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Communication node for venue-oriented communications

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20120308033 patent thumbnailZoom

Communication node for venue-oriented communications


Methods and systems for providing a communication node for venue-oriented communications are presented. An example system may include a network interface, at least one processor, and memory storing modules including instructions for execution by the processor. The network interface may be communicatively coupled with a wireless access device in communication with a mobile communication device. The wireless access device and the mobile communication device are located at a venue. At least one of the modules provides a venue-oriented service to the mobile communication device via the wireless access device.

Browse recent Airborne Media Group patents - Durango, CO, US
Inventors: Justin Ginn, Ryan Danford, Chip Lile, Cordell Brown
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120308033 - Class: 381 77 (USPTO) - 12/06/12 - Class 381 
Electrical Audio Signal Processing Systems And Devices > One-way Audio Signal Program Distribution

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120308033, Communication node for venue-oriented communications.

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RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/493,194, titled “SYSTEMS AND METHOD FOR PROVIDING MULTIPLE AUDIO STREAMS IN A VENUE,” filed Jun. 3, 2011, and which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

TECHNICAL FIELD

This application relates generally to venue-oriented communications and, more specifically, to systems and methods for providing one or more venue-oriented services, such as, for example, the distribution of multiple audio streams.

BACKGROUND

On both satellite and cable television distribution systems, numerous sports programs and events, as well as other audio/video content of interest, may be transmitted and presented simultaneously over different broadcast channels. Given the varying interest of potential patrons, some public establishments, such as bars, sports books, and the like, may provide multiple televisions, video monitors, projection systems, and similar audio/video devices to provide many different such programs concurrently for the enjoyment of their clientele. Ordinarily, these devices are placed in relatively close proximity to each other, or are placed in the same large room, so any patron of the establishment may view any of multiple video devices without changing locations within the establishment.

However, given such an arrangement of the audio/video devices within the establishment, allowing each of the audio/video devices, or some related devices, to produce the audio for each program being displayed is impractical due to the confusing, and likely unintelligible, sounds that would result. To prevent such confusion, in some situations the audio associated with a single one of the programs being shown may be produced, such as the sound associated with the most popular program or event being presented in the establishment at the time. Additionally, in some cases, one or more of the audio/video devices may be placed in a “closed captioning mode,” in which text reflecting the words spoken by sports announcers or others associated with the program is displayed on the screen to provide at least some reflection of the program audio to the patrons viewing that program.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Some embodiments are illustrated by way of example and not limitation in the figures of the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating an example audio distribution system including a plurality of converter devices and an access device;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating an example converter device implementable in the audio distribution system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram illustrating an example method of operating the example converter device of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating an example access device implementable in the audio distribution system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a flow diagram illustrating an example method of operating the example access device of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustrating an example mobile communication device implementable in the audio distribution system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram illustrating example modules implementable as control logic for the example mobile communication device of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a flow diagram illustrating an example method of operating the example mobile communication device of FIG. 6 to establish a communication connection between the mobile communication device and a wireless access device;

FIG. 9 is a flow diagram illustrating an example method of operating the example mobile communication device of FIG. 6 to provide a selected digital audio stream to a user;

FIG. 10 is a graphical representation of example information provided on a display of an example mobile communication device;

FIG. 11 is a block diagram illustrating at least one example audio distribution system facilitating an example chat communication between at least two mobile communication devices;

FIG. 12 is a flow diagram illustrating an example method of facilitating the connection of a mobile communication device with a chat room;

FIG. 13 is a flow diagram illustrating an example method of providing an example service to a mobile communication via an example access device;

FIG. 14 is a block diagram illustrating example modules of an example communication node portrayed in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 15 is a diagrammatic representation of a machine in the example form of a computer system within which a set of instructions for causing the machine to perform any one or more of the methodologies discussed herein may be executed.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Example methods and systems for distribution of multiple audio signals are discussed. In the following description, for purposes of explanation, numerous specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of example embodiments. It will be evident, however, to one skilled in the art that the present subject matter may be practiced without these specific details. It will also be evident that the venues and environments described herein in which audio signal distribution may occur are not limited to the examples provided and may include other scenarios not specifically discussed.

In accordance with an example embodiment, FIG. 1 illustrates an audio distribution system 100. Generally, the audio distribution system 100 is configured to provide multiple streams of audio content to at least one mobile device 108. In an example, the audio distribution system 100 may be located at a particular venue. In some implementations, the venue 101 may be a public venue, such as a restaurant, a drinking establishment, or a race and sports “book.” In such a venue, each of multiple audio/video output devices 102, such as televisions, video monitors, video projectors, and the like, may present one of a number of sporting events or other audio/video programs to customers or viewers located at the venue. To allow the patrons of the venue to receive the audio portion being received by one of the output devices 102, the audio distribution system 100 makes available the audio from the output devices 102 to one or more mobile communication devices 108 held or possessed by patrons of the establishment. Examples of the mobile communication devices 108 include, but are not limited to, cellular “smart” phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), laptop computers, and tablet computers. In some implementations, each of the mobile communication devices 108 may be owned and operated by its respective user, or may be loaned or rented by operators of the venue 101 to the users.

In an example of the audio distribution system 100, each of the audio/video output devices 102 generating an audio signal that is desired to be distributed to users located at the venue 101 may be communicatively coupled with a converter device 104 (or, alternatively, an audio relay device 104), which may convert or otherwise transfer or relay the audio signal from its corresponding output device 102 to a digital audio stream 122. Each converter device 104 may transmit its converted digital audio stream 122 to one or more access devices 106. The access device 106 distributes the received digital audio streams as one or more wireless digital audio streams 124 to the mobile communication devices 108. In one example, one or more of the converter devices 104 may be integrated with each other, and/or with one or more of the access devices 106.

A user of each mobile communication device 108 may then select one of the digital audio streams 122 represented in the wireless digital audio stream 124 for reception and presentation at the mobile communication device 108 of the user. The user may then listen to the selected audio stream or channel, such as by way of a speaker incorporated into the mobile communication device 108, an earphone or headset connected to the mobile communication device 108, a Bluetooth®-enabled audio device communicatively coupled with the mobile communication device 108, or the like. As a result, each user possessing one of the mobile communication devices 108 may select and enjoy the audio portion of the audio/video content presented by way of one of the output devices 102.

In some examples, as is discussed in greater detail below, the audio distribution system 100 may also be employed as a communication conduit for offering one or more services associated with the venue 101, the audio/video content being presented via the output devices 102, or some other entity. These services may include, but are not limited to, chat rooms involving users of other mobile devices 108, advertising and sales associated with the venue 101 or other entities, customer loyalty programs associated with the venue 101 or another entity, social networking services involving other users of other mobile devices 108, and gaming or wagering services associated with the venue 101 or another entity. Such services may be organized and provided across the entire system 100, or according to some subdivision of the system 100, such as according to venue 101 or access device 106. In some examples, this functionality may be provided directly by the access device 106 or in conjunction with a communication node 112, such as an information server, communicatively coupled with the access device 106 by way of a communication network 110. Examples of the communication network 110 may include, but are not limited to, a wide-area network (WAN), such as an Intranet, the Internet, or some portion thereof, a local-area network (LAN), and an IEEE 802.11x (WiFi) network. Also, while the communication node 112 and the communication network 110 are shown as being located external to the venue 101, the communication node 112 and the network 110 may be located completely or partially within the venue 101 in other examples.

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an example converter device 200 implementable as one of the converter devices 104 of FIG. 1. The converter device 200 may include an analog audio receiver 202, a conversion module 204, and a digital audio transmitter 206, although other components not explicitly depicted in FIG. 2 may also be included in the converter device 200 in other implementations.

The analog audio receiver 202 may be configured to receive an analog audio signal 102 from one of the audio/video output devices 102. In one example, the analog audio signal 102 is carried by way of a wire, cable, optical fiber, or other wired means from a standard analog “audio out” connector of the corresponding output device 102 to the converter device 200. In another implementation, the analog out connector may be attached to a wireless transmitter to carry the analog audio stream as an analog or digital wireless signal to the converter device 200. Other methods and apparatus for carrying the audio stream 120 to the converter device 200 may be employed in other embodiments. In yet further examples, the audio stream 120 generated by the audio/video output device 102 may be digital in nature, in which case the converter device 200 may or may not be required in order to present a corresponding digital audio stream 122 to the access device 106 of FIG. 1.

In some implementations, the converter device 202 may include multiple analog audio receivers 202 to receive audio content from multiple audio/video output devices 102 simultaneously. Such multiple analog audio signals may be converted and then combined into a single digital audio stream 122 or multiple digital audio streams 122 for transmission to the access device 106 of FIG. 1.

Presuming the audio stream 120 is an analog audio signal, the analog audio receiver 202 receives the audio signal 120 and provides the signal 120 to the conversion module 204. In one example, the analog audio receiver 202 includes an automatic gain control (AGC) function to adjust the gain of an amplifier of the analog audio receiver 202 to provide a somewhat consistent signal level for the input to the conversion module 204. In some instances, the analog audio receiver 202 may incorporate other functionality, such as lag reduction and network optimization logic.

The conversion module 204 may then convert the received analog audio signal to a digital audio signal. In one example, the conversion module 204 includes at least one analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) circuit that samples the analog audio stream at a sufficiently high rate to generate a digital audio stream of acceptable quality for presentation on at least one of the mobile communication devices 108. In one implementation, the conversion module 204 may also include audio compression logic or circuitry that compresses the digital audio data before transmission of the data to the access device 106. As a result, the resulting digital audio data may be in a compressed format (such as Motion Picture Experts Group-1, Audio Layer III (MP3) or Ogg) or an uncompressed format, depending on the particular embodiment.

The digital audio stream generated by the conversion module is then forwarded to the digital audio transmitter 206 for transmission to the access device 106 of FIG. 1 as the digital audio stream 122. In one example, the digital audio stream 122 is transmitted over a wire, cable, optical fiber, or the like to the access device 106. In one example, the digital audio stream is transmitted via an Ethernet connection or network to the access device 106. More specifically, the converter device 200 may be attached to an Ethernet network as a network appliance, along with other converter devices 200, for communicative coupling with the access device 106. Thus, the digital audio transmitter 206 may serve as an Ethernet transceiver that may possess a number of network configuration capabilities, including, but not limited to, dynamic and/or static Internet Protocol (IP) addressing, Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) functionality, User Datagram Protocol (UDP) functionality (possibly including a checksum calculated by the user of a UDP pseudo-header), and/or the like.

In another implementation, the digital audio stream 122 is transmitted wirelessly, such as by way of a WiFi or Bluetooth® protocol. If the converter device 200 is instead incorporated within its respective access device 106, the digital audio transmitter 206 may be omitted from the converter device 200.

FIG. 3 is a flow diagram of an example method 300 of operating the converter device 200 of FIG. 2. In the method 300, the converter 200 receives an analog audio signal from an audio/video output device (operation 302). The converter device 200 coverts the received analog audio signal to a digital audio stream (operation 304). As discussed above, the conversion process may also include generating a compressed digital audio stream. The resulting digital audio stream is then transmitted to an access device (operation 306).

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an example access device 400 implementable as the access device 106 of FIG. 1. The example access device 400 may include one or more digital audio receivers 402, a wireless transceiver 406, a communication network interface 408, and control logic 404. In other examples, other components not explicitly shown in FIG. 4 may also be incorporated into the access device 400.

In the example of FIG. 4, each digital audio stream 122 generated by a converter device 104 may be received at a digital audio receiver 402 of the access device 400. In some implementations, such as the use of an Ethernet network to transmit and receive the digital audio streams 122, the digital audio receivers 402 may be embodied as a single Ethernet receiver or transceiver with multiple connectors, with each connector receiving a digital audio stream 122 from one of the converter devices 104. The Ethernet receiver may also act as a transceiver to provide the signals necessary to implement the Ethernet protocol, as controlled by the control logic 404. In other examples, a separate digital audio receiver 402 is used for each digital audio stream 122 to be received, as depicted in FIG. 4.

The control logic 404 may provide each of the received digital audio streams 122 to the wireless transceiver 406 for transmission as one or more wireless digital audio streams 124 to the mobile communication devices 108 of FIG. 1. In one example, the wireless transceiver 406, in conjunction with the control logic 404, operates as a transceiver operating under IEEE 802.11x (WiFi) protocols. In addition, the access device 400 may serve as a wireless router for transfer of additional content 126 between the various mobile communication devices 108. The access device 400 may, in some examples, operate as a router for transfer of information associated with the converter devices 200, including configuration information.

The communication network interface 408 is configured to facilitate communications between the access device 400 and the communication node 112 of FIG. 1 via the communication network 110. In one example, the communication network interface 408 employs an Ethernet connection for communication with a gateway device, such as a cable or digital subscriber line (DSL) modem in communication with the Internet or other communication network 110. In another example, the communication network interface 408 may incorporate the functionality of such a gateway device.

In some implementations, the control logic 404 may provide functionality, possibly under the guidance of a system administrator or other personnel, to support a number of functions related to the operation of the audio distribution system 100. These functions may include, but are not limited to, configuration and operation of the audio distribution functions, network management and administration of the mobile communication devices 108 as nodes of a LAN, and network routing functions for the LAN. The control logic 404 may also provide web-related functions, such as a captive portal and redirection functions similar to those associated with a “walled garden,” thus giving the proprietor of the venue 101 or other entity control over web content accessible by the mobile communication devices 108 via the access device 400. Further, in one example, the control logic 404 prevents mobile communication devices 108 that are not executing a specific application that may be required to communicate with the access device 400 from discovering a network access password needed to engage in communications with the access device 400.

The control logic 404, possibly in conjunction with the communication node 112 of FIG. 1, may also facilitate one or more of the services described above, such as chatting, gaming, point-of-sale transactions, customer loyalty programs, and the like. Examples regarding these various programs are discussed in greater detail below.

The control logic 404 may include electronic hardware, software, or some combination thereof, such as one or more processors configured to execute instructions that cause the processor to perform the various operations described herein that are attributed to the access device 400.

FIG. 5 illustrates an example method 500 of operating the access device 400 of FIG. 4. In the method 500, the access device 400 receives multiple digital audio streams (operation 502), possibly from one or more converter devices, such as the converter device 200 of FIG. 2. The access device 400 transmits the multiple digital audio streams as one or more wireless digital audio streams to at least one mobile communication device (operation 504). The access device 400 may also communicate additional content with the at least one mobile communication device and/or a communication node (operation 506), as noted above.

FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustrating an example mobile communication device 600 implementable as one or more of the mobile communication devices 108 of FIG. 1. Examples of the mobile communication device 600 include, but are not limited to, “smart” phones, PDAs, laptop computers, and tablet computers. The mobile communication device 600 includes a wireless transceiver 602, a user interface 604, geographic location circuitry 606, and control logic 608. Other components not explicitly depicted in FIG. 6 may be incorporated into the mobile communication device 600 in other embodiments.

The wireless transceiver 602 receives the one or more wireless digital audio streams 124 transmitted from an access device 106, as well as transmits and/or receives the additional content 126 mentioned above. In one example, the wireless transceiver 602, under the operation of the control logic 608, communicates with the access device 106 using WiFi protocols. In some examples, the wireless transceiver 602 may also communicate with another communication network, such as a cellular telephone network employing CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), GSM (Global System for Mobil Communications), and/or other communication protocols.

In one embodiment, the wireless transceiver 602 may receive the one or more wireless digital audio streams 124 from a source other than the access device 106. For example, a centralized audio stream server (which may not be associated with, or located near, the venue 101 at which the mobile communication device 600 is positioned) may provide at least some digital audio streams by way of the Internet or another communication network to the mobile communication device 600. Use of a centralized audio stream server may be appropriate in situations in which, for example, converter devices 104 are not available at the venue 101, or business constraints, such as licensing restrictions, exist.

The user interface 604 allows a user of the mobile communication device 600 to interact with the mobile communication device 600. Such interaction may include, for example, user selection of a wireless digital audio stream 124 received at the mobile communication device 600, user listening of the selected wireless digital audio stream 124, and user involvement with services provided via the access device 106 by way of the additional content 126 communicated between the mobile communication device 600 and the access device 106. Components that may be incorporated as part of the user interface 604 may include, but are not limited to, a visual display (possibly integrated with a touch display or touchscreen), a keypad, an audio speaker and/or audio connector, a Bluetooth® interface for an audio speaker or earphone, a microphone, a camera, and an accelerometer.



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Systems and methods for providing multiple audio streams in a venue
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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120308033 A1
Publish Date
12/06/2012
Document #
13485819
File Date
05/31/2012
USPTO Class
381 77
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
04B3/00
Drawings
16



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