Multi-media content can be accessed in many different ways.
Modern computer networks allow for example videos to be streamed across the Internet.
Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) can record television programming and can then replay
the recorded content not only through a connected television, but also through a
second DVR across a computer network. Similarly, multi-media content is often shared
among different people, remotely such as home movies watched by relatives across
the country, and locally such as recorded television shows that might be watched
by different members of a household at different times.
A user may be watching a video program, such as a movie
or recorded television show, or other multi-media content, such as listening to
a CD or an audio book. The multi-media content, whether an audio file, a video file,
etc., will be referred to as the content, the content stream or the data resource.
The user stops or pauses the content stream at a particular point. If the user then
goes on a business trip, the user may have the capability of accessing that program
from the user's hotel room. The user would then have to restart the program in its
entirety or estimate the location in the content stream where it was stopped.
In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention,
a personal domain device comprises:
- a first port to allow the personal domain device to communicate with a first
- a memory;
- an interface to allow a user to identify a data resource; and
- a processor to:
- access the memory to retrieve a pause point for a data resource; and
- send the pause point to a playback device.
In accordance with a second aspect of the present invention,
a method of accessing a data resource comprises:
- identifying, by a personal domain controller, the data resource accessible by
a first device; and
- accessing a pause point stored in the personal domain controller for the data
Some examples of methods and devices according to the invention
will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:-
- FIG. I shows an embodiment of a network at a remote site in communication with
a network at a home site.
- FIG. 2 shows a more detailed embodiment of a communication device having pause
- FIG. 3 shows an embodiment of a method for using pause points in content streams.
Embodiments described here include a method and device
that allows consumers of multi-media content such as video or audio programming
to have personal pause points in such programs. A pause point determines at which
point in the program viewing or listening was last interrupted.
In an example of a playback scenario, imagine a user who
watches a recorded television show at home. He pauses the program halfway through
the show and then goes on a business trip. On his trip, he brings a portable, electronic
device such as a cell phone or PDA. Once he arrives at the hotel at his destination,
the user is able to resume watching the show in his hotel room at the point where
he paused it when he was at home, by accessing the stored pause point in his portable,
For purposes of this discussion, the portable, electronic
device, regardless of its form, will be referred to here as a personal domain controller.
A playback device is any device that can access stored content and play it back.
Playback devices include, but are not limited to, TVs having external DVRs, TVs
with internal DVRs, TVs having internal or external media devices, audio playback
devices, including CD players, stereos, MP3 players, etc. Communications between
the playback device and the PDC may include communications between a TV and the
PDC, between a DVR and the PDC either through or independent of an associated TV,
etc. No limitation is intended, nor should be inferred, from any examples given
Storing the pause points in a portable electronic device
rather than a playback device, allows multiple members of a household to pause recorded
shows at different points in time, and to resume them later. For example, one member
of a household may decide to watch a show when the other member is not present,
and pause the show before going to bed, causing the pause point to be stored in
the PDC, rather than the playback device. Another member of the household can watch,
pause, and resume watching the show without affecting the first member's pause point
of that show. When the first member later decides to resume watching the show, he
will continue watching the show where he left off by accessing the pause point from
his PDC. The data resources comprise data that can be accessed and played by various
playback devices, such as televisions, with or without associated digital video
recorders, stereos, MP3 players, etc. The data resource may also be referred to
as content. The pause points may be considered indexes into the data resources that
begin the playback at a particular point. It must be noted that playback does not
necessarily imply that the data resource has been accessed prior to a current session,
as will be discussed in more detail with regard to Figure 3.
Figure 1 shows one example of such a system that allows
users to store pause points in a PDC, where the pause point is a point in data resources
as they are played. One skilled in the art will understand that different embodiments
of this invention are possible.
A personal domain controller 10 can be used to control
a TV 14 just like a regular remote control through a local link 12. Just like a
regular remote control, the personal domain controller 10 contains a local port
102 to communicate with the TV 14. The personal domain controller 10 also contains
a network interface 104, and digital memory 112.
The TV 14 is connected to a computer network 18. The personal
domain controller is connected by connection 13 to the same network by way of its
network interface 104 and an access point, shown here as a wireless access point
16. This allows the TV 14 and the personal domain controller 10 to exchange information
even if the local port 102 of the personal domain controller is not connected to
The local link may be infrared or ultra high frequency
(UHF), as is commonly found in remote controls, a visible light link, an audio communications
link, BlueTooth®, a wireless link in accordance with the Institute of Electrical
and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 standards, a wired link, etc. It must be
noted that any link that does not involve a direct, wired connection is wireless,
but the term 'wireless' is often used interchangeably with 'wireless fidelity' or
Wi-Fi, associated with the 802.11 standards.
Similarly, the network port 104 may be a wireless port
that allows the device to access a wide area network, through which it can access
the network 18, or a local area network that is connected to a larger network, such
as a WAN. Alternatively, the network port may be a 'wired' network port, such as
an Ethernet port that connects via a cable to a network.
The user presses a button on the personal domain controller,
such as a "play" button 110 to start or resume playing a certain piece of multi-media
content, such as a recorded television program.
If there is already a pause point associated with that
content stored on the PDC, where the pause point is an index pointing to the location
inside the program, the pause point is transmitted to the TV through either the
local link 12 or the wireless link 13. In this case, the TV plays the data resource
content starting at the point indicated by the index.
While the content is playing, the TV 14 may continually
transmit to the personal domain controller 10 over the wireless link 13 an identifier
of the program currently playing as well as a continually changing index to the
current position of the program.
When the user presses a button such as the "pause" button
108 on the personal domain controller 10, the personal domain controller stores
in the PDC memory 112 the content's identifier and the last position. A user interface
may appear on either the personal domain controller or the television or other playback
device to query as to whether the pause point should be stored. The 'pause point'
is an index into the content stream that identifies the last position where the
pause button was pushed. It may be identified by a time elapsed from the beginning
of the content stream, a frame number, track number, etc.
One skilled in the art will understand that other ways
of communicating the current position and identifier of the multi-media content
are possible. For example, instead of continually communicating the identifier and
position to the personal domain controller, the personal domain controller 10 could
request this information from the TV 14 over the local link 12 or the wireless network
13 when the user presses the pause button 108.
Once the pause point is stored on the PDC, the user can
take his PDC with him to continue watching a program on a second TV such as one
that might be connected to the same network 18, or have access to the original content
through some other means. When the user presses the play button 110 on the personal
domain controller 10 to start the movie on the second TV, the personal domain controller
will transmit the identifier of the program along with an index pointing to a location
inside the program at which playback should resume.
One skilled in the art will understand that other ways
of resuming content on a second TV are possible. For example, when playing content
on a second TV, the TV could communicate to the personal domain controller the identifier
of the data resource, in this case the program. The personal domain controller could
then look up in its internal memory 112 the corresponding pause point. If it finds
such a pause point, it transmits an index pointing to the corresponding position
to the TV, which cues the program to that position.
One skilled in the art can also appreciate how different
users can share the same TV by each using their own personal domain controller 10,
with each personal domain controller storing their own pause points in their internal
memory 112. It is also possible that one personal domain controller may be used
for a family or group of people, with the addition of a user identifier to accompany
the pause point. A user interface may appear on the PDC, such as the screen of a
cell phone or other portable electronic device, which allows the user to identify
himself and associate his name or identifier with the pause point. This information
would be stored in the PDC, rather than the playback device, along with the program
identifier and the pause point.
As mentioned above, it is also possible that the pause
point could be used to access a program over a network when the user is traveling.
Figure 2 shows an example of a network established at a remote site, such as a hotel
room. The remote network has a TV 14 and a client 10. The client 10 is some device
that the user carriers with him or her, such as a cell phone, personal digital assistant
(PDA) or other portable electronic device that is capable of acting as a PDC.
One skilled in the art will understand that not all of
the displayed features of the networked system or the device 10 need to be present
for all embodiments of the invention. Such a skilled person will understand that
the device 10 can be a network appliance or device and need not include a general
purpose computer. The device may be referred to as a computer, in that it has a
Further, one skilled in the art will understand that a
procedure or process may be a self-consistent sequence of computerized processes
that lead to a desired result. These processes can be defined by one or more computer
instructions. These processes may be stored all or in part on an article of computer
readable media containing the instructions. The instructions when executed cause
the computer, here the device 10, to perform the processes set out herein.
One skilled in the art will understand that the examples
and embodiments discussed here are for better understanding and are in no way intended
to, nor should they be interpreted to, limit the scope of the claims to any example
In an example of operation of the network, the TV 14 is
in a hotel room. The TV has local port 102 for reception of signals across a local
link 12 from a remote control, similar to most currently available TVs. The TV also
has a network interface 104 for connection to the network 18 like the Internet.
The network connection 13 may be a wireless connection, through a wireless access
point 16 in accordance with 802.11, or an Ethernet or other wired connection 15.
Many other types of content devices may exist and may include kiosks, personal computers,
music players, video game consoles, etc.
The client/PDC GUI shows the data resources available on
the home network 20, such as video files on the home media server 22, in addition
to resources that may be available on the local network 18, such as television channels
offered by the hotel. The home media server, such as a DVR, may not reside on a
home network, but be directly accessible by the network 18. The user would select
the resource that was previously being viewed from the GUI on the PDC 10 for playback
on the TV 14. The PDC then provides the selection information for the data resource
to the server 22.
In one embodiment, there may be some concerns with regard
to the security of the home network. These concerns may be handled with a secure
access. For example, the client personal domain controller (PDC) 10 may have received
credentials from the credential granting authority of the home network 20. For example,
when the user was at home, the PDC 10 was provided with a credential to make the
PDC 10 a trusted member of the home network.
The initial, local exchange between the client/PDC (cell
phone or PDA) and the sink (hotel TV) would result in the client having the certificate
for the TV. The exchange between the client and the source (media server) results
in the source identifying the client as a trusted member of the home network. This
is just one embodiment of an interaction between the personal domain controller
and the home network.
When the user sees the list of videos on the client, the
user presses a button on the client to select the desired video. This causes a transfer
message to be sent to the source, which includes the credential of the TV to be
whitelisted for one-time access to the video server or DVR. A transfer session descriptor
is sent to the client as a trusted member of the home network and the client passes
that information on to the TV. The TV recognizes the client's certificate from the
initial, local interaction and accepts the transfer session descriptor.
The TV then connects to the server with the request for
the video, which responds with the necessary code to allow the TV to render the
content. The TV is allowed access to the server through the firewall, as its credential
matches the credential for which the firewall was configured. The server then transmits
the content to the TV, which is identified by its credential.
Regardless of any particular embodiment of secured transactions
between the source, the sink and the client, or in this example, the media server,
the hotel TV and the PDC, the PDC would have storage on the PDC of the 'stop' or
'pause' point in the data content stream. The system may then allow the user to
continue to watch the video from that point by retrieving the location in the data
stream and indexing into the content file to that point. The pause point would be
used as an index into the content stream, and the TV or playback apparatus would
use that point to cue up the content stream at that point. An embodiment of this
method is shown in flowchart form in Figure 3.
The user, whether at home or from a remote location, identifies
the data resource through the PDC at 30. At 32, the PDC determines whether there
is a pause point for that data resource stored in the PDC. This may also include
determining if the pause point is for that particular user.
While generally, the pause point will be one acquired and
stored in the PDC as a result of the user pressing `pause' or 'stop' on the PDC,
it is also possible that the pause point was not stored from a previous interaction.
For example, two users may have recorded the same program the night before. The
next day, the first user has not viewed the content, but the second user has. The
second user provides a pause point associated with a particular scene or event in
the program to the first user. The first user uses his PDC to enter and store the
pause point, allowing the first user to skip to the pause point, based upon the
information provided by the second user.
For example, the two users recorded a basketball game in
which there was an incredible play that became the turning point in the game. The
first user has watched the game and went back to a point just before that play,
storing that pause point for later replay. The first user could then supply the
second user with the pause point, allowing the second user to have a pause point
that is not related to a previous viewing of the program. A pause point that is
acquired and stored in a manner not associated with a viewing of the program will
be referred to as a 'preloaded' pause point. The first user may manually enter the
pause point, could receive it as a text message, have it 'beamed' into the phone
or PDA through an infrared point, etc., all of which will be referred to as 'entering'
the pause point. This would result in there being a preloaded pause point for that
program stored in the PDC.
lf there is no pause point, either for the resource or
the user, the data resource is accessed and playback begins as if there had been
no previous access of the data resource, or as if it were 'new' at 38. If there
is a pause point in the PDC memory at 32, the stored pause point may be used to
index into the resource at 34. The data resource may be cued at the pause point
at 36 and playback would begin from the pause point. The user may also have the
option of starting playback from the beginning, ignoring the pause point, accessing
the data resource as if new.
As mentioned previously, the process of determining the
pause point may be accomplished in many different ways. For example, the user selection
of the resource may provide the identifier of the resource to be used to determine
if there is a pause point stored. In another example, when the user selects the
resource, the TV or playback device may provide the identifier that allows the PDC
to use the identifier as an index into a storage table to locate the pause point.
One skilled in the art will appreciate that the mechanism of determining the pause
point may take many forms.
In this manner, a data resource may be accessed by a user
at different times, but experience the contents of the data resource in a more continuous
or sequential manner. The interaction between the PDC, the playback apparatus and
the data resource is transparent to the user, improving the user's experience over