Microsoft Patent app enables set-top box programming over Internet

A newly published Microsoft Patent application describe technology for remotely programming a set-top box for television.The Abstract for the Patent app Remotely Accessing and Programming A Set-Top Box offers this description:Systems and methods for remotely programming a set top box and for remotely scheduling an event on a set top box.

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A newly published Microsoft Patent application describe technology for remotely programming a set-top box for television.

The Abstract for the Patent app Remotely Accessing and Programming A Set-Top Box offers this description:

Systems and methods for remotely programming a set top box and for remotely scheduling an event on a set top box. A set top box includes a server that allows an access device to access the set top box over an always on connection between the set top box and a network such as the Internet. The access device retrieves program guide data that is locally stored on the set top box and, using the program guide data, selects and schedules events. The events are sent back to the set top box over the connection where they are implemented by the set top box.

Figure 1, and the accompanying explanative text, provide the most complete look at this invention.

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FIG. 1 and the corresponding discussion are intended to provide a general description of an exemplary client system that includes a set top box. FIG. 1 illustrates a programmable client system 20 that includes a set top box 22 and a display device 32. As previously described, the set top box 22 may be a cable box, a satellite receiver, a VCR, a DVR, any combination thereof, and the like.

The set top box 22 is connected to the display device 32, which may be a high definition television display, a standard television display, a flat panel display, a projection device, a high definition television display, a computer monitor, or any other device capable of displaying television programs, programming content, program guide data and the like.

Set top box 22 also includes a storage device 24, which may be a magnetic hard disk or any other magnetic or optical or non-volatile memory device that is capable of storing data. The storage device 24, for example, is used to store events, program guide data 26, programming data or content 27, and the like. The storage device 24 can also be used to record programming content 27 that is received over a connection 30. The scheduler 47 is a module that allows a user to program the set top box 22 or to schedule an event.

A display 67 shows one example of how program guide data that is retrieved from the storage device 24 might appear on the display device 32. The program guide data 26 is typically displayed using a row and column format, as shown by way of example in display 67.

A row 60 displays times of the day during which programming content will be broadcast. A column 61 identifies and displays channels over which programming content will be received by the client system 20. Rows 65 list the programming content that will be broadcast on the channels identified in the column 61 at the times indicated by the row 60.

For example, a program listing 62 specifies that the program "Local News" will be broadcast on channel ABT from 7:00 to 8:00.

The display 67 also includes icons that are used to program the set top box 22 or to select and schedule an event. In this example, the display 67 includes a record icon 64, a delete icon 66, an unlock/lock icon 68 and a set preferences icon 70.

To record a program, the user will select a program, such as the program 63, and the program 63 will be shaded or an icon displayed, for example, to indicate that it has been selected. After the program 63 is selected, the user can click or select the record icon 64.

This causes a record event to be scheduled by the scheduler 47 and the event is often stored on the storage device 24. The program 63 begins at 8:00, as shown in the display 67. At the specified time that is identified by the program guide data, the program 63 will be recorded by the set top box 22 and will likely be stored on the storage device 24.

In another example, the display 67 may already show the program 63 as being shaded or an icon displayed, for example, indicating that an event has been scheduled for that program.

If the user no longer desires to record the program 63, the user can simply select the program 63 and then click on or select the delete icon 66. This event will cause the program 63 to not be recorded. In a similar manner, other events can be scheduled.

Events are not limited to particular programs, but can be applied to channels, or to certain time periods, or to programs that have a certain rating, and the like. For example, a user can indicate that all channels that are not appropriate for a certain age group according to the rating be locked using a lock event.

The user may also select the set preferences Icon 70 to manipulate the configuration of the display 67. For example, the user may set preferences such that only selected channels will appear on the display 67. Thus, the display 67 is only an example of one possible configuration of a display and events are not limited to those described herein.

The connection 30 is a bi-directional connection that is preferably always-on. Examples of the connection 30 include a cable modem, an Integrated Serviced Digital Network (ISDN) lines, a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) line, and the like that provide the set top box 22 with access to programming content and to a network such as the Internet.

The connection 30 can also be a connection that is not always-on, such as a standard telephone line. Preferably, the connection 30 is always-on. Many set top boxes are configured to receive data while their ability to send data is more limited. The set top box 22 includes a server 34 that gives the set top box 22 the ability to also send or serve data over the connection 30 in addition to receiving programming Content.

The set top box 22 also has other components that allow programming content to be displayed on the display device 32. These components include one or more tuners for tuning the programming content, one or more demodulators for demodulating the tuned programming content, a transport module for selecting a channel or video stream from the demodulated programming content, and a decoder for decoding the channel or video stream.

After the channel or video stream is decoded, the audio and video components can be sent to the display device 32. The channel or video stream can also be recorded on the storage device 24.