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Activity indicators in a media sharing system




Title: Activity indicators in a media sharing system.
Abstract: A system and method are provided for generating and displaying one or more indicators indicative of a level of activity within a media sharing system. In one embodiment, with respect to a user participating in the media sharing system, an indicator representative of an activity level of a media collection shared by the user in the media sharing system may be generated and presented to the user. In addition or alternatively, indicators representative of activity levels of media collections shared by other users participating in the media sharing system may be generated and presented to the user. Still further, in addition or alternatively, indicators representative of activity levels with respect to playlists in the media sharing system may be generated and presented to the user. ...


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USPTO Applicaton #: #20120023430
Inventors: Christopher M. Amidon, Harold Sutherland, Hugh Svendsen


The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120023430, Activity indicators in a media sharing system.

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a Continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/239,877, entitled ACTIVITY INDICATORS IN A MEDIA SHARING SYSTEM, filed on Sep. 29, 2008, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

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The present invention relates to a media sharing system.

BACKGROUND

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OF THE INVENTION

There is an enormous amount of digital media content currently available to consumers. For example, the Apple® iTunes Store® currently hosts over 8 million songs. However, since no single user owns all of the available content and because users often desire to experience new content, numerous media sharing services have been developed. One such media sharing service is disclosed on commonly owned and assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/104,572, entitled METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR AGGREGATING MEDIA COLLECTIONS BETWEEN PARTICIPANTS OF A SHARING NETWORK, which was filed on Apr. 17, 2008. Another exemplary media sharing service is provided by the Apple® iTunes® media player, which enables up to five (5) users to share their music collections over a Local Area Network (LAN). There is a desire to enable participants in such a media sharing system to quickly and easily be informed of playback activity within the media sharing system.

SUMMARY

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OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to generating and displaying one or more indicators indicative of a level of activity within a media sharing system. In one embodiment, with respect to a user participating in the media sharing system, an indicator representative of an activity level of a media collection shared by the user in the media sharing system may be generated and presented to the user. In addition or alternatively, indicators representative of activity levels of media collections shared by other users participating in the media sharing system may be generated and presented to the user. Still further, in addition or alternatively, indicators representative of activity levels with respect to playlists in the media sharing system may be generated and presented to the user.

Those skilled in the art will appreciate the scope of the present invention and realize additional aspects thereof after reading the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments in association with the accompanying drawing figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

The accompanying drawing figures incorporated in and forming a part of this specification illustrate several aspects of the invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates a media sharing system according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate the operation of the media sharing system of FIG. 1 according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is an exemplary Graphical User Interface (GUI) including activity indictors with respect to the media sharing system according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an exemplary embodiment of one of the user devices of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

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OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The embodiments set forth below represent the necessary information to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention and illustrate the best mode of practicing the invention. Upon reading the following description in light of the accompanying drawing figures, those skilled in the art will understand the concepts of the invention and will recognize applications of these concepts not particularly addressed herein. It should be understood that these concepts and applications fall within the scope of the disclosure and the accompanying claims.

FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary media sharing system 10 in which indicators of activity within the media sharing system 10 are generated and displayed to users according to one embodiment of the present invention. In general, the media sharing system 10 includes a number of user devices 12-1 through 12-N having associated users 14-1 through 14-N. In this embodiment, the user devices 12-1 through 12-N are connected via a Local Area Network (LAN) 16 and are part of the same subnetwork. However, the present invention is not limited thereto. The user devices 12-1 through 12-N may alternatively be connected via a Wide Area Network (WAN), a global network such as the Internet, or the like. As yet another alternative, some of the user devices 12-1 through 12-N may be connected via a LAN while others are connected via a WAN or global network.

Each of the user devices 12-1 through 12-N may be, for example, a personal computer, a mobile smart phone, a set-top box, a portable media player, or the like. Looking at the user device 12-1, the user device 12-1 includes a media player function 18-1 which may be implemented in software, hardware, or a combination thereof. In addition to providing media playback capabilities, the media player function 18-1 includes an aggregation function 20-1. In an alternative embodiment, the aggregation function 20-1 may be implemented as a separate function. For example, if the media player function 18-1 is a software media player application, the aggregation function 20-1 may be implemented as a plug-in. In general, the aggregation function 20-1 operates to generate an aggregate media collection 24-1 for the user 14-1 including media items in a local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1 and media items from one or more remote shared media collections of one or more of the other user 14-2 through 14-N.

In addition, as discussed below, the aggregation function 20-1 generates and displays activity indicators. The activity indictors may include an indicator of an overall activity level of the local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1 within the media sharing system 10, indicators of activity levels of one or more shared media collections, indicators of activity levels of one or more playlists, or the like, or any combination thereof. The activity level of the local media collection 22-1 may be determined based on or may otherwise reflect the number or percentage of other users 14-2 through 14-N that are currently playing, have recently played, or are expected to play media items included the local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1. The activity level of a shared media collection may be determined based on or may otherwise reflect the number or percentage of users 14-1 through 14-N that are currently playing, have recently played, or are expected to play media items included the shared media collection. The activity level of a playlist may be determined based on or may otherwise reflect the number or percentage of users 14-1 through 14-N that are currently playing or have recently played the playlist.

Like the user device 12-1, the other user devices 12-2 through 12-N include media player functions 18-2 through 18-N having corresponding aggregation functions 20-2 through 20-N. In addition, the other user devices 12-2 through 12-N include local media collections 22-2 through 22-N and aggregate media collections 24-2 through 24-N, respectively.

FIGS. 2A and 2B illustrate the operation of the media sharing system 10 of FIG. 1 according to one embodiment of the present invention. First, the user devices 12-1 and 12-2 through 12-N join the LAN 16 by, for example, coming online (steps 100-104). Next, the aggregation function 20-1 of the user device 12-1 identifies, or discovers, media collections shared by the users 14-2 through 14-N of the user devices 12-2 through 12-N (step 106). For example, in a MAC OSX or Windows environment where the user devices 12-1 through 12-N are connected via the LAN 16, Bonjour may be used to identify the shared media collections of the users 14-2 through 14-N. The media collections shared by the users 14-2 through 14-N are preferably the local media collections 22-2 through 22-N of the users 14-2 through 14-N. However, the present invention is not limited thereto. In one exemplary alternative embodiment, the media collections shared by the users 14-2 through 14-N may be the aggregate media collections 24-2 through 24-N of the users 14-2 through 14-N. In this embodiment, the aggregation function 20-1 of the user device 12-1 presents a list of the shared media collections of the users 14-2 through 14-N to the user 14-1 and then receives user input from the user 14-1 selecting one or more of the shared media collections for aggregation (step 108). In this example, the user 14-1 selects at least the shared media collections of the users 14-2 and 14-N, which are hosted by the user devices 12-2 and 12-N, respectively.

The aggregation function 20-1 of the user device 12-1 then issues an aggregation request to the user device 12-2 of the user 14-2 (step 110). In response, in this embodiment, the aggregation function 20-2 of the user device 12-2 returns information, which is also referred to herein as shared media collection information, identifying media items in the shared media collection of the user 14-2 to the user device 12-1 of the user 14-1 (step 112). Likewise, the aggregation function 20-1 of the user device 12-1 issues an aggregation request to the user device 12-N of the user 14-N (step 114). In response, the aggregation function 20-N of the user device 12-N returns information identifying media items in the shared media collection of the user 14-N to the user device 12-1 of the user 14-1 (step 116). Note that aggregation requests may also be issued to and shared media collection information received from other user devices from the user devices 12-3 through 12-N−1 (not shown) hosting shared media collections selected by the user 14-1.

Upon receiving the shared media collection information, the aggregation function 20-1 of the user device 12-1 aggregates or merges the local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1 and the shared media collections to provide the aggregate media collection 24-1 of the user 14-1 (step 118). More specifically, in one embodiment, the aggregation function 20-1 aggregates the shared media collection information identifying the media items in the shared media collections selected by the user 14-1 for aggregation and information identifying the media items in the local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1 to provide a list of unique media items available either from the local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1 or one of the shared media collections selected by the user 14-1 for aggregation. In addition, for each unique media item, a secondary list of available sources for the unique media item may be generated. Together, the list of unique media items and the corresponding secondary lists of sources for the unique media items form the aggregate media collection 24-1 of the user 14-1. For more information, the interested reader is directed to commonly owned and assigned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/104,572, entitled METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR AGGREGATING MEDIA COLLECTIONS BETWEEN PARTICIPANTS OF A SHARING NETWORK, which was filed on Apr. 17, 2008 and is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Note that while the discussion herein focuses on an embodiment where the shared media collections are aggregated with the local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1, the present invention is not limited thereto. The user 14-1 may choose not to select his local media collection 22-1 for aggregation, in which case the shared media collections would be aggregated with one another to provide the aggregate media collection 24-1 of the user 14-1.

In addition to including media items, the aggregate media collection 24-1 of the user 14-1 may include an aggregate list of playlists. More specifically, the local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1 as well the shared media collections selected by the user 14-1 for aggregation may include static or dynamic playlists. Information identifying the playlists may then be included within or provided in association with the shared media collection information.

Then, when generating the aggregate media collection 24-1, the aggregation function 20-1 of the user device 12-1 may also aggregate the playlists of the shared media collections selected by the user 14-1 and the playlists in the local media collection 22-1 of the user 14-1. When aggregating playlists, a list of unique playlists may be generated. As used herein, a unique playlist is a playlist having a unique title. Playlists having the same title may be combined or merged. For example, an “80s” playlist of the user 14-1 may be combined with an “80s” playlist of the user 14-2 to provide an aggregate “80s” playlist including both the media items from the “80s” playlist of the user 14-1 and the media items from the “80s” playlist of the user 14-2.

In a similar fashion, the aggregation function 20-2 of the user device 12-2 identifies, or discovers, media collections shared by the users 14-1 and 14-3 through 14-N of the user devices 12-1 and 12-3 through 12-N (step 120). In this embodiment, the aggregation function 20-2 of the user device 12-2 presents a list of the shared media collections of the users 14-1 and 14-3 through 14-N to the user 14-2 and then receives user input from the user 14-2 selecting one or more of the shared media collections for aggregation (step 122). In this example, the user 14-2 selects at least the shared media collections of the users 14-1 and 14-N, which are hosted by the user devices 12-1 and 12-N, respectively.

The aggregation function 20-2 of the user device 12-2 then issues an aggregation request to the user device 12-1 of the user 14-1 (step 124). In response, in this embodiment, the aggregation function 20-1 of the user device 12-1 returns information identifying media items in the shared media collection of the user 14-1 to the user device 12-2 of the user 14-2 (step 126). Likewise, the aggregation function 20-2 of the user device 12-2 issues an aggregation request to the user device 12-N of the user 14-N (step 128). In response, the aggregation function 20-N of the user device 12-N returns information identifying media items in the shared media collection of the user 14-N to the user device 12-2 of the user 14-2 (step 130). Note that aggregation requests may also be issued to and shared media collection information received from other user devices from the user devices 12-3 through 12-N−1 (not shown) hosting shared media collections selected by the user 14-2.

Upon receiving the shared media collection information, the aggregation function 20-2 of the user device 12-2 aggregates or merges the local media collection 22-2 of the user 14-2 and the shared media collections selected by the user 14-2 for aggregation to provide the aggregate media collection 24-2 of the user 14-2 (step 132). Further, as discussed above, in addition to including media items, the aggregate media collection 24-2 of the user 14-2 may include an aggregate list of playlists.

Like the aggregation functions 20-1 and 20-2 of the user devices 12-1 and 12-2, respectively, the aggregation function 20-N of the user device 12-N identifies, or discovers, media collections shared by the users 14-1 through 14-N−1 (not shown) of the user devices 12-1 through 12-N−1 (step 134). In this embodiment, the aggregation function 20-N of the user device 12-N presents a list of the shared media collections of the users 14-1 through 14-N−1 to the user 14-N and then receives user input from the user 14-N selecting one or more of the shared media collections for aggregation (step 136). In this example, the user 14-N selects at least the shared media collection of the user 14-2, which is hosted by the user device 12-2, but does not select the shared media collection of the user 14-1.




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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120023430 A1
Publish Date
01/26/2012
Document #
File Date
12/31/1969
USPTO Class
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
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Drawings
0




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Data Processing: Presentation Processing Of Document, Operator Interface Processing, And Screen Saver Display Processing   Operator Interface (e.g., Graphical User Interface)   On-screen Workspace Or Object   Instrumentation And Component Modeling (e.g., Interactive Control Panel, Virtual Device)   Progress Or Activity Indicator  

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20120126|20120023430|activity indicators in a media sharing system|A system and method are provided for generating and displaying one or more indicators indicative of a level of activity within a media sharing system. In one embodiment, with respect to a user participating in the media sharing system, an indicator representative of an activity level of a media collection |Eloy-Technology-Llc
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