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Publication numberUS20090131152 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/942,445
Publication dateMay 21, 2009
Filing dateNov 19, 2007
Priority dateNov 19, 2007
Publication number11942445, 942445, US 2009/0131152 A1, US 2009/131152 A1, US 20090131152 A1, US 20090131152A1, US 2009131152 A1, US 2009131152A1, US-A1-20090131152, US-A1-2009131152, US2009/0131152A1, US2009/131152A1, US20090131152 A1, US20090131152A1, US2009131152 A1, US2009131152A1
InventorsMartin A. Busse
Original AssigneeVerizon Data Services Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and system for performance tracking to modify content presented by a set-top box
US 20090131152 A1
Abstract
An approach is provided for presenting, via a set-top box, a game to a user according to a user profile of the first user. Performance of the user is tracked. The performance information is presented to a supervisory user, wherein the set-top box is configured to provide modification of the user profile by the supervisory user based on the performance information.
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Claims(25)
1. A method comprising:
selecting an educational game for a dependent user based on a profile of the dependent user, wherein the profile specifies available content and scheduling information associated with the content;
presenting, via a set-top box, an educational game to the dependent user;
tracking performance information relating to playing the educational game by the dependent user;
comparing the tracked performance information with performance information collected from a plurality of other dependent users' performances on the educational game, wherein the dependent users are within a specified geographical region;
notifying a parental user of the comparison; and
receiving, in response to the notification, input from the parental user for modifying the profile of the dependent user.
2. A method according to claim 1, further comprising:
automatically modifying the profile based on the performance information, wherein the performance information is used to select content including broadcast content, digital video recorder (DVR) content, on-demand video, an on-demand game, or a locally stored game.
3. A set-top box device comprising:
a memory configured to store a profile of a dependent user, wherein the profile specifies available content and scheduling information associated with the content; and
a processor coupled to the memory and configured to select an educational game for a dependent user based on a profile of the dependent user;
a presentation module configured to present an educational game to the dependent user;
a tracking module configured to track performance information relating to playing the educational game by the dependent user, wherein the processor is further configured to compare the tracked performance information with performance information collected from a plurality of other dependent users' performances on the educational game, wherein the dependent users are within a specified geographical region, and a parental user is notified of the comparison; and
an input interface configured to receive, in response to the notification, input from the parental user for modifying the profile of the dependent user.
4. A set-top box device according to claim 3, wherein the profile is automatically modified based on the performance information, wherein the performance information is used to select content including broadcast content, digital video recorder (DVR) content, on-demand video, an on-demand game, or a locally stored game.
5. A method comprising:
presenting, via a set-top box, a game to a first user according to a user profile of the first user;
tracking performance, associated with playing the game, of the user;
storing the performance information; and
presenting the performance information to a second user, wherein the set-top box is configured to provide modification of the user profile by the second user based on the performance information.
6. A method according to claim 5, wherein the game includes an educational game.
7. A method according to claim 5, further comprising:
retrieving performance information of other users associated with other set-top boxes; and
comparing the performance information of the first user with the performance information of the other users to output a report.
8. A method according to claim 5, wherein the comparison is performed for users within a specified geographical region.
9. A method according to claim 5, further comprising:
presenting the report via the set-top box to the second user.
10. A method according to claim 5, wherein the performance information is used to select content including broadcast content, digital video recorder (DVR) content, on-demand video, an on-demand game, or a locally stored game.
11. A method according to claim 10, further comprising:
generating statistical information based on usage of the content.
12. A method according to claim 10, further comprising:
automatically providing, via the set-top box, suggested content based on the performance information or the user profile; and
automatically updating the user profile based on the performance information.
13. A method according to claim 10, wherein the user profile further specifies scheduling information for access to the content.
14. A method according to claim 5, wherein the second user has a supervisory role over the first user.
15. A set-top box apparatus comprising:
a processor configured to execute a game;
a presentation module configured to present the game to a first user according to a user profile of the first user;
a tracking module configured to track performance, associated with playing the game, of the user; and
a memory configured to store the performance information,
wherein the presentation module is further configured to present the performance information to a second user, and the user profile is selectively modified by the second user based on the performance information.
16. An apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the game includes an educational game.
17. An apparatus according to claim 15, further comprising:
a communication interface configured to retrieve performance information of other users associated with other set-top boxes, wherein the processor is further configured to compare the performance information of the first user with the performance information of the other users to output a report.
18. An apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the comparison is performed for users within a specified geographical region.
19. An apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the presentation module is further configured to present the report via the set-top box to the second user.
20. An apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the performance information is used to select content including broadcast content, digital video recorder (DVR) content, on-demand video, an on-demand game, or a locally stored game.
21. An apparatus according to claim 20, wherein the tracking module is further configured to generate statistical information based on usage of the content.
22. An apparatus according to claim 20, wherein suggested content is automatically provided based on the performance information or the user profile, and the user profile is automatically updated based on the performance information.
23. An apparatus according to claim 20, wherein the user profile further specifies scheduling information for access to the content.
24. An apparatus according to claim 15, wherein the second user has a supervisory role over the first user.
25. A system comprising:
a database configured to store content including a game; and
a video processor configured to transmit video content to a set-top box over a transmission facility,
wherein the set-top box is configured to present the game to a first user according to a user profile of the first user, to track performance, associated with playing the game, of the user, to store the performance information, and to present the performance information to a second user,
wherein the set-top box is further configured to provide modification of the user profile by the second user based on the performance information.
Description
BACKGROUND INFORMATION

With the advent of computers, interactive electronic communications, and the Internet, as well as advances in the digital realm of consumer information, has come a reinvention of conventional entertainment and communication services to enhance programming, recording, gaming, and viewing of multimedia, such as broadcast television programs. Traditionally, broadcast media, being based on pre-computer age technology, developed on its own path, without any regard to other media systems. However, with readily available, cost-effective broadband services, bandwidth intensive applications, such as video streaming and online gaming, have become viable alternatives to legacy broadcast systems.

It is recognized that modern lifestyles have become so reliant on digital interfaces that media devices, such as set-top boxes (STB), are developing into important iconographies of media content accessibility. As such, an increasing number of individuals are utilizing STBs to achieve the advantages of ubiquitous access to information and entertainment. Advances in technology, services, and affordability; however, can be better applied to foster the enrichment of society. For example, the household media environment plays a significant role in the socialization of youngsters. From the kind of media available, to the extent with which young people are exposed, media plays an inexorable role in what adolescents know, believe, and value. Thus, to a large extent, media dictates how young people learn, interact, and behave.

Therefore, there is a need for an approach that seamlessly provides flexible, efficient techniques to track developmental progression to modify available content.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a system capable of performance tracking to modify content for a set-top box, according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 2 is a diagram of a set-top box configured to provide modified content, according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 3 is a flowchart of a process for establishing a modifiable user profile, according to an exemplary embodiment

FIGS. 4 a and 4 b are diagrams of user interfaces utilized in the process of FIG. 3, according to exemplary embodiments;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a process for “dynamic” content modification, according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIGS. 6 a and 6 b are diagrams of user interfaces utilized in the process of FIG. 5, according to exemplary embodiments;

FIG. 7 is a flowchart of a process for “ad hoc” content modification, according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 8 is a diagram of a user interface utilized in the process of FIG. 7, according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 9 is flowchart of a process for generating and presenting a performance report, according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 10 is a diagram of a user interface utilized in the process of FIG. 9, according to an exemplary embodiment;

FIG. 11 is a flowchart of a process for dynamic content modification suggestions, according to an exemplary embodiment; and

FIG. 12 is a diagram of a computer system that can be used to implement various exemplary embodiments.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

A preferred apparatus, method, and software for performance tracking to modify content for a set-top box are described. In the following description, for the purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the preferred embodiments of the invention. It is apparent, however, that the preferred embodiments may be practiced without these specific details or with an equivalent arrangement. In other instances, well-known structures and devices are shown in block diagram form in order to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the preferred embodiments of the invention.

Although various exemplary embodiments are described with respect to a set-top box (STB), it is contemplated that these embodiments have applicability to any device capable of processing audio-video (AV) signals for presentation to a user, such as a home communication terminal (HCT), a digital home communication terminal (DHCT), a stand-alone personal video recorder (PVR), a television set, a digital video disc (DVD) player, a video-enabled phone, an AV-enabled personal digital assistant (PDA), and/or a personal computer (PC), as well as other like technologies and customer premises equipment (CPE).

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a system capable of tracking game performance to modify content for a set-top box, according to an exemplary embodiment. For the purposes of illustration, a system 100 for configuring a media-based device (e.g., STB 101 a) to modify a menu of customized content options (e.g., audio, video, gaming, and/or photographic media instances) presented to a user based on game performance information is described with respect to a service provider network 103. As used herein, the terms media-based device, STB, and user equipment are interchangeable. It is recognized that service providers need to be mindful of consumer demand for cyclical feedback techniques that enable progressive adaptation to the multimedia entertainment and programming accessible via a media-based device. As such, a system 100 introduces a game performance monitoring service for one or more STBs 101 a-101 n, thereby affording substantial convenience and flexibility in modifying available content by consumers. In other words, the game performance monitoring service of system 100, according to certain embodiments, stems from the recognition that guardians can benefit from more flexible methods to redefine the content available to dependents. However, little attention has been afforded to extending and enhancing content modifying features based on game performance information within the entertainment arena, as well as among other communication mediums. Thus, it is apparent that improvements are needed to increase the value of each media experience.

Service provider network 103 includes a server 105 that implements a game performance monitoring and/or content modifying service, whereby supervisory users can monitor game performance of other users to selectively modify content that is available to those users. Namely, the game performance monitoring and content modifying service provides guardians developmental feedback about their dependents, thereby enhancing conventional control features over the media (e.g., broadcast content, digital video recorder (DVR) content, on-demand content, on-demand games, and/or other suitable media, as well as locally stored instances of the same) available to their dependents via a media-based device (e.g., STB 101 a). In this manner, a subscriber (e.g., a parent) of the game performance monitoring and content modifying service may modify the content that is available to one or more dependent users (e.g., a child) and schedule access to that content, via one or more user profiles, so as to progressively enhance the edifying nature of the dependent users' media experience. It is contemplated that system 100 may embody many forms and include multiple and/or alternative components and facilities.

It is observed that television remains the prevalent global medium for entertainment and information as individuals spend a great deal of time tuning into televised media. As such, television services provided over a dedicated network, such as an IPTV (internet protocol television) network, cable network, or satellite network, extend to subscribers an overwhelming choice of multimedia entertainment and programming options. For example, IPTV service providers offer consumers various AV services ranging from multi-channel AV programming that mimics traditional broadcast media, to true “on-demand” programming. These services are further supplemented with interactive AV applications that enable robust programming information, selection and navigation functionality, as well as integrated digital AV recording, and other data services to enhance the AV experience. Moreover, the increasing “richness” of network resources also enables IPTV service providers to extend interactive learning and video game applications to subscribers. As such, television is no longer a passive medium; it is an interactive entertainment encounter capable of endless configuration and personalization.

Given the breadth of content available, parents are confronted with the onerous task of managing (and redefining) the programming and content available to their children. While a wealth of educational and cultural material exists, so too does a large body of objectionable content. Moreover, few parents are able to maintain continuous supervision over their children's developmental needs, much less constantly discover suitable content to meet those needs.

As such, the consumer segment is driven, at least in part, by a demand for performance monitoring and content modifying services extended through easily manipulated, intuitive interfaces. Thus, as previously mentioned, various embodiments of system 100 provide consumers convenient access to game performance monitoring and content modifying features so as to maximize a dependent's exposure to a progressively enhanced body of edifying media, while at the same time, limiting (if not eliminating) their exposure to inappropriate material.

As seen in FIG. 1, service provider network 103 integrates the television medium with that of the telecommunications, computing, and media environments, thereby broadening the scope of devices and sources available to individuals for obtaining and controlling access to content, as well as progressively modifying media availability. In this manner, system 100 relieves guardians from the daunting task of having to constantly police their dependents' multimedia environment, by enabling users, via user equipment, such as STBs 101 a-101 n and/or one or more end terminals 107, to establish and adaptively modify one or more user profiles that specify content available to one or more secondary users. Further, system 100 alleviates the burden and expense upon network operators of providing parallel avenues to content, as well as controls for managing that media. Although the user equipment is described with respect to an STB, it is contemplated that various embodiments have applicability to any device capable of processing audio and/or video streams.

In a typical scenario, an individual (e.g., a subscriber of the game performance and content modifying service) may, via a client-user interface (such as a web-based application 109 a implemented on server 105, a computing application 109 b executed on, for instance, a PC, or a media-based application 109 c operating on, for example, STB 101 n), receive game performance information of a dependent user and/or modify an associated user profile based on that information, wherein the user profile specifies content that is available to the dependent user via a media-based device. Namely, subscribers are presented with an integrated presentation that includes developmental reports and customizable parameters governing content originating from a media service provider (MSP) 111 or a third-party source, and made available at STBs 101 a-101 n. In other words, guardians (e.g., a parent) may selectively modify the content available to one or more dependent users (e.g., a child), as well as schedule access to that media (in, for example, an a la carte fashion), based on game performance information of the dependent users and/or one or more content modifying policies. As such, parents no longer have to constantly monitor their children's development, but instead may focus on selecting (or creating) appropriate content modifying techniques that will progressively enhance the children's learning experience.

A content managing application (hereinafter “content manager”), such as content manager 109 a, permits supervisory users to easily, effectively, and intuitively modify one or more user profiles based on performance information, wherein the user profiles govern the presentation of personalized menus for customizing content (e.g., audio, video, gaming, and/or photographic media) to make available to the users from content sources, including media service provider (MSP) 111, television broadcast systems 113, third party content provider systems 115, as well as content accessible over one or more data networks (e.g., service provider network 103, packet-based network 117, and/or telephony network 119), such as content within content repository 121. Moreover, a separate identity for each communication device (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n and/or one or more end terminals 107) associated with a subscriber's account may be established to further personalize the content received by users comprising the account. Accordingly, the content managers 109 a-109 c may also enable subscribers to specify scheduling information for access to newly modified content.

In certain embodiments, one or more content managers 109 a-109 c may enable subscribers to review game performance information of a first user in a convenient, graphically formatted report and/or modify a user profile of the first user based on that report. More specifically, the game performance report can include feedback information concerning the first user's performance in an educational game, wherein the feedback affords subscribers immediate perspective into the first user's aptitudes (e.g., abilities, skills, strengths, talents, etc.), interests (amusements, hobbies, occupations, obsessions, etc.), and/or weaknesses (inabilities, deficiencies, handicaps, shortcomings, etc.). In this manner, the content mangers 209 a-209 c provide content modification capabilities for the subscribers to modify (either automatically or manually) available content to the first user based on their game performance; thus, progressively maximizing the educational value of the first user's multimedia experience.

Alternatively (or additionally), the subscribers can retrieve performance information of other users associated with other STBs to compare the performance information of the first user against the performance information of the other users. That is, subscribers can review (in a convenient report) the first user's relative development compared to, for instance, the first user's peers. In certain embodiments, the comparison report can concern select users within a specified geographic region, or of like age/maturity, or having a similar socio-economic status, or behavioral characteristic, as well other suitable categories corresponding to information stored within the users' profiles. As such, embodiments of service provider network 103 may also enable individuals utilizing STBs 101 a-101 n (and/or end terminal(s) 107) to interact with one another, through personalized communications channels, to further facilitate the processes described herein.

Content can include any AV media (e.g., gaming applications, broadcast television programs, video-on-demand (VOD) programs, audio-on-demand (AOD) programs, pay-per-view programs, IPTV feeds, DVD related content, etc.), pre-recorded media content (e.g., DVR content), data communication services content (e.g., commercials, advertisements, videos, movies, songs, images, sounds, etc.), Internet services content (streamed audio, video, or pictographic media), and/or any other equivalent media form, such as locally stored content instances of the aforementioned media. In this manner, an MSP 111 may provide (in addition to their own media content) content obtained from sources, such as one or more television broadcast systems 113, one or more third-party content provider systems 115, content residing in a repository 121, accessible via server 105, or otherwise available via one or more packet-based networks 117 and/or telephony networks 119, as well as any other suitable avenue or source

In particular embodiments, MSP 111 may comprise an IPTV system configured to support the transmission of television video programs from the broadcast systems 113 as well as other content, such as media content from the various third-party sources (e.g., components 101 a-101 n, 107, 115, 121) utilizing internet protocol (IP). That is, the IPTV system 111 may deliver signals and/or streams, including content, control commands, and/or user profile information, in the form of IP packets. Further, the transmission network (e.g., service provider network 103) may optionally support end-to-end data encryption in conjunction with the streaming and content management services, as will be explained in more detail below.

In this manner, the use of IP permits television services to be integrated with broadband Internet and gaming services, and thus, share common connections to a user site. Also, IP packets can be more readily manipulated, and therefore, provide users with greater flexibility in terms of control, modification, and personalization, as well as offer superior methods for increasing the availability of content from disparate sources. Delivery of AV content, control commands, and/or user profile information, by way of example, may be through a multicast from the IPTV system 111 to the STBs 101 a-101 n. Any individual STB may tune to a particular source by simply joining a multicast (or unicast) of the media content, control command, or user profile information, utilizing an IP group membership protocol (IGMP). For instance, the IGMP v2 protocol may be employed for joining STBs to new multicast (or unicast) groups. Such a manner of delivery avoids the need for expensive tuners to view media content, such as television broadcasts; however, other delivery methods, such as cable, may still be utilized. Further, this delivery method also enables varied levels of control, i.e., control over single STBs or broadcast control affecting multiple STBs. It is noted that conventional delivery methods may also be implemented and combined with the advanced methods of system 100. Further, the content (and subsequently the control commands and user profile information) may be provided to various IP-enabled devices, such as various computing, telephony, and mobile apparatuses delineated below.

An STB (e.g., STB 101 a) may integrate all the functions of an IPTV system, as well as combine the content management and control functions of the various online or off-line environments, in a manner that seamlessly toggles among the various system 100 resources. It is contemplated that the performance monitoring and content modifying service may be extended to users with a presence on the Internet. In alternative embodiments, the services of system 100 may be extended to users having an end terminal (not illustrated), such as a plain old telephone service (POTS) device, connected to telephony network 119.

Accordingly, MSP 111 can provide content that is retrieved over a data network, as well as provide conventional media streams. For instance, MSP 111 provides STBs 101 a-101 n access to content traditionally limited to host sites, such as end user originated content uploaded to audio, video, and/or pictographic sharing sites. The content may also be shared between STBs 101 a-101 n, as well as between STBs 101 a-101 n and end terminal(s) 107. It is generally noted that media content can be any type of information provided from any source having connectivity to system 100.

In this manner, system 100 provides online games 123, including educational games and other interactive learning applications, to STBs 101 a-101 n via an online game module 125 of sever 105. According to one embodiment, server 105 includes one or more processors (not shown) and memory (not shown) that are accessible to online game module 125 for executing game applications in response to a request for an available game from a STB (e.g., STB 101 a). Online games 123 may be stored at server 105 via the memory or at a repository (not illustrated) connected thereto, as well as received from MSP 111, content provider systems 115, or one or more content repositories 121 (or databases) available via one or more data networks (e.g., networks 103, 117, and/or 119). In the illustrated embodiment, online game 123 can be selected by a user from a plurality of game applications that are made available via a menu of customized content options presented to the user by an STB (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n) based on previous game performance of that user. Online game module 125 may query a user profile repository 127 via one or more data networks (e.g., packet-based network 117 and/or service provider network 103) and/or MSP 111 for user profile information associated with the requesting user, wherein the user profile information includes modifications to available content (and/or scheduling information for content availability) generated based on previous game performance information, such as scores or levels of play that each user has attained. In other embodiments, online game module 125 can provide previous game information to STBs 101 a-101 n to allow users to continue previously saved (and/or uncompleted) games based on information stored within a respective user profile. Accordingly, online game module 125 can provide users with online games 123 progressively tailored to the gaming user's performance and/or development. Customized menus are described in more detail with respect to FIGS. 6 a and 6 b.

According to one embodiment, online games 123 can be executed via various components of system 100. For instance, server 105 can execute one or more game applications and may transmit game data to respective STBs 101 a-101 n for display. In turn, STBs 101 a-101 n can receive commands from users via an input interface (not illustrated), wherein STBs 101 a-101 n, via a communications interface (not illustrated), can transmit these commands to server 105 to effectuate modifications to the display of the one or more online games 123. Accordingly, an online game 123 requested by a user can be operated entirely on server 105, via online game module 125, wherein online game module 125 processes and executes commands received from STBs 101 a-101 n and transmits data corresponding to updated or new displays to the respective devices, such that communication between the respective components is directly effectuated over packet-based network 117. In this embodiment, STBs 101 a-101 n can operate essentially like a terminal that receives AV content from server 105 for display.

In another embodiment, server 105 can execute one or more game applications and may transmit game data to respective STBs 101 a-101 n via MSP 111. To effectuate modifications to the display of the one or more online games 123, STBs 101 a-101 n can receive commands from users and can transmit these commands either directly to server 105 over packet-based network 117 or indirectly via MSP 111, i.e., over one or more networks (e.g., service provider network 103 and/or packet-based network 117). Accordingly, an online game 123 requested by a user can be operated entirely on server 105, via online game module 125, wherein online game module 125 processes and executes commands received from either MSP 111 or STBs 101 a-101 n and transmits data corresponding to updated or new displays to STBs 101 a-101 n either directly or indirectly via MSP 111. In this embodiment, STBs 101 a-101 n may still operate essentially like a terminal; however, AV content may be received from MSP 111 and/or server 105.

In alternative embodiments, online games 123 may be operated entirely on STBs 101 a-101 n, wherein available games requested by a user can be downloaded to STBs 101 a-101 n, or otherwise made available, such as by an optical disc. In this embodiment, STBs 101 a-101 n only communicate game performance data to server 105, in conjunction with, or independently of, the online game 123. Transmission may occur directly between server 105 and STBs 101 a-101 n over, for instance, packet-based network 105, or indirectly via MSP 111. In other embodiments, the operation of online game 123 can be distributed between online game module 125, MSP 111, STBs 101 a-101 n, and/or end terminals 107, as well as any other suitable system 100 component, such as a third party content provider system 115.

Accordingly, server 105 can include a tracking module 129 configured to communicate with online game module 125 to track performance, associated with playing the online game 123, of the users at one or more media-based devices (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107). Tracking module 129 may obtain the game performance information from online game module 125 in real-time (i.e., as the game is being played) or periodically (i.e., based on a predetermined time interval). Thus, tracking module 129 may acquire game performance information continuously, intermittently, or in an “on demand” fashion. In turn, the game performance information may be stored in a memory of server 105 or a repository (not illustrated) coupled thereto or associated therewith. Alternatively, the game performance information may be transmitted to MSP 111, user profile repository 127, or any other suitable memory and/or repository, such as a memory of one or more STBs 101 a-101 n, for storage. As such, game performance information may be tracked and stored over a given period of time, such that the information may accessible to one or more supervisory users to facilitate a determination as to whether available content to a dependent user requires modification. In other embodiments, tracking module 129 may be utilized to generate statistical information based on general usage of content by dependent users.

Game performance information may include data, such as basic statistical information (e.g., scores, levels, correct/wrong answers, time played, decisions made, etc.), as well as analyzed information gleaned from those statistical parameters (e.g., parallel processing capabilities, mental adroitness, visual intelligence, coordination, problem solving capabilities, maturity, sociability, strategies, psychological awareness, competitive nature, literacy, relative knowledge of a given subject matter, interests, aptitudes, weaknesses, etc.). As such, server 105 can include a report module 131 for gathering tracked game performance information on a dependent user to present that information to a supervisory user. This presentation may comprise written text and/or a graphical display illustrating the dependent user's development. Report module 131 may gather performance information of other dependent users and compare that information across two or more individuals, so as to generate a report communicating the relative development of each dependent user. These comparisons may be further segregated across select geographic regions, specific age groups, socio-economic statuses, behavioral characteristics, as well other suitable categories corresponding to user profile information within user profile repository 127.

Further, report module 131 is configured to generate and transmit reports to supervisory users via one or more media-based devices (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n or end terminal(s) 107 capable of audio and/or video display) utilizing one or more content managers 109 a-109 c. In one embodiment, reports are generated based on a policy or configuration of a user profile stored at user profile repository 127 or other memory, such as a memory of STBs 101 a-101 n, end terminal(s) 107, etc. Similarly, reports may be generated “on-demand” when requested by a supervisory or other authorized user. As such, report module 131 may communicate (or otherwise deliver) reports to authorized users via STB (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n) or one or more end terminal(s) 107, such as those computing, telephony, and mobile apparatuses described below. Further, delivery may include conventional techniques, such as by postal mail, fax, e-mail, etc. Thus, these reports can help supervisory users determine whether to modify the media (e.g., broadcast content, digital video recorder (DVR) content, on-demand content, on-demand games, and/or other suitable media, as well as locally stored instances of the same) available to one or more dependent users, so as to maximize the dependent users' motor development, intellectual development, affective development, and/or social development.

Accordingly, one or more content managers 109 a-109 c may be implemented on (or accessed by) one or more end-terminals 107 and/or STBs 101 a-101 n to effectuate the content modification procedures based on game performance information, as described herein.

With continued reference to FIG. 1, content managers 109 b and 109 c may be executed, for example, as a user interface capable of local implementation on an STB (e.g., STB 101 a-101 n) or on an end terminal 107, such as a computing device, telephony device, mobile device, or other like mechanism. Thus, exemplary embodiments of content managers 109 b and 109 c may be provided through navigation shell applications, e.g., menu applications having options corresponding to different functions, as well as various content instances and/or multimedia experiences. Computing devices may include desktop computers, notebook computers, servers, terminal workstations, gaming systems, customized hardware, or other equivalent apparatus. Telephony devices may comprise plain-old-telephones, wireless telephones, cellular telephones, satellite telephones, voice over internet protocol telephones, and the like. Mobile devices may include personal digital assistants (PDA), pocket personal computers, smart phones, tablets, handsets, portable gaming systems, and customized hardware, as well as other mobile technologies capable transmitting data and/or processing audio/video signals. Moreover, STBs 101 a-101 n may be used alone or in combination with one or more end terminal(s) 107 to implement various exemplary embodiments.

The STBs 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107 can communicate using packet-based network 117 or telephony network 119. These systems can include: a public data network (e.g., the Internet), various intranets, local area networks (LAN), wide area networks (WAN), the public switched telephony network (PSTN), integrated services digital networks (ISDN), other private packet switched networks or telephony networks, as well as any additional equivalent system or combination thereof. These networks may employ various access technologies including cable networks, satellite networks, subscriber television networks, digital subscriber line (DSL) networks, optical fiber networks, hybrid fiber-coax networks, worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX) networks, wireless fidelity (WiFi) networks, other wireless networks (e.g., 3G wireless broadband networks, mobile television networks, radio networks, etc.), terrestrial broadcasting networks, provider specific networks (e.g., a Verizon® FiOS® network, a TiVo® network, etc), and the like. Such networks may also utilize any suitable protocol supportive of data communications, e.g., transmission control protocols (TCP), internet protocols (IP), user datagram protocols (UDP), hypertext markup languages (HTML), dynamic HTML (DHTML), file transfer protocols (FTP), telnet, hypertext transfer protocols (HTTP), asynchronous transfer mode (ATM), wireless application protocols (WAP), socket connections (e.g., secure sockets layer (SSL)), Ethernet, frame relay, and the like, to connect STBs 101 a-101 n to various sources of media content and devices capable of remotely managing STBs 101 a-101 n.

By way of example, STB 101 a-101 n, as well as terminal(s) 107, can remotely access, via a communication interface (not illustrated), server 105 which can be configured to execute multiple instances of a content manager application 109 a utilizing, for instance, one or more processors (not illustrated). That is, remote application 109 a may be provided in a distributed fashion using, for instance, client-server architectures, such as implemented by enterprise application service providers (ASP). It is noted that ASP models (and other like architectures) offer system scalability in terms of administrative scalability, geographic scalability, and/or load scalability. Thus, distributed environments are attractive modes for disseminating system 100 functionality to a broad spectrum of users and devices

For example, server 105 can be an “online” system capable of communicating with one or more third-party web servers (not illustrated), content repositories (e.g., repository 121), or equivalent facilities, to provide users various avenues to draw content from, as well as establish and/or modify one or more user profiles to control and progressively adapt the content made available to particular users via, for example, STBs 101 a-101 n. More specifically, one or more servers 105 may include one or more processors configured to receive user input concerning one or more user profiles from one or more end terminals 107 (and/or STBs) for modifying (or otherwise controlling) content made available to one or more users at one or more STBs 101 a-101 n (and/or end terminal(s) 107), wherein the server(s), via the processor(s), are capable of configuring the user profile(s) according to the user input. In particular embodiments, this configuration can be performed in real-time, wherein the user input is transmitted to STBs 101 a-101 n to directly affect configuration data (e.g., modify user profile information) stored in a memory (not illustrated) of the respective media-based devices 101 a-101 n. Additionally (or alternatively), server(s) 105 can access a shared memory, wherein STBs 101 a-101 n obtain sufficient configuration data (including modifications to one or more user profiles based on game performance information) from the shared memory, either in real-time or on a periodic basis.

As such, exemplary embodiments of content manager 109 a may, for instance, comprise hypertext markup language (HTML) user interfaces or JAVA™ applets stored on server 105 and accessed via world-wide-web pages. Further, by enabling access and control of STBs 101 a-101 n over one or more data networks (e.g., network 103, 117, and/or 119) using a “web paradigm,” server 105 provides users with a convenient and efficient manner for modifying user profiles and associated content made available to the media-based devices 101 a-101 n, based on game performance information of particular users. Further, remote applications 109 a-109 c may port local user interfaces typically utilized on stand-alone STBs to enable user input in a context consumers are increasing becoming familiar with due to the growing popularity of the Internet. These interfaces are particularly useful in extending system 100 functionality to devices having limited resources (e.g., PDAs, handsets, thin-clients, etc.), as well as providing scalable solutions to varied devices without necessitating intensive high-end costs associated with independent design, tooling, and manufacturing. In alternative embodiments, server 105 is collocated with and/or integrated into MSP 111. In other embodiments, the various modules of server 105 may be implemented as one or more standalone systems. It is also contemplated that the various modules and/or functions of server 105 may be distributed to one or more of the facilities of system 100. As such, multiple users, interfaces, and instances of content manager 109 a, online game module 125, tracking module 129, and/or report module 131 can be simultaneously realized through system 100.

In one embodiment, STBs 101 a-101 n, end terminal(s) 107, and/or content managers 109 a-109 c may periodically establish a connection with one or more networks (e.g., networks 103, 117, and/or 119) and one or more repositories (e.g., repository 121) to “push” and “pull” content, user profile information, and/or control commands (e.g., user profile modification signals), such as in a “batched” processing mode. That is, a user interface of STBs 101 a-101 n may be virtualized over a networked connection. In another embodiment, these components may initiate peer-to-peer communications such that control input and configuration updates (e.g., user profile modifications) governing the user profile information are executed “on-the-fly,” i.e., in real-time, thus, enabling substantially instantaneous results.

In the example of FIG. 1, STBs 101 a-101 n may be located at one or more user premises, and geospatially associated with one or more regions. Further, the STBs 101 a-101 n may be logically associated into one or more workgroups, wherein a user may modify one or more user profiles to execute on a plurality of STBs 101 a-101 n arranged into the workgroups in one or more configuration sessions, utilizing one or more end terminals 107 or STBs (e.g., STB 101 a).

For example, a learning institution (such as a secondary school) can distribute a plurality of STBs (e.g., STBs 101 a and 101 b) throughout various classrooms for extending customized content to an attending student body. An administrator (e.g., a principal) may establish one or more user profiles, via an end terminal 107 (e.g., a PC in the principal's office) or at an associated STB (e.g., STB 101 n) executing a content manager (e.g., content managers 109 a-109 c), so as to select and disseminate appropriate educational content instances (e.g., broadcast media, DVR media, on-demand media, or educational games, as well as locally stored instances of the same) to the students in particular classrooms, concerning various subject matter (e.g., science, math, social studies, physical wellbeing, etc.). Further, students maybe issued (or personally own) an STB at their home, e.g., STB 101 n. As such, an authorized administrator can logically join STBs 101 a-101 n to a workgroup, wherein the plurality of STBs 101 a-101 n may be configured to present the customized educational content to an entire student body, wherein particular user profiles may match customized educational content to the aptitudes, interests, and/or weaknesses of each student, and provide access to this content on a scheduled basis, i.e., as the students progress from period-to-period, namely from one subject to another. In other words, even if certain students were unable to attend school on particular days, every pupil could simply access their associated user profile via a media-based device (e.g., STB 101 a-101 n and/or one or more end terminal(s) 107) and follow a scheduled curriculum of customized content tailored to each individual student. As such, no student would be deprived of a learning opportunity. In this manner, the students may also be given authorization to access their profile to review the material later, via STBs 101 a-101 n or an end terminal 107 capable of processing audio and/or video signals, access additional content (e.g., interactive educational games) to build upon or reinforce previous lessons.

In one instance, the administrator may, as a homework assignment, select an educational game (e.g., online game 123) to make available to select students according to information in their user profile, such as low standardized test scores. As those students play online game 123, via one or more STBs 101 a-101 n, their performance can be tracked, as well as usage statistics generated, and stored to a respective user profile within profile repository 127. Upon each student successfully completing (or otherwise finishing) online game 123, the game performance information of each student may be presented to the administrator, via one or more content managers 109 a-109 c as a display report, at for instance end terminal 107 or an STB (e.g., STB 101 n). The report may include an aggregation of game performance information across each student to convey a relative knowledge level between the students. Further, game performance information of other students, at other institutions, located in other geographical regions (e.g., school districts), may be provided to convey a relative knowledge level of the administrator's students in comparison to geographic averages. Moreover, content managers 109 a-109 c may automatically provide suggested content based on the performance information, content usage statistics, and/or other information within the students' profiles. Accordingly, the administrator via, for example, content manager 109 c, executed on STB 101 n, can provide individual and/or group modification to the students' profiles based on the presentation, i.e., on the game performance information. Namely, the modification may be employed to select new content to make available to those students, on a new scheduled basis, so as to adapt the students' learning experience to their relative needs.

As such, STBs 101 a-101 n may be associated with one or more subscribers, may be located in one or more user premises, and/or may be situated in different physical locations, but nevertheless, may provide access to and modification of one or more user profiles specifying content that is specifically made available to particular dependent users by a supervisory user.

Thus, STBs 101 a-101 n can be configured to communicate with and receive signals and/or data streams from a MSP 111 (or other transmission facility, such as server 105, end terminal 107, etc.) in response to processes of one or more content managers 109 a-109 c. These signals include content, as well as user profile information and control commands (e.g., user profile modification signals) transmitted over a data network (e.g., service provider network 103, packet-based network 117, and/or telephony network 119). By way of example, MSP 111 can include one or more content servers (not illustrated) and/or data repositories (not shown). Alternatively, user profile repository 1277, content repository 121, or server 105 may be accessed via one or more service provider networks 103 and/or data networks (e.g., networks 117 and/or 119). Further, service provider network 103 may include a system administrator (not shown) for operational and management functions to deploy the remote management service using, for instance, an IPTV system. In this manner, STBs 101 a-101 n can utilize any suitable technology to draw, receive, and/or transmit content, user profile information, and control signals (including user profile modification signals) from/to an MSP 111 or other source/sink (e.g., server 105, end terminal 107, user profile repository 127, etc.). A more detailed explanation of an exemplary STB is provided with respect to FIG. 2.

In an exemplary embodiment, STBs 101 a-101 n can draw, receive, and/or transmit content, user profile information, and/or control commands (including user profile modification signals) from (or to) multiple sources/sinks, thereby alleviating the burden on any single entity, e.g., MSP 111, to meet the content, user profile, and control demands of any user, premise, or workgroup. Thus, particular embodiments enable authenticated third-party television broadcast systems 113, third-party content provider systems 115, and servers (e.g., server 105) to transmit content, user profile information, and/or control commands to STBs 101 a-101 n either apart from, or in conjunction with, MSP 111. The content, user profile information, and/or the control commands may be distinguished (or otherwise categorized) utilizing metadata included therewith or appended thereto. Metadata can be generally considered data about data; but more specifically, it can be utilized to describe all aspects of, and media content, user profile information, and/or control commands distributed by, system 100. Namely, metadata can include descriptions about: data aspects (file name, type, administrator, size, location, version, or include timestamps, mode bits, arbitrary attribute-value pairs, etc.), titles, activities/events, individuals and organizations involved, intended audiences (e.g., ethnicities, ages, genders, incomes, educational levels, disabilities, mobilities, as well as other like demographic statistics), geospatial identifications (intended zip codes, school districts, communities, regions, etc.), locations of supplementary information and processes, game performance information, access methods, limitations, timing of activities/events/content availability (e.g., start/end times and dates), as well as motivations, policies and rules. As such, metadata may be utilized by various components of system 100 for control or guiding purposes.

In certain embodiments, system 100 may structure and encode metadata to describe characteristics of the content-bearing entities to aid in the identification, discovery, assessment, and management of the content by content managers 109 a-109 c. For example, the metadata can be used to optimize compression algorithms or perform other computational tasks by the components of system 100. The metadata might be utilized to generate and/or transmit user profile information and/or control commands to a plurality of STBs 101 a-101 n. Various other embodiments might use metadata to suggest content sources to a user based on information stored in a user profile, such as game performance information or usage statistics. In other embodiments, metadata can be utilized to describe user profile information (including game performance information) and/or control parameters governing content accessible to secondary users via STBs 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107 to facilitate profile modification. A more detailed explanation of user profiles is provided with respect to FIG. 3.

In various embodiments, the service provider network 103 may include one or more video, audio, communication, and/or control command processing modules (not shown) for acquiring, generating, presenting, and/or transmitting content feeds, user profile information, and/or control commands (including user profile modification signals) from MSP 111, the television broadcast systems 113, the third-party content provider systems 115, servers 105, end terminals 107, or STBs 101 a-101 n, over one or more of the networks 103, 117, 119, to particular users at various STBs 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107. Further, service provider network 101 can optionally support end-to-end data encryption in conjunction with media content streaming and remote access services such that only authorized users are able to experience customized content, establish and/or modify one or more user profiles specifying content available to dependent users, and/or interact with other legitimate users/components of system 100.

Accordingly, system 100 may include an authentication module (not shown) configured to perform authentication services and determine whether users are indeed subscribers to the performance tracking and content modification service. An authentication schema may require a user name and password, a key access number, a unique machine identifier (e.g., media access control (MAC) address, globally unique identifier (GUID), serial number), etc., as well as combinations thereof. In this manner, the authenticate module may be in communication with a user profile repository 127, which stores user credentials and personalized information for use by content managers 109 a-109 c. In particular embodiments, media-based devices 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107 are provisioned for system 100 by associating a device identifier of the respective devices with respect subscriber accounts, where the accounts identify each of the media-based devices 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107, as well as dependent user profiles under the control of a supervisory user and their associated profile.

In exemplary embodiments, a one time only provisioning authentication procedure is executed for each STB 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107 by transmitting an associated machine identifier and user credentials to the authentication module. Thus, once a subscriber has authenticated a presence on system 100, the user may bypass additional authentication procedures for executing later applications (e.g., content streaming instances and/or content manager sessions, including content modification procedures based on game performance information). Data packets, such as cookies, may be utilized for this purpose. Thus, once an STB or content source is authenticated, connections between the STBs 101 a-101 n and the end terminal(s) 107 may be established directly or through server 105 and/or MSP 111.

In other embodiments, authentication procedures on a first device (e.g., STB 101 a) may identify and authenticate a second (e.g., terminal 107) and/or a third device (STB 101 b-101 n) communicatively coupled to, or associated with, the first device. Further, the authentication module may grant primary users the right to control (e.g., modify) one or more user profiles, STBs 101 a-101 n, and/or end terminal(s) 107 serviced by service provider network 103 by revoking existing sets of digital certificates associated with a profile/STB/end terminal, and issuing new sets of digital certificates mapped to a second profile/STB/end terminal. In this regard, subscribers may start a new content manager session, whereas the previous session may be automatically closed when the “old” or prior certificates associated with the first session are revoked. This enables primary and secondary users to initiate secure sessions at any given end terminal 107 (or STB 101 a-101 n) linked to system 100, whether or not the end terminal (or STB) belongs to that individual user. It is additionally contemplated that multiple rights sessions may exist concurrently.

While system 100 is illustrated in FIG. 1, the components are exemplary in nature, and indeed, additional or alternative components and/or implementations may be utilized.

FIG. 2 is a diagram of a set-top box configured to provide modified content, according to an exemplary embodiment. STB 201 may comprise any suitable technology to receive user profile information (e.g., signals 203 a and 203 b) from a sever 205 and/or an end terminal 207, as well as from another STB (e.g., STB 101 n). As such, STB 201 may also generate and/or modify user profile information (and/or content scheduling information) based on game performance information, content usage statistics, and/or other user profile information for selecting and modifying content to make available to dependent users of STB 201. Further, STB 201 includes gaming technology, such as processor 211 and tracking module 213, for executing games and tracking performance associated with playing those games, such as online game 245.

STB 201 may execute (or communication with) one or more content managers 209 a-209 c receiving input from a supervisory user for modifying user profile information based on game performance data, so as to present modified menus of customized content options (e.g., audio, video, gaming, and/or photographic media instances) to dependent users, wherein the processes of content managers 209 a-209 c may be performed “on-the-fly,” i.e., in real-time, or as the result of a “batched” request, i.e., periodically. Further, STB 201 may also include suitable technology to receive one or more content streams 215 from a media source 217, such as the IPTV system of FIG. 1, as well as receive (and transmit) online games (and game performance information) via signals 203 a. Content stream 215 and signals 203 a may be received and transmitted in response to command(s) from content manager(s) 209 a-209 c and may include media, such as broadcast content, digital video recorder (DVR) content, on-demand content, on-demand games, and/or other suitable media, as well as locally stored instances of the same.

Accordingly, STB 201 may comprise computing hardware (such as described with respect to FIG. 12) and include additional components configured to provide specialized services related to the generation, modification, transmission, reception, and display of user profiles, user profile information, control commands, and/or content (e.g., user profile modification capabilities, conditional access functions, tuning functions, gaming functions, presentation functions, multiple network interfaces, AV signal ports, etc.). Alternatively, the functions and operations of STB 201 may be governed by a controller 219 that interacts with each of the STB components to configure and modify user profiles in response to control commands from content managers 209 a-209 c, as well as provide media content retrieved from media source 217. Additionally, a user may be afforded greater functionality utilizing a control device 221 to control these services, as will be more fully described below.

As such, STB 201 may be configured to process data streams (e.g., streams 203 a, 203 b, and 215), including causing a content manager 209 c and/or one or more components of received content (e.g., video component 223 and/or an audio component) to be presented on (or at) a display 225. Presentation of the content may be in response to a command received from one or more content managers 209 a-209 c and include: displaying, recording, playing, rewinding, forwarding, toggling, selecting, zooming, or any other processing technique that enables users to select customized content instances from a menu of options and/or experience content, such as playing online game 245. For instance, STB 201 may provide one or more signals 227 to a display 225 (e.g., television) so that the display 225 may present (e.g., display) content manager 209 c overlaid on the content (e.g., video 223) to a user, wherein the content manager 209 c enables a first user to establish and selectively modify a user profile based on game performance information, content usage statistics, and/or other user profile parameters, wherein the user profile specifies content that is available to the user via STB 201 or end terminal(s) 107. In certain embodiments, the user profile also specifies scheduling information for access to the specified content. Alternatively, signals 227 may be configured and provided to display 225 in response to a received control command from a content manager 209 a-209 c.

STB 201 may also interact with a PVR, such as digital video recorder (DVR) 229, to store received content that can be manipulated by a user at a later point in time. In various embodiments, DVR 229 may be network-based, e.g., included as a part of the service provider network 103, collocated at a subscriber site having connectivity to STB 201, and/or integrated into STB 201. In any case, content managers 209 a-209 c may port content instances provided by DVR 229 into a customized menu of content options available to dependent users based on associated user profiles and scheduling information established and/or modified by a supervisory user. Display 225 may present these menus and associated content provided via STB 201 to a user. In alternative embodiments, STB 201 may be configured to communicate with a number of additional peripheral devices, including: PCs, laptops, PDAs, cellular phones, monitors, mobile devices, handheld devices, as well as any other equivalent technology capable of presenting modified content to a user, such as those computing, telephony, and mobile apparatuses described with respect to FIG. 1.

These peripherals may be configured to access user profile information and/or modified content stored and/or processed by STB 201 in response to control commands from content managers 209 a-209 c. For example, a content stream 215 may be received by STB 201 and recorded by DVR 229, wherein a user at a PC may later access and view the stored content based on a modified menu of content options, scheduling information, and/or any other command of one or more content managers 209 a-209 c. Moreover, the peripheral devices may be configured to implement instances of a content manager (e.g., content manager 209 b) to control, configure, modify, or otherwise program user profile information and/or available content to users of STB 201. For instance, a content manager 209 b executed on end terminal 207 may receive input from a supervisory user modifying user profile information based on game performance information, content usage statistics, or other profile parameter, including modified scheduling information and modified content to make available to dependent users via STB 201. An associated control command, generated based on the input, may be received at a communication interface 231, wherein STB 201 retrieves the user profile information (including profile modifications), scheduling information, and associated content for presentation to the user via display 225. In another embodiment, a communication interface (not illustrated) of end terminal 207 may be configured to retrieve the user profile information, scheduling information, and/or associated content over, for instance, a data network (e.g., packet-based network 117), wherein STB 201 may receive a data stream 203 b from end terminal 207 including the retrieved user profile information, scheduling information, and/or associated content to present to a dependent user via display 225.

In another embodiment, user input to STB 201 and/or a peripheral device (e.g., end terminal 207) executing an instance of a content manager (e.g., content manager 209 c and/or 209 b) may cause specified content (e.g., online game 245) to be made available at another STB (e.g., STB 101 a-101 n) or a computing, telephony, or mobile device capable of processing audio and/or video streams. Still further, user input to a network-based content manager 209 a, implemented on, for instance, server 205, may be configured to program, modify, or otherwise control available content and/or multimedia entertainment instances of STB 201. For instance, a user may access content manager 209 a, via an end terminal 107, over one or more data networks (e.g., network 103, 117, and/or 119), to transmit user profile information, including user profile modifications based on game performance information, scheduling information, and information specifying content to make available to particular dependents users, via STB 201. In this manner, server 205 (or other component of system 100, such as MSP 111) may, when suitable, transmit the user profile information and specified content instances (including online game 245) as a part of stream 203 a to STB 201 for presentation at display 225.

Communication interface 231 may be configured to receive user profile information from server 205, end terminal 207, MSP 111, or another STB (e.g., STB 101 n). In turn, modified content may be streamed from a media source 217 (e.g., MSP 111, television broadcast system 113, content provider system 115, and/or repository 121), an end terminal 207, and/or server 205 and received at communication interface 231. In particular embodiments, communication interface 231 can be configured to receive an online game (e.g., online game 245) from, or transmit online game commands to, server 205, MSP 111, or other suitable source/sink, such as content repository 121. In other embodiments, communication interface 231 can be configured to receive and transmit game performance information, including game performance information of other users associated with other STBs, wherein processor 211 is further configured to compare the performance information of two or more users to output a report for presentation via display 225. As such, communication interface 231 may optionally include single or multiple port interfaces. For example, STB 201 may establish a broadband connection to multiple sources transmitting data to STB 201 via a single port, whereas in alternative embodiments, multiple ports may be assigned to the one or more sources. In still other embodiments, communication interface 231 may receive and/or transmit user profile information (including modified content menu options, and/or modified content scheduling data), as well as associated customized content instances (e.g., online game 245) to other users with STBs, an MSP 111, or any other suitable source/sink, such as end terminal 207.

According to various embodiments, STB 201 may also include inputs/outputs (e.g., connectors 233) to display 225 and DVR 229, as well as an audio system 235. In particular, audio system 235 may comprise a conventional AV receiver capable of monaural or stereo sound, as well as multichannel surround sound. Audio system 235 may include speakers, ear buds, headphones, or any other suitable component configured for personal or public dissemination. As such, STB 201, display 225, DVR 229, and audio system 235, for example, may support high resolution audio and/or video streams, such as high definition television (HDTV) or digital theater systems high definition (DTS-HD) audio. Thus, STB 201 may be configured to encapsulate data into a proper format with required credentials before transmitting onto one or more of the networks of FIG. 1, and de-encapsulate incoming traffic to dispatch data to display 225 and/or audio system 235.

In an exemplary embodiment, display 225 and/or audio system 235 may be configured with internet protocol (IP) capability (i.e., include an IP stack, or otherwise made network addressable), such that the functions of STB 201 may be assumed by display 225 and/or audio system 235 and controlled, in part, by content manager command(s). In this manner, an IP ready, HDTV display or DTS-HD audio system may be directly connected to one or more service provider networks 103, packet-based networks 117, and/or telephony networks 119. Although STB 201, display 225, DVR 229, and audio system 235 are shown separately, it is contemplated that these components may be integrated into a single component, or other combination of components.

An authentication module 237 may be provided at STB 201 to initiate or respond to authentication schemes of, for instance, service provider network 103 or various other content providers, e.g., broadcast television systems 113, third-party content provider systems 115, or servers 105. Authentication module 237 may provide sufficient authentication information, e.g., a user name and password, a key access number, a unique machine identifier (e.g., GUID or MAC address), and the like, as well as combinations thereof, to a corresponding network interface for establishing connectivity. As described earlier, one or more digital certificates may be simultaneously mapped. Moreover, authentication at STB 201 may identify and authenticate a second device (e.g., end terminal 207) communicatively coupled to, or associated with, STB 201, or vice versa. Further, authentication information (as well as user profile information, game performance information, content usage statistics, and/or scheduling data) may be stored locally at memory 239, in a repository (not shown) connected to STB 201, or at a remote repository, e.g., user profile repository 127.

Authentication module 237 may also facilitate the reception of data from single or disparate sources. For instance, STB 201 may receive broadcast video from a first source (e.g., IPTV system 111), signals from a content manager 209 b at second source (e.g., server 207), and a content stream (e.g., online game 245) from a third source accessible over a data network (e.g., server 205). As such, display 225 may present the broadcast video and/or online game 245 to a user in response to the signals from content manager 209 b, wherein STB 201 (in conjunction with one or more content managers 209 a-209 c) can permit supervisory users to modify the content available to dependent users at STB 201 and/or end terminal(s) 207 based on game performance information. This presentation may be experienced separately, concurrently, in a toggled fashion, or with zooming, maximizing, minimizing, or trick capabilities, or equivalent mode. In other exemplary embodiments, authentication module 237 can authenticate a user to allow them to modify scheduling information for access to the modified content at other STBs (e.g., STB 101 a-101 n), as well as transmit and receive game performance information from (or to) one or more other users associated with other STBs, in addition to server 205.

A presentation module 241 may be configured to receive data streams 203 a, 203 b, and 215, e.g., AV feeds (including online game 245) and/or control commands (including content modification signals), and output a result via one or more connectors 233 to display 225 and/or audio system 235. In this manner, presentation module 241 may also provide a user interface for content manager 209 a or 209 c via display 225. Aural aspects of content managers 209 a or 209 c may be presented via audio system 235 and/or display 225. In certain embodiments, content managers 209 a or 209 c may be overlaid on the video content output 223 of display 225 via presentation module 241. In other instances, presentation module 241 can be configured to present game performance information to a supervisory user. Namely, presentation module 241 can format game performance data into a report, including textual displays, graphical illustrations, aural exhibitions, or other suitable reporting element. In any case, however, the data streams 203 a, 203 b, and 215 may include user profile information (including scheduling information) received in response to a supervisory user modifying specified content instances based on game performance information, content usage statistics, and/or other user profile parameter(s). As such, presentation module 241 may dynamically update a menu of customized content options based on the modifications, wherein the modifications effect media instances, such as broadcast content, digital video recorder (DVR) content, on-demand content, on-demand games, and/or other suitable media, as well as locally stored instances of the same, available to one or more dependent users.

Connector(s) 233 may provide various physical interfaces to display 225, audio system 235, and the peripheral apparatuses (e.g., end terminal 207); the physical interfaces including, for example, RJ45, RJ11, high definition multimedia interface (HDMI), optical, coax, FireWire, wireless, and universal serial bus (USB), or any other suitable connector. The presentation module 241 may also interact with a control device 221 for configuring (i.e., modifying) user profiles, as well as determining particular content instances that a user desires to experience. In an exemplary embodiment, the control device 221 may comprise a remote control (or other access device having control capability, such as a joystick, video game controller, or an end terminal 207, e.g., a PC, wireless device, mobile phone, etc.) that provides a user with the ability to readily manipulate and dynamically modify parameters affecting user profile information and/or a multimedia experience (e.g., playing online game 245). Such parameters can include STB 201 configuration data, such as parental controls, available channel information, favorite channels, program recording settings, viewing history, or loaded software, as well as other suitable parameters.

In particular embodiments, configuration data may also include channel fixing options, show/hide/label channel functions, making captions or info banners available, label inputs (such as connector(s) 233) options, application graphics settings (e.g., color schemes, icons, etc.), video game settings, high altitude settings, power saving modes, device password options, country/language options, display settings (e.g., AV parameters), control functions (e.g., channel up/down. input, mute, pause, picture-in-picture, play, power on/off, rewind, fast-forward, record, stop, volume up/down), parental locks, application settings (e.g., memory sticks, i.links, clocks/timers, diagnostics, cable card), change operating system functions, or install software, as well as provide troubleshooting frequently asked questions, get device manuals, or receive safety tips, etc. It is generally noted that configuration data can be any option/feature available at STB 201, DVR 229, or peripheral device (e.g., display 225, audio system 235, control device 221, etc.) having connectivity to (or association with) STB 201.

In this manner, control device 221 and/or end terminal 207 may include (not shown) a cursor controller, trackball, touch screen, touch pad, keyboard, joystick, and/or a key pad for activating content managers 209 a-209 c, navigating through broadcast channels and/or content, as well as modifying user profiles, playing video games, and performing other processes as described herein. For instance, control device 221 or end terminal 207 may be utilized to maximize a content manager, navigate through displayable interfaces permitting users to modify user profile information, locate/specify/retrieve content made available based on a user profile specified by a supervisory user, adjust STB 201 configuration data, or toggle through available broadcast channels and/or content. Control device 221 or end terminal 207 may also include functional actuators (e.g., buttons, keys, icons, etc.), such as power on/of, play, pause, stop, fast-forward, reverse, volume up/down, channel up/down, menu, ok/enter, record, info, my content, search, edit, or exit, as well as any other suitable control trigger, such as alphanumeric buttons, shift, control, back, symbols, and the like. Other functional actuators may also include levers, knobs, pedals, switches, steering wheels, etc., utilized in video game play. In other examples, STB 201 may be configured for voice recognition such that STB 201 may be controlled with spoken utterances. For example, users may modify user profile parameters through one or more content managers via speech acts.

Further, control device 221 or end terminal 207 may comprise a memory (not illustrated) for storing preferences (or user profile information) affecting the available content, which can be conveyed to STB 201 through an input interface 243 (or communication interface 231). Input interface 243 may support any type of wired and/or wireless link, e.g., infrared, radio frequency (RF), BLUETOOTH, and the like. Input interface 243, communication interface 231, and/or control device 221 may further comprise automatic speech recognition (ASR) and/or text-to-speech (TTS) technology for effectuating voice recognition functionality. Thus, according to certain embodiments, control device 221 and/or end terminal 207 may store user preferences with respect to modified content, such as favorite sources, etc., as well as user profile information, including game performance information associated with particular users and/or scheduling information for making particular content available. Alternatively, user preferences and user profile information may be tracked, recorded, and/or stored in STB 201, via memory 239, or in a network user profile repository 127. Tracking module 213 may be provided for this purpose, as well as monitoring content usage statistics (e.g., date and time spent experiencing particular content instances) and/or game performance information for effecting user profile modifications, scheduling changes, which determine content availability at STB 201 on a per profile basis. The preferences and user profile information may be automatically retrieved and activated by one or more users at any time, or may be actuated in response to user profile information (including scheduling information) received via content managers 209 a-209 c. It is noted that control device 221 may be separate from STB 201 or may be integrated within STB 201 (in which case certain input interface hardware and/or software may not be necessary).

Exemplary embodiments enable supervisory users, via one or more content managers 209 a-209 c and control device 221 (or an input interface of one or more end terminals 207), to modify dependent user profiles based on game performance information, wherein the user profiles govern the content that is made available to the dependent users. For instance, a user profile function of a content manager(s) 209 a-209 c may be provided or accessed by STB 201/end terminal 207 to enable users to modify a plurality of user profile entry fields utilizing, for instance, control device 221. A user profile may include one or more customized or personalized settings that affect any aspect of content accessible to dependent users via STB 201, game performance information, configuration parameters, scheduling information, and/or options of a peripheral device. More specifically, the profile may include: subscription information (account numbers, usernames, passwords, security questions, avatars, selectable images, image files identifying associated users, monikers, etc.), subscriber demographics (age, gender, ethnicity, location of residence, zip code, school district, community, socioeconomic status, religion, marital status, ownerships, languages, mobility, life cycles, etc.), group/organizational affiliations (e.g., political), memberships, interests, buddies, friends, cohorts, system configurations, policies, associated users/devices, etc., as well as any other like personal information.

In other embodiments, profile information can include phone numbers, email addresses, workgroups, viewing history (e.g., current programming, logged history, etc.), account plan, authorized access to specified content, scheduling information governing access to specified content, billing preferences (e.g., bill receipt options, such as electronic or paper bills, payment methods, such as automatic or manual, etc.), add accounts/users, and parental controls, as well as the game performance information described with respect to FIG. 1. Additionally, a user profile may include a “whitelist” specifying one or more accessible media content sources/subjects, a “blacklist” specifying one or more media content sources/subjects, as well as other equivalent customized settings, such as color schemes, sound effects, etc. Still further, network settings may be affected such as registering associated STBs, DVRs, end terminals, registering premises (e.g., primary residence, vacation cottage, work, etc.), link to content sources (e.g., audio, video, and/or pictographic sites/systems/repositories, etc.), as well as other equivalent parameters, such as available broadcast content, DVR content, on-demand content, on-demand games, or locally stored instances of the same.

In other embodiments, the user profile may be established, reviewed, and/or modified using the additional access devices described earlier, e.g., end terminal 207, such as a PC, implementing or accessing one or more content managers 209 a-209 c. As such, user profile information and configuration data may be stored in STB 201, e.g., in memory 239, and/or at a user site repository (not illustrated) directly connected to STB 201. Additionally or alternatively, this information may be stored in a network-based repository (e.g., remote user profile repository 127), control device 221, and/or any other accessible storage medium, such as a memory stick, or other database. Similarly, STB 201 (via memory 239), a user site repository, and/or a network-based repository may store a collection of digital audio, video, game, and/or pictographic content accumulated by a user. This collection may also include a plurality of identifiers (or bookmarks) to specified content made available based on a user profile established via content manager(s) 209 a-209 c, wherein the selection of a particular identifier may cause the content to be retrieved from an associated link (either directly from a third party source (e.g., television broadcast system 113, content provider system 115, content repository 121, etc.) or indirectly from server 105, MSP 111, end terminal 107, another STB 101 a-101 n, etc.).

Thus, under arrangements of FIGS. 1 and 2, a supervisory user may modify, via an STB (e.g., STB 101 n), end terminal 107, or server 105 application, one or more user profile parameters based on game performance information associated with a dependent user, wherein the user profiles specifies content (including game applications, e.g., an educational game) that is available to the dependent users, as well as scheduling information for access to the content. In an exemplary embodiment, STBs 101 a-101 n enable the dependent users to access and manipulate online games (e.g., online game 245), wherein their game performance associated with playing the online game may be monitored and tracked by one or more tracking modules (e.g., modules 129 or 213). Performance reports generated from this game performance information may be utilized by one or more supervisory users to progressively tailor available content to dependent users, so as to promote the development of the dependent users.

The operation of STB 201 and one or more content managers 209 a-209 c, in conjunction with the components of system 100, will now be described with respect to modifying a user profile based on game performance information, content usage statistics, and/or other user profile parameters.

As there may be a relatively large number of configurable user profile parameters, STB 201 may include one or more user interfaces configured to allow subscribers to seamlessly access and modify associated user profile information, via one or more content managers 209 a-209 c. As such, a menu of customized content options (e.g., audio, video, gaming, and/or photographic media instances) may be conveniently modified by a supervisory user, via content managers 209 a-209 c, and presented to a dependent user at, for instance, STB 201, based on information within one or more user profiles. These modifications may be initialized in response to previously tracked game performance associated with the dependent user and made available to the supervisory user. It is recognized; however, that one or more user interfaces may be implemented at one or more end terminals 207 or accessible via one or more servers 205 or MSPs 111. Thus, the user interface may be displayed to the user as part of a content manager accessible over a suitable communications link. Namely, web pages may be displayed to the user as part of an online application accessed over an Internet communications link. Exemplary processes and user interfaces of system 100 are described with respect to FIGS. 3-11.

FIG. 3 is a flowchart of a process for establishing a modifiable user profile, according to an exemplary embodiment. This process is described with respect to exemplary user interfaces of FIGS. 4 a and 4 b. In step 301, a new user subscribes to the game performance monitoring and content modifying service utilizing, for instance, an end terminal 207, which is capable of processing and transmitting data over a network (e.g., packet-based network 117). That is, the user may interact with an input interface (described in more detail with respect to FIG. 7) of end terminal 207 to activate software resident on the device, such as content manager 209 b executed on end terminal 207 or web-based content manager 209 a implemented on server 205. The software may then establish one or more connections to a service provider network 103 through an IP-based connection. Consequently, the user may register as a new subscriber of the content management service, as well as obtain sufficient authentication information for establishing future sessions.

In certain embodiments, registration procedures may prompt the user to identify all user devices (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107) that the user may employ to interact with system 100 features, e.g., content managers 209 a-209 c. The software may automatically search for peripheral devices, e.g. through a pinging or other suitable procedure, as well as port any peripheral configuration parameters or user interface information into, for instance, user profile repository 127 for access by content managers 209 a-209 c. In other embodiments, the user may identify devices by entering appropriate device information, such as: device type, serial number, registration number, MAC address, GUID, phone number, communications link, etc. In this manner a new subscriber may establish a separate identity for each media-based device 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107 associated with the user, which may be utilized to further personalize the content received by dependent users of the subscribing account.

As such, MSP 111, server 105, and or one or more content managers 209 a-209 c may obtain device configuration parameters from a manufacturer or other third-party supplier over, for instance, the packet-based network 117. Further, when a new device is employed, the software may add the apparatus to the list of user devices associated with the user's account. Registered devices (such as one or more STBs 101 a-101 n) may be logically associated with one another. That is, STBs 101 a-101 n can be grouped into workgroups such that associated subscription accounts, i.e., supervisory user profiles and one or more dependent user profiles, governing the availability of content to the associated users may be established, wherein the user profiles specify content that is available to the associated users and scheduling information for making the content available, as well as game performance information and content usage statistics associated with the users/user profiles.

Once registered and/or authenticated, the user may establish one or more user profiles, per step 303. That is, the user via end terminal 207, executing content manager 209 a and/or 209 b, may establish communication with MSP 111 for configuring one or more user profiles, i.e., supervisory profiles and one or more dependent profiles, wherein each user profile embodies user-defined attributes, policies, configuration data, scheduling information, selectable images, premises, and/or workgroups for carrying out functions of system 100. Thus, when the user authenticates a presence via, for instance, an STB (e.g., STB 201), the software may provide user-specific interfaces and features based on information stored within the user profile. Moreover, authentication procedures at one device (e.g., end terminal 107) may authenticate other devices (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n), as previously described, or vice versa. In other embodiments, users may subscribe to the game performance monitoring and content modification service and/or configure a user profile via STB 201, utilizing an input interface, such as control device 221 and/or end terminal 207, via content managers 209 a and/or 209 c. It is contemplated that the user profile may be updated manually as well as automatically using predefined rules or scripts. For example, the user profile can be modified based on the user's performance—e.g., if the performance is high, then the profile can note the user is at a higher skill level, while continued poor performance can result in changing the user's skill level to a lower one.

As seen in FIG. 4 a, an exemplary user interface 400 for selecting a “CREATE A NEW PROFILE” option 401 is illustrated. An authenticated subscriber (e.g., a parent) may directly input user profile information (e.g., dependent user profiles of, for instance, one or more children), wherein associated profiles govern the content available to one or more dependent users, such as the availability of online game 123. User interface 400 may be invoked using a number of different methods. For example, the user may select a dedicated “MENU” button on control device 221 or on a peripheral device communicatively coupled thereto (or associated therewith), such as end terminal 207. It is recognized that any other suitable actuator of these devices may be additionally, or alternatively, used to access the functionality of interface 400, such as triggering a “GUIDE” icon or other suitable graphical element. Further, interface 400 may be evoked by selecting an option within another interface or application (e.g., when navigating from a public screen to a user-specific screen, i.e., a private screen). As such, an executing device (e.g., STB 201, server 205, end terminal 207, etc.) may require sufficient authentication information (e.g., username, password, MAC address, GUID, etc.) to be input in order to access the functions of interface 400.

In the illustrated embodiment, user interface 400 may include one or more interactive panes, such as panes 403-409. In particular embodiments, as will be described in more detail below, the content of respective panes may be dynamically updated to display various information related to actions conducted within other panes, and vice versa. Pane 403 (i.e., a options pane) includes a listing of selectable entries corresponding to one or more features (or options) that may be associated with a subscription service or provided via STB 201 and/or end terminal 207. For example, entries might include: a home (i.e., main menu) option 403 a, an address book option 403 b, a message center option 403 c, a calendar option 403 d, a search option 403 e, a collaborate option 403 f, and an entertainment option 403 g, as well as other suitable entries. In certain embodiments, graphical elements may be provided to correspond to one or more of these entries 403 a-403 g, and may be displayed therewith to facilitate interface usability. In other embodiments, pane 403 may include a navigation tree, an expandable table of contents, or FlashMedia presentation of selectable entries. Based on a particular selection within pane 403, a main window pane 411 may be populated with appropriate input fields, selectable elements (e.g., toggle buttons, check boxes, radio buttons, sliders, list boxes, spinners, drop-down lists, menus, toolbars, ribbons, combo boxes, icons, etc.), output fields (e.g., labels, tooltips, balloon helps status bars, progress bars, infobars, etc.) and additional windows/panes, as well as any other suitable interface widget for inputting (or otherwise perceiving) configurable parameters. Actions within main window 411 may affect selectable parameters within pane 403.

As seen, main window 411 includes: pane 405 (i.e., a profile establishing pane), pane 407 (i.e., an educational resources pane), and pane 409 (i.e., a featured games, channels, or other content pane). In this manner, pane 407 comprises, for instance, a plurality of links (or bookmarks) for researching content to make available to one or more secondary users that will edify the users' multimedia experience. An exemplary process for automatically providing these suggested content and research links is described with respect to FIG. 11. As for now, these links may connect the user to information stored at MSP 111 or another third party source (such as a website) providing educational or other content resource information/suggestions. For example, links 413 may provide users with information, such as suggested content for certain age groups, ways to maximize secondary users “spare” time, or how much time should be allotted to a secondary user for interacting with various multimedia resources available via STB 201, as well as other suitable information, such as public school rankings, frequently asked questions, etc. Further, links 415 can be provided to inform supervisory users about certain educational games, such as math games, language games, critical thinking games, as well as other suitable interactive learning applications. As such, supervisory users may consult pane 407 to acquire expert knowledge concerning content to make available to one or more dependent users that will maximize their multimedia learning experience.

Similarly, pane 409 may be provided to include, for example, featured programming, broadcast channels, on-demand media, on-demand games, DVR content, or locally stored instances of the same, most often made available by other subscribers to the game performance monitoring and content modification service, as well as new availabilities of the same. Thus, supervisory users may consult pane 409 to acquire insight into what other subscribers are making available to dependent users. Additionally (or alternatively), information within pane 409 may be populated based on metadata correlation between user profile information (including game performance information and content usage statistics) and available content (such as educational content, e.g., an educational game) provided by the one or more content sources of system 100. According to certain embodiments, one or more graphical icons corresponding to featured content may be provided, wherein users may acquire knowledge regarding the particular content instance being suggested by interacting with, e.g., “clicking on,” the icons. For instance, selection of graphical icon 409 a may provide information regarding a particular broadcast channel, including: rating information, plot summaries, lesson plans, interactive capabilities, messages, characters, etc., from which the supervisory user may determine whether such content is suitable or appropriate to make available to one or more dependent users based on, for example, previous game performance information. Again, this information may be provided using metadata correlation.

Interface 400 also includes a user profile pane 405 for making available the “CREATE A NEW PROFILE” option 401 for configuring a new profile. As seen can be seen in FIG. 8, existing user profiles can be displayed in pane 405, wherein selection of an existing profile enables users to receive game performance information, modify one or more profile parameters, and delete profiles, as will be described in more detail according to FIGS. 7 and 8. In other embodiments, aural descriptions, tooltips, or other effects may be provided when a user navigates, for instance, a cursor over particular fields of panes 403-409. Interface 400 may also be configured to accept verbal commands for entering suitable data into corresponding entry fields or for making selections within the respective panes. While not shown, interface 400 may include fields for targeted advertisements generated based on metadata concerning information within a user profile, or content available at one or more STBs 101 a-101 n, as well as other suitable fields, such as a field for an MSP logo, etc. Moreover, navigational elements/fields, e.g., scrollbar 417, as well as heading field 419, may be provided and configured to indicate the existence of additional entries not displayed, but navigably available, as well as facilitate interface usability. Accordingly, users may browse to these entries via, for instance, an input interface of end terminal 207, e.g., a cursor control, or actuation of a respective control device 221 component.

When a user interacts with the “CREATE A NEW PROFILE” option 401 of pane 405, main window 411 of interface 400 is dynamically updated to main window 441, thus making available interface 440 of FIG. 4 b. Alternatively, interaction with option 401 may launch a separate profile configuring user interface. In this manner, interface 440 enables supervisory users, via one or more end terminal(s) 207 and/or STB 201, executing one or more content managers 209 a-209 c, to transmit a signal to an interface, e.g., a communication interface, of service provider network 103, server 105, user profile repository 127, etc., based on the user profile information input to the content managers 209 a-209 c. More specifically, the transmitted signal may be received at an interface of user profile repository 127 directly or indirectly via an interface of, for instance, MSP 111 or server 105, wherein one or more of these interfaces (via one or more processors) can configure associated user profiles based on the received signal. Such configuration may be executed in real-time, thus having substantially immediate effect on the user's account, and consequently on available content at STBs 101 a-101 n. Alternatively, configuration processes may be executed periodically via established connections with one or more networks (e.g., networks 103, 117, or 119) and one or more repositories (e.g., repository 127) to “push” and “pull” user profile information, such as in a “batched” processing mode.

Turning now to FIG. 4 b, exemplary user interface 440 enables primary users to configure dependent user profiles. Similarly to interface 400, interface 440 includes one or more interactive panes, such as panes 441 and 443, that may be dynamically updated to display various information and/or fields related to actions conducted within the respective panes. Pane 443, i.e., the options pane 403 of FIG. 4 a, includes the various selectable entries corresponding to one or more features (or options) that may be associated with a subscription service or provided via STB 201 and/or end terminal 207, and may be accompanied by suitable graphical elements corresponding to the one or more entries. Pane 441 includes appropriate input fields, selectable elements, output fields, and/or windows, as well as other suitable interface widgets for inputting (or otherwise perceiving) configurable user profile parameters, such as those parameters described with respect to FIG. 2. Actions within panes 441 and 443 may affect selectable parameters within those panes, as well as in the respective other pane. As previously mentioned, aural descriptions, tooltips, or other effects may be provided when a user navigates, for instance, a cursor over particular fields of panes 441 and 443. Additionally (or alternatively), interface 440 may be configured to accept verbal commands for entering suitable data into entry fields or making selections within the respective panes. Targeted advertisements, content available at one or more STBs 101 a-101 n, as well as other suitable fields, such as a field for an MSP logo, etc may also be included. Further, navigational elements/fields, e.g., scrollbar 445, as well as heading field 447, may be provided, as in FIG. 4 a.

More specifically, pane 441 (i.e., a profile configuring pane) includes various input fields 449-459 for users to input various user profile parameters. Actions within the various fields may dynamically modify the display of information within the interested field and/or the other respective fields. Utilizing one or more input interfaces of end terminal(s) 107, STB 201, and/or control device 221, supervisory users can input into field 449 personal information, such as a name, birthday, and gender of a dependent user. Other entries (not shown) can correspond to the previously delineated profiles parameters described in conjunction with FIG. 2. A language field 451 (implemented as, for instance, a drown-down list) enables the supervisory user to select preferred secondary languages of one or more dependent user interfaces, content instances (e.g., an online game 123), etc., so as to increase the dependent users' familiarity and/or proficiency with multiple languages.

Field 453 (i.e., a profile policy field) permits users to choose between one or more pre-established profile policies 453 a designed to distribute (or portion) a dependent user's multimedia experience between various technical categories, such as math oriented development, language oriented development, critical thinking oriented development, as well as other technical fields, such as science, history, social studies, cognitive awareness, memory recognition, etc. One or more selection fields, e.g., radio buttons, check boxes, etc., may be provided for selecting a technical category. In other embodiments, field 453 may include a navigation tree, an expandable table of contents, or a FlashMedia presentation of selectable entries. Moreover, a plurality of graphical displays 453 b may visually illustrate the distribution between the various technical categories as a function of a particular category. For instance, a default setting may be selectively available, wherein an entertainment experience may be evenly distributed between each of the available technical categories. Thus, a corresponding graphical display may illustrate, for instance, evenly sized bars, wherein the size of a particular bar relates to the relative exposure to various technical categories. In alternative embodiments, relative exposure may be conveyed through percentages, pie charts, sized icons, color codes, etc. Further, a primary user may be permitted to construct their own distribution between various available (or user defined) categories.

As such, metadata descriptions concerning specified content may be utilized by the content managers 209 a-209 to control the availability of certain content instances based on the subject matter of the content with respect to a technical category policy. Additionally, these metadata descriptions may be utilized in conjunction with statistical content usage parameters to control content availability based on the selected technical category policy.

Interface 440 also includes field 455, a content specification field, wherein supervisory users can specify content to make available to particular dependent users. As illustrated, field 455 enables the primary user to select, via one or more selection fields (e.g., check boxes, radio buttons, etc.), a plurality of listed broadcast channels to make available. In other embodiments, field 455 may include a navigation tree, an expandable table of contents, or a FlashMedia presentation. In this manner, a local navigation element, e.g., scrollbar 455 a, can be provided and configured for navigating to additional selectable entries (not shown). Further, a plurality of tabs 455 b may enable users to toggle content selection modes of field 455 between broadcast content selection, DVR content selection, on-demand media (e.g., audio, pictographic, and/or video content) selection, on-demand game selection, or locally stored instances of the same.

In conjunction with the various modes of field 455, a time management field 457 may be provided to control the scheduling availability of the selected content within field 455 based on, for example, absolute time values, times of day, days of the week, weeks of the month, months of the year, etc., as well as any other suitable time management parameter. Selectable fields, e.g., radio buttons, check boxes, etc., are provided to select between these various modes. Further, a schedule builder option 457 a provides a scheduling widget to schedule content availability as a function of the content and/or of the respective users. A conventional calendar display utilizing scheduling blocks may be provided for this purpose. For instance, the scheduling widget (not shown) enables supervisory users to specify scheduling information by simply interacting within (e.g., clicking on) a particular display period (e.g., day of the week). The user may then choose between various available time slots, or may specify particular scheduling information (e.g., start/end dates, times, etc.). In particular embodiments, scheduling information may be made as a singular instance or as recurring events. Scheduling information may distinguish between applicable profiles, content instances, devices, etc. In other instances, supervisory users may limit dependent users to only those content instances specifically scheduled.

Utilizing an upload option 459, the primary user can upload an image file to be presented as a selectable icon, as described in more detail with respect to FIGS. 6 a and 6 b. In any instance, however, the selectable image may include an image file identifying the user (e.g., a headshot, avatar, or other visual artifact), such that the image file can be shown to dependent users to assist with the selection of the users' particular user profile. User interaction with the upload image option 459 enables a user to browse a memory (e.g., memory 239 of STB 201, user profile repository 127, content repository 121, or other accessible memory, e.g., a memory of one or more end terminals 207, a database of MSP 111 or other third party source, etc.) and choose an image file to associate with a particular user profile, and in some embodiments, store therein. Conventional uploading techniques may be utilized for this purpose. Accordingly, an image field 461 may be provided to convey a “successful” association (i.e., upload), as well as demonstrate what the selectable image will “look like.” In certain embodiments, interface 440 also includes a frequently asked questions feature 463 to aid user decisions and/or inputs.

After generating a user profile, MSP 111 may store a list of subscribers to the service, as well as a list of subscriber STB identifiers, authentication information, and user-defined profiles (including user-specific policies, subscription service options, and/or configuration data) for one or more STBs 101 a-101 n and associated peripheral devices (e.g., display 225, audio system 235, etc.). Additionally (or alternatively), users may directly interact with user profile repository 127. Further, user profile information may be stored within respective user equipment (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n) via a memory 239 or other repository (e.g., a locally accessible database coupled to STB 201, or a content repository accessible over a data network, such as repository 121).

Referring back to FIG. 3, after the supervisory user configures at least one user profile, per step 305, the user may enable the game performance tracking and content modifying services of system 100. Furthermore, based on information stored within these user profiles, STBs 101 a-101 n may present a menu of customized content options (e.g., audio, video, gaming, and/or photographic media instances) from which authenticated dependent users may select from and interact with.

According to certain embodiments, the menu of customized content options may be automatically modified by an STB based on dependent user game performance, content usage, and/or other information stored within a respective user profile, such as a profile policy. FIG. 5 is a flowchart of a process for “dynamic” content modification, according to an exemplary embodiment. Exemplary user interfaces effectuating this process are shown in FIGS. 6 a and 6 b.

In step 501, an authenticated dependent user may access the functions of STB 201 via, for instance, control device 221. Namely, the user may access a main menu interface 600 of FIG. 6 a, by for example, actuating a dedicated “MENU” button on control device 221 or a peripheral device (e.g., PC 221, a mobile handset, etc.). It is recognized that any other suitable actuator of these devices may be additionally, or alternatively, used to access the functionality of main menu 600, such as by triggering a “GUIDE” icon. Further, main menu 600 may be evoked by selecting an option within another interface or application (e.g., when navigating from a public screen to a user-specific screen, i.e., a private screen). As such, an executing device (e.g., STB 201, PC 221, etc.) may require sufficient authentication information (e.g., username and password, etc.) to be input in order to access the functions of main menu 600.

As seen in FIG. 6 a, an exemplary user interface 600 of STB 201 for providing a main menu is illustrated and may include one or more interactive viewing panes, such as panes 601 and 603. The display of pane 603 may be dynamically updated to present various information related to user interaction within pane 601, and vice versa. Pane 601 includes a listing of selectable entries corresponding to one or more features (or options) that may be provided via STB 201. For example, entries might include: program guide listings, DVR options, marketplace (shopping) options, messaging and communications features, searching options, calendar features, settings, help features, collaboration features, and the like, as well as a “FOR KIDS” option 605. In certain embodiments, graphical elements (e.g., element 607) may be provided to correspond to one or more of the entries, and may be displayed therewith. Header 609 and footer 611 fields may be provided and configured to indicate the existence of additional entries not displayed, but navigably available. Users may browse through these entries via, for instance, suitable components of control device 221, e.g., navigational up/down arrows. A fixed focus state (e.g., border/box 613) and/or distinctive magnification features, e.g., color, brightness, bolding, font type, text size, etc., can be used to convey a “currently” navigated position. In this manner, when a user navigates to a desired entry, actuation of, for instance, an “OK” button on control device 221 may launch corresponding features and/or applications of the particular entry. In some embodiments, a displayed interactive “OK” option (not shown) may be utilized. Moreover, main menu 600 may include tooltips (not illustrated) when a user navigates to a particular entry. In other embodiments, aural descriptions of the entry navigated to and methods of interaction may be provided.

In other embodiments, main menu 600 may provide navigation fields 615 and 617 to facilitate usability. For example, field 615 may provide the name of the function/option being accessed, e.g., “MAIN MENU.” In this manner, when a user accesses a new function/option, field 615 can be automatically updated, as is apparent in, for example, fields 661 of FIG. 6 b. Field 617 may be utilized to indicate sub-functions/sub-options accessed, e.g., “EDUCTIONAL” content functions. Thus, a dependent user can select their user profile via pane 603 by navigating to and selecting entry 605 and then, for instance, entry 619 of main menu 600. Dependent user will be able to distinguish between various user profiles via appropriate indicia, such as a username, selectable image 621, or other personalized information, such as those parameters stored within the users' respective user profiles. Secondary header 623 and footer 625 fields may be provided and configured to indicate the existence of additional user profiles not displayed, but navigably available. In the depicted embodiment, header 623 and footer 625 fields respectively display “TOP OF LIST” and “BOTTOM OF LIST,” thus demonstrating the existence of a set of selectable profiles limited to those displayed. It is contemplated that any number of profiles may exist. Thus, users may browse through these entries via, for instance, control device 221, and select their associated profile via, for instance, selectable image 621. In some embodiments, additional authentication procedures may be required to access one or more of the dependent user profiles, so as to keep over inquisitive users from accessing content not appropriate or unintended for them; however, suitable for another user.

Upon selection of, for example, profile 619, i.e., “AUGUSTINE'S” profile, interface 600 will be dynamically updated to interface 650 of FIG. 6 b. In step 503, the dependent user receives a prompt of menu options corresponding to customized content instances (e.g., audio, video, gaming, and/or photographic media instances) made available based on the user's profile, such as those instances of menu 651, e.g., “GAMES” 653 and “TV” 655, illustrated in FIG. 6 b. More specifically, interface 650 may comprise panes of a content manger, such as content manager 209 c. As previously described with respect to earlier interfaces, panes 651, 657, and 659 include displays that may be dynamically altered in response to user interaction. Further, header and footer fields (e.g., header 661 and footer 663) may be provided to facilitate micro-navigation with each of the panes 651, 657, and 659. Fields 665 and 667 may be provided to facilitate macro-navigation between interfaces 600 and 650. In the depicted embodiment, fields 665 provide the name of the function/option being accessed, e.g., “EDUCATIONAL” material. Meanwhile, field 667 indicates the user profile of the current session, e.g., “AUGUSTINE.”

In the illustrated embodiment, pane 651 includes a list of navigably available content categories, e.g., broadcast programming, DVR content, on-demand media, on-demand, games, or locally stored instances of the same. In certain embodiments, graphical elements (e.g., element 669) may be provided to correspond to one or more of the entries, and may be displayed therewith. Accordingly, users may browse through these entries via suitable method (e.g., using control device 221). A fixed focus state (e.g., border/box 669) and/or distinctive magnification features may be used to convey a “currently” navigated position. Thus, when a user navigates to a desired entry, the display of pane 659 may toggle between corresponding content instances made available by STB 201 based on information within the user's profile. Selection of, for example, a “GAMES” content category 653 within pane 651 causes pane 659 to display various specified games instances, such as online game 123, e.g., the “BARNIE” game 673.

At step 505, a dependent user selects a game content instance, e.g., an online educational game, such as game 673. Upon selection, STB 201 issues a request to either MSP 111 or server 105 for game 673. MSP 111 and/or server 105 may query user profile repository 127 and, in particular, the dependent user's profile to ensure game 673 is permissible for the dependent user. Assuming game 673 is permissible, the online game may be executed and played, in step 507, by the user in a variety of ways. For example, game 673 may be executed on server 105 and/or MSP 111, such that game commands issued by the player to STB 201, via, for instance, control device 221, are transmitted to, received by, and executed at server 105 and/or MSP 111. In this embodiment, STB 201 substantially operates as a terminal receiving video content from server 105 and/or MSP 111 for presentation at display 221. Accordingly, online game module 125 may execute game 673, while tracking module 129 tracks the game performance of the player and stores the game performance information in a suitable location, e.g., user profile repository 127 and/or memory 239 of STB 201, as well as any other equivalent location. Alternatively, a copy or version of game 673 can be downloaded to STB 201, such that the operation of the game and the execution of the game commands received at STB 201, via control device 221, from the player, occur at STB 201 via processor 211. In this embodiment, gaming data is calculated by processor 211 and tracked either locally via tracking module 213 or by the network-based tracking module 129. As such, game performance information may be stored at a suitable location, such as memory 239, user profile repository 127, etc. In other embodiments, the execution of game 673 and/or the processing of game control commands may be distributed between system 100 components, such as STB 201, end terminal 207, server 205, MSP 111, etc. For example, server 105 may transmit a single level of game 673 to STB 201, wherein game execution and commands received from, for instance, control device 221 may be executed at STB 201 via processor 211. Once the player completes the level, another level may be executed on, for instance, sever 105 via online game module 125. As such, one or more tracking modules 129 and/or 213 may be used to track game performance information, but, nevertheless, the game performance information can be stored to a centralized location, such as user profile repository 127 or memory 235.

Upon completion of game 673, the expiration of a scheduled time period, or the dependent user simply surrendering, as well as other equivalent processes, STB 201 may dynamically provide modification to the player's user profile based on the player's game performance information, content usage statistics, and/or user profile information (such as scheduling information, profile policy, etc.). Thus, when the user accesses, for instance, interface 650, the user receives a prompt of customized menu options modified based on the modified user profile (step 509). For example, if the user scored very well in game 673, it may be replaced by a new, more challenging game. As another example, if the dependent user exhausted all of their scheduled content usage time, interface 650 may provide a corresponding message, such as “ALLOTTED TIME EXPIRED,” or other like message.

According to another embodiment, the menu of customized content options may be manually modified by a supervisory user based on dependent user game performance, content usage, and/or other information stored within a respective user profile, such as a profile policy. FIG. 7 is a flowchart of a process for “ad hoc” content modification, according to an exemplary embodiment. FIG. 8 is an exemplary diagram of a user interface configured for this purpose.

In step 701, an authenticated dependent user (e.g., a child) is presented with a game (e.g., a download version of online game 123, such as an educational game) via, for instance, display 225 receiving formatted signals from presentation module 241 of STB 201. As such, the child may manipulate control device 221 sending game commands to processor 211, via input interface 243, for execution, wherein updated or new displays of game 123 are presented via display 225 by way of presentation module 241. According to other embodiments, the child can utilize an input interface of end terminal 207 to communicate game commands to processor 211, wherein signals 203 b are transmitted between STB 201 and end terminal 207 via communications interface 231. In the alternative, the commands may be convey to STB 201 through a voice application using an appropriate voice station (not shown). In certain embodiments, aural aspects of game 123 may be presented via display 225 and/or audio system 235. Next, tracking module 213 tracks the game performance of the user, per step 703.

Tracking module 213 may obtain the game performance information from processor 211 in real-time (i.e., as the game is being played) or periodically (i.e., based on a predetermined time interval). As such, game performance information may be acquired by tracking module 129 continuously, intermittently, or in an “on demand” fashion. In other embodiments, tacking module 129 may be employed for this purpose, wherein game performance information is transmitted to server 105 either directly over packet-based network 117 or indirectly via MSP 111 over one or more data networks (e.g., network 117 and/or 103). In step 705, the game performance information may be stored in a memory 239, a repository (not shown) coupled to STB 201, user profile repository 127, or other suitable location, such as in a memory (not shown) of server 105 or a database (not illustrated) of server 105. In this manner, game performance information may be tracked and stored over a given period of time, such that the information may accessible to one or more supervisory users to facilitate a determination as to whether available content to a dependent user requires modification. In other embodiments, tracking modules 129 and/or 213 may be utilized to generate statistical information based on general usage of content by the child, such as the amount of time playing game 123 and, for instance, watching broadcast programming.

Per step 707, STB 201 can provide game performance information to a supervisory user, via for instance one or more content manager instances 209 a-209 c. For example, an authenticated supervisory user may access content manager 209 c of STB 201, wherein a user interface of content manager 209 c may be presented to the supervisory user at display 225 overlaid on video component 223 of a content instance transmitted from media source 217, such as a VOD documentary on lake houses. Presentation module 241 may format the game performance information and/or content usage statistics into a report, such as a simplified graphical representation, for presentation within content manager 209 c. Alternatively, network-based report module 131 of server 105 may be utilized for the report generation purposes. An exemplary report is described in more detail in conjunction with FIGS. 9 and 10.

Upon receiving the game performance information and/or content usage statistics, the supervisory user may determine, as in step 709, whether to modify the dependent user's profile based on the received information. If no modification is necessary the process ends, otherwise the supervisory user, via one or more content managers 209 a-209 c, may edit the dependent user's profile to change the available content (including video content and games) to the dependent user based on the presented information, as in step 711. In this regard, the supervisory user may access user interface 800 of FIG. 8, to acquire the game performance information, as well as edit the dependent user's profile.

As seen in FIG. 8, an exemplary user interface 800 for obtaining game performance information and/or editing a dependent user's profile is illustrated. User interface 800 includes interactive pane 803, i.e., pane 405 of interface 400 (of FIG. 4 a) dynamically updated to present the existence of two established user profiles 801 and 802. As such, interface 800 is invoked as an instance of pane 405 of user interface 400, and therefore is accessed utilizing those methods previously described with respect to FIG. 4 a. Utilizing one or more input interfaces of end terminal(s) 107, STB 201, and/or control device 221, supervisory users can interact with one or more selection fields (e.g., fields 805-811) for selecting user profiles (e.g., check boxes 805 a and 805 b), for obtaining performance information of users (e.g., icons 807 a and 807 b), for editing particular user profiles (e.g., icons 809 a and 809 b), and/or for deleting selected user profiles (e.g., icon 811). Further, supervisory users may distinguish between user profiles via usernames 813 a and 813 b, as well as graphic elements 815 a and 815 b. While only two previously established user profiles are illustrated, it is contemplated that any number of profiles may exist and be accessed through pane 803. In this regard, a navigational element (not illustrated) may be provided (such as a scrollbar) to facilitate selection of user profiles navigably available, but not displayed. In other embodiments, pane 803 may include a navigation tree, an expandable table of contents, or a FlashMedia presentation of selectable entries. Additionally (or alternatively), interface 800 may be configured to accept verbal commands to effectuate interaction with pane 803.

In the illustrated embodiment, graphic element 815 a is implemented as a headshot, while graphic element 815 b is a generic depiction utilized when no selectable image has been uploaded via interface 440 (of FIG. 4 b) during the profile configuration stage. According to exemplary embodiments, selection of icons 807 a or 807 b may dynamically modify interface 400 (including interface 800) to, for instance, user interface 1000 (of FIG. 10) having a performance report 1001 therein. Performance report 1001, as well as interface 1000, will be described in more detail with respect to FIGS. 9 and 10. In other embodiments, interaction with icons 809 a-809 b may dynamically modify interface 400 (including interface 800) to, for instance, interface 440, wherein a supervisory user may modify user profile parameters previously established, so as to maximize the dependent users' development based on game performance formation, content usage statistics, and/or other suitable information within an associated user profile, such as a profile policy.

As previously mentioned, supervisory users may obtain performance reports to facilitate their decision making process as to whether modification to a dependent users' profile is necessary to enhance their learning experience. In particular embodiments, the supervisory may retrieve performance information of other users associated with other STBs, wherein a report can be generated comparing the relative performance information of two or more of users.

FIG. 9 is flowchart of a process for generating and presenting a performance report, according to an exemplary embodiment. FIG. 10 is a diagram of an exemplary user interface utilized in this process. In step 901, STB 201 (via communication interface 231) and/or report module 131 of server 105 may retrieve game performance information concerning various users (e.g., dependent subscribers to the game performance monitoring and content modification service) based on a command input by a supervisory user to, for instance, one or more content managers 209 a-209 c implemented on (or accessed by) one or more media-based devices 101 a-101 n and/or end terminal(s) 107. The various users' game performance information may be extracted from system 100 components, such as: user profile repository 127, various memories 239 of the users' respective STBs 101 a-101 n, or any other suitable location storing this information, such as a memory of server 105. At step 903, STB 201 via, for instance, processor 211, or report module 131 of server 105 may compare the retrieved performance information of the various users with the performance information of a particular dependent user of interest to the requesting supervisory user. These comparisons can be conducted across select geographic regions, specific age groups, socio-economic statuses, behavioral characteristics, as well any other suitable category corresponding to one or more parameters stored within a user profile.

Per step 905, processor 211 and/or report module 131 may generate one or more report(s) including comparisons based on, for instance, a locality (e.g., local region comparisons, regional average comparisons, national average comparisons, etc.). At step 907, the supervisory user may particularly specify a delivery method (e.g., as a STB display, sent as a fax, etc.) and/or a reporting mode (e.g., textual analysis, pie graph, bar chart, plot, etc.) via one or more content managers 209 a-209 c, wherein the one or more content managers 209 a-209 c instruct processor 211 and/or report module 131 to effectuate the specified delivery method and/or reporting mode. For instance, if report module 131 generated the comparison report and the supervisory user made a delivery request for presentation via STB 201, report module 131 may transmit corresponding signals to STB 201 for display at, for instance, display 225. Thus, the supervisory user (e.g., a parent of the dependent user) can be presented with the selected report via, for instance, STB 201, as per step 909. Namely, display 225 may present output signals 227 formatted by presentation module 241 in response to instructions from either processor 211, controller 219, report module 131, and/or content managers 209 a-209 c, as well as any other suitable system 100 component, such as MSP 111. In turn, the supervisory user may utilize this report to selectively modify the dependent user's user profile, thereby changing the content availability to that dependent user based on the performance information.

As seen in FIG. 10, an exemplary user interface 1000 for presenting game performance information to a supervisory user, formatted as a graphical report, is illustrated. An authenticated subscriber (e.g., a parent) may directly review game performance information and/or edit user profile information, such as a profile policy, based on the displayed report. User interface 1000 may be invoked using a number of different methods. For example, the user may select a dedicated “MENU” button on control device 221 or on a peripheral device communicatively coupled thereto (or associated therewith), such as end terminal 207. It is recognized that any other suitable actuator of these devices may be additionally, or alternatively, used to access the functionality of interface 1000, such as triggering a “GUIDE” icon or other suitable graphical element. Further, interface 1000 may be evoked by selecting an option within another interface or application, such as interacting with a performance icon 807 a or 807 b of interface 800. In some embodiments, an executing device (e.g., STB 201, server 205, end terminal 207, etc.) may require sufficient authentication information (e.g., username, password, MAC address, GUID, etc.) to be input in order to access the functions of interface 1000.

Accordingly, interface 1000 includes one or more interactive panes, such as panes 1003 and 1005 that may be dynamically updated to display various information and/or fields related to actions conducted within the respective panes. Pane 1003, i.e., the options pane 403 of FIG. 4 a, includes the various selectable entries corresponding to one or more features (or options) that may be associated with a subscription service or provided via STB 201 and/or end terminal 207, and may be accompanied by suitable graphical elements corresponding to the one or more entries. Pane 1005 includes performance report 1001, report legend 1007, and one or more profile editing fields, such as profile policy field 1009. In certain embodiments, pane 1005 may also include additional input fields, selectable elements, output fields, and/or windows, as well as any other suitable interface widgets for inputting (or otherwise perceiving) user profile modifications and/or viewing (or generating) a game performance report. Actions within panes 1003 and 1005 may affect selectable parameters within those panes, as well as in the respective other pane. Aural descriptions, tooltips, or other effects may be provided when a user navigates, for instance, a cursor over particular fields of panes 1003 and 1005. Additionally (or alternatively), interface 1000 may be configured to accept verbal commands for entering suitable data into entry fields or making selections within the respective panes. Targeted advertisements, content modification suggestions, as well as other suitable fields, such as a field for an MSP logo, etc. may also be included. Further, navigational elements/fields, e.g., scrollbar 1011, as well as heading field 1013, may be provided. Moreover, image 1015 and/or report title 1017 may be displayed via pane 1005 to notify a supervisory user whose report they are accessing.

In the illustrated embodiment, report 1001 comprises a performance comparison chart including a title 1017 and legend 1007. The chart makes use of rectangular bars of varying length, sized in proportion to the magnitude or frequency of the value they represent, to compare two or more values. More specifically, the chart compares the relative skill set (e.g., math skills, language skills, and critical thinking skills) of a particular user versus those skills exhibited across multiple geographic regions. A supervisory user may obtain deeper insight into a dependent user's abilities, interests, weaknesses, etc. For instance, report 1001 demonstrates that Augustine is trailing the regional averages in both math and language, however, performing better in critical thinking skills. In other embodiments, report 1001 may comprise textual information, other graphical displays (e.g., pie charts, graphs, plots, etc.), and/or aural components. Legend 1007 is included to identify the intended meaning of certain graphical depictions. For instance, legend 1007 may convey the meaning of particular color codes, cross-hatching, etc., used in report 1001, thereby promoting visual and conceptual clarity of the display. Based on the game performance information provided, a supervisory user may determine whether user profile modification is necessary to increase the dependent user's development. The one or more profile editing fields (e.g., field 100 p) are provided for effectuating quick, convenient profile modifications.

Field 1009 (i.e., a profile policy field) permits users to modify previous policy choices. In this manner, a supervisory user may make a new choice between one or more pre-established profile policies 1009 a designed to distribute (or portion) a dependent user's multimedia experience between various technical categories, such as math oriented development, language oriented development, critical thinking oriented development, as well as other technical fields, such as science, history, social studies, cognitive awareness, memory recognition, etc. One or more selection fields, e.g., radio buttons, check boxes, etc., may be provided for selecting a technical category. In other embodiments, field 1009 may include a navigation tree, an expandable table of contents, or a FlashMedia presentation of selectable entries. Moreover, a plurality of graphical displays 1009 b may visually illustrate the distribution between the various technical categories as a function of a particular category. Further, a primary user may be permitted to construct their own distribution between various available (or user defined) categories. Thus, with reference to FIG. 4 b, in response to Augustine's game performance information shown in report 1001, a supervisory user modified an associated user profile policy from a default setting (as in FIG. 4 b) to a language 1019 oriented policy, so as to compensate for Augustine's exhibited weakness in language oriented development. As such, the next time Augustine is presented with a menu of customized content options, the options will be modified according to the adjusted profile policy.

As previously mentioned, interface 400 of FIG. 4 a includes panes 407 and 409 comprising, for instance, a plurality of links (or bookmarks) to automatically generated content suggestions. These modification suggestions may be generated in response to game performance information, content usage statistics, or other user profile parameter associated with a dependent user.

FIG. 11 is a flowchart of a process for dynamic content modification suggestions, according to an exemplary embodiment. In step 1101, one or more tracking modules 129 and/or 213 may monitor content usage of one or more dependent users. At step 1103, the one or more tracking modules may track and store statistical information based on the monitored content usage. These stored statistical parameters may be included in one or more report(s), such as report 1001 (of FIG. 10), and made available to a supervisory user, as per step 1105. The supervisory user; however, may not always know exactly how to modify a dependent user's content availability, so as to maximize their learning experience. Therefore, content managers 209 a-209 c, via one or more processors of one or more executing platforms (e.g., STBs 101 a-101 n, end terminal(s) 107, and/or server(s) 105), may automatically suggest content modifications to a supervisory user based on the tracked statistical information and/or stored game performance data, per step 1107. This process may be carried out through metadata correlation, wherein metadata descriptions of available system 100 content may be analyzed and compared to information within a dependent user's profile. The content managers 209 a-209 c may, for instance, access (or implement) conventional neural network technology, whereby the neural network can determine what content is most suitable for a dependent user based on associated game performance information, content usage statistics, and other user profile parameters in comparison to the metadata descriptions and previous success with other suggestions made to other users.

The processes described herein for performance tracking to modify content for a STB may be implemented via software, hardware (e.g., general processor, Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chip, an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC), Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), etc.), firmware or a combination thereof. Such exemplary hardware for performing the described functions is detailed below.

FIG. 12 illustrates computing hardware (e.g., computer system) 1200 upon which an embodiment according to the invention can be implemented. The computer system 1200 includes a bus 1201 or other communication mechanism for communicating information and a processor 1203 coupled to the bus 1201 for processing information. The computer system 1200 also includes main memory 1205, such as a random access memory (RAM) or other dynamic storage device, coupled to the bus 1201 for storing information and instructions to be executed by the processor 1203. Main memory 1205 can also be used for storing temporary variables or other intermediate information during execution of instructions by the processor 1203. The computer system 1200 may further include a read only memory (ROM) 1207 or other static storage device coupled to the bus 1201 for storing static information and instructions for the processor 1203. A storage device 1209, such as a magnetic disk or optical disk, is coupled to the bus 1201 for persistently storing information and instructions.

The computer system 1200 may be coupled via the bus 1201 to a display 1211, such as a cathode ray tube (CRT), liquid crystal display, active matrix display, or plasma display, for displaying information to a computer user. An input device 1213, such as a keyboard including alphanumeric and other keys, is coupled to the bus 1201 for communicating information and command selections to the processor 1203. Another type of user input device is a cursor control 1215, such as a mouse, a trackball, or cursor direction keys, for communicating direction information and command selections to the processor 1203 and for controlling cursor movement on the display 1211.

According to an embodiment of the invention, the processes described herein are performed by the computer system 1200, in response to the processor 1203 executing an arrangement of instructions contained in main memory 1205. Such instructions can be read into main memory 1205 from another computer-readable medium, such as the storage device 1209. Execution of the arrangement of instructions contained in main memory 1205 causes the processor 1203 to perform the process steps described herein. One or more processors in a multi-processing arrangement may also be employed to execute the instructions contained in main memory 1205. In alternative embodiments, hard-wired circuitry may be used in place of or in combination with software instructions to implement the embodiment of the invention. Thus, embodiments of the invention are not limited to any specific combination of hardware circuitry and software.

The computer system 1200 also includes a communication interface 1217 coupled to bus 1201. The communication interface 1217 provides a two-way data communication coupling to a network link 1219 connected to a local network 1221. For example, the communication interface 1217 may be a digital subscriber line (DSL) card or modem, an integrated services digital network (ISDN) card, a cable modem, a telephone modem, or any other communication interface to provide a data communication connection to a corresponding type of communication line. As another example, communication interface 1217 may be a local area network (LAN) card (e.g. for Ethernet™ or an Asynchronous Transfer Model (ATM) network) to provide a data communication connection to a compatible LAN. Wireless links can also be implemented. In any such implementation, communication interface 1217 sends and receives electrical, electromagnetic, or optical signals that carry digital data streams representing various types of information. Further, the communication interface 1217 can include peripheral interface devices, such as a Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface, a PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) interface, etc. Although a single communication interface 1217 is depicted in FIG. 12, multiple communication interfaces can also be employed.

The network link 1219 typically provides data communication through one or more networks to other data devices. For example, the network link 1219 may provide a connection through local network 1221 to a host computer 1223, which has connectivity to a network 1225 (e.g. a wide area network (WAN) or the global packet data communication network now commonly referred to as the “Internet”) or to data equipment operated by a service provider. The local network 1221 and the network 1225 both use electrical, electromagnetic, or optical signals to convey information and instructions. The signals through the various networks and the signals on the network link 1219 and through the communication interface 1217, which communicate digital data with the computer system 1200, are exemplary forms of carrier waves bearing the information and instructions.

The computer system 1200 can send messages and receive data, including program code, through the network(s), the network link 1219, and the communication interface 1217. In the Internet example, a server (not shown) might transmit requested code belonging to an application program for implementing an embodiment of the invention through the network 1225, the local network 1221 and the communication interface 1217. The processor 1203 may execute the transmitted code while being received and/or store the code in the storage device 1209, or other non-volatile storage for later execution. In this manner, the computer system 1200 may obtain application code in the form of a carrier wave.

The term “computer-readable medium” as used herein refers to any medium that participates in providing instructions to the processor 1203 for execution. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media include, for example, optical or magnetic disks, such as the storage device 1209. Volatile media include dynamic memory, such as main memory 1205. Transmission media include coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise the bus 1201. Transmission media can also take the form of acoustic, optical, or electromagnetic waves, such as those generated during radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) data communications. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other magnetic medium, a CD-ROM, CDRW, DVD, any other optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, optical mark sheets, any other physical medium with patterns of holes or other optically recognizable indicia, a RAM, a PROM, and EPROM, a FLASH-EPROM, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave, or any other medium from which a computer can read.

Various forms of computer-readable media may be involved in providing instructions to a processor for execution. For example, the instructions for carrying out at least part of the embodiments of the invention may initially be borne on a magnetic disk of a remote computer. In such a scenario, the remote computer loads the instructions into main memory and sends the instructions over a telephone line using a modem. A modem of a local computer system receives the data on the telephone line and uses an infrared transmitter to convert the data to an infrared signal and transmit the infrared signal to a portable computing device, such as a personal digital assistant (PDA) or a laptop. An infrared detector on the portable computing device receives the information and instructions borne by the infrared signal and places the data on a bus. The bus conveys the data to main memory, from which a processor retrieves and executes the instructions. The instructions received by main memory can optionally be stored on storage device either before or after execution by processor.

While the preferred embodiments have been described herein, alterations thereto, and other embodiments and implementations of the invention as set forth in the attached claims are possible. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is not limited to the description provided herein, but rather covers various modifications and equivalent arrangements.

The following patent application is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety: co-pending U.S. patent application (Attorney Docket No. 20070245) filed xxxxxxx, entitled “Method and System for Providing Content Management for a Set-top Box.”

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Classifications
U.S. Classification463/23
International ClassificationA63F9/24
Cooperative ClassificationH04N21/4532, H04N21/4781, G07F17/3232, H04N7/163, H04N21/4751, H04N21/4755, G07F17/32, G07F17/3239, H04N21/4826
European ClassificationH04N21/475P, H04N21/478G, H04N21/45M3, H04N21/475A, H04N21/482R, G07F17/32, G07F17/32E6D2, G07F17/32E6, H04N7/16E2
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