater than in the storage-efficient format. In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the enhanced, high-resolution format requires 2.5 Mbytes per second.

Used together, the storage-efficient format and the enhanced, high-resolution format allow a user to quickly and effectively determine sections of interest within the movie where they would like to see frames in the enhanced format. The storage-efficient format allows the video frames within the movie to be transmitted to the receiving device 106 faster to give the user an opportunity to watch the movie at the receiving device 106 and determine and mark sections of interest within the movie. The frames between the marked sections of interest are then sent in the enhanced, high-resolution format and stored with the movie to replace the relevant frames. The user can view these enhanced, high-resolution frames within the sections of interest. In this manner, the entire movie is not sent in the enhanced format, but only the frames within the sections of interest. A local copy of the movie is stored at the receiving device 106 which includes the enhanced, high-resolution frames within the sections of interest, and frames in the storage-efficient format in the remaining portions of the movie.

In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, multiple levels of enhancement are utilized. In this embodiment, the system remembers the enhancement level of each frame which has been downloaded. When a user marks a section of interest, frames within that section are then transmitted at the next enhancement level. The user can keep enhancing the section of interest, as appropriate, until either the highest enhancement level is transmitted or the user is satisfied with the quality of the frame, as displayed.

In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, the system automatically enhances the current image or section of images. In this embodiment, if the user lingers on a particular frame or group of frames for more than a predetermined time period, then the system automatically transmits the enhanced, high-resolution version of the frame or group of frames.

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, the frames within the movie are downloaded sequentially in the storage-efficient format. In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, the system is not limited to a sequential download of the frames in the storage-efficient format. In this alternate embodiment, if the user sets the current position of the movie player to a point beyond all downloaded content, the system automatically begins downloading the frames at that chosen location in the movie in the storage-efficient format. The system will then later return to the skipped portion of the movie and download the frames within that portion.

In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, a user can stop or pause the downloading of a movie from a transmitting device 106 or the server 150 to a receiving device 106 at any time. In this embodiment, the user can then later resume the downloading of the movie at the point at which the downloading was previously stopped and with all previously enhanced sections retaining their enhanced status and content.

In an alternate embodiment of the present invention, a user can add annotations to the movie stored at the receiving device 106 and have those annotations sent to the transmitting device 103 or the server 150, as appropriate, and stored in the original movie file. This allows a user to annotate a movie which others download and view with the annotations.

In operation, within the system of the preferred embodiment of the present invention, a user at a receiving device 106, selects a movie to be viewed from a list of movies available on a remote transmitter 103 or server 150. Once the selection is made, the receiving device 106 automatically makes a request to the transmitter 103 or the server 150 to transfer all frames within the movie in the storage-efficient format. The user can begin to playback and view the movie at the receiving device 106 as soon as any frames are received, while the remainder of the movie is being downloaded. As the user plays or positions through the movie, the user uses the mark-in and mark-out functions to mark sections of interest within the movie. The user can position through the movie using the fast-forward, reverse-play, rewind, skip to next mark and skip to previous mark functions. The user then uses the enhance function to request transfer of the frames within the marked sections of interest in an enhanced, high-resolution format from the transmitter 103 or the server 150. When received at the receiving device 106, the frames in the enhanced, high-resolution format are saved to replace the previously received corresponding frame in the storage-efficient format. The user can begin to view the enhanced frames as soon as they are transferred and while the remainder of the enhanced frames are being transferred. If the request for enhanced frames occurred during the transfer of unenhanced frames, the transfer of unenhanced frames is interrupted until the enhanced frames are transferred, and then resumed after the transfer of enhanced frames is completed.

The present invention has been described in terms of specific embodiments incorporating details to facilitate the understanding of the principles of construction and operation of the invention. Such reference herein to specific embodiments and details thereof is not intended to limit the scope of the claims appended hereto. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that modifications may be made in the embodiment chosen for illustration without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Specifically, it should be apparent to those skilled in the art, that while the video system of the present invention is preferably used to transmit and display a video movie generated by a medical test device, the video system of the present invention can also be used to transmit and display any other type of video movie, image or series of images.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification725/134, 725/133, 715/203, 725/135, 348/E07.071
International ClassificationG06F17/00, G06F15/00, H04N7/173, H04N7/16
Cooperative ClassificationH04N21/4728, H04N21/4331, H04N21/2668, H04N21/25833, H04N21/23439, H04N7/17318, H04N21/2408, H04N21/2393
European ClassificationH04N21/4728, H04N21/24U, H04N21/2343V, H04N21/433C, H04N21/239H, H04N21/2668, H04N21/258C3, H04N7/173B2
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