(19)
(11)EP 2 800 288 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
17.06.2020 Bulletin 2020/25

(21)Application number: 13165971.6

(22)Date of filing:  30.04.2013
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H04H 20/08  (2008.01)
H04H 20/82  (2008.01)

(54)

System and method for selecting media feeds for playback by a media player

System und Verfahren zur Auswahl von Multimediafeeds zur Wiedergabe in einem Mediaspieler

Système et procédé pour sélectionner des sources multimédia pour reproduction avec un lecteur multimédia


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(43)Date of publication of application:
05.11.2014 Bulletin 2014/45

(73)Proprietor: Swisscom AG
3050 Bern (CH)

(72)Inventor:
  • Marti, Urs-Viktor
    3053 Münchenbuchsee (CH)

(74)Representative: BOVARD AG 
Patent- und Markenanwälte Optingenstrasse 16
3013 Bern
3013 Bern (CH)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-01/35558
US-B1- 7 110 720
US-A1- 2004 204 158
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The invention relates to the selection of media feeds or channels for playback using a media player. In particular, but not exclusively, the invention relates to a system and method of using the conventional input or channel selection controls of a regular media player, such as a radio receiver, for selecting between various external feeds or channels.

    [0002] The recent shift from analogue FM radio to DAB/DAB+, cable, satellite and streamed internet radio (IP-radio) means that listeners invest in different devices for different types of audio transmissions. Attempts have been made to produce devices which are capable of receiving audio content from different types of transmission sources; however these devices essentially simply combine two or more standard devices into one.

    [0003] Users who have invested in expensive media playing equipment such as a high quality FM tuner and amplifier are naturally reluctant to move to a new and unfamiliar system in order to receive the same or similar content via internet, cable, the internet, or using a satellite receiver, for example.

    [0004] The traditional FM (or AM) receiver is simple to use. Decades of development have ensured that channel selection is an intuitively simple operation, suitable for use by even the least technically-minded radio listener. The user can tune the device to the frequency of a desired radio station by rotating a knob, for example, or by pressing "up" or "down" buttons until the desired station frequency is reached. Alternatively, frequencies can be programmed and selected by pressing one of a number of preset-station buttons. Such a radio receiver may also have a display for indicating the frequency to which the radio is currently tuned. The display helps the user to find the desired station quickly. It may be a digital numerical display, for example, or a linear scale with a cursor which is moved along the scale. Because radio receivers have undergone a century of development by many manufacturers in many countries, the technology has become largely standardized, and the functionality of devices, the broadcast frequency ranges and the terminology vary little from manufacturer to manufacturer, or from country to country, so that most users are familiar with the technology and are able to operate different devices without difficulty.

    [0005] By contrast, the reception of digital audio via cable, satellite or internet, for example, requires the use of new and varied devices, each with a different way of selecting which channel to listen to. Devices which are available for receiving internet audio streams, for example, may be more complicated and less intuitive to operate than a traditional radio receiver, partly because of the difficulty of managing the vast numbers of channels available on the internet, and partly because the technology is still relatively young, and the various approaches have not yet been standardised. Reference must usually be made to a server which provides an index of available internet radio stations, together with connection information (IP address etc) and some information about each station. User interfaces for managing the configuration and station-selection operations can be complex.

    [0006] Digital radio stations are often available bundled with digital television channels, via cable, satellite or over the internet. In order to listen to such radio stations, the digital TV receiving device such as a "set-top box" must be switched on. In some cases, the television must also be on. This is very inconvenient for the user. It is often possible to connect the set top box to a hifi system, either with cables or wirelessly, but this does not solve the problems of poor usability and increased complexity.

    [0007] There is a need, therefore, to combine the simplicity and familiarity of the existing traditional media player (eg FM radio receiver) with the greatly increased choice of media feeds (eg IP radio stations) which are now available, for example on cable, satellite or internet, or from one or more local sources such as an mp3 player or a private media server on a local network.

    [0008] In principle, streamed audio from the internet (or a local area network) could be received by an IP-audio stream receiver and then be rebroadcast to a radio tuner via a suitable FM transmitter (or similar) on an FM radio frequency, for example. In order to receive a variety of IP audio streams at the FM radio receiver in this way, however, such an arrangement would need to include some means of selecting the IP audio content which is to be broadcast to the FM receiver. Such a system is disclosed in WO 01/35558 A1. Alternatively, multiple IP audio streams could be set up, with each audio stream being then rebroadcast on its own frequency by a suitable transmitter. The radio receiver could then be used to select the radio channel by tuning to the particular frequency of the channel. Such a system is disclosed in US 7,110,720 B1. This potential solution is problematic in that streaming multiple audio channels uses a great deal of network bandwidth (and/or greatly reduces the audio quality). The number of channels would thus be limited by the available bandwidth and/or the desired audio quality. This problem particularly arises with IP-audio. With satellite and cable systems, the audio content is usually being broadcast anyway, at a certain audio quality, so the bandwidth problem is less critical in this case.

    [0009] In order to overcome the above and other disadvantages with the prior art, the invention aims to provide a system according to claim 1 and a method according to claim 4. Further variants of the invention are set out in the dependent claims 2 to 3 and 5 to 12.

    [0010] An advantage of the invention is that it permits the advantages of IP radio (for example) to be combined with the advantages of existing analogue or digital tuners or other conventional media players. For example, an FM-tuner, be it a high-end hifi-tuner or an old style kitchen radio, may be used with the present invention, and the usability may be kept simple, while the variety of available radio stations can be increased significantly. Furthermore, it is possible to limit the amount of traffic in the access network, for example using only one radio stream at the time, while providing access to multiple streams.

    [0011] In this description we will illustrate the principles underlying the invention using two example embodiments: one of a system for selecting between multiple internet (IP) audio streams on a conventional radio tuner, and one for selecting between multiple playlists on a local media server. It should be understood, however, that the invention can also be used to play media content from any plurality of sources, such as audio channels delivered via other communications media such as cable or satellite, and/or on a standard media player equipped with controls for selecting between multiple input feeds or channels.

    [0012] The invention will now be described in more detail with reference to the accompanying figures 1 to 5, in which:

    Figure 1 illustrates in schematic form a first example embodiment of a system according to the invention.

    Figures 2 to 4 show schematic views of a signal flow such as might be present in the first example embodiment of a system according to the invention.

    Figure 5 illustrates in schematic form an example of a second embodiment of a system according to the invention.



    [0013] Note that the figures are provided by way of example only, as an aid to understanding the invention, and should not be taken as limiting the scope of protection, which is set out in the appended claims. Where the same reference signs have been used in different figures, they are intended to refer to the same or corresponding features. However, the use of different reference signs is not necessarily intended to indicate a difference between features.

    [0014] Figure 1 shows a system for selecting input feeds to a media player in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the invention. There is a media feed selector 2, which is operable to select an output signal Fm(t) from a set of one or more input signals {Fi(t)}, where the t may denote time, based on a control signal s(t). The exemplary set of input signals {Fi(t)}=F1(t), F2(t), F3(t), F4(t) illustrated in figure 1 may be media feeds such as audio, video, or other content. The feeds F1, F2, F3, F4 (time notation t omitted for convenience) may, as illustrated in figure 1, already be selected from a larger number of media feeds F3, F560, F4, F10, F2, F12, F50, F200, F1, which may for example be IP streams available on the internet 25, optionally provided via a media server 15.

    [0015] There is further shown a transmitter 50, a receiver 14, and a controller 90. The receiver 14 may be a traditional FM tuner, for example, or other standard media player. The terms receiver and media player may be used interchangeably in this application. The transmitter 50 is operable to receive a media input signal Fm(t) from the media feed selector 2, and generate a signal x(t) for transmission, according to equation 1:



    [0016] The signal x(t) generated by the transmitter 50 is suitable for transmission to the receiver 14, and is based on the media feed Fm(t), a signature signal Sm(t), and a channel Cm. Signature signal Sm(t) and the channel Cm are supplied to the transmitter 50 by the controller 90. A channel signal c(t) may comprise one or more channel information signals Cn. A channel Cm comprises information and/or data associated with a particular transmission channel of the transmitter 50. For example, the transmitter 50 may be an FM radio transmitter, but it will be understood by a person skilled in the art that any standardized or non-standardized transmission method(s) or protocol(s) could be selected. In the case of an FM radio transmitter 50, Cm may denote an FM radio frequency or frequency band which defines a transmission channel m. Correspondingly, for other types of multiple access channels or transmission protocols, Cm may denote any information necessary to define a transmission channel, such as a frequency and/or time slot, for example, or an encoding scheme or one of a plurality of wired connections. The operation [.]Cm in equation 1 above indicates that the signal inside the bracket is carried on a channel Cm. For example, if Cm describes an FM radio channel, the operation [x]Cm may indicate that a signal x is frequency-modulated onto an FM radio frequency corresponding to a frequency as defined by Cm. Associated with every channel Cm is a signature signal Sm(t) and a media feed Fm(t) such that a set of triplets {Fi(t),Si(t),Ci} is formed. Note that there is a one to one mapping between any one channel Cm and an associated signature Sm(t). In other words, a signature is associated with one channel at a time, and vice versa. Moreover, the set of signatures {Si(t)} is such that each signature can be uniquely identified by defining features. Hence, the transmitter 50 generates a sum of K signals, as shown in equation 1. Of these K signals, one comprises a media feed Fm(t) and signature Sm(t) being transmitted over a channel Cm, and K-1 channels each with a signature signal Si(t) over associated channel Ci but without an associated media feed. Note that, according to a variant of the invention, the set of K signals may include more than one which comprises a media feed, as will be described with reference to the example embodiments. The channel identifiers c(t) and the signature signals s(t) may be the same, in which case the media feed selector and the transmitter would both be adapted to respectively select the media feed or select the transmission channel in response to the same signal.

    [0017] The transmission link 7 between the transmitter 50 and the receiver 14 may be a wireless radio link, but may also be a wired or optical connection, for example.

    [0018] The receiver 14 is configured to receive an input signal x(t), which may include a noise component (not shown), and to generate an output signal y(t) intended for human perception. The receiver 14 may be enabled to receive data and information from a particular channel Cm to which it is tuned.



    [0019] Parameter z(t) may denote a noise or interference signal component due to, for example, imperfections in the reception process at receiver 14. The receiver 14 may be tuned to a particular channel Cm at any one time, and channel selection may be affected through control input p(t). For example, an FM radio channel Cm might be selected by tuning the receiver 14 to a reception frequency associated with the channel Cm. Control input p(t) might be the manual turning of a dial, for example, or the pressing of the "up" and "down" buttons on a remote-control unit. Thus, the receiver 14 receives the signal component in the transmit signal x(t) associated with the selected channel Cm. Referring to equation 1, the receiver 14 will receive a media feed Fm(t) and a signature signal Sm(t) if the receiver 14 is set by control input p(t) to receive channel Cm. Alternatively, if the receiver 14 is set to receive a channel k≠m that does not carry a media feed, the output signal y(t) may comprise a signature signal Sm(t). In the case of audio media feeds, for example, the signal y(t) may be an audible audio signal Fm(t) together with some signature signal Sm(t), which may or may not be audible. In general, the signature signal components of y(t) may or may not be human perceptible. In many applications, however, it may be desirable that the signature signal components in y(t) are substantially imperceptible to humans to avoid an impact on the perception of the media feed component.

    [0020] The controller 90 may be configured to receive a signal y(t), which may include a noise component (not shown), and is enabled to identify a signature signal Sm(t) from the signal y(t), i.e. the controller 90 is configured to recognize a signature signal comprised in y(t), subject, of course, to a suitable signal to noise ratio or other measure of detection quality. The transmission channel 10 is appropriate to the type of media received at the receiver 14. For example, when the receiver 14 is an FM radio receiver, the signal y(t) may be output at the receiver 14 via a loudspeaker, and picked up at the controller 90 by a microphone, for example. It will be understood by a person skilled in the art that the transmission 10 from receiver 14 to the controller 90 can be wired, wireless and in any form appropriate to the type of media output by receiver 14. Based on the signature signal Sm(t) received in the output signal y(t) from the receiver 14, the controller 90 outputs the signature signal Sm(t) and the associated channel Cm (comprised in c(t)) to the transmitter 50, as illustrated in figure 1. Moreover, based on the identified signature signal Sm(t) received in the output signal y(t) from the receiver 14, the controller 90 adjusts the control signal s(t) for the media feed selector 2 such that the media feed selector 2 selects the signal Fm(t) associated with the identified signature signal Sm(t).

    [0021] Hence, when the receiver 14 is tuned to a different channel, say Cs via control input p(t), the output signal y(t) of the receiver 14 will comprise the signature signal Ss(t) associated with channel Cs. Correspondingly, the controller 90 will identify that a different signature signal Ss(t)≠Sm(t) is received, and adjust the multiplexer control signal s(t) such that the media feed Fs(t) associated with Ss(t) will be output to the transmitter 50. Also, the channel signal c(t) will be adjusted so that the media feed Fs(t) and the signature signal Ss(t) will be transmitted over the channel Cs, analog to what is illustrated in equation 1 for the triplet {Fm(t), Sm(t), Cm}.

    [0022] In accordance with various example embodiments of the invention, for a selected media feed Fm(t), it may be sufficient that Sm(t) has a null value. In this variant, the controller 90 may interpret the absence of a signature signal (Sm(t)= 0) in the received signal as indicating that a change of the selected media feed Fm(t) is not desired. For this variant, the receiving of a signature signal, or the receiving of a non-zero signature signal, may indicate that a change of media feed is desired.

    [0023] When, as illustrated in equation 1, a signature signal Sm(t) is present, the signature signal Sm(t) may be used to automatically adjust the tuning at the transmitter 50 and/or the receiver 14 to optimize some transmission performance or quality criteria, for example signal-to-noise ratio. Thus, in such an embodiment, the signature signal may also function as a pilot signal or training signal for the receiver 14.

    [0024] Because the original media feed signal Fm(t) is available to the transmitter 50, the system can be configured so that the transmitter 50 also receives the output signal from the receiver 14, and can thus compare the original media feed signal Fm(t) with the output signal y(t) and thereby determine how similar the output signal y(t) is to the originally transmitted media feed signal Fm(t). By adjusting the transmission frequency (in the case where the channels are defined as transmission frequencies) by a small amount, and then detecting the resulting change in the measured similarity between the original media feed signal Fm(t) and the output signal y(t), the transmitter can fine-tune the channel characteristics (eg frequency) until the greatest similarity is achieved.

    [0025] It will be understood by a person skilled in the art that the functional blocks illustrated in figure 1 may be separate devices or functional units, or may be combined in one or more devices or functional units.

    [0026] In the above description, which refers to the generalised schematic of figure 1, we use an audio feed to illustrate the principles of the invention. However, it should be understood the invention may also be implemented with other forms of media, such as video, and that the radio receiving device mentioned in the example can be any kind of media player which comprises radio frequency selection controls, such as a radio or television. In the case of a television, the standard channel-selection controls can be used to select between different media sources, for example, in a similar way to that described for a standard FM radio receiver.

    [0027] In a simple implementation, the media feed selector 2 may be set up to receive one single selected one of audio feeds F1, F2, F3 and F4. Which of F1, F2, F3 and F4 is selected for reception by media feed selector 2 will be determined by a signature signal identified in the feedback signal, 10, received from media player 14. In more complex implementations, two or more media feeds F1, F2 etc may be selected, as will be explained later.

    [0028] Figures 2 to 4 illustrate in more detail a first example embodiment of a system according to the invention. The illustrated sequence of three system states shown in sequence in figures 2, 3 and 4 will be used to explain how the media player 14 (an FM radio tuner in this example) can switch from receiving a first media feed (IP stream F2) to receiving a second, different media feed (IP stream F3) when the frequency control knob 18 and/or the selector buttons 19 of the radio tuner 14 are operated.

    [0029] In the schematic shown in figure 2, the functionality of the controller 90 of figure 1 may be implemented in the signature identifier 11 and the signature provider 13; the functionality of the transmitter 50 of figure 1 may be comprised in signature modulator 4 and transmitter 6.

    [0030] Figure 2 shows that, among input media feeds F1 to F4, an audio stream F2 is selected for reception. In the case of selecting an IP media stream, for example, this may be achieved by transmitting a stream request to the URL, IP address, port and/or path of one or more servers hosting the F2 audio stream.

    [0031] Once selected for reception by the media feed selector 2, the active audio stream F2 is then provided via communications links 3, 5 and 7 to media player 14, which may for example be a conventional FM radio. Note that the term media player used in connection with the example embodiments is intended to refer to an implementation of the receiver 14 described in reference to the general description relating to figure 1. The input signal to the media player 14 is adapted to convey not only the selected audio feed F2, but also one or more signature signals S1, S2, S3 etc which will indicate to the media feed selector 2, by means of a change in the audio output of the media player 14 and feedback 10, a selection condition or instruction to the media feed selector 2, to change its media feed selection status (eg to change from playing media feed F2 to playing media feed F3).

    [0032] Signature signals S1, S2, S3 etc may be provided (recalled from memory or generated, for example) by signature provider 13, and incorporated into the input signal of the media player 14 by signature modulator 4. Transmission of the modulated output signal of transmitter 6 via communication link 7, 7') may be achieved by any means of communication, such as wireless or wired communication, which the media player (eg radio receiver) 14 is equipped to receive.

    [0033] In figure 2, the media feed selector 2 is configured to receive a selected one of at least two (four are shown) media feeds F1 to F4. F2 is currently selected when the system is in the state shown in figure 2, and the output 3 of the media feed selector 2, carrying the media content of media feed F2, is received by signature modulator 4. Signature modulator 4 also receives signature signals S1 - Sn, from signature provider 13. Signature signals S1 - Sn may be unique identification codes, for example, such that each of the signatures S1 - S4 is associated with one of the media feeds F1 - F4. The association between the individual media feeds F1 to F4 and the individual signatures S1 to S4 is allocated in this example by signature identifier 11. A second set of correspondences between the signature signals S1 to S4 and the channels C1 to Cn is also provided (in this example by the signature modulator 4), thereby forming signature, channel and media feed triplets, as described in relation to figure 1. The signature modulator 4 allocates each of the signature signals S1 to S4, and each media feed received from the media feed selector 2, to one of the channels C1 to Cn which will be transmitted, along with the signatures and media feed content, to the media player 14.

    [0034] Signature modulator 4 thus receives the media feed F2 from the media feed selector 2, and the signatures S1 to Sn from the signature provider 13, and generates a signal for transmission to the media player 14 by the transmitter 6. In the example embodiment of figures 2 to 4, the transmission is by means of a radio-frequency signal (eg an FM signal), which will include at least two carrier signals at different radio frequencies, each modulated by a signature (S1, S2 etc) and/or a selected media feed (F1, F2 etc). The transmission from transmitter 6 to media player 14 may be wireless (7), received via aerial 17, and/or wired (7'), received via an input connection such as coax input socket 21.

    [0035] According to this variant of the invention, the media player (radio tuner) 14 can in principle be any kind of radio frequency receiving device with a frequency or channel selection function. It could be a standard kitchen-type FM radio, for example, or it might be a hifi radio tuner, or it might be a car radio. It is illustrated in figures 2 to 4 as having a control knob 18, buttons 19 and a tuning display 8. The radio-frequency signal can be transmitted from the transmitter 6 to the radio tuner 14 wirelessly, via an aerial 17, for example, or it can be transmitted by a wired connection (via a cable 7' to the coax input socket 21 of the radio tuner 14, for example).

    [0036] Note that, while the signature modulator 4 and transmitter 6 of figures 2 to 4 are configured to generate one or more radio-frequency channels C1 to Cn, each comprising multiple radio-frequency carrier frequencies (six are illustrated in the figures), this could be any number greater than 1.

    [0037] In the state illustrated in figure 2, the transmitted radio frequency signal by transmitter 6 comprises multiple carrier frequencies corresponding to channels C1 to Cn, each of which may carry a signature signal S1 to Sn, except for channel C2, which carries media feed F2. Media player 14 is shown tuned to the frequency of channel C2, and its audio output therefore comprises the content of media feed F2. It may optionally also include signature signal S2.

    [0038] The audio output of the media player 14 may be via an acoustic signal 10', generated by speaker 16, or via wire 10" from an audio output connector 20. This audio output is captured by microphone or transducer 22 and/or received via wired connection 10", and fed to signature identifier 11, which is configured to detect a signature signal (if any is present) in the feedback signal 10 captured from the media player 14.

    [0039] The output 10, 10', 10" of the media player (radio tuner) 14 may be an electrical output, such as an electrical signal 10" from an audio jack socket 20 or a pair of RCA audio sockets, for example, in which case the output 10 can be received by the signature identifier 11 by wire. As another alternative, the output signal of the tuner may converted for transmission to the signature identifier by a different medium, such as an optical (eg infra-red, ultraviolet) signal, or a wireless (WLAN, Bluetooth® etc.) connection. In this case a separate device may be required for transmitting the audio output of the media player (radio tuner) 14 to the signature identifier 11.

    [0040] In the state illustrated in figure 2, the media feed selector is shown receiving the media feed F2, which is being fed back from the audio output 16, 20 of the media player 14. In this stable state, the media feed selector 2 is not required to initiate a change of media feed, and the instruction signal 9 from the signature identifier 11 to the media feed selector 2 is therefore shown as having a null value, Ø.

    [0041] Alternatively, the corresponding signature signal S2 may be transmitted, in addition to the media feed F2, by transmitter 6 to media player 14, and then fed back via the output 10, 10', 10" to the signature identifier 11 and thence to the media feed selector 2, which can be configured to take no feed-switching action since the selected media feed F2 is the same as the media feed corresponding to the signature signal S2 captured in the audio output of the media player 14.

    [0042] Figure 3 illustrates what happens when the state shown in figure 2 is altered by operating the frequency selection knob 18 and/or selector buttons 19 of the media player (radio tuner) 14 to select channel C3 instead of channel C2. Channel C3 is modulated with corresponding signature signal S3, and the output 10, 10', 10" now no longer carries media feed F2 but carries S3 instead. Signature identifier 11 detects the presence of S3 in the audio output 10, and sends an instruction signal 9 to media feed selector 2 to change the media feed to be transmitted to F3, associated with Channel 3 and signature 3.

    [0043] Figure 4 shows the new stable state which is attained once the media feed selector 2 has completed the change to media feed F3. This state is similar to the state shown in figure 2, except that media feed F3 is now being transmitted on channel C3.

    [0044] The signature signals S1, S2 etc can be acoustic signals in the audible range or, in the ultrasonic or infrasonic range. In many instances, especially where the is configured to select between a modest number of media feeds, each signature signal need only be a few bits large in order to be able to uniquely identify one of the channels C1, C2 etc. Such a short signature may be analysed and recognized by the signature identifier within a fraction of a second. This makes it possible to implement the kind of fast channel change (zapping), which the user expects from his experience with FM-tuners.

    [0045] The signature signals S1 ... Sn which are output by the media player 14 may advantageously be short in duration, especially when the signature signals are in the audible frequency range, so that they are not easily perceived by the user, and so that they do not spoil his or her listening pleasure. They may also, for example, be hidden using the masking characteristics of the human ear, or other mechanisms and protocols known to persons skilled in the art. Redundancy can be introduced (eg interferencing acoustic-codes, two-dimensional 1 Byte Code, or swiping acoustic-codes through the free / unoccupied FM-band), to handle interference (echoes, background noise, long distances, etc.). The signature signals can be transmitted once, or a number of times between channel changes, or repeated continuously and contiguously, or repeated continuously at intervals.

    [0046] To reduce the latency of tuning in the IP-radio stream, the access to the internet 25 may be adapted, as illustrated in figure 1, such that the streams F1, F2, F3, F4 are not fetched directly from their IP-radio stations over the internet 25, but rather via a media server 15, in which case the server provider can pre-select a number of audio feeds F3, F560, F4, F10, F2, F12, F50, F200, F1 and thereby reduce the burden of choice on the user.

    [0047] The signature signals S1 ... Sn may be pre-allocated to particular channels C1 ... Cn. Advantageously, channels can be chosen which are not being used by radio stations in the vicinity. The transmission can be configured to scan the available radio spectrum automatically for suitable frequencies. It can also be configured to generate and allocate a unique carrier identification signature Sn to each of the suitable channel Cn.

    [0048] Each of the selectable audio feeds F1 to F4 is also allocated to one of the available channels (carrier frequencies) C1 to Cn. The allocation can be used by the signature identification 11, the media feed selector 2 and/or the signature modulator 4 for selecting the media feed F1,F2 and for allocating the selected media feed F1,F2 to one of the channels (carrier frequencies) C1, C2.

    [0049] The media feed selector 2 in the first example embodiment may comprise a "set-top box" for a TV, for example, or an IP-radio device, or a satellite receiver, or it may comprise a computer or mobile device configured to access a media server or to select between two or more playlists of a second local media player, for example. Or it may comprise any combination of such media sources.

    [0050] The system and method described in relation to this first embodiment can be used for example to enable a user to listen to audio content from the different media feeds F1 to F4 etc, and to select one of the media feeds F1 to F4 using the standard tuning controls 18, 19 of the media player 14. The audio sources or feeds or streams could be any sources of audio content - mp3 player, CD player, laptop, internet radio, local media server etc. Or the different media feeds could be different iTunes playlists, for example. In this case it would be possible to use a standard radio receiving device to listen to a personal music collection, using the tuning control of the radio receiving device to switch between playlists.

    [0051] As described above, a radio-frequency signal may be delivered from the transmitter 6 to the receiver 14 by wireless transmission 7, aerial to aerial 17, or it may be delivered over a coaxial cable 7', for example, directly from the transmitter 6 to a coaxial input 21 of the radio receiving device 14. In the latter case, the transmitter 6 can also comprise a radio reception unit (not shown) for receiving locally available radio stations, and the carrier frequencies which are used to transmit the signatures S1..Sn and/or the selected audio feed F2 can then be merged with the locally available stations for re-transmission to the receiver 14.

    [0052] Figure 5 shows an example of a system according to a second embodiment of the invention, in which the media player is a different kind of device from that illustrated in figures 2 to 4, requiring no radio-frequency input but operating instead with a base-band signal, for example. In this embodiment, the media feed (F2 in the system state shown) and the signature signals (S1 - Sn) are allocated to channels 31 without the need for modulating a radio-frequency signal. The channels in this case may be physical connections (eg an individual connection per channel). The connection 33 between the signature modulator 24 and the media player 14 may be a multi-way cable, for example, connected to a plurality of input connectors of the media player 14 (such as separate inputs for Tape Playback, CD, DVD, MP3-player, Mic, Aux, SCART, USB interfaces etc).

    [0053] The feedback 10 and media feed selector 2 is shown as being similar to those of the first embodiment. Selector controls 27, 28 on the media player (or on a remote control) are used to select which input should be active, and the signal on the active input (either a media feed or a signature signal, for example) is then played through the speakers 16 and/or through the jack output 20. Any signature signal S1, S2 etc detected in the audio output is then used to determine which of the available media feeds F1, F2 etc should be selected by media feed selector 2.

    [0054] Note that figures 2 to 5 show the audio feedback from the media player 14 to the signature identifier 11 both via an acoustic communication 10' (speaker 16 and microphone 22), and a wired connection 10". However, it should be understood that these are alternatives, and the invention does not require that they both be present.

    [0055] The example embodiments described above with reference to the figures are illustrated as supplying a single audio feed from the media feed selector 2 to the signature modulator 4. This is of particular benefit where the bandwidth is to be kept to a minimum, since it allows the system to offer the user a wide choice of media feeds, while only receiving one media feed at a time. However, it may be advantageous to have more than one media feed active and selected by the media feed selector 2. In the case of IP audio streaming, for example, some or all of the desired media feeds can be received in low "preview" quality and transmitted (with the signature signals) by the signature modulator 4, so that the user has more information on which to base his choice of media feed. This helps the user to zap quickly through the channels while getting an immediate "preview" of each radio stations. Then, if a channel remains selected for a certain length of time, the media feed selector 2 can be instructed to retrieve the selected channel in a higher quality, more bandwidth-consuming version.

    [0056] In other arrangements, however, where bandwidth is less critical, such as media content received by satellite, or by cable, or from local devices, the system could be configured so that most or even all of the channels C1 - Cn carry media feeds. In this case, the signature signals S1 - Sn can be merged with the media feeds, and the signature identifier 11 can be configured to differentiate the carrier signature from the media content.


    Claims

    1. A system for media feed selection for playback by a media player (14, 32), the system comprising:

    a transmitter (50, 6) configured to transmit one or more signature signals (S1,S2,S3, S4...) over one or more associated channels (C1, C2,C3,C4...) to the media player (14,32), a one-to-one mapping existing between the signature signals (S1,S2,S3, S4...) and the associated channels (C1,C2 C3, C4...);

    a signature detector (11, 90) configured to determine a signature signal (S2) from a received feedback output signal (10, 10', 10") of the media player (14, 32);

    a media feed selector (2) configured to select, based on the determined signature signal (S2), a media feed (F2) from a plurality of media feeds (F1, F2...Fn), each signature signal (S1,S2,S3, S4...) being further associated with a corresponding media feed (F1, F2...Fn); wherein

    the transmitter (50,6) is further configured to transmit the selected media feed (F2) over the channel (C2) associated with the determined signature signal (S2).


     
    2. System according to claim 1, wherein the transmitter (50, 6) is operable to generate said channels (C1, C2, C3...) as radio-frequency carrier signals to the media player (14, 32) via a wired connection (7').
     
    3. System according to claim 1, wherein the transmitter (50, 6) is operable to generate said channels (C1, C2, C3...) as radio-frequency carrier signals to the media player (14, 32) via a wireless connection (7).
     
    4. A method for selecting, among a plurality of media feeds (F1, F2...Fn), a media feed (F2) for playback using a media player (14, 32),
    the method comprising:

    a transmission step of transmitting one or more signature signals (S1,S2,S3, S4...) over one or more associated channels (C1,C2,C3,C4...), a one-to-one mapping existing between the one or more signatures signals (S1,S2,S3, S4...) and the associated one or more channels (C1,C2 C3, C4...);

    a signature detection step of determining a signature signal (S2) from the feedback output signal (10,,10',10") of the media player (14, 32);

    a media feed selection step of selecting, based on a received signature signal, a media feed (F2) from the plurality of media feeds (F1, F2...Fn), each signature signal (S1,S2,S3, S4...) being further associated with a corresponding media feed (F1, F2...Fn);

    a transmission step of transmitting said selected media feed (F2) over the channel (C2) associated with the determined signature signal (S2).


     
    5. Method according to claim 4, wherein the selected media feed (F2) and the one or more signature signals (S3) is/are transmitted to the media player (14, 32) wirelessly (7).
     
    6. Method according to claim 4, wherein the selected media feed (F2) and the one or more signature signals (S3) is/are transmitted to the media player (14, 32) by means of a wired connection (7', 31).
     
    7. System according to one of claims 1 to 3, or a method according to one of claims 4 to 6, wherein the selected media feed (F2) is an audio feed or an audio stream.
     
    8. System according to one of claims 1 to 3 or 7, or a method according to one of claims 4 to 7, wherein the feedback output signal (10, 10', 10") of the media player (14, 32) is an acoustic signal.
     
    9. System according to one of claims 1 to 3 or 7, or a method according to one of claims 4 to 7, wherein the feedback output signal (10, 10',10") received from the media player (14, 32) is an electrical, a wireless or an optical signal.
     
    10. System according to one of claims 1 to 3 or 7 to 9, or a method according to one of claims 4 to 9, further comprising a media player (14, 32), wherein the media player (14, 32) comprises a radio receiver (14).
     
    11. System according to one of claims 1 to 3 or 7 to 10, or a method according one of claims 4 to 10, wherein the signature signals (S1,S2,S3,S4...) comprise an audio frequency signal.
     
    12. System or method according to one of claims 1 to 3 or 7 to 11, or a method according one of claims 4 to 11, wherein the signature signals (S1,S2,S3, S4...) comprise an acoustic signal inaudible to human hearing.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. System zur Auswahl von Multimedienfeeds zur Wiedergabe in einem Medienspieler (14, 32), das System umfasst:

    einen Transmitter (50, 6), der eingerichtet ist, um eine oder mehrere Signatursignale (S1,S2,S3, S4...) über einen oder mehrere assoziierte Kanäle (C1, C2,C3,C4...) an den Medienspieler (14,32) zu übermitteln, wobei eine Eins-zu-Eins-Zuordnung zwischen den Signatursignalen (S1,S2,S3, S4...) und den assoziierten Kanälen (C1,C2 C3, C4...) besteht;

    einen Signaturdetektor (11, 90), der eingerichtet ist, um ein Signatursignal (S2) aus einem empfangenen Feedback-Ausgangssignal (10, 10', 10") des Medienspielers (14, 32) zu bestimmen;

    einen Medienfeed-Auswahlschalter (2), der eingerichtet ist, um, basierend auf dem bestimmten Signatursignal (S2), ein Medienfeed (F2) aus einer Mehrzahl von Medienfeeds (F1, F2... Fn) auszuwählen, wobei jedes Signatursignal (S1,S2,S3, S4...) ferner mit einem korrespondierenden Medienfeed (F1, F2... Fn) assoziiert ist; wobei

    der Transmitter (50,6) ferner eingerichtet ist, um den ausgewählten Medienfeed (F2) über den Kanal (C2) zu übermitteln, welcher mit dem bestimmten Signatursignal (S2) assoziiert ist.


     
    2. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Transmitter (50, 6) einsetzbar ist, um Kanäle (C1, C2, C3...) als Radiofrequenz-Trägersignale an den Medienspieler (14, 32) via einer Kabelverbindung (7') zu erzeugen.
     
    3. System nach Anspruch 1, wobei der Transmitter (50, 6) einsetzbar ist, um die Kanäle (C1, C2, C3...) als Radiofrequenz-Trägersignale an den Medienspieler (14, 32) via einer drahtlosen Verbindung (7) zu erzeugen.
     
    4. Verfahren zur Auswahl aus einer Mehrzahl von Medienfeeds (F1, F2... Fn) eines Medienfeeds (F2) zur Wiedergabe unter Verwendung eines Medienspielers (14, 32),
    das Verfahren umfasst:

    einen Übermittlungsschritt, um einen oder mehrere Signatursignale (S1,S2,S3, S4...) über einen oder mehrere assoziierte Kanäle (C1,C2,C3,C4...) zu übermitteln, wobei eine Eins-zu-Eins-Zuordnung zwischen dem einen oder den mehreren Signatursignalen (S1,S2,S3, S4...) und den assoziierten einem oder den mehreren Kanälen (C1,C2 C3, C4...) besteht;

    einen Signaturdetektionsschritt, um ein Signatursignal (S2) aus dem Feedback-Ausgangssignal (10,,10',10") des Medienspielers (14, 32) zu bestimmen;

    einen Medienfeed-Auswahlschritt, um, basierend auf einem empfangenen Signatursignal, ein Medienfeed (F2) aus einer Mehrzahl von Medienfeeds (F1, F2... Fn) auszuwählen, wobei das Signatursignal (S1,S2,S3, S4...) ferner mit einem korrespondierenden Medienfeed (F1, F2... Fn) assoziiert ist;

    einen Übertragungsschritt, um den ausgewählten Medienfeed (F2) über den Kanal (C2) zu übertragen, welcher mit dem bestimmten Signatursignal (S2) assoziiert ist.


     
    5. Verfahren nach Anspruch 4, wobei der ausgewählte Medienfeed (F2) und das eine oder die mehreren Signatursignal(e) (S3) an den Medienspieler (14, 32) drahtlos (7) übermittelt wird/werden.
     
    6. Verfahren nach Anspruch 4, wobei der ausgwählte Medienfeed (F2) und das eine oder die mehreren Signatursignal(e) (S3) an den Medienspieler (14, 32) mittels einer Kabelverbindung (7', 31) übermittelt wird/werden.
     
    7. System nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3, oder ein Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 6, wobei der ausgewählte Medienfeed (F2) ein Audiofeed oder ein Audiostream ist.
     
    8. System nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3 oder 7, oder ein Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 7, wobei das Feedback-Ausgangssignal (10, 10', 10") des Medienspielers (14, 32) ein akustisches Signal ist.
     
    9. System nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3 oder 7, oder ein Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 7, wobei das Feedback-Ausgangssignal (10, 10', 10"), welches von dem Medienspieler (14, 32) empfangenen wird, ein elektrisches, ein drahtloses oder ein optisches Signal ist.
     
    10. System nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3 oder 7 bis 9, oder ein Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 9, ferner umfassend einen Medienspieler (14, 32), wobei der Medienspieler (14, 32) einen Radioempfänger (14) umfasst.
     
    11. System nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3 oder 7 bis 10, oder ein Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 10, wobei die Signatursignale (S1,S2,S3,S4...) ein Radiofrequenzsignal umfassen.
     
    12. System oder Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 1 bis 3 oder 7 bis 11, oder ein Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 4 bis 11, wobei die Signatursignale (S1,S2,S3, S4...) ein akustisches Signal umfassen, unhörbar für das menschliche Gehör.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système pour la sélection de sources multimédia pour une reproduction via un lecteur multimédia (14, 32), le système comprenant :

    un émetteur (50, 6) configuré pour transmettre un ou plusieurs signaux de signature (S1, S2, S3, S4...) sur un ou plusieurs canaux associés (C1, C2, C3, C4...) au lecteur multimédia (14, 32), une relation de correspondance unique existant entre les signaux de signature (S1, S2, S3, S4...) et les canaux associés (C1, C2, C3, C4...) ;

    un détecteur de signature (11, 90) configuré pour déterminer un signal de signature (S2) à partir d'un signal de sortie de retour (10, 10', 10") reçu du lecteur multimédia (14, 32) ;

    un sélecteur de sources multimédia (2) configuré pour sélectionner, sur la base du signal de signature (S2), une source multimédia (F2) à partir d'une pluralité de sources multimédia (F1, F2... Fn), chaque signal de signature (S1, S2, S3, S4...) étant en outre associé à une source multimédia correspondante (F1, F2... Fn) ; dans lequel

    l'émetteur (50, 6) est en outre configuré pour transmettre la source multimédia sélectionnée (F2) sur le canal (C2) associé au signal de signature déterminé (S2).


     
    2. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'émetteur (50, 6) peut être utilisé pour générer lesdits canaux (C1, C2, C3...) en tant que signaux porteurs d'une fréquence radio au lecteur multimédia (14, 32) via une connexion filaire (7').
     
    3. Système selon la revendication 1, dans lequel l'émetteur (50, 6) peut être utilisé pour générer lesdits canaux (C1, C2, C3...) en tant que signaux porteurs d'une fréquence radio au lecteur multimédia (14, 32) via une connexion sans fil (7).
     
    4. Procédé pour sélectionner, parmi une pluralité de sources multimédia (F1, F2... Fn), une source multimédia (F2) pour une reproduction utilisant un lecteur multimédia (14, 32), le procédé comprenant :

    une étape de transmission pour transmettre un ou plusieurs signaux (S1, S2, S3, S4...) sur un ou plusieurs canaux associés (C1, C2, C3, C4...), une relation unique existant entre ledit un ou plusieurs signaux de signature (S1, S2, S3, S4...) et ledit un ou plusieurs canaux associés (C1, C2, C3, C4...);

    une étape de détection de signature pour déterminer un signal de signature (S2) à partir du signal de sortie de retour (10, 10', 10") du lecteur multimédia (14, 32) ;

    une étape de sélection de source multimédia pour sélectionner, sur la base d'un signal de signature reçu, une source multimédia (F2) sur le canal (C2) associé au signal de signature déterminé (S2).


     
    5. Procédé selon la revendication 4, dans lequel la source multimédia sélectionnée (F2) et ledit un ou plusieurs signaux de signature (S3) sont transmis au lecteur multimédia (14, 32) sans fil (7).
     
    6. Procédé selon la revendication 4, dans lequel la source multimédia sélectionnée (F2) et ledit un ou plusieurs signaux de signature (S3) sont transmis au lecteur multimédia (14, 32) au moyen d'une connexion filaire (7', 31).
     
    7. Système selon l'une des revendications 1 à 3, ou procédé selon l'une des revendications 4 à 6, dans lequel la source multimédia sélectionnée (F2) est une source audio ou un flux audio.
     
    8. Système selon l'une des revendications 1 à 3 ou 7, ou procédé selon l'une des revendications 4 à 7, dans lequel le signal de sortie de retour (10, 10', 10") du lecteur multimédia (14, 32) est un signal acoustique.
     
    9. Système selon l'une des revendications 1 à 3 ou 7, ou procédé selon l'une des revendications 4 à 7, dans lequel le signal de sortie de retour (10, 10', 10") reçu du lecteur multimédia (14, 32) est un signal électrique, sans fil ou optique.
     
    10. Système selon l'une des revendications 1 à 3 ou 7 à 9, ou procédé selon l'une des revendications 4 à 9, comprenant en outre un lecteur multimédia (14, 32), le lecteur multimédia (14, 32) comprenant un récepteur radio (14).
     
    11. Système selon l'une des revendications 1 à 3 ou 7 à 9, ou un procédé selon l'une des revendications 4 à 10, dans lequel les signaux de signature (S1, S2, S3, S4...) comprennent un signal de fréquence audio.
     
    12. Système ou procédé selon l'une des revendications 1 à 3 ou 7 à 11, ou un procédé selon l'une des revendications 4 à 11, dans lequel les signaux de signature (S1, S2, S3, S4...) comprennent un signal acoustique inaudible à l'oreille humaine.
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description