|Title of Invention||
A SYSTEM AND METHOD OF ENABLING A CONSUMER TO CONTROL AN APPLIANCE USING A REMOTE CONTROL
|Abstract||A set top box (STB) (104) is marketed together with a programmable remote (102). The remote has a dedicated button (118) to connect the STB to a specific server (108) on the Internet (106). The consumer can notify the server of his/her other consumer's equipment (114), which he/she desires to be controllable through the same remote as the one that came with the STB. The server downloads to the STB data representative of the relevant control codes. The STB is provided with means (122) to program the remote with these codes. In return the server has obtained detailed and accurate information about this consumer's equipment (114). A reliable customer base (126) can thus be built for streamlining Help Desk operations.|
SET-TOP BOX CONNECTS REMOTE CONTROL DEVICE TO WEB SITE FOR CUSTOMIZED CODE DOWNLOADS
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates to a business model and network architecture supporting the interests of network operators, manufacturers of IP-connected electronic equipment and end-users of the equipment.
Philips Electronics provides the SmartConnect (SM) service to end-users of CE equipment, especially equipment that is Internet-connected, An implementation of the SmartConnect (SM) service uses a special button on a remote control device that enables the user to directly connect, e. g,, via a set top box (STB), to a dedicated SmartConnect (SM) web site. The site provides Philips Electronics with direct contact to the individual end-user, enables warranty registration, alerts the user to additional accessory sales, and provides specific content, advice, services, etc., all supported by the individual user's profile.
Aspects of the SmartConnect (SM) service are discussed in published International Application W00017789 (attorney docket PHA 23,500), corresponding to IE S. serial no. 09/160,490, herein incorporated by reference, and in published International Application W00028436 (attorney docket PHA 23,527), corresponding to U. S. serial no. 09/189,535, herein incorporated by reference.
The SmartConnect (SM) service enables, e. g., customizing a technical functionality of network- (e, g.5 Internet-) enabled equipment of an end-user and supplying customized content information, A profile of the end-user and information about a technical feature for use with the equipment are stored at a server system. Based on the user-profile it is determined whether or not the user should be notified about the availability of this feature.
If it has been decided that there is a match between the user profile as stored and the information about this feature, the end-user gets notified via the network of the option to obtain the feature for being added to his/her equipment. In case the feature relates to new software, it can be downloaded via the network for preferably automatic installation in the equipment. In case the feature comprises a hardware component, it can be shipped, to the end user upon acceptance of the offer. A helpdesk is preferably provided through the network to help the end-user install the feature.
SmartConnect (SM) is based on the insight that network-enabled equipment is becoming a flexible repository into which the end-user can place new and exciting features over time, dependent on the user's needs or desires, context of use, advancement of technology, etc. Not all end-users are always interested in all possible features for creating enhanced functionality of the equipment. Accordingly, a user-profile is established, either when the user registers his equipment with the notification service, or
dynamically as a consequence of the user's interaction with the server system, or through a combination thereof. The profile is used to select, technical features that are likely of interest to the user. In this manner, the user is kept abreast of the latest trends of interest to him/her. This approach implicitly supports virtual recycling as equipment needs to be designed for the purpose of being upgraded. The modular approach of adding or deleting technical software or hardware features as needed thus assists in slowing down the trend that products become obsolete fairly quickly, but without barring the manufacturer or aftermarket sales organizations from continuing doing business.
Incorporated herein by reference are the following patent documents: -U. S. serial no. 09/519,546 (attorney docket US 000114) filed 03/06/00 for Erik Ekkel et ah, for PERSONALIZING CE EQUIPMENT CONFIGURATION AT SERVER VIA WEB-ENABLED DEVICE. This document relates to facilitating the configuring of CE equipment by the end user by means of delegating the configuring to an application server on the Internet. The consumer enters his/her preferences in a specific interactive Web page through a suitable user-interface of an Internet-enabled device, such as a PC or set-top box or digital cellphone. The application server generates the control data based on the preferences entered and downloads the control data to the CE equipment itself or to the Internet-enabled device; -U. S. serial no, 09/521,051 (attorney docket US 000052) filed 3/8/00 for Geert Bruynsteen for BUSINESS MODEL FOR LEASING STORAGE SPACE ON A DIGITAL RECORDER. This document relates to adjusting via a data network the available amount of storage space of a fixed HDD (Hard Disk Drive) on a CE appliance. The consumer can upgrade the appliance via a third party service that remotely control's the HDD's settings.
-U. S. serial no. 09/283,545 (attorney docket PHA 23,633) filed4/l/99 for Eugene Shteyn for TIME-AND LOCATION-DRIVEN PERSONALIZED TV. This document relates to a server system that enables a subscriber to select a specific broadcast program for recording and a specific location and time frame for play-out of the recorded program.
-U. S. serial no. 09/349,676 (attorney docket PHA 23,681) filed 7/8/99 for Kristin Ondeck for AFTER-SALES CUSTOMIZATION SPECIFIED BY RETAILER ACTS AS INCENTIVE. This document relates to a machine-implemented method of doing business that enables to stimulate commercial activities. According to the method a customer is enabled to notify a specific party, e, g., a manufacturer, importer, or distributor, or a specialized service provider, of a specific commercial activity wherein he or she is or was involved. Upon being notified, the party enables customizing, via a data network such as the Internet, the equipment of the customer as associated with the commercial activity. For example, the specific activity relates to sales of merchandise via a retailer, and the customer notifies the specific party of the purchase of the merchandise from the retailer. When the party has been notified, it enables customizing Internet-enabled or upgradeable electronic equipment of the customer, via the Internet, as associated with the specific retailer from whom the merchandise was purchased.
For example, the merchandise is related to the Internet (software application or hardware device) and the customer has purchased it to make it part of his/her Internet-enabled
equipment. The merchandise is enabled to be customized via the Internet., preferably according to specifications from the retailer, and also according to input as to. e, g., the intended usage, supplied by the customer at the time when the specific party was notified.
-U. S. serial no. 09/271,200 (attorney docket PHA 23,607) filed 3/17/99 for Jan van Ee for FULLY FUNCTIONAL REMOTE CONTROL EDITOR AND EMULATOR. This document relates to a universal programmable remote control device with programmability functions that enable the end-user to customize the device through editing or programming the device's control functionalities. The programming can be achieved via a PC. The control configuration created via an editor on the PC can be downloaded into the device. The PC has emulator software to test the configuration before downloading. The emulator software and the remote's control software are made identical as a consequence of a software layer that abstracts from the remote's hardware. The emulator for the end-user is thus obtained as an almost free byproduct of the software development phase at the manufacturer.
-U. S. patent 5,819,294 (attorney docket PHA 23,261) issued to Paul Chambers for AUTOMATIC CONFIGURATION MECHANISM FOR UNIVERSAL REMOTE. This patent relates to a programmable remote controller that is programmed via, e. g., a PC. In this example, the PC has an onboard data base for sets of codes used by a variety of commercially available remote controllers. The data base contains sets of compressed codes. In order to program the remote, the user lets the PC find a match between a single pulse-code transmitted by a specific known controller on the one hand and an item in the data base on the other hand. Upon finding the match, the set containing the matching item is stored in the programmable controller as corresponding to the particular apparatus that is controllable via the specific remote.
Note that the search algorithm of U. S. patent 5,819,291, mentioned above, can also be used with the current invention. For example, a remote of an apparatus sends a command to the STB while connected to the service's web site. The code gets converted into data and uploaded to the SmartConnect (SM) server where it gets compared, in a suitable format, with data representing commands in a data base of commands at the server in the manner specified by the Chambers' patent.
-U. S. serial no. 09/217,414 (PHA 23,409) filed 12/21/98 for Yevgeniy Shteyn and Jan van Ee for CLUSTERING OF TASK-ASSOCIATED OBJECTS FOR EFFECTING TASKS AMONG A SYSTEM AND ITS ENVIRONMENTAL DEVICES. This document relates to a graphical user-interface (GUI) wherein semantically similar actions are clustered under a single user-input. This document discusses tasking systems and methods that support user interfaces for displaying objects. The displayed objects enable user access to resources that provide for effecting tasks among the system and devices of the systems' environment. More particularly, tasking systems and methods are provided that support the foregoing features, wherein the systems and methods support clustering operations respecting such task associated objects so as to enhance the effecting of the associated tasks, such clustering operations responding to context. The clustering operations preferably are both adaptive and dynamic. Tasking systems and methods
preferably support the tracking of selected stales, including, as examples, one or more of environment states, device states, and system states.
Tracked states typically also include states respecting other relevant criteria, such as temporal criteria.
-U. S. serial no. 09/311,128 (attorney docket PHA 23,501), corresponding to published International Application W00017738, filed 5/13/99 for Joost Kemink for INTERNET-BASED SERVICE FOR UPDATING A PROGRAMMABLE CONTROL DEVICE. This document relates to an Internet based service for updating a programmable control device. An Internet site contains links to appliance-dependent control and feature option information which can be downloaded to the programmable control as a graphic user interface (GUI). A user interface is provided at the site for the user to easily specify a target appliance, and thereafter selectively download the interface and control information that is available for the target appliance. The Internet site also contains links to other providers of configurations and macros, such as system integrators who provide interfaces based on an inventory of the user's controllable equipment, hobbyist who share configurations and macros that they have found useful.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The inventors believe that the above SmartConnect (SM) concept can be made an attractive feature to Network Operators, especially where STB's are concerned, since the Network Operators assume full control and responsibility of the equipment with respect to the end-users. To this end, the inventors propose to market a programmable, remote control device together with IP-connected CE equipment, e. g., a set-top box. This remote has a SmartConnect (SM) button for connection via the set-top box to the SmartConnect (SM) service site on the Web. The SmartConnect (SM) server has a database of control codes for most of the commercially available equipment that can be controlled via a remote. The server can also contain information regarding the remote's user-interface(Urs) to the equipment, e. g., button names, graphical user interface panels for a touch screen remote, and other features that support user-interaction with the remote. The user provides to the server information about further equipment he/she has available and would like to be controllable through a single remote. The database is queried based on the user's input. When the proper code sets and accompanying UI data have been found, the codes and UI data are downloaded to the user's STB. Preferably, the server or the STB enables the user to configure the code and data, e. g., for causing a single action at the remote to execute multiple activities of the user's appliances. This configuration can be performed prior to the transfer of the code and UI data to the remote. The STB enables programming its remote with the downloaded codes and/or UI data, e. g.5 through an IR or RFtransmitter/blaster or a serial cable connecting the STB to a serial port of the remote for unidirectional communication with the STB, or through any other suitable means and procedures.
As an alternative to a dedicate hard button on the remote, the user can also access the server via selection in a menu displayed on a display monitor, e. g., the display monitor
of TV set or another apparatus driven by the STB, or the LCD touch screen of a universal programmable remote such as the PRONTO (TM) of Philips Electronics.
As to the server containing data regarding the remote's Ul, this relates to. e. g.. the specific location of each of the remote's hard buttons or softkeys, or their names, so as to be able to associate a specific code with a button. When the remote has an LCD touch screen, such as the PRONTO (TM) of Philips Electronics, the UI data can also relate to. e. g., one or more panels of softkeys, and/or to the desired distribution of the softkeys among the panels.
Preferably, the softkeys are clustered in a semantically logical manner so as to enhance userfriendliness of the remote in operational use.
Preferably, the consumer is allowed to affect or manipulate the data prior to the data being programmed into the remote control device. This can be achieved, e, g.s through a menu displayed via the STB, wherein the consumer is requested to specify whether or not he/she desires certain operations with respect to the data. The menu can be displayed on, e. g., the TV's monitor or a display of a touch screen based handheld. The server is capable of making suggestions regarding these operations because of this consumer's profile.
For example, the menu offers the option to program a single action on the remote to cause the execution of multiple activities of specific appliances among the CE equipment. This operation are preferably performed prior to programming the code and Ul data into the remote control, either at the server or at the STB if the latter has the proper software application.
In this configuration stage, the server may display via the STB a graphical representation of the remote to be programmed and highlight one or more specific ones of the remote keys to illustrate to the consumer what is happening.
The invention also relates to a method of creating a customer base. The method comprises enabling a user of CE equipment to specify to a server on a data network information about the equipment. The method further comprises enabling to program a remote via the data network according to the information, and storing the information in the customer base. The remote can be a pre-programmed one for use with a set top box, the method being used for subsidizing the STB. The remote can be the one supplied with the STB. The method can also comprise enabling to use the customer base to provide a customized service to the user. The invention also relates to a method of providing a customized service to a user of CE equipment using a user profile based on the user having specified to a server on a data network information about the equipment for enabling to program a remote via the data network.
The invention is based on the following insight. When the end-user installs the STB at home and switches it on, it works directly out of the box and with the remote that came with it. Typically, the remote supplied with the set-top box is user-programmable.
As an example, consider the following scenario. A STB is marketed togeiher with a programmable remote. The remote has a dedicated button to connect the STB to a specific server on the Internet. The user can notify the server of his/her other CE equipment, which he/she desires to be controllable by the same remote as the one that came with the STB. The server downloads to the STB data representative of the relevant control code and/or Ul aspects. The STB is provided with means to program the remote with this code and Ul.
Fig.l is a block diagram of a system 100 in the invention. System 100 comprises a remote control device 102, and an appliance 104 that is connected to the Internet 106. Device 102 comprises a traditional remote control device with hard buttons or a touch screen, LCD-based remote control device. System 100 further has a server 108. Appliance 104 in this example comprises a STB, that got purchased by the consumer in combination with remote 102 for operating STB 104 via, e. g., IR (infrared) transmitter 110 and receiver 112. Remote 102 is programmable in order to adopt control codes for other IR-or RFcontrollable equipment, e. g., appliance 114, that the consumer has installed or will install in his/her home 116.
As mentioned above, the invention relates, to a method of enabling a consumer to program remote control device 102, which is associated with appliance 104 that is Jnternet-connectable. The method comprises enabling connecting appliance 104, here an STB, to server 108 on the Internet 106 in response to the consumer controlling remote control device 102. Preferably, remote 102 has a dedicated button 118 for allowing the consumer to connect STB 104 via the Internet 106 to a specific server 108. The IR or RF code transmitted by remote 102 upon the consumer activating button 118 is interpreted by STB 104 as a request to send a message to server 108. Server 108 presents a web site on a TV display monitor (not shown) connected to STB 104 that guides the consumer to providing certain information. The consumer interacts via STB 104 with server 108 through a user-input means (not shown), e. g., a wireless keyboard, a remote control or another user-input means to supply to server 108 alphanumeric information, e. g., brand, type, serial number,* about his/her further equipment, e. g., appliance 114, for which he/she desires remote 102 to be programmed with the relevant control codes and/or Ul aspects. Server 108 has a database 120 that relates types, versions and brands of apparatus to their individual command control code sets and Ul aspects. Server 108 runs a query based on the information supplied by the consumer. Upon a match between the information supplied and database 120, server 108 preferably prompts the consumer to confirm his/her entries as to the specifics of the further equipment and the specific regarding the Ul desired. Upon a confirmation by the consumer, server 108 downloads to appliance 104 data representative of a control code and/or Ul for being programmed into remote control device 102 via appliance 104. The downloaded data can be stored locally at STB 104 or is directly forwarded to remote 102.
Remote 102 is programmed, for example, via an IR or RF blaster 122 connected to STB 104, In this scenario, remote 102 is positioned close to blaster 122 and with an input 124 facing blaster 122. Remote 102 is equipped with circuitry (not shown) to receive and process an incoming stream of data from blaster 122. The data comprises the control
codes and UJ data requested from server 108. In addition, the data can contain the user-customizations including the single-key/multiple-activity feature mentioned earlier.
The data also enables the circuitry to identify which button or input on remote 102 is to be associated with the code for operational use. For example, the data comprises identifying labels per code so as to enable the circuitry to identify each specific code, and to store it at remote 102 as assigned to the appropriate button or input. A proprietary communication protocol may be used that is tailored to the configuration of remote 102.
As variations on the theme above, appliance 104 is marketed in various versions that differ from each other in software controlled functionalities, or appliance 104 can be upgraded through software. For example, appliance 104 allows the user to connect to certain web sites with conditional access upon a subscription or only if the user has supplied to server 108 detailed information about his/her CE equipment. Access to special on-line sales services or on-line information brokers fall within such categories. Access to a personal information repository on server 108, e. g., for emails or recorded TV programs, also falls within such category. Enhancing the functionality of appliance 104, e. g., by providing access to these sites, is governed by appliance 104 in response to receiving specific 1R or RF code from remote 102, possibly in combination with the unique ID number of appliance 104, This specific IR or RF code can again be programmed into remote 102 upon being downloaded from server 108 in the manner described above.
As explained above, this interaction model enables to create a customer base 126 based on accurate information obtained from the consumers. This information can be used to provide targeted or customized advertisements or services via STB 104, but also to obtain valuable demographic information. Note that remote 102 is preferably reprogrammable so as to be upgradeable when the consumer replaces pieces of his/her equipment or obtains a new apparatus.
Call Centers, not only from the Network Operator, but also from manufacturers or other suppliers from CE equipment for use on home networks, can be given access to the user profiles of this customer base 126 so as to be able to supply more accurate help in case the consumer encounters a problem with the equipment.
Fig. 2 illustrates an alternative system 200 according to the invention. System 200 comprises in this example a remote control device 202 that is a pre-programmed. That is. remote 202 uses a fixed protocol to communicate with STB 104 for control of apparatus 114 via STB 104. STB 104 uses a wired or wireless link with apparatus 114, In order to use this configuration with any kind of controllable apparatus 114, the user connects STB 104 to server 108 on the Internet 106 in response to the user activating a dedicated hard button 118 (or softkey 118 if remote 202 has an LCD touch screen functionality such as the PRONTO (TM)) on remote 202. The user then specifies to server 108 what apparatus 114 he/she would like to control via remote 202, as in the example mentioned in the description of Fig. 1. Server 108 then downloads to STB 104 data representative of a control code for control of apparatus 114, the control being established via STB 102 in
operational use. The data gets programmed into a look-up table 204 thai associates an input received from remote 202 with an output as programmed. The output is now the data for the control command required for control of apparatus 1 14 via STB 104.
Within the above description, the Internet is used as an example of a data network. It is clear that a data network other than the Internet can be used as well.
WE CLAIM :
K A system comprising a remote control device (102), a first appliance (101) that has connection to the Internet and a controllable second appliance (114), wherein:
- the first appliance (104) has means for downloading control codes representative of control commands for control of the second appliance;
- the remote control device (102) controls the second appliance from the llrsi appliance in operational use of the second appliance ;
- the remote control device is operative to send a first command to the llrsi
- the first appliance is operative to send a specific one of the control commands.
associated with the first command, to the second appliance in response to receiving the first
2. The system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the remote control device has second means lor initiating connecting the first appliance to a server on the Internet for downloading onto the first appliance one or more particular ones of the control codes,
3. The system as claimed in claim 2, wherein the particular control code is programmed into the first appliance.
4 The system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the first appliance has a look-up table lor associating an input received from the remote control with an output representative of a conhol command for control of the second appliance.
5. An appliance (104) with a connection to the Internet and comprising :
a memory for storing a control command for control of a second appliance;
a receiver (112) for receiving an input from a remote control device;
a look-up table (204) for associating the input with the stored control command:
a transmitter (110) for outputting the control command to control the second appliance.
6. The appliance as claimed in claim 5, comprising means for connection to a server on the
Internet for downloading data representative of the control command, the means being.
configured for being activated by the remote control device.
7. The appliance as claimed in claim 5, wherein the transmitter comprises an 1 R output or an Rl output for wireless transmission of the command.
8. A method of enabling a consumer to control a second appliance using a remote control devie associated with a first appliance, the first appliance being Internet-eonnectaMe. the meilmd comprising :
- enabling to connect the first appliance to server on the Internet in response u> ihe consumer controlling the remote control device;
- enabling the server to download to the first appliance data representative o\~ a eontrol code for being programmed into a look-up table in the first appliance; and
- enabling the consumer to control the second appliance through the remote control
device sending a first command to the first appliance in order to cause the Inst appliance to send
a second control command to the second appliance, the second control command being
associated with the first command via the look-up table,
9. A method of enabling a consumer to program a remote control device, substamialK as
hereinabove described and illustrated with reference to the accompanying draw ings.
|Indian Patent Application Number||IN/PCT/2001/1284/CHE|
|PG Journal Number||02/2008|
|Date of Filing||17-Sep-2001|
|Name of Patentee||M/S. KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS ELECTRONICS N.V|
|Applicant Address||Groenewoudseweg 1, NL-5621 BA Eindhoven|
|PCT International Classification Number||G08C 19/28|
|PCT International Application Number||PCT/EP2001/000473|
|PCT International Filing date||2001-01-17|