(19)
(11)EP 3 229 452 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
17.07.2019 Bulletin 2019/29

(21)Application number: 16207628.5

(22)Date of filing:  30.03.2011
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H04M 7/00  (2006.01)
H04L 29/06  (2006.01)
H04L 12/58  (2006.01)
H04N 21/443  (2011.01)
H04N 21/478  (2011.01)
H04N 21/4788  (2011.01)
H04N 21/488  (2011.01)
H04N 21/84  (2011.01)
H04N 5/445  (2011.01)
A63F 13/00  (2014.01)
H04N 21/422  (2011.01)
H04N 21/454  (2011.01)
H04M 7/12  (2006.01)
H04N 21/485  (2011.01)
H04N 21/61  (2011.01)
H04L 29/08  (2006.01)

(54)

GAMES CONSOLE AND METHOD OF OPERATING A GAMES CONSOLE

SPIELKONSOLE UND METHODE ZUM BETRIEB EINER SPIELKONSOLE

CONSOLE DE JEUX ET MÉTHODE POUR LE FONCTIONNEMENT D'UNE CONSOLE DE JEUX


(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

(30)Priority: 31.03.2010 GB 201005458

(43)Date of publication of application:
11.10.2017 Bulletin 2017/41

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
11712236.6 / 2543179

(73)Proprietor: Rovi Technologies Corporation
San Jose CA 95002 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • DINKA, David
    London NW1 0JT (GB)
  • GIER, Gisela
    London E9 7HD (GB)

(74)Representative: Pisani, Diana Jean 
Haley Guiliano International LLP Central Court 25 Southampton Buildings
London WC2A 1AL
London WC2A 1AL (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 1 475 939
US-A1- 2008 081 698
EP-A1- 2 114 062
  
      
    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

    Field of the Invention



    [0001] The present invention relates to a games console comprising processing apparatus for conducting voice or video calls via a packet-based network and a method of operating such a games console.

    Background



    [0002] Some communication systems allow the user of a terminal, such as a personal computer, to conduct voice or video calls over a packet-based computer network such as the Internet. Such communication systems include voice or video over internet protocol (VoIP) systems. These systems are beneficial to the user as they are often of significantly lower cost than conventional fixed line or mobile networks. This may particularly be the case for long-distance communication. To use a VoIP system, the user installs and executes client software on their terminal. The client software sets up the VoIP connections as well as providing other functions such as registration and authentication. In addition to voice communication, the client may also set up connections for other communication media such as instant messaging ("IM"), SMS messaging, file transfer and voicemail.

    [0003] One type of communication system for packet-based communication uses a peer-to-peer ("P2P") topology. To enable access to a peer-to-peer system, a user executes P2P client software supplied by a P2P software provider on their terminal, and registers with the P2P system. When the user registers with the P2P system, the client software is provided with a digital certificate from a server. This may be referred to as a "user identity certificate" (UIC). Once the client software has been provided with the certificate, then calls or other communication connections can subsequently be set up and routed between end-users ("peers") of the P2P system without the further use of a server in the call set-up. Instead, the client looks up the required IP addresses from information distributed amongst the P2P client software on other end-users' terminals within the P2P system. That is, the address look-up list is distributed amongst the peers themselves. Once the IP address of a callee's terminal has thus been determined, the caller's P2P client software then exchanges UIC certificates with the callee's P2P client software. The exchange of these digital certificates between users provides proof of the users' identities and that they are suitably authorised and authenticated in the P2P system. Therefore the presentation of digital certificates provides trust in the identity of the users.

    [0004] It is therefore a characteristic of peer-to-peer communication that, once registered, the users can set up their own communication routes through the P2P system in at least a partially decentralized manner based on distributed address look-up and/or the exchange of one or more digital certificates, without using a server for those purposes. Further details of an example P2P system are disclosed in WO 2005/008524 and WO 2005/009019.

    [0005] VoIP or other packet-based communications can also be implemented using non-P2P systems that do use centralized call set-up and/or authorisation, e.g. via a server.

    [0006] A problem with packet-based communications is that their accessibility to users is limited. In particular, such communications are most commonly accessed using a personal computer. This has the disadvantage that the user must be sufficiently technically competent to download, install and operate the packet-based communication client software on their personal computer, which provides a barrier to the take-up. Even when the communication client is installed and executed on a personal computer, its use may be limited because personal computers are often not located in a place where the user is either familiar or comfortable with communicating. For example, a personal computer is often located in a study which for many users is not the most natural or comfortable environment for making phone calls.

    [0007] Whilst packet-based communication systems can also be accessed via certain mobile devices, these generally do not have processing resources or display screens available to offer a full range of features, such as video calling.

    [0008] It would therefore be desirable to make packet-based communications more accessible to users. One way to do this would be to run a packet-based communication client on a processor embedded in a familiar household media appliance like a television set or set-top box for plugging into a television. Embedded in this context means within the casing of the appliance. The ability to integrate an embedded processor into a television set or set-top box is known, and indeed many modern televisions and boxes already contain a processor for performing at least some of the digital signal processing required to decode and output viewable television signals to the screen.

    [0009] EP 2 114 062 A1 discloses a television comprising a television screen, an alternative user interface, a network port for connecting the television to a network, and a processor arranged to execute a client program configured to allow an end-user to communicate in a call via the network, to receive notification of an incoming communication event signalled to the television via the network, to control the television screen to notify the user of the incoming communication event when the television screen is available, and to control the alternative user interface to indicate the incoming communication event when the television screen is unavailable due to displaying television broadcasts.

    Summary



    [0010] However, the inventors have recognised that one or more potential problems may still exist due to a conflict between the added functionality of the client application and the existing functionality of a conventional television.

    [0011] Particularly, operation of the client is likely to interfere with the user's viewing, because incoming calls will be asynchronous with the current state of the television. That is to say, the calls are not chosen to be initiated by the user of the television, but instead arrive over the packet-based network at unpredictable times at the initiation of another, remote user, and therefore may arrive when the television is occupied with viewing content from a games console.

    [0012] According to one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a games console according to claim 1 and/or a method of operating a games console according to claim 7.

    [0013] Thus, embodiments of the present invention automatically defer notifications of incoming calls or other communications until after a suitable juncture in the video game, prompting the user with the notifications once that time has been reached. This means a user will not be unduly disturbed by asynchronous incoming communication events during the video game in question, but instead will be prompted about those communication events later at a more suitable time.

    [0014] The incoming communication events may comprise an incoming packet-based voice or video call.

    [0015] The client application may be configured to detect said delineation based on a timer set by the user.

    [0016] The client application may be configured to detect said delineation based on a user input indicating the delineation.

    [0017] The notification may take the form of either audible and/or on-screen notifications. Therefore in further embodiments the client application may be configured to output the one or more deferred notifications for display on the screen.

    [0018] Furthermore, the client application may be configured to output the one or more deferred notifications for display on the screen along with an on-screen control allowing the user to initiate a return communication with a corresponding other user via the packet-based network.

    [0019] This advantageously facilitates more efficient return of the call or other communication.

    [0020] In further embodiments the client application may be configured to return, prior to said delineation, an automated message to the one or more other users of the one or more incoming communication events received during the video game.

    [0021] Thus, it is possible not only to defer a notification until after the delineation, but also to inform the other, remote user about the lack of availability. In a further embodiment the communication client may comprise a user-setting arranged to toggle between a first mode of operation in which notifications of incoming communication events received during the video game are deferred, and a second mode of operation in which such notifications are not deferred and are instead output to the user during the video game.

    [0022] The client application may be configured to detect said delineation when a player dies or loses within the video game.

    [0023] In embodiments the method may further comprise in accordance with any of the above features of the games console.

    Brief Description of the Drawings



    [0024] For a better understanding of the present invention and to show how it may be put into effect, reference is made by way of example to the accompanying drawings in which:

    Figure 1 is a schematic representation of a communication system,

    Figure 2 is a schematic representation of a remote control unit,

    Figure 3a is a schematic block diagram of a television set outside the scope of the present claims,

    Figure 3b is a schematic block diagram of a games console according to an embodiment of the present invention,

    Figure 4 is a schematic representation of a user interface, and

    Figure 5a is a schematic representation of a deferred call notification,

    Figure 5b is a schematic representation of another deferred call notification,

    Figure 5c is a schematic representation of another deferred call notification, and

    Figure 6 schematically illustrates transmission of a transport stream.


    Detailed Description



    [0025] An embodiment of the invention will be described with reference to Figure 3b. However, to assist in the description of that embodiment, arrangements outside the scope of the present claims will be described first, with reference to Figures 1, 2 and 3a.

    [0026] Figure 1 shows a communication system 100 comprising a packet-based network 101 such as the Internet; and further comprising a separate television broadcasting network 108 such as a terrestrial, satellite or cable television network. A plurality of computer terminals 102 are shown coupled to the Internet 101, each comprising a network interface for communicating over the Internet. A plurality of television sets 103 are also shown coupled to the Internet 101, each of which also comprises a network interface for communicating over the Internet. In addition to the network interface, each television set 103 further comprises a television receiver for receiving analogue and/or digital television signals which are broadcast over the television network 108. Alternatively or additionally, a television set 103 could be arranged to receive packet-based television signals over the Internet 101 or other such packet-based network.
    The difference between a broadcast and a communication made over a packet-based network is that broadcast signals are transmitted indiscriminately, without transmitting to selected destination devices and regardless of whether the end-user has selected to receive the signal (although a decryption key or such like may still be required so that only authorised users can derive meaningful information from the television signal for viewing). Packet-based communications on the other hand are point-to-point, with an address of the intended destination device being included in the packets. In the case of packet-based television signals transmitted over the Internet, these are still point-to-multipoint communications rather than a broadcast.

    [0027] Each computer terminal 102 is installed with a communication client application 110, Each computer terminal 102 also comprises an audio transceiver 111 comprising a speaker and microphone, e.g. in the form of a headset or handset, or a built-in speaker and microphone. Most computer terminals 102 preferably also comprise a webcam 112. Furthermore, each television set 103 comprises an embedded processor and memory installed with a version of the communication client application 113 specially adapted for running on a television set. Each television set 103 also comprises a webcam 115 and an audio transceiver with speaker and microphone, or is connected or communicable with such components. An audio transceiver may be provided in a remote control unit 114 of the television 103, discussed shortly.

    [0028] The communication client applications 110 and 113 are preferably peer-to-peer clients for setting-up and conducting VoIP calls according to peer-to-peer principles as discussed above. To that end, a peer-to-peer backend server 104 is coupled to the Internet 101 for receiving registration requests from the client applications 111 and 113. The back-end server 104 is arranged to distribute UIC certificates to the respective client applications 111 and 113 running on the computer terminals 102 and television sets 103 in response to the registration requests. Once registered and thus in possession of a UIC certificate, the client applications 111 and/or 113 can look-up one another's addresses, exchange and authenticate one another's certificates, and thus establish a voice or video call over the Internet 101. It will be appreciated however that other kinds of communication client could alternatively be used, e.g. based on centralized server-based call set-up.

    [0029] In addition, the communication system 100 may comprise a telephone network 107 such as a circuit-switched network, and a gateway 106 connecting between the Internet 101 and the telephone network 107. A gateway version of the client application is arranged to run on the gateway 106, and a communication client application 110 or 113 running on a computer terminal 102 or television set 103 is thus able to establish a call with a dedicated phone unit 109 of the telephone network 107. This is achieved by establishing a connection with the client on the gateway 106 using peer-to-peer call set-up and then supplying the relevant telephone number to the gateway 107 (effectively the user's client 110 or 113 sees the gateway 106 as a peer). The phone network 107 may for example comprise a fixed-line network ("landline") and/or a mobile cellular network.

    [0030] Each television set 103 has an associated remote control unit 114, an example of which is illustrated in Figure 2.

    [0031] As shown in Figure 2, the remote control unit (or just "remote control") comprises a microphone 201, speaker 202, a first remote interface in the form of an infrared (IR) transmitter 203, and a second remote interface in the form of a short-range RF interface 204 such as a Bluetooth interface. The microphone 201 and speaker 202 are operatively coupled to the Bluetooth interface 204. The remote control 114 is thus arranged to communicate voice signals from the microphone 201 to the television 103 via the Bluetooth interface 204, and to receive voice signals from the television 103 via the Bluetooth interface 204 for playing out of the speaker 202.

    [0032] The remote control 114 further comprises a plurality of buttons operatively coupled to the infrared transmitter 203, arranged so as to allow the user to control the television 103 via the infrared transmitter 203. The buttons comprise a "standby" button 205 for setting the television into a low-power mode. The buttons further comprise numerical or alphanumeric buttons 206 for changing channel or supplying other numerical or alphanumerical data to the television 103; function buttons 208 for controlling various functions of the television 103, e.g. for controlling a cursor and/or menu system; and optionally dedicated calling buttons 207 for performing specific dedicated operations relating to the calling functionality of the client application 113, e.g. "call", "hang up", or buttons for zooming in and out during a video call.

    [0033] Figure 3a is a schematic block diagram of a television set 103 outside the scope of the present claims. The television set 103 is a dedicated television unit in the sense that its primary purpose is as a television, and is designed to fulfil the role of a family or household television. However, at the same time it is additionally provided with secondary embedded functionality such as VoIP calling.

    [0034] The television set 103 comprises, within a single casing: an embedded processing apparatus 301; a random access memory (RAM) 319; and an embedded non-volatile storage device 318 which may comprise an electronically erasable and reprogrammable memory (EEPROM or "flash" memory), a magnetic storage medium, and/or a one-time writable ROM. The non-volatile storage device 318 is coupled to the processing apparatus 301 and stores a basic operating system (OS) 326, a television application 330, and a communication client application 113 such as a VoIP client. The processing apparatus 301 is arranged to execute the operating system 326, e.g. either by fetching instructions directly from ROM or by first loading from a flash memory into the RAM 319 before fetching. When executed, the operating system 326 is configured to load the television application 330 and client application 113 into RAM 319 and schedule them for execution on the processing apparatus 301. The processing apparatus 301 is thus arranged to run the television application 330 and client application 113 under control of the operating system 326. In some examples, only a minimal operating system 326 may be required, in the form of a basic scheduler.

    [0035] The television set 103 further comprises, within the same casing: a video frame buffer 320 and user interface (Ul) frame buffer 322, video hardware 324, a screen 309, an amplifier 314 and speaker 316 or output to an external speaker or headphones, a television receiver 304, an external audio-video (AV) input 306 such as a SCART or HDMI input from an external source, a webcam or webcam input 308 for connecting to an external webcam, a network interface 302 in the form of a first short-range RF transceiver such as a wi-fi transceiver, a first remote interface 310 in the form of an infrared (IR) receiver, and a second remote interface in the form of a second short-range RF transceiver 312 such as a Bluetooth transceiver.

    [0036] The video frame buffer 320 and user interface (Ul) frame buffer 322 each have an input coupled to the processing apparatus 301. The video hardware 324 has an input coupled to the outputs of the video frame buffer 320 and UI frame buffer 322. The screen 309 has an input to the output of the video hardware 324. The frame buffers 320 and 322 could be dedicated hardware buffers or alternatively could be implemented in a general purpose memory. The amplifier 314 has an input coupled to the processing apparatus 301 and an output coupled to the speaker 316. The processing apparatus 301 is further coupled to the network interface 302, television receiver 304, auxiliary input 306, webcam input 308, infrared interface 310, and Bluetooth interface 312.

    [0037] Any or all of the above components may be coupled to the processing apparatus 301 via intermediate components such as a bus and/or cache (not shown), as will be understood by a person skilled in the art.

    [0038] The television receiver 304 comprises an input for connecting to at least one reception means such as an antenna, satellite dish or cable line, and is thus arranged to receive television broadcast signals from the television network 108 via the reception means. The television receiver 304 is a hardware front-end which may comprise for example: sampling circuitry, a low noise amplifier, a filter, a mixer, and/or an analogue-to-digital converter (ADC). Once received by the television receiver unit 304, the television signals are thus made available to the processing apparatus 301 for signal processing. The television application 330 comprises a signal processing engine in the form of code which, when executed, performs at least some of the required signal processing on the received television signals. The processed television signals are then output to the video frame buffer 320 and amplifier 314 for consumption by the end user. The signal processing engine may comprise for example: a digital filter, demodulator, demultiplexer, decoder, decryption block, and/or error checking block. However, different ways of allocating the television receiver and processing functionality between software and dedicated hardware are also possible. E.g. more of the functionality such as the demultiplexing could be moved to the receiver front-end 304. Techniques for receiving and processing television signals will be known to a person skilled in the art.

    [0039] In the case of traditional analogue television broadcasts, the signals of a plurality of different concurrent programs (of different TV channels) are frequency-division multiplexed over the airwaves by being transmitted on different frequencies. The television receiver 304 will then comprise a tuning circuit to demultiplex the broadcasts and thereby separate out the signal of the required programme, In the case of digital television broadcasts, the signals of different concurrent programs are each divided into packets and interleaved so as to time-division multiplex the different programs' signals into a transport stream for broadcast. The signal processing engine of the television application 330 will then comprise a packet filter to demultiplex the packets of different transport streams and so separate out the signal of the required programme. Multiple transport streams may also be broadcast on different frequencies, requiring a tuner as well. Furthermore, for digital television, one or more of the transport streams may comprise additional programme information such as an electronic programme guide (EPG).

    [0040] Video signals for output to the television screen 309 may also be received via the AV input 306 from an external source such as a DVD player or games console.

    [0041] The television application 330 further comprises a UI graphics engine, a remote protocol engine, an application programming interface (API), and a television UI layer. The overall operation of the signal processing engine, UI graphics engine, remote protocol engine and API is controlled by the television UI layer. The user can select which broadcast to view by pressing buttons 205, 206, 208 on the remote control 114, causing the remote control 114 to communicate control signals to the processing apparatus 301 via the infrared transmitter 203 and receiver 310. The user may also use the buttons in a similar manner to view additional information such as the EPG or control menus, and to navigate the EPG or menus. The relevant control signals are interpreted by the remote protocol engine of the television application 113, which in turn communicates with the television UI layer. In response, the television UI layer controls the signal processing engine to output the relevant television programme to the video frame buffer 320, and/or controls the UI graphics engine to output graphics to the UI frame buffer 322 (e.g. to display the graphics of the menu or EPG). The frame buffers 320 and/or 322 supply their contents to the video hardware 324 for display on the screen 309. The UI frame buffer 322 and video hardware 324 may be arranged to overlay UI graphics over the current television programme in a partially transparent manner, and/or to leave at least part of the television programme visible.

    [0042] As mentioned, the television set 103 comprises a network interface 302. This network interface 302 may take the form of a wireless transceiver such as a wi-fi transceiver, for communicating wirelessly with a household or office-based wireless router 303 as found in most modern homes or offices. The router 303 in turn connects to the Internet 101. However, alternatively, the network interface 302 may comprise other options such as a wired modem or a port to an external wired modem.

    [0043] The communication client application 330 comprises a protocol stack having an I/O layer which, when executed on the processing apparatus 301, is operable to transmit and receive signals over the Internet 101 via the network interface 302. The I/O layer comprises a network signalling protocol for transmitting and receiving control signals over the Internet 101 via the network interface 302. The I/O layer may also comprise an API for communicating with the API of the television application 301.

    [0044] The I/O layer further comprises a voice engine comprising a voice codec. The voice engine is arranged to accept speech signals from the microphone 201, and to encode those speech signals for transmission over the internet 101 via the network interface 302. The voice engine is also arranged to decode speech signals received over the Internet 101 via the network interface 302, for output to the television's amplifier 314 and speaker 316, or to the speaker 202 in the remote control 114 via the Bluetooth interfaces 312 and 204. The I/O layer further comprises a video engine comprising a video codec. The video engine is arranged to accept video signals from the webcam input 308, and to encode those video signals for transmission over the Internet 101 via the network interface 302. The video engine is also arranged to decode video signals received over the Internet 101 via the network interface 302, for output to the UI frame buffer 322, video hardware 326 and screen 309. Alternatively, in a full-screen mode the video codec could output video via the video frame buffer 320.

    [0045] Higher up the protocol stack, the client application 113 comprises a client engine which is responsible for call-set up. The client engine controls the network signalling protocol engine of the client 113 in order to establish a live voice or video call with another user terminal 102 or 103 over the Internet 101, preferably using P2P call set-up as discussed above, or potentially using a centralized call set-up via a server. The client engine may also handle other functions such as connection management, authentication, encryption, and/or exchanging presence information with the client applications 111 or 113 of other user terminals (presence information indicates the availability of a user for communication, and is preferably at least partially defined by the respective user themselves).

    [0046] Even higher up the protocol stack, the client application 113 comprises a client UI layer which is responsible for the client's user interface. The client UI layer is operable to generate a client user interface for output to the UI frame buffer 322, video hardware 324 and screen 309. This may be output via the APIs and the UI graphics engine of the TV application 330 under control of the TV UI layer (or alternatively the client application 113 could be provided with its own UI graphics protocol to output graphics to the UI frame buffer 322 directly). The client user interface thus presents the user with on-screen controls which they can activate using buttons 206, 207, 208 on the remote control 114. Based on these button presses, the remote control 114 communicates control signals to the processing apparatus 301 via the infrared transmitter 203 and receiver 310. These control signals may be interpreted by the UI protocol engine in the television application 330 and then signalled via the APIs to the I/O layer of the client application 113 (or alternatively the I/O layer of the client application 113 could be provided with its own remote control protocol to interpret these control signals directly). In turn, the protocol of the I/O layer of the client 113 communicates with the client UI layer. The client Ul layer is thus configured to respond to user inputs in order to control the overall operation of the client application 113, e.g. allowing a user to select contacts to call, hang up, etc.

    [0047] Figure 4 illustrates an example user interface which could be displayed on the screen 309 by the client application 113, when summoned by the user using the relevant buttons of the remote 114. The user interface may be displayed only on part of the screen 309, allowing at least a portion of a currently viewed programme to remain visible; or may alternatively take up the whole screen 309. The displayed user interface comprises a number of panels. For example, the user interface may comprise a first panel 402 showing profile information of the user of the television 103 on which the client 113 is running. E.g. the profile information may comprise the user's name, an "avatar image" (a picture which the user has chosen to represent themselves), and/or a "mood message" (a short user-defined statement for inclusion in their profile). Further, the user interface may comprise a second panel 404 showing a list of the user's contacts (preferably the client 113 is configured to only allow calls between users who have agreed to be contacts). Further, the user interface may comprise a third panel 406 showing a profile of a selected one of the contacts, and/or a fourth panel 408 providing a menu or other controls for selecting to call the selected contact.

    [0048] Furthermore, the UI layer of the client 113 may be configured to communicate with the UI layer of the television application 330, via the APIs and the operating system 326. This allows the client application 113 and television application 330 to negotiate control of the screen 309 and/or speaker 316 or 202.

    [0049] Whether the client application 113 or television application 330 takes precedence may depend on the implementation and/or situation. Since the television set 103 is primarily a television, then preferably the client application 113 should require permission from the television application 330 before controlling the screen 309 or speaker 316 or 202. However, a user-defined setting may be provided allowing the user to control whether or not the client application 113 can autonomously take control of the screen 309 and/or speaker 316 or 202, e.g. to notify the user in event of an incoming call. This setting would preferably be stored in a non-volatile memory 318 and be readable by the client application 113 and/or television application 330. E.g. the television application 330 may be configured to read a setting from memory and, if set, to unequivocally allow the client application 113 to control the screen and/or speaker. Alternatively the client application 113 may be configured to read a setting from memory and, if set, to control the screen and/or speaker without seeking permission from the television application 330.

    [0050] At least one such user setting may be read by the client application 113, and when set the client application 113 is configured to defer any notifications of incoming VoIP calls or other incoming communication events received over the Internet 101 until a suitable juncture in the user's television viewing. This could mean deferring a notification until after a television programme is finished, or until some other suitable juncture in the programme such as a commercial break. Another possibility would be to defer a notification until after video signals cease to be received via the AV input 306 from an external source such as DVD player or games console. Generally speaking, incoming communication events signalled asynchronously to the television set 103 over the Internet 101 via the network interface 302 are postponed in deference to a higher-priority source such as the television receiver 308 and television network 108, or AV input 306 and external source.

    [0051] Note that the concept of deferring a notification is distinct and advantageous over the mere outright suppression of a notification. Suppressing the notification would mean barring it altogether so as never to be output to the user; whereas deferral requires that the notification will still output to the user, but postponed until some later point in time.

    [0052] In order to do this, the client application 113 is configured with a mechanism for delineating the viewing activity in question. The client application 113 will not understand the actual user content of the television programme or such like, so cannot directly tell when one programme ends and another begins, or cannot directly tell the difference between the main programme and the commercial breaks. Therefore a delineation mechanism is required, for which there are a number of options as discussed below.

    [0053] A first, preferred mechanism involves receiving additional programme information broadcast over the television network 108. In this case the additional programme information is received by the client application 113 via the television receiver 308, and comprises timing information which can be used by the client application 113 to delineate the television programme for the purpose of deferring notifications.

    [0054] As illustrated schematically in Figure 6, a digital television broadcast may comprise audio data 601 and video data 602 of one or more programme streams all interleaved together (i.e. time-division multiplexed) into a combined transport stream for transmission on a particular frequency. Also interleaved into the transport stream is additional program information 603 providing timing information for the one or more programmes (potentially amongst other information such as subtitles and textual programme summaries or precis). The additional programme information 603 may take the form of a general data stream multiplexed into the transport stream in conjunction with a plurality of programme streams, providing programme information for a plurality of programmes. An example of this would be an electronic program guide (EPG). Alternatively or additionally, individual respective programme information may be provided in the stream of each programme, The audio data, video data and additional programme information are decoded by the signal processing engine of the television application 331, and the required programme timing information can be accessed by the client application 113 via the APIs under control of the TV UI layer,

    [0055] In one variant of this first mechanism, the programme timing information 603 comprises programme schedule information such as the EPG. That is, nominal information about when the programme or programmes are scheduled to start and end. For example, the API of the client application 113 may enable it to access the EPG decoded by the signal processing engine of the television application 331. The client 113 can thereby determine that the television programme currently being viewed on the screen 309 is scheduled to end at a particular time, and defer the notification until that time.

    [0056] An example is shown in Figure 5a. Here, the client 113 determines via the API to the EPG that the television programme currently being viewed is scheduled to run from 8:00pm to 9:00pm. If an Incoming call is signalled over the Internet 101 and received at the network interface 302 during the program, e.g. say at 8:13pm, then the client application 113 will temporarily block the notification of the incoming call until the scheduled finishing time at 9:00pm. A similar process would occur if an incoming IM chat message is received during the programme, Following the scheduled end time of the programme (either at that time or just after), the client application 113 will then take control of the screen 309 in order to display a list 503 of any one or more communication events missed during the programme. The list 503 preferably comprises a control such as a cursor 505 which can be controlled by the user, e.g. via function buttons 208 on the remote control, to thereby operate the client 113 initiate a return VoIP call or other corresponding packet-based communication with the respective other user.

    [0057] In another variant of the first mechanism, the programme timing information 603 may comprise a real-time indication of the programme's actual end time (which can be accessed by the client via the API to the television application in a similar manner as discussed above).

    [0058] As shown in Figure 5b, if the programme overruns until a later time than scheduled, e.g. say 9:02pm, then the client 113 will not display the list 503 of missed events until the actual end time of 9:02pm. This advantageously avoids the deferred notifications interfering with the last few minutes of a programme (which could even be the most critical part of the programme in the case of a suspense drama for instance), The client 113 will also defer any incoming communications received during the overrunning period (e.g. at 9:01pm).

    [0059] Further, as shown in Figure 5c, the real-time programme timing information may also indicate the time of breaks in the programme (typically used as commercial breaks to show advertisements, but potentially also used for other purposes such as news bulletins), In this case the client application 113 will be enabled to display the list of missed events 503 during the break.

    [0060] A second mechanism for delineating the programme is for the client application 113 to download programme timing information via the Internet 101 and network interface 302, e.g. from a server of a broadcaster, programme production company or third-party service. This downloaded information could comprise either schedule information and/or real-time updates to the scheduled times, This second mechanism has the advantages of the first mechanism, with the added advantage of being compatible with legacy technologies in which certain timing information 603 may not be available via the broadcast (most digital television broadcasts nowadays do at least include schedule information such as the EPG, but do not all necessarily provide real-time indications of programme timing, and furthermore analogue broadcasts do not include any programme timing information), This could even be used in conjunction with the former variant of the first mechanism in order to provide updates to the schedule information received in the broadcast 603,

    [0061] A third, less preferred mechanism for delineating the programme is to provide a timer that can be set by the user, The timer may be a feature of the client application 113, or be a feature of the television application 330 which may be accessed via the APIs. In this arrangement, the user sets the timer for a predetermined time, and the client application 113 waits until that time before displaying the list of missed events 503. This would have a similar effect as shown in Figure 5a. As with the former variant of the first mechanism, the third mechanism has the downside of possible interference with the end of an overrunning program, and also has the added downside of requiring an inconvenient user input process. On the other hand this third mechanism has the advantage of being compatible with legacy technologies such as analogue broadcasts which do not include programme timing information, and without requiring additional server infrastructure to provide such information via the internet 101.

    [0062] A fourth mechanism would be to provide a user-defined "do not disturb" (DND) setting which the client could assert at the beginning of the programme. This could be an existing DND presence status available within the client application 113, In this case the client application 113 is configured to detect when the user de-asserts the DND status, and upon detecting this to automatically display the list of missed events 503.

    [0063] In some of the above mechanisms it may be necessary for the client application 113 to monitor the current time. This could be done based on a local clock 340, or by receiving updates of the current time from the Internet 101 or television network 108. However, using the latter variant of the first mechanism, there may be no need to monitor the current time if the programme timing information 603 provides a real-time trigger (as opposed to a real-time update of the end time in hours and minutes of the day). There will also be no need to monitor the current time in the fourth, DND-based mechanism.

    [0064] In a particularly advantageous addition to the present invention, the client application 113 may be further configured to return automated messages to the callers of the missed calls (or more generally to the other users who are the originators of the missed communication events). The automated message is returned by the client application 113 when an incoming communication event is received during an ongoing programme, without requiring an input from the local user viewing the programme (the callee). It Is transmitted to the other, remote user (the caller) via the network interface 302 and Internet 101, and informs the caller that the callee is unavailable. Preferably the automated message indicates to the caller the reason why the callee is unavailable (watching TV). In one particularly preferred embodiment, the client application 113 may be configured to use the programme schedule or other timing information to predict when the callee is likely to become available again (i.e. when the current programme is due to finish), and may include this predicted information in the automated message for the benefit of the caller. This could even be incorporated as a new kind of presence status.

    [0065] The invention is not limited to on-screen notifications. The notifications may comprise audible notifications output via a speaker, and it may desirable to defer the audible notifications so that they do not disrupt the user's experience of a current television programme.

    [0066] The arrangements described above are not limited to any particular mechanism for delineating a television program or other viewing activity. A number of examples have been described above, and others may become apparent to a person skilled in the art given the disclosure herein. For example, in an arrangement outside the scope of the present claims, notifications could be deferred until the user changes channel, changes to a different source such as from television programmes to AV input 308, or accesses the EPG. In another example outside the scope of the present claims, the client could access the decoded audio via an API to the television application 330 and attempt to determine when a commercial break occurs based on a change in peak or average volume levels (broadcasters tend to increase the volume during commercial breaks to get the user's attention, though this method would be vulnerable to false alarms e.g. during action sequences of a programme).

    [0067] Note also that the term "programme" does not limit to any particular kind of programme content, and could refer for example to a film, soap opera, documentary, sporting event, news program, etc.

    [0068] Further, other ways of allocating the various client, television and other functionality amongst different processors are envisaged. For example, one or more dedicated signal processors (DSPs) could be arranged to execute the television signal processing engine of the television application 330 and/or the video engine and/or voice engine of the client application 113; with one or more separate CPUs being arranged to execute the UI layer, client engine, protocol and graphics engines of the client application 113 and/or the UI layer and protocol and graphics engines of the television application 330. In another example, the client application and television application could each be run on a different respective CPU embedded in the television set 103. Some or all of the functionality of the television application 330 could alternatively be implemented in dedicated hardware, including the possibility of hardwired signal processing apparatus in the television receiver front-end 304.

    [0069] Furthermore, although the preferred application, the technique described above is not limited to use in a television set having the above components including television screen all within one single self-contained casing. In another example outside the scope of the present claims, the technique could be implemented in a set-top box for plugging into such a television set. In that case the diagram would be similar to that of Figure 3a but with the television hardware 320, 322, 324 and screen 309 replaced by an audio-video (AV) output.

    [0070] In an example embodiment of the present invention, illustrated in Figure 3b, the client application 113 is installed on a games console 105. Similarly to the television 103, the console 105 comprises a processing apparatus 301 in the form of one or more CPUs, coupled to: a non-volatile storage means 318 such as hard drive, flash memory and/or optical disc drive; a RAM 319; a webcam or input 308 from a webcam; and a network interface 302 such as a wi-fi transceiver for accessing a packet-based network such as the Internet 101 (e.g. via wireless router 303). The processing apparatus 301 is further coupled to dedicated gaming graphics hardware 325 and dedicated audio hardware 327, which in turn connect to an audio-video (AV) output 307 for connecting the console 105 to a television set 103. The processing apparatus 301 is further coupled to an additional wireless interface 315 operating on a band suitable for communicating to and from a wireless gamepad 317 or other such game controller (or alternatively a wired interface could be provided). The non-volatile storage 318 supplies the client application 113 and a video game 331 (not necessarily from the same storage unit or medium), both arranged for execution on the processing apparatus 301 (preferably under control of an operating system 326). The video game comprises a console library arranged to handle the I/O with the various devices 315, 325, 327 and 308; a game engine arranged to perform the underlying game logic, and a game UI layer arranged to generate game graphics and sound for output via the console library and graphics and sound hardware 325, 327.

    [0071] The video game 331 also comprises an API for communicating with the API of the client application 113 via the OS 326. The APIs may be used to signal occurrences within the video game 331 to the client 113, and these signalled occurrences may be used by the client 113 to delineate the video game for the purpose of deferring notifications. For example, notifications of an incoming call could be deferred until a player dies or loses within the video game. This may be a more suitable juncture to notify the user than mid-game when he or she may not wish to be distracted.

    [0072] Although the present claims are directed to a games console and a method of operating a games console, generally speaking, the technique can, in examples outside the scope of the present claims, can be applied to any other media appliance having video apparatus for outputting signals to a television screen. The video apparatus may comprise any combination of dedicated hardware and/or regions of memory storing software modules, with any software modules being executed on either the same or a different processor unit as the client application 103. Depending on the appliance and the implementation, the video apparatus may take different forms. In the television set outside the scope of the present claims, shown in Figure 3a for example, the video apparatus may be said to comprise a combination of the frame buffers 320 and 322, video hardware 324, and/or a region of the non-volatile memory 318 storing signal processing code of the television application. In the example console 105 of the embodiment shown in Figure 3b, the video apparatus may be said to comprise the video hardware 325, external AV output 307, and/or a region of the non-volatile storage 318 storing graphics processing code of the video game 331.

    [0073] Furthermore, note that the present invention is not limited particularly to VoIP or to a peer-to-peer topology. Other packet-based networks, protocols and methods of call set-up may also be used.

    [0074] Other variations of the present invention may be apparent to a person skilled in the art given the disclosure herein. The scope of the present invention is not limited by the described embodiment, but only by the appendant claims.


    Claims

    1. A games console (105) comprising:

    an audio-video output (307) operable to output video signals of the games console (105) to a television screen (309);

    a network interface (302) for accessing a packet-based network (101);

    a memory (318) storing a communication client application (113) and a video game (331), the video game (331) comprising an API for communicating with an API of the communication client application (113);

    a wireless interface (315) for communicating with a game controller (317); and

    a processing apparatus (301), coupled to the memory (318), the network interface (302), the audio-video output (307), and the game controller (317), and arranged to execute the communication client application (113) and the video game (331) ;

    wherein the communication client application (113) is configured to:

    allow a user to conduct bidirectional communications with other users via the packet-based network (101);

    receive, from the API of the video game (331), a signal indicating an occurrence within the video game (331);

    utilize the signal from the API of the video game (331) to identify a delineation within the video game (331); and

    defer output of one or more notifications to the user of incoming communication events received, over the packet-based network (101), from one or more of the other users during the video game (331) until the delineation within the video game (331).


     
    2. The games console (105) of claim 1, wherein:
    the communication client application (113) is further configured to return, prior to said delineation in the video game (331), an automated message to the one or more of the other users from which the incoming communication events originated.
     
    3. The games console (105) of claim 2, wherein the automated message informs the one or more of the other users from which the incoming communication events originated about the lack of availability of the user.
     
    4. The games console (105) of claim 3, wherein the automated message indicates, to the one or more of the other users from which the incoming communication events originated, the reason why the user is unavailable.
     
    5. The games console (105) of any of claims 1-4, wherein:
    the communication client application (113) is further configured to identify the delineation within the video game (331) based on when a player dies or loses within the video game (331).
     
    6. The games console (105) of claim 1, wherein:
    the communication client application (113) is further configured to output video signals of the one or more of said notifications of incoming communication events to the television screen (309) along with an on-screen control allowing the user to initiate a return communication, via the packet-based network (101), with a corresponding one of the other users from which the incoming communication events originated.
     
    7. A method for operating a games console (105) having an audio-video output (307) operable to output video signals of the games console (105) to a television screen (309), a network interface (302) for accessing a packet-based network (101), a wireless interface (315), a memory (318) for storing a communication client application (113) and a video game (331), the video game (331) comprising an API for communicating with an API of the communication client application (113), and a processing apparatus (301), coupled to the memory (318), the network interface (302), the audio-video output (307), and the game controller (317), and arranged to execute the communication client application (113) and the video game (331), the method comprising:

    allowing a user to conduct bidirectional communications with other users via the packet-based network (101);

    receiving, from the API of the video game (331), a signal indicating an occurrence within the video game (331);

    utilizing the signal from the API of the video game (331) to identify a delineation within the video game (331); and

    deferring output of one or more notifications of incoming communication events received, over the packet-based network (101), from one or more of the other users during the video game (331) until the delineation within the video game (331).


     
    8. The method of claim 7, further comprising:
    returning, prior to said delineation in the video game (331), an automated message to the one or more of the other users from which the incoming communication events originated.
     
    9. The method of claim 8, wherein the automated message informs the one or more of the other users from which the incoming communication events originated about the lack of availability of the user.
     
    10. The method of claim 9, wherein the automated message indicates, to the one or more of the other users from which the incoming communication events originated, the reason why the user is unavailable.
     
    11. The method of any of claims 7-10, further comprising:
    identifying the delineation within the video game (331) based on when a player dies or loses within the video game (331).
     
    12. The method of any of claims 7-11, further comprising:
    outputting video signals of the one or more of said notifications of incoming communication events on the television screen (309) along with an on-screen control allowing the user to initiate a return communication, via the packet-based network (101), with a corresponding one of the one or more other users from which the incoming communication events originated.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Spielkonsole (105), umfassend:

    eine Audio-/Videoausgabe (307), die zum Ausgeben von Videosignalen der Spielkonsole (105) an einen Fernsehbildschirm (309) betreibbar ist;

    eine Netzwerkschnittstelle (302) zum Zugreifen auf ein paketbasiertes Netzwerk (101);

    einen Speicher (318), der eine Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) und ein Videospiel (331) speichert, wobei das Videospiel (331) eine API zum Kommunizieren mit einer API der Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) umfasst;

    eine drahtlose Schnittstelle (315) zum Kommunizieren mit einer Spielesteuerung (317); und

    eine Verarbeitungsvorrichtung (301), die an den Speicher (318), die Netzwerkschnittstelle (302), die Audio-/Videoausgabe (307) und die Spielesteuerung (317) gekoppelt und angeordnet ist, um die Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) und das Videospiel (331) auszuführen;

    wobei die Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) für Folgendes konfiguriert ist:

    einem Benutzer zu ermöglichen, bidirektionale Kommunikation mit anderen Benutzern über das paketbasierte Netzwerk (101) durchzuführen;

    von der API des Videospiels (331) ein Signal zu empfangen, das ein Ereignis innerhalb des Videospiels (331) anzeigt;

    das Signal von der API des Videospiels (331) zu nutzen, um eine Abgrenzung innerhalb des Videospiels (331) zu identifizieren; und

    eine Ausgabe einer oder mehrerer Benachrichtigungen an den Benutzer über eingehende Kommunikationsvorgänge, die von einem oder mehreren der anderen Benutzer während des Videospiels (331) über das paketbasierte Netzwerk (101) empfangen werden, bis zur Abgrenzung innerhalb des Videospiels (331) zu verzögern.


     
    2. Spielkonsole (105) nach Anspruch 1, wobei:
    die Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) ferner dazu konfiguriert ist, vor der Abgrenzung in dem Videospiel (331) eine automatisierte Nachricht an den einen oder die mehreren der anderen Benutzer, von denen die eingehenden Kommunikationsvorgänge stammten, zurückzugeben.
     
    3. Spielkonsole (105) nach Anspruch 2, wobei die automatisierte Nachricht den einen oder die mehreren der anderen Benutzer, von denen die eingehenden Kommunikationsvorgänge stammten, über die fehlende Verfügbarkeit des Benutzers informiert.
     
    4. Spielkonsole (105) nach Anspruch 3, wobei die automatisierte Nachricht dem einen oder den mehreren der anderen Benutzer, von denen die eingehenden Kommunikationsvorgänge stammten, den Grund anzeigt, warum der Benutzer nicht verfügbar ist.
     
    5. Spielkonsole (105) nach einem der Ansprüche 1-4, wobei:
    die Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) ferner dazu konfiguriert ist, die Abgrenzung innerhalb des Videospiels (331) auf Grundlage dessen, wann ein Spieler innerhalb des Videospiels (331) stirbt oder verliert, zu identifizieren.
     
    6. Spielkonsole (105) nach Anspruch 1, wobei:
    die Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) ferner dazu konfiguriert ist, Videosignale der einen oder mehreren der Benachrichtigungen über eingehende Kommunikationsvorgänge an den Fernsehbildschirm (309) auszugeben, zusammen mit einer Steuerung auf dem Bildschirm, die dem Benutzer ermöglicht, eine Antwortkommunikation über das paketbasierte Netzwerk (101) mit einem entsprechenden einen der anderen Benutzer, von denen die eingehenden Kommunikationsvorgänge stammten, einzuleiten.
     
    7. Verfahren zum Betreiben einer Spielkonsole (105), die Folgendes aufweist: eine Audio-/Videoausgabe (307), die zum Ausgeben von Videosignalen der Spielkonsole (105) an einen Fernsehbildschirm (309) betreibbar ist, eine Netzwerkschnittstelle (302) zum Zugreifen auf ein paketbasiertes Netzwerk (101), eine drahtlose Schnittstelle (315), einen Speicher (318) zum Speichern einer Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) und ein Videospiel (331), wobei das Videospiel (331) eine API zum Kommunizieren mit einer API der Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) umfasst, und eine Verarbeitungsvorrichtung (301), die an den Speicher (318), die Netzwerkschnittstelle (302), die Audio-/Videoausgabe (307) und die Spielesteuerung (317) gekoppelt und angeordnet ist, um die Kommunikation-Client-Anwendung (113) und das Videospiel (331) auszuführen, wobei das Verfahren Folgendes umfasst:

    einem Benutzer zu ermöglichen, bidirektionale Kommunikation mit anderen Benutzern über das paketbasierte Netzwerk (101) durchzuführen;

    Empfangen eines Signals von der API des Videospiels (331), das ein Ereignis innerhalb des Videospiels (331) anzeigt;

    Nutzen des Signals von der API des Videospiels (331), um eine Abgrenzung innerhalb des Videospiels (331) zu identifizieren; und

    Verzögern einer Ausgabe einer oder mehrerer Benachrichtigungen über eingehende Kommunikationsvorgänge, die von einem oder mehreren der anderen Benutzer während des Videospiels (331) über das paketbasierte Netzwerk (101) empfangen werden, bis zur Abgrenzung innerhalb des Videospiels (331).


     
    8. Verfahren nach Anspruch 7, ferner umfassend:
    vor der Abgrenzung in dem Videospiel (331), Zurückgeben einer automatisierten Nachricht an den einen oder die mehreren der anderen Benutzer, von denen die eingehenden Kommunikationsvorgänge stammten.
     
    9. Verfahren nach Anspruch 8, wobei die automatisierte Nachricht den einen oder die mehreren der anderen Benutzer, von denen die eingehenden Kommunikationsvorgänge stammten, über die fehlende Verfügbarkeit des Benutzers informiert.
     
    10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9, wobei die automatisierte Nachricht dem einen oder den mehreren der anderen Benutzer, von denen die eingehenden Kommunikationsvorgänge stammten, den Grund anzeigt, warum der Benutzer nicht verfügbar ist.
     
    11. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 7-10, ferner umfassend:
    Identifizieren der Abgrenzung innerhalb des Videospiels (331) auf Grundlage dessen, wann ein Spieler innerhalb des Videospiels (331) stirbt oder verliert.
     
    12. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 7-11, ferner umfassend:
    Ausgeben von Videosignalen der einen oder mehreren der Benachrichtigungen über eingehende Kommunikationsvorgänge auf dem Fernsehbildschirm (309), zusammen mit einer Steuerung auf dem Bildschirm, die dem Benutzer ermöglicht, eine Antwortkommunikation über das paketbasierte Netzwerk (101) mit einem entsprechenden einen des einen oder der mehreren anderen Benutzer, von denen die eingehenden Kommunikationsvorgänge stammten, einzuleiten.
     


    Revendications

    1. Console de jeux (105) comprenant :

    une sortie audio-vidéo (307) utilisable pour délivrer en sortie des signaux vidéo de la console de jeux (105) vers un écran de télévision (309) ;

    une interface réseau (302) pour accéder à un réseau par paquets (101) ;

    une mémoire (318) stockant une application de client de communication (113) et un jeu vidéo (331), le jeu vidéo (331) comprenant une interface de programme d'application (API) pour communiquer avec une API de l'application de client de communication (113) ;

    une interface sans fil (315) pour communiquer avec un contrôleur de jeu (317) ; et

    un appareil de traitement (301), couplé à la mémoire (318), à l'interface réseau (302), à la sortie audio-vidéo (307) et au contrôleur de jeu (317), et conçu pour exécuter l'application de client de communication (113) et le jeu vidéo (331) ;

    dans lequel l'application de client de communication (113) est configurée pour :

    permettre à un utilisateur d'établir des communications bidirectionnelles avec d'autres utilisateurs via le réseau par paquets (101) ;

    recevoir, à partir de l'API du jeu vidéo (331), un signal indiquant une occurrence à dans le jeu vidéo (331) ;

    utiliser le signal de l'API du jeu vidéo (331) pour identifier une délimitation dans le jeu vidéo (331) ; et

    reporter la sortie d'une ou plusieurs notifications à l'utilisateur d'événements de communication entrants reçus, sur le réseau par paquets (101), à partir d'un ou de plusieurs des autres utilisateurs au cours du jeu vidéo (331) jusqu'à la délimitation dans le jeu vidéo (331).


     
    2. Console de jeux (105) selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle :
    l'application de client de communication (113) est en outre configurée pour renvoyer, avant ladite délimitation dans le jeu vidéo (331), un message automatisé auxdits un ou plusieurs des autres utilisateurs à partir desquels proviennent les événements de communication entrants.
     
    3. Console de jeux (105) selon la revendication 2, dans laquelle le message automatisé informe lesdits un ou plusieurs des autres utilisateurs à partir desquels proviennent les événements de communication entrants à propos du manque de disponibilité de l'utilisateur.
     
    4. Console de jeux (105) selon la revendication 3, dans laquelle le message automatisé indique, auxdits un ou plusieurs des autres utilisateurs à partir desquels proviennent les événements de communication entrants, la raison pour laquelle l'utilisateur est indisponible.
     
    5. Console de jeux (105) selon l'une quelconque des revendications 1 à 4, dans laquelle :
    l'application de client de communication (113) est en outre configurée pour identifier la délimitation dans le jeu vidéo (331) sur la base d'un moment auquel un joueur meurt ou perd dans le jeu vidéo (331).
     
    6. Console de jeux (105) selon la revendication 1, dans laquelle :
    l'application de client de communication (113) est en outre configurée pour délivrer en sortie des signaux vidéo desdites une ou plusieurs desdites notifications d'événements de communication entrants vers l'écran de télévision (309) conjointement avec une commande à l'écran permettant à l'utilisateur d'initier une communication de retour, via le réseau par paquets (101), avec un utilisateur correspondant parmi les autres utilisateurs à partir desquels proviennent les événements de communication entrants.
     
    7. Méthode pour le fonctionnement d'une console de jeux (105) ayant une sortie audio-vidéo (307) utilisable pour délivrer en sortie des signaux vidéo de la console de jeux (105) vers un écran de télévision (309), une interface réseau (302) pour accéder à un réseau par paquets (101), une interface sans fil (315), une mémoire (318) pour stocker une application de client de communication (113) et un jeu vidéo (331), le jeu vidéo (331) comprenant une API pour communiquer avec une API de l'application de client de communication (113), et un appareil de traitement (301), couplé à la mémoire (318), à l'interface réseau (302), à la sortie audio-vidéo (307) et au contrôleur de jeu (317), et conçu pour exécuter l'application de client de communication (113) et le jeu vidéo (331), la méthode comprenant :

    la permission à un utilisateur d'établir des communications bidirectionnelles avec d'autres utilisateurs via le réseau par paquets (101) ;

    la réception, à partir de l'API du jeu vidéo (331), d'un signal indiquant une occurrence dans le jeu vidéo (331) ;

    l'utilisation du signal de l'API du jeu vidéo (331) pour identifier une délimitation dans le jeu vidéo (331) ; et

    le report de la sortie d'une ou plusieurs notifications d'événements de communication entrants reçus, sur le réseau par paquets (101), à partir d'un ou de plusieurs des autres utilisateurs au cours du jeu vidéo (331) jusqu'à la délimitation dans le jeu vidéo (331).


     
    8. Méthode selon la revendication 7, comprenant en outre :
    le renvoi, avant ladite délimitation dans le jeu vidéo (331), d'un message automatisé auxdits un ou plusieurs des autres utilisateurs à partir desquels proviennent les événements de communication entrants.
     
    9. Méthode selon la revendication 8, dans laquelle le message automatisé informe lesdits un ou plusieurs des autres utilisateurs à partir desquels proviennent les événements de communication entrants à propos du manque de disponibilité de l'utilisateur.
     
    10. Méthode selon la revendication 9, dans laquelle le message automatisé indique, auxdits un ou plusieurs des autres utilisateurs à partir desquels proviennent les événements de communication entrants, la raison pour laquelle l'utilisateur est indisponible.
     
    11. Méthode selon l'une quelconque des revendications 7 à 10, comprenant en outre :
    l'identification de la délimitation dans le jeu vidéo (331) sur la base d'un moment auquel un joueur meurt ou perd dans le jeu vidéo (331).
     
    12. Méthode selon l'une quelconque des revendications 7 à 11, comprenant en outre :
    la sortie de signaux vidéo desdites une ou plusieurs desdites notifications d'événements de communication entrants sur l'écran de télévision (309) conjointement avec une commande à l'écran permettant à l'utilisateur d'initier une communication de retour, via le réseau par paquets (101), avec un utilisateur correspondant parmi lesdits un ou plusieurs autres utilisateurs à partir desquels proviennent les événements de communication entrants.
     




    Drawing






























    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