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Publication numberWO2001059607 A2
Publication typeApplication
Application numberPCT/CA2001/000127
Publication date16 Aug 2001
Filing date8 Feb 2001
Priority date8 Feb 2000
Also published asWO2001059607A3
Publication numberPCT/2001/127, PCT/CA/1/000127, PCT/CA/1/00127, PCT/CA/2001/000127, PCT/CA/2001/00127, PCT/CA1/000127, PCT/CA1/00127, PCT/CA1000127, PCT/CA100127, PCT/CA2001/000127, PCT/CA2001/00127, PCT/CA2001000127, PCT/CA200100127, WO 0159607 A2, WO 0159607A2, WO 2001/059607 A2, WO 2001059607 A2, WO 2001059607A2, WO-A2-0159607, WO-A2-2001059607, WO0159607 A2, WO0159607A2, WO2001/059607A2, WO2001059607 A2, WO2001059607A2
InventorsAnthony Douglas Unser, Carl Edward Chala
ApplicantAudioshock Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet
Entertainment file and related information integration method, apparatus and system
WO 2001059607 A2
Abstract
An apparatus method and system for integrating an entertainment file with related information. The apparatus has an input for receiving an entertainment file, a communications interface for communicating with an information server to receive information related to the entertainment file and memory for storing the entertainment file and the related information. The apparatus further has a processor circuit in communication with the input, the communications interface and the memory. The processor circuit is operable to associate the information with the entertainment file for subsequent playback access by the processor circuit to facilitate playback of the entertainment file and access to the information associated with the entertainment file.
Claims  (OCR text may contain errors)
What is claimed is:
1. A method of integrating an entertainment file with related information, the method comprising:
receiving and storing at a first location an entertainment file, for playback access by a user at the first location;
accessing and acquiring at the first location information related to the entertainment file, and
associating said information with the entertainment file at the first location, for access by a user at the first location.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving and storing comprises producing an entertainment storage file from said entertainment file.
3. The method of claim 2 wherein producing comprises performing an audio processing function on said entertainment file.
4. The method of claim 2 wherein producing comprises decrypting said entertainment file.
5. The method of claim 2 wherein storing comprises maintaining a database of entertainment storage files.
6. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving comprises establishing communications with an entertainment file server.
7. The method of claim 6 wherein establishing communications comprises establishing communications according to an internet protocol.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving comprises receiving an MP3 file.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving comprises receiving a .WAV file.
10. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving comprises receiving said entertainment file from a media player.
11. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving comprises receiving said entertainment file from an analog source.
12. The method of claim 1 wherein receiving comprises receiving said entertainment file from a digital source.
13. The method of claim 1 wherein accessing information comprises producing an index key corresponding to an entertainment file.
14. The method of claim 13 wherein accessing further comprises establishing communications with an information file server.
15. The method of claim 14 wherein establishing communications comprises establishing communications according to an internet protocol.
16. The method of claim 13 further comprising providing said index key to an information server.
17. The method of claim 16 further comprising receiving an information file from said information server, in response to said index key.
18. The method of claim 1 further comprising receiving said information from a user interface.
19. The method of claim 1 further comprising maintaining a database of information files.
20. The method of claim 2 wherein associating said information with said entertainment file comprises producing an entertainment record with indexes to an entertainment storage file and an information file respectively.
21. The method of claim 2 wherein associating said information with said entertainment file comprises producing an entertainment record containing said information and an index to an entertainment storage file associated with said information.
22. The method of claim 1 further comprising providing said entertainment storage file at an output for use by a user.
23. The method of claim 22 further comprising annunciating to a user at least a portion of an information file associated with said entertainment file.
24. The method of claim 22 further comprising transmitting said information file to a remote device.
25. The method of claim 1 further comprising retrieving and annunciating at least a portion of an information file associated with said entertainment file while entertainment content of said entertainment file is being experienced by a user.
26. The method of claim 2 further comprising responding to signals received at a user interface to control acquisition of at least one of said entertainment storage file and said information.
27. The method of claim 26 further comprising receiving said signals from a remote control device.
28. The method of claim 1 further comprising annunciating information in an information file in response to signals received at a user interface.
29. The method of claim 28 further comprising receiving said signals from a remote control device.
30. The method of claim 29 further comprising transmitting information signals to said remote control device for annunciation of some of said information at said remote control device.
31. The method of claim 1 further comprising producing a play list identifying entertainment files and corresponding information to be successively played and annunciated respectively.
32. An apparatus for integrating an entertainment file with related information, the apparatus comprising:
an input for receiving an entertainment file;
a communications interface for communicating with an information server to receive information related to the entertainment file;
memory for storing said entertainment file and said related information; and a processor circuit in communication with said input, said communications interface and said memory, said processor circuit being operable to associate said information with said entertainment file, for subsequent playback access by said processor circuit to facilitate playback of said entertainment file and access to said information associated with said entertainment file.
33. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to produce an entertainment storage file from said entertainment file.
34. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein said processor circuit is operable to perform an audio processing function on said entertainment file.
35. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein said processor circuit is operable to decrypt said entertainment file.
36. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein said processor circuit is operable to maintain a database of entertainment storage files.
37. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to establish communications with an entertainment file server.
38. The apparatus of claim 37 wherein said processor circuit is operable to establish communications according to an internet protocol.
39. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive an MP3 file.
40. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive a .WAV file. l
41. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive said entertainment file from a media player.
42. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive said entertainment file from an analog source.
43. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive said entertainment file from a digital source.
44. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to produce an index key corresponding to an entertainment file.
45. The apparatus of claim 44 wherein said processor circuit is operable to establish communications with an information file server.
46. The apparatus of claim 45 wherein said processor circuit is operable to establish communications according to an internet protocol.
47. The apparatus of claim 44 wherein said processor circuit is operable to provide said index key to an information server.
48. The apparatus of claim 47 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive an information file from said information server, in response to said index key.
49. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive said information from a user interface.
50. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to maintain a database of information files.
51. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein said processor circuit is operable to produce an entertainment record with indexes to said entertainment file and said information file respectively.
52. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein said processor circuit is operable to produce an entertainment record containing said information and an index to an entertainment storage file associated with said information.
53. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein said processor circuit is operable to output said entertainment storage file for use by a user.
54. The apparatus of claim 53 wherein said processor circuit is operable to annunciate to a user at least a portion of an information file associated with said entertainment file.
55. The apparatus of claim 53 wherein said processor circuit is operable to transmit said information file to a remote device.
56. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to retrieve and annunciate at least a portion of an information file associated with said entertainment file while entertainment content of said entertainment file is being experienced by a user.
57. The apparatus of claim 33 wherein said processor circuit is responsive to signals received at a user interface to control acquisition of at least one of said entertainment storage file and said information.
58. The apparatus of claim 57 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive said signals from a remote control device.
59. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is responsive to signals received at a user interface to annunciate information in an information file.
60. The apparatus of claim 59 wherein said processor circuit is operable to receive said signals from a remote control device.
61. The apparatus of claim 60 wherein said processor circuit is operable to transmit information signals to said remote control device for annunciation of some of said information at said remote control device.
62. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said processor circuit is operable to produce a play list identifying entertainment files and corresponding information to be successively played and annunciated respectively.
63. The apparatus of claim 32 further comprising a housing in which said common interface, said memory and said processor circuit are housed and on which said input is located.
64. The apparatus of claim 32 wherein said memory includes a disk drive.
65. An apparatus for integrating an entertainment file with related information, the apparatus comprising:
means for receiving and storing at a first location an entertainment file, for playback access by a user at the first location;
means for accessing and acquiring at the first location information related to the entertainment file, and
means for associating said information with the entertainment file at the first location, for access by a user at the first location.
66. The apparatus of claim 65 wherein said receiving and storing means comprises means for producing an entertainment storage file from said entertainment file.
67. The apparatus of claim 66 further comprising means for processing said entertainment file.
68. The apparatus of claim 66 further comprising means for maintaining a database of entertainment storage files.
69. The apparatus of claim 65 further comprising means for establishing communications with an entertainment file server.
70. The apparatus of claim 69 wherein said means for establishing communications is operable to establish communications according to an internet protocol.
71. The apparatus of claim 66 further comprising means for producing an entertainment record with indexes to said entertainment storage file and an information file respectively.
72. The apparatus of claim 66 further comprising means for producing an entertainment record containing said information and an index to an entertainment storage file associated with said information.
73. The apparatus of claim 66 further comprising means for outputting said entertainment storage file for use by a user.
74. The apparatus of claim 73 further comprising means for providing at least a portion of an information file associated with said entertainment file to a user.
75. The apparatus of claim 73 further comprising means for transmitting said information file to a remote device.
76. The apparatus of claim 65 further comprising means for retrieving and annunciating at least a portion of an information file associated with said entertainment file while entertainment content of said entertainment file is being experienced by a user.
77. The apparatus of claim 66 further comprising means for responding to signals received at a user interface to control acquisition of at least one of said entertainment storage file and said information.
78. The apparatus of claim 77 further comprising means for receiving said signals from a remote control device.
79. The apparatus of claim 65 further comprising means for responding to signals received at a user interface to annunciate information in an information file.
80. The apparatus of claim 79 further comprising means for receiving said signals from a remote control device.
81. The apparatus of claim 80 further comprising means for transmitting information signals to said remote control device for annunciation of some of said information at said remote control device.
82. The apparatus of claim 65 further comprising means for producing a play list identifying entertainment files and corresponding information to be successively played and annunciated respectively. A computer readable medium operable to provide instructions for directing a processor circuit to integrate an entertainment file with related information by:
receiving and storing at a first location an entertainment file, for playback access by a user at the first location;
accessing and acquiring at the first location information related to the entertainment file, and
associating said information with the entertainment file at the first location, for access by a user at the first location.
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

ENTERTAIN ENT FILE AND RELATED INFORMATION INTEGRATION METHOD, APPARATUS AND SYSTEM

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to entertainment systems and more particularly to integrating entertainment files with related information.

2. Description of Related Art

Various devices exist for downloading information from the internet, for example, to a portable player. These devices generally require a computer to enable a user to connect to the internet and require an interface to facilitate communication between the computer and the portable player. Most people, however, have existing home stereo systems which are normally held in relatively confined places which do not easily facilitate the installation of a computer, monitor and keyboard, etc. to facilitate communications on the internet. Consequently, a relatively large and cumbersome amount of equipment is required in order to receive entertainment files from the internet and this complicates the ability to provide signals produced by the entertainment files to conventional stereophonic components.

Downloading information into a portable unit has limitations as well, in that portable units have limited amounts of memory which are inadequate to hold entertainment files relating to most album collections of music collectors, for example. Consequently, it is currently impractical to maintain an entire collection of audio information, for example, in a well indexed and compact format, operable to be played through a conventional stereo system. Furthermore, video information is similarly impractical to maintain. The present invention addresses these and other needs. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses the above problems by providing a method and apparatus for integrating an entertainment file with related information. The apparatus is operable to receive and store at a first location an entertainment file, for playback access by a user at the first location. Information related to the entertainment file is accessed and acquired at the first location and such information is associated with the entertainment file at the first location for access by a user at the first location.

In one embodiment, the apparatus is housed within a housing having the appearance of a stereo component, facilitating integration into a consumer's home stereo system. Also in one embodiment, the apparatus is operable to receive entertainment files from a plurality of different sources, including media players, etc. and entertainment files from servers via the internet. It will be appreciated that many sources of entertainment files are available, and using the apparatus and method described herein, information available on the internet can be associated and related to such entertainment files, to increase the user's enjoyment. Where entertainment files are pure audio files, they may be received in virtually any audio format and audio processing may be conducted on the entertainment file as it is received, and/or as it is ultimately played or provided for enjoyment by a user. The information related to the entertainment files is separately or automatically accessible to a user, during or independently of playback of an entertainment file. Thus, the system provides a versatile entertainment file and related information integration system.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of integrating an entertainment file with related information. The method involves receiving and storing in a first location an entertainment file for playback access by a user at the first location, accessing and acquiring at the first location information related to the entertainment file, and associating the information with the entertainment file at the first location for access by a user at the first location.

The method may involve producing an entertainment storage file from the entertainment file and such producing may involve performing an audio processing function on the entertainment file. Alternatively, or in addition, producing may involve decrypting the entertainment file.

The method may involve maintaining a database of entertainment storage files and information files.

Receiving an entertainment file may involve establishing communications with an entertainment file server and this may involve establishing communications according to an internet protocol.

The apparatus may receive entertainment files in a plurality of formats, including an MP3 format or a WAV format, for example, and the apparatus may receive an entertainment file from a media player, an analogue source or a digital source, for example.

Accessing information may involve producing an index key corresponding to the entertainment file or determining a serial number, for example, of the entertainment file. This index key or serial number is then used in communications with an information file server, possibly using the internet, to allow the information server to download to the apparatus an information file, in response to the index key. Alternatively, information related to an entertainment file may be received at a user interface and input by a user.

Associating information with an entertainment file may involve producing an entertainment record with indexes to an entertainment storage file and an information file, respectively. Alternatively, an entertainment record containing the information may include an index to an entertainment storage file associated with such information.

The entertainment storage file may be provided at an output, for use by a user. The user may use the entertainment storage file as an input to another audio device, such as home theatre system for example, or may transmit the entertainment storage file to a portable player device, for example.

A portion of an information file may be retrieved and annunciated while entertainment content of an entertainment file is being experienced by a user.

Acquisition of entertainment storage files and related information may be controlled by a user manipulating a user interface. The user interface may involve a remote control device, and the remote control device may have a display for annunciation of some of said information on the remote control device.

The apparatus may produce a play list identifying entertainment files and corresponding information to be successively played and annunciated, respectively.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, there is provided an apparatus for integrating an entertainment file with related information. The apparatus may involve an input for receiving an entertainment file, a communications interface for communicating with an information server to receive information related to the entertainment file and memory for storing the entertainment file and the related information. The apparatus may further include a processor circuit in communication with the input, the communications interface and the memory, the processor circuit being operable to associate the information with the entertainment file for subsequent playback access by the processor circuit to facilitate playback of the entertainment file and access to the information associated with the entertainment file. Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent to those ordinarily skilled in the art upon review of the following description of specific embodiments of the invention in conjunction with the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In drawings which illustrate embodiments of the invention,

Figure 1 is a block diagram of a system for integrating entertainment content with related information content according to a first embodiment of the invention;

Figure 2 is a tabular representation of an entertainment record produced by the system of Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 is a schematic representation of entertainment storage files associated with related information files stored in memory of the system shown in Figure 1 ; and

Figure 4 is a tabular representation of an information file stored in the memory of the system shown in Figure 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring to Figure 1 , an apparatus for integrating an entertainment file with related information, according to a first embodiment of the invention is shown generally at 10. Broadly, the apparatus 10 comprises an input 12 for receiving an entertainment file, such as an audio file and/or video file, a communications interface 14 for communicating with an information server 20 to receive information such as bibliographic data and/or pictures related to the entertainment file, memory 16 and a processor circuit 18 in communication with the input 12, the communications interface 14 and the memory 16. The processor circuit 18 is operable to associate the information with the entertainment file for subsequent playback access by the processor circuit 18 to facilitate playback of the entertainment file and access to the information associated with the entertainment file.

In this embodiment, apparatus 10 including the processor circuit 18, memory 16, and communications interface 14 are housed within a common housing 22, such as a conventional 19-inch stereo component housing, to form an entertainment file and related information integrator system 13. The entertainment file input 12 is on the housing 22. The system 13 has the appearance of a stereo component such as an amplifier, tuner, tape deck, Compact Disk (CD®) player, digital versatile disk (DVD®) player, or laser disk (LD®) player as may be purchased at consumer stereo component retail stores. Consequently, the system 13 may be easily integrated into a consumer's system of stereo components as a visually compatible unit.

Alternatively, the apparatus 10 may be integrated into other stereo components, such as an amplifier or home theater receiver, for example. The apparatus 10 may also be incorporated into a personal computer system. However, the stereo system embodiment provides advantages in that the functions of the apparatus 10 can be easily integrated with a consumer's stereo system and thus may be treated as another stereo component, without the need to operate a personal computer to perform its functions.

In this embodiment, the processor circuit 18 of the apparatus 10 includes a system processor circuit 19 such as a Cirrus Logic 7500 available from Cirrus

Logic, Inc. of Freemont California, USA., which provides a high speed central processing unit and major system peripheral units. The apparatus further includes an audio processor 21 which is in communication with the system processor circuit 19 by a bridge interface 23.

The system processor circuit 19 is connected through a bus 25 to the communications device, which in this embodiment includes a 10baseT Ethernet interface 27 and a V90 modem 29. The modem 29 may be a cable modem, for example, since the system may be treated as another stereo component, and a cable outlet is likely to be nearby.

The bus 25 is further connected to a liquid crystal display 54, an I/O controller 31 and a Universal Serial Bus (USB) controller 33. The system processor circuit 19 further has outputs 35 for driving video components shown generally at 37 and has an input 39 for receiving signals from a keyboard and/or mouse 41.

The Input/Output (I/O) controller 31 has an infrared interface 43 and may have an optional RF interface 45 in addition to or alternatively to the infrared interface 43 for supporting communications with an infrared, RF, or other wireless remote control device 50 of the type commonly used for controlling televisions and the like. The remote control device 50 may have a Liquid

Crystal Display (LCD) 52 and may be operable to receive signals from the processor circuit 18 to display information thereon. The remote control device 50 may also have an input device, such as a keypad 53, for example, for producing and transmitting user input signals to the system processor circuit 19.

Together, combinations of components including the LCD 54, the video components 37, the keyboard and/or mouse 41 , the infrared interface 43 and/or the RF port 45, and remote control device 50 act as a user interface to allow a user to provide signals to the system processor circuit 19 and to allow the system processor circuit 19 to provide displays of information, for example, on the LCD 54, for viewing by a user.

The I/O controller 31 is connected to a CD player 47 and the memory 16, which in this embodiment includes a hard disk. The CD player 47 is optional.

The USB controller 33 is in communication with a USB port 51 , permitting the system processor circuit 19 to communicate with other computer devices. The audio processor 21 has a communications port 53 for communicating with the system processor circuit 19 through the bridge interface 23 and has an audio input 55 for receiving digital audio input signals directly from a digital audio input 57, such as an optical input, for example, or from an analog to digital converter 59 operable to receive analog audio signals from an analog input 61. In this embodiment, the audio processor 21 is operable to support audio decompression algorithms, audio decoding, bit stream reception and is operable to provide an interface to digital to analog converters, analog to digital converters and codecs. In this embodiment, the digital audio interface circuit is provided by a Cirrus Logic EP7212 integrated circuit available from Cirrus Logic, Inc.

The audio processor 21 is operable to receive audio entertainment files in a plurality of formats such as wave files or as serial digital bit streams, directly from a digital source. The digital source may also be a media player such as a

CD player, DVD player, LD player, or digital audio recorder for example. Or the digital source may include a satellite receiver system, for example. Or, the digital source may be a device which includes an analog to digital converter operable to receive and convert an analog signal such as from a record player or tape deck into a digital signal. Or the apparatus may include its own analog to digital converter operable to receive an entertainment file from an analog source such as a record player or tape deck, whereupon the entertainment content of the analog signal provided by the analog source acts as the entertainment file. Similar inputs may be provided for receiving video entertainment files.

In addition, the audio processor 21 may receive a .WAV file, MP3 file or serial bitstream, or video file, from a server accessible via the internet, for example.

The audio processor 21 further includes a digital audio output 63 which is operable to provide a stream of digital audio data to a digital audio output connector 65, such as an optical connector, for example, or to provide a digital audio data stream to a digital to analog converter 67 which provides an analog audio output signal at an analog audio output port 69. The audio processor 21 is further in communication with Random Access memory 49, which acts as an output, or playback buffer for the digital audio bit stream presented to the digital audio output 63.

The processor circuit 18 is controlled by instructions stored in the memory 16 which include a block of instructions implementing a basic operating system 42, a block of instructions implementing an automated browser 44 and a block of instructions implementing a control program 46. These instructions may be received in the program memory from a computer readable medium such as a compact disk ROM, a floppy disk, a computer network or wireless communications system, for example. The operating system 42 may be any of a plurality of different multitasking operating systems sufficient to provide applications programs access to the various ports and functions of the processor circuit 18.

The browser 44 is controlled by the control program 46 which is responsive to signals received at the user interface 26.

Using the user interface 26 or the remote control device 50, the user may provide signals to the system processor circuit 19 causing invocation of the browser 44 to establish communications with an entertainment file server 60. To do this, the browser 44 directs the processor circuit 18 to communicate with either the 10baseT Ethernet interface 27 or the V90 modem 29 to establish communications with the entertainment file server 60. The establishment of communications may be done according to an internet protocol, for example, to permit the browser 44 to automatically navigate to a page on the world wide web hosted by the entertainment file server 60, for example. Such communications may involve navigating to a desired page, presenting a list of available entertainment files and/or using search criteria specified by a user, through the user interface to produce such a list, selecting a desired audio, and/or video selection corresponding to a user selection identified through use of the user interface 26 or remote control device 50 and initiating a download procedure to cause the entertainment file server 60 to download to the apparatus 10 an entertainment file containing the desired audio and/or video selection. Alternatively, the entertainment file server 60 may be accessible through a direct connection, a peer-to-peer connection, or any other type of connection that allows the apparatus 10 to acquire an entertainment file from a server, or other source.

The entertainment file includes digital information representing audio and/or video content such as a song and/or movie, for example. Of course it may include a plurality of songs and/or a plurality of movies. The entertainment file may also be a streaming audio file. The entertainment file may be in any of a plurality of formats and these formats would be identified by the entertainment file server 60 prior to downloading. Audio entertainment files are routed from the modem to the audio processor 21 and video entertainment files are routed from the modem directly to the memory 16. For audio files, on learning of the format in which the entertainment file is available, the browser 44 may communicate with the audio processor 21 to identify the format thereto and to configure the digital audio interface to decompress and/or decode and/or process the entertainment file as it is received to produce an entertainment storage file 78. The audio processor 21 may be operable to receive an MP3 file or MPEG 1 , 2 & 2.5 layer 3 audio file, for example and processing may include Qsound 3D audio, Spacializer 3D audio, SRS 3D audio, Dolby processing, compression processing or any other type of audio processing scheme, for example.

In the case of audio entertainment files, the entertainment storage file 78 produced by decompressing and/or decoding and/or processing an audio entertainment file at the digital audio interface may be produced in any of a variety of formats including Windows Media Access (WMA) file format, MP3 file format or any other file format. The entertainment storage file 78 is stored in the memory 16.

It will be appreciated that a plurality of entertainment storage files 78 produced from received audio and/or video entertainment files may be received and stored in the memory 16, thus, the system processor circuit 19 is operable to maintain a database 92 of entertainment storage files 78. To do this, the control program 46 directs the system processor circuit 19 to produce an entertainment record 70 having first and second fields 72 and 74, as shown in Figure 2. Referring to Figures 2 and 3, the first field is operable to store an index 76 to the entertainment storage file 78 to associate the entertainment record 70 with the entertainment storage file 78. The second field is operable to store an index 80 to an information file 82 associated with the entertainment storage file 78. Thus the system processor circuit 19 produces an entertainment record 70 with indexes 76 and 80 to an entertainment file and an information file 82 respectively.

Alternatively, the index 76 to the entertainment file may be stored in a separate field of the information file 82 itself.

Alternatively, the entertainment storage file 78 and the information may be stored in a single integrated file named using a file naming scheme which facilitates searching. A database 92 of such files may be indexed by the use of a file system tree structure, for example.

To acquire an information file 82, after an entertainment storage file 78 has been received, the control program 46 directs the system processor circuit 19 to produce an index key corresponding to the entertainment file. This may be done in any of a plurality of ways, but must be done in such a manner that the index key so produced is useable with an information service provider. For example, the CDDB® Music Recognition Service provided by Gracenote of Berkeley California (www.gracenote.com) is an information service provider suitable to support an information server such as shown at 20 in Figure 1 , which provides music, artist, disc title, genre and song information in response to an index key. One way of producing such a key for use with the CDDB music Recognition Service is described in US Patent No. 6,061,680, which involves calculating an index key based on the content of the entertainment file. Alternatively, a serial number may be contained in the entertainment file and used as an index key with a compatible server.

Referring to Figure 1, using the index key, the control program 46 directs the system processor circuit 19 to establish communications with the information file server, such as the information file server provided by the CDDB Music Recognition Service mentioned above. Such communications may be established according to an internet protocol, for example, to provide the index key to the information server 20.

In response to receipt of the index key the information server 20 locates an information file 82 corresponding to the index key and downloads the located information file 82 to the apparatus. Thus, the system processor circuit 19 is operable to receive an information file 82 from the information server 20. It will be appreciated that the information server may be implemented on the same computer as the entertainment file server, especially where one service provider provides both entertainment and information content.

Alternatively, the system processor circuit 19 may be operable to receive the information from the user interface 26. For example, the user interface 26 may permit a user to use the keyboard and/or mouse 41 to enter desired information about the entertainment storage file 78 with which it is to be associated.

Referring to Figure 3, generally, information files such as shown at 82 obtained from the information server 20 or by receipt of user input are comprised of a plurality of fields 90, each holding a specified item of data. Referring to Figure 4, an information file 82 may have an index field 110, a title field 112, an artist field 114, a serial number field 116, a plurality of other information fields 118, and first and second graphic fields 120 and 122. Each of these fields may be populated by information received from the information server 20. By storing information in this format, the control program 46 shown in Figure 1 may permit a user to access any field and amend or insert information therein. In general, each information file 82 has a fixed number of fields 90, however, they could easily have different numbers of fields, especially where only some information is available. In other words, the information files 82 may be of varying lengths.

In any event, no matter how the information is obtained, in this embodiment the system processor circuit 19 maintains a database 92 of entertainment files and a database 94 of information files 82. The control program 46 may include a file manager to maintain these databases and a database of entertainment records.

Referring to Figures 1 and 3, by storing the entertainment file and the corresponding information file 82 in association with each other and by using a scheme which facilitates searching such as the scheme in which information of the information file 82 is stored in separate fields 90 thereof, the control program 46 may easily search desired fields 90 or combinations of fields 90, or filenames to produce a list of files matching search criteria which may be specified by the user, through the user interface 26. This list of files may be stored in memory 16 and used as a playlist to determine which entertainment storage files 78 are to be retrieved and sent to the playback buffer memory 49 for playback to the user. The playlist may be sorted in any order, for example, or entertainment files associated therewith may be randomly selected and sent to the playback buffer memory 49 for a random play sequence. Preferably the random play sequence does not include repeat plays of the same entertainment file and when all entertainment files on the playlist have been played, playback is ended. The control program 46 may support multiple playlists and playlists may be stored and retrieved for repeated use, if desired. In addition, playlists may be active singly, in succession, or randomly, for example.

To send an entertainment storage file 78 to the playback buffer memory 49, to enable the user to enjoy the entertainment content contained in the entertainment storage file 78, the system processor circuit 19 provides for a direct memory access (DMA) transfer of the entertainment storage file 78 to the playback buffer memory 49. This occurs were the entertainment storage file 78 is stored in a format operable to produce a serial bit stream of data receivable by an audio component such as a home theater system, CD recorder, or any other device responsive to an input digital bit stream. Alternatively, the apparatus 10 may include a digital to analog converter which converts the serial stream of data into an analog signal which may be provided to a conventional analog amplifier component of a stereo system, for playback of the audio portion of the entertainment content. Any video content may be provided in digital or analog formats compatible with video equipment.

Where the entertainment storage file 78 is stored in a compressed and/or processed format, or where post storage processing is desired, the entertainment storage file 78 may be subjected to processing by the system processor circuit 18 before or during transfer from the memory 16 to the playback buffer memory 49. Once the playback buffer memory 49 is loaded with at least some data, such data may be output in a digital format to digital devices or may be converted into an analog format as described above to enable it to be provided to analog devices, for enjoyment by the user.

Alternatively, the contents of the playback buffer memory 49 may be provided to the download interface 32 controlled by the processor circuit 18 under the control of the control program 46, to enable the entertainment content to be transferred to the portable playback device 34. It will be appreciated that the control program 46 controls access to the information in the information files 82 and may use this information in searching to produce a playlist. However, the control program 46 may further be responsive to user input to cause certain fields 90 of information to be copied to an annunciation buffer 100 to cause such information to be annunciated to the user through the user interface 26. In this embodiment, the fields 90 of the information record are annunciated by actuating the LCD 54, on the front panel, with information contained in the fields 90. Alternatively, or in addition, the LCD 54 on the remote control device 50 may be actuated to display the information. Generally any type of annunciation device may be used, including an LCD, a cathode ray tube, or a fluorescent display, for example, to provide visual representations of information field contents, or audio annunciation devices such as text to speech converters may be used to provide audio annunciation.

The annunciation of information and the playback of entertainment content may be controlled separately or together. For example, separate access to and display of information may be desirable when a user is searching for entertainment content and simultaneous access to and display of information may automatically occur while entertainment content is being enjoyed, to enable a user to be informed of information associated with the entertainment content while such content is being enjoyed. If the information content includes photographs of a singer, for example, such photographs may be displayed on the LCD 54 display on the front panel and/or the LCD 52 of the remote control device, or may be provided to a video output for use by a remote device such as a television, for example, while audio content of the singer is being enjoyed. In addition, or alternatively, bibliographic or other information contained in the associated information record may be annunciated to the user. Using the above described system, it is possible for a user to treat the system as another component of his/her stereo system with the benefit of integrating entertainment content with information content for later retrieval, whenever the user desires. Once entertainment content and related information content has been acquired and stored, a user can access one or the other or both, at any time. This increases the pleasure a user may enjoy in a home stereo system, for example.

While specific embodiments of the invention have been described and illustrated, such embodiments should be considered illustrative of the invention only and not as limiting the invention as construed in accordance with the accompanying claims.

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Classifications
International ClassificationG06F17/30
Cooperative ClassificationG06F17/30017
European ClassificationG06F17/30E
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