Method and apparatus for providing streaming media in a

Method and apparatus for providing streaming media in a
US 20020054134A1
(19) United States
(12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. N0.: US 2002/0054134 A1
(43) Pub. Date:
Kelts
(54) METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR
(52)
May 9, 2002
US. Cl. .......................................... .. 345/788; 345/700
PROVIDING STREAMING MEDIA IN A
COMMUNICATION NETWORK
(76)
Inventor:
(57)
Brett R. Kelts, Newport Beach, CA
ABSTRACT
(Us)
Anavigation interface display system generates a navigation
Correspondence Address:
map that organizes a plurality of information sources in an
TERRANCE A. MEADOR
GRAY CARY WARE & FREIDENRICH, LLP
4365 EXECUTIVE DRIVE
SUITE 1100
easy-to-use manner. In practical embodiments, the informa
tion sources are online music, video, or other streaming
media content providers. The navigation map employs a
hierarchical display protocol for a plurality of map items that
SAN DIEGO, CA 92121-2133 (US)
(21) Appl. No.:
serve as links to the various content sources. In addition, the
map items are displayed on distinctive areas or features of
09/747,075
the map, Where such features represent different program
(22)
Filed:
Dec. 22, 2000
ming/content genres, categories, subgenres, or subcatego
ries. The navigation interface display system is deployed in
Related US. Application Data
a layered architecture With centralized servers, centralized
databases related to the map data and the content data, and
(63) Non-provisional of provisional application No.
different presentation layer interfaces associated With dif
ferent presentation or display devices. The layered architec
ture alloWs a single deployment of the display system to
60/195,955, ?led on Apr. 10, 2000.
Publication Classi?cation
service multiple users, Where each user can utilize any
(51)
number of different presentation devices.
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US 2002/0054134 A1
Patent Application Publication
May 9, 2002 Sheet 6 0f 7
US 2002/0054134 A1
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US 2002/0054134 A1
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR PROVIDING
STREAMING MEDIA IN A COMMUNICATION
NETWORK
list of hundreds or thousands of possible matches. Alterna
tively, the user may be shoWn a hierarchical list of catego
ries, With each category serving as a higher level in the
hierarchical display of relevant content. In this manner, the
user can continue selecting links to navigate deeper into the
hierarchy until he ?nds a suitable ?le or link.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATIONS
[0001] This application claims priority of US. provisional
patent application serial No. 60/195,955, titled “Method and
Apparatus for Providing Streaming Media in a Communi
cation Network,” ?led Apr. 10, 2000. This application is
related to US. patent application Ser. No.
[0006] One prior art system is implemented as a stand
alone softWare application that resides at the end user’s
computing device. This system utiliZes a number of icons
categoriZed together as a planet, Where the icons represent
, titled
links to different Web pages or ?les stored on the computing
“Interactive Display Interface for Information Objects,”
device. This system maintains no connectivity betWeen the
user’s computing device and any real-time data maintained
by a remote server. Consequently, this system is not capable
of providing current programming information related to
?led
, and to US. patent application Ser. No.
,
titled “System and Method for Providing an Interactive
Display Interface for Information Objects,” ?led
broadcast content that is available to the end user.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
[0002] The present invention relates generally to the pro
cessing of information provided via a communication sys
tem, a computer system, or other electronic equipment.
More particularly, the present invention relates to a system
for locating and identifying streaming media provided by a
communication netWork.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[0003] The groWing popularity of the Internet has resulted
in the online accessibility of music, video, and application
?les. The Internet itself, and the World Wide Web in par
[0007] Currently, there are many Web sites that list subsets
of available streaming media sources (such as Internet radio
stations), but none Which organiZe and display a large
number or all of the available broadcasters. Some of these
sites are broadcast technology speci?c, e.g., REAL.COM
(providing RealAudio and RealVideo ?les), WINDOWS
MEDIA.COM
(providing
WMA
?les),
and
SHOUTCAST.COM providing MP3 ?les). These sites only
shoW lists of stations that employ the respective encoding
technologies. Other sites may be dedicated to a group of
servers or to a particular netWork, such as BROADCAST.
COM, LIVE365.COM, LAUNCH.COM, and others. Unfor
ticular, alloWs a user to access an almost unlimited number
tunately, such sites only display stations being broadcast by
of different Web pages identi?ed by a like number of unique
uniform resource locators (URLs). Streaming media tech
their captive servers, and it is not in their best interests to
enable users to access other competing Web sites. Some Web
sites, such as MP3.COM and SCOUR.COM have attempted
nology alloWs Internet users to remotely access a vast
assortment of audio and video broadcasts, including movies,
neWs programs, dramatic Works, music, sports programs,
talk shoWs, and other content. Instead of a relatively small
number of traditional radio and television stations available
in major metropolitan markets or via standard cable or
to create “streaming media portals.” HoWever, their diffuse
focus includes the doWnloading of MP3 ?les from obscure
bands, providing movie trailers, providing neWs commen
tary snippets, and the like. None of these sites address the
unique problems faced by Internet users. The primary prob
satellite systems, Internet users are noW presented With
lem With all of these sites is that they offer only a relatively
thousands of possibilities. Never before has there been such
a vast selection of alternatives, With broadcasters providing
every imaginable permutation for every conceivable area of
interest, from mainstream popular music to the most obscure
small subset of available Internet content.
[0008] A number of hardWare vendors, such as Kerbango
and unlikely niches.
the Internet to alloW users to hear Internet radio in the
and SonicBoX, manufacture devices that resemble conven
tional stereo equipment. These devices communicate With
[0004] End users of various presentation devices (e.g.,
absence of a computer system. The respective Web sites also
personal computers and other Internet-enabled devices)
often have dif?culty searching, locating, vieWing, and doWn
offer a softWare interface that emulates the hardWare
loading suitable content due to the vast number of content
?les and/or content sources. For eXample, the large quantity
of available Internet broadcasters (and other streaming
media providers) presents a paradox: While users undoubt
edly bene?t from the unprecedented number of choices in
genre and content Which broadcasters provide, they cannot
easily and ef?ciently select from among the hundreds of
device’s functionality on a personal computer. While the
virtual tuner idea is attractive on the surface (in that it gives
users an interface they are already comfortable With), closer
examination reveals several shortcomings. For eXample, the
familiarity associated With the look of a radio template is
overshadoWed by the host of de?ciencies introduced by an
interface modeled after a 1920s-era gadget. Aradio interface
is a marvelous compromise solution designed to address the
stations, channels, and/or entities broadcasting a given type
realities and limitations of physical airspace (Where only a
of music, video, program, or ?le. In addition, users cannot
feW doZen discrete stations are available in any given
location); hoWever, it is not a particularly effective Way to
interface With virtual airspace, and it is a terrible Way to
identify What is interesting, relevant, or available, or deter
mine the quality of service, bit rate, or other operational
parameters of the available broadcasts.
[0005] KnoWn solutions utiliZed by many Internet sites are
based on the garden variety search engine interface. In one
form of this interface, the user enters a search query (a Word
or a phrase) and is eventually presented With a multi-page
display large amounts of disparate data.
[0009]
A handful of softWare tuner applications are cur
rently available. One relatively full-featured application is
RADIOSPY, available from GAMESPY INDUSTRIES,
INC. This application displays available broadcast sites With
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 Al
the station information presented to the user in a long,
alphanumeric list format. With over 5,000 stations listed on
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
NET MEDIA PLAYER, available from MIDISOFT, Which
[0013] A more complete understanding of the present
invention may be derived by referring to the detailed
description and claims When considered in conjunction With
the folloWing Figures, Wherein like reference numbers refer
to similar elements throughout the Figures.
integrates a custom media player With a very limited list of
available broadcasters via a menu system. Unfortunately,
[0014]
the interface, the sheer volume of data is overwhelming, and
as more sites come online it Will become increasingly
impractical to use. Other softWare tuners include INTER
this application includes the de?ciencies of both the radio
like interface and the listing format. A common problem
FIG. 1 is a block diagram of one embodiment of a
netWork system according to the present invention;
With these softWare tuners is that the interfaces do not
[0015] FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an eXample computer
system suitable for use in the system shoWn in FIG. 1;
provide a logical, ef?cient, or easy-to-comprehend method
for displaying large amounts of data. Thus, they fail to
[0016] FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of one
embodiment of a layout of a graphical user interface pro
achieve their core objective of shoWing the user What
content is currently available. In addition, the doWnloading,
installing, and con?guring of the softWare applications can
create a signi?cant implementation barrier for many com
puter users.
[0010]
Accordingly, there is a need in the industry for an
vided in accordance With the principles of the invention;
[0017] FIG. 4 is an eXample display screen con?gured in
accordance With the present invention;
[0018] FIG. 5 illustrates one embodiment of a navigator
bar used in the graphical user interface of the invention;
effective and intuitive system for locating and identifying
media and other content, Which may be provided by multiple
[0019]
information sources and service providers, via a communi
and
cation netWork.
FIG. 6 is a schematic representation of a system
architecture that implements the principles of the invention;
[0020]
FIG. 7 is a schematic representation of an eXem
plary navigation interface display.
BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
[0011]
The present invention provides a system for gen
erating an interactive navigation interface for display at an
end user device. In accordance With a preferred embodi
ment, the end user device merely functions as a display or
playback component; the navigation interface itself is gen
erated, maintained, and processed by one or more remote
server components. The navigation interface is con?gured to
alloW a user to intuitively, effectively, and easily determine
the broadcast status associated With a large number of
content providers, channels, stations, Web sites, or the like.
In a particular implementation, the navigation interface is
designed for use in connection With a streaming media portal
site. The navigation interface utiliZes a magni?cation
(Zoom) feature along With a hierarchical protocol for the
display of active map items representing different streaming
media sources or content. In this respect, the navigation
interface displays only a limited number of active map items
at an initial magni?cation level and introduces additional
active map items as the magni?cation changes. The inter
active navigation interface may include a number of addi
tional features designed to enhance the display of useful
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED
EMBODIMENT
[0021] The present invention may be described herein in
terms of functional block components and various process
ing steps. It should be appreciated that such functional
blocks may be realiZed by any number of hardWare com
ponents con?gured to perform the speci?ed functions. For
eXample, the present invention may employ various inte
grated circuit components, e.g., memory elements, digital
signal processing elements, logic elements, look-up tables,
and the like, Which may carry out a variety of functions
under the control of one or more microprocessors or other
control devices. In addition, those skilled in the art Will
appreciate that the present invention may be practiced in
conjunction With any number of data transmission protocols
and that the systems described herein are merely exemplary
applications for the invention.
[0022] It should be appreciated that the particular imple
mentations shoWn and described herein are illustrative of the
invention and its best mode and are not intended to other
Wise limit the scope of the invention in any Way. Indeed, for
information to the user and to make it easier for the user to
the sake of brevity, conventional techniques for signal
vieW and locate appropriate content, such as streaming
media ?les.
processing, data transmission, signaling, netWork control,
[0012] In accordance With another aspect of the present
invention, the navigation interface system is con?gured in a
layered architecture. In this manner, the system can be
deployed in a centraliZed mode using remote servers. Vari
ous presentation layers associated With different presenta
tion devices are utiliZed to obtain generic display charac
teristic data from the remote servers. In turn, the respective
presentation layers act as an interface betWeen the generic
data and data formatted for compatibility With the presen
tation devices. Consequently, the system need not employ
customiZed server applications for the different presentation
devices.
and other functional aspects of the systems (and the indi
vidual operating components of the systems) may not be
described in detail herein. Furthermore, the connecting lines
shoWn in the various ?gures contained herein are intended to
represent exemplary functional relationships and/or physical
couplings betWeen the various elements. It should be noted
that many alternative or additional functional relationships
or physical connections may be present in a practical
embodiment.
[0023] One aspect of the present invention involves a
softWare application and Web site that offers directories of
Internet radio stations, video channels, or other streaming
media sources, While facilitating the ability for the user to
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
conduct “one stop shopping” With an easy to read, graphical
[0034] The navigation map may be displayed With rolling
display of a vast number of available stations or channels,
hills, Water, forests, deserts, and other terrain. Radio toWers
bandwidth information, and/or other germane data.
[0024] A second aspect of the present invention involves
the identi?cation of the effective bit rate of streaming media
on a global computer netWork such as the Internet. Cur
rently, the published or advertised bit rate of streaming
media on the Internet may not alWays be reliable. In addi
tion, the published bit rate doesn’t alWays re?ect the actual
effective bit rate that end users Will experience. Because the
load on the various servers may vary throughout the day, it
is virtually impossible to predict the reliability of a given
netWork-based broadcasting station. With multiple interme
diary servers betWeen the user and broadcaster operating
under varying loads, the user often experiences annoying
breaks and skips in the broadcast, resulting in a diminished
overall experience. To make the selection process even more
arbitrary, many Internet stations do not broadcast 24 hours
a day. Some go of?ine periodically due to server glitches,
some are “full” (meaning all their bandWidth is taken), etc.
[0025] As Web broadcasting increases in popularity, users
Will naturally require an easy-to-use mechanism for locat
ing, ?ltering, and evaluating the status of available broad
or other map item objects can be displayed as icons. In a
preferred embodiment, the display is dynamic in nature such
that it can re?ect What is happening at the moment. In a
practical embodiment, the appearance of the map items
change based on advertised bandWidth, Whether the stations
are currently broadcasting, Whether they are full, Whether
they are marked as “favorites”, and/or other criteria. The
user can Zoom-in and Zoom-out, scroll to other portions of
the map, click on a map item to ?nd out more information
about the station or channel, and access other related func
tions. The display Will be “live” in that information dis
played for a given station may change dynamically as the
station’s status changes. For example, if a station becomes
“full”, the map item icon may change immediately to re?ect
the neW status.
[0035] A streaming media portal according to the present
invention is preferably con?gured as a completely Web
based application; no additional softWare need be installed
on the end user presentation system. When the end user
selects the “Play” button to listen to a broadcast, the Web site
Which implements the principles of the invention Will launch
the appropriate application already installed on the end
casters. An ideal solution should meet the folloWing criteria:
user’s system (e.g., WindoWs Media Player, QuickTime,
[0026]
Real Player, etc.).
[0036] De?nitions
Present an interface that is fast, intuitive, and
easy-to-use;
[0027] OrganiZe stations by broadcast genre;
[0037]
As discussed herein, a “computer system” is a
[0028] Suggest other stations that the user might enjoy;
product including circuitry capable of processing data. The
[0029] Identify stations broadcasting at a suitable band
Width, e.g., fast enough to meet the user’s minimum quality
expectation, but not faster than the respective Internet con
nection Will support;
purpose computer systems (e.g., server, laptop, desktop,
palmtop, personal electronic devices, etc.), personal com
puters (PCs), hard copy equipment (e.g., printer, plotter, fax
machine, etc.), banking equipment (e.g., an automated teller
[0030] Evaluate connections in real-time to assure that
stations are broadcasting reliably and that traf?c permits a
machine), and the like. Content refers to application pro
grams, driver programs, utility programs, audio, video, and
other ?les, payload, and combinations thereof, as Well as
computer system may include, but is not limited to, general
steady connection; and
graphics, informational material (articles, stock quotes, etc.),
[0031] Work With most (if not all) available broadcast
and the like, either singly or in any combination. A “com
technologies, e.g., WMA, MP3, Real Audio, QuickTime,
munication link” refers to the medium or channel of com
and any future media transmission protocol.
munication. The communication link may include, but is not
limited to, a telephone line, a modem connection, an Internet
[0032]
A third aspect of the present invention involves an
apparatus and method for providing a user interface for
selecting streaming media. Instead of taking a traditional
hierarchical listing approach, the preferred embodiment of
the present invention illustrates available sites using a
graphical user interface that can be suitably formatted
according to a number of different presentation devices. In
one embodiment, the graphical user interface is rendered as
a navigation map. This map may feature a mythical group of
islands, continents, seas, and a number of map items or icons
representing available streaming media broadcasters and
content.
[0033]
Different regions on the navigation map can be
labeled to represent a different genre or category, With map
items and/or broadcaster information located Within the
appropriate region. Logical sub-regions can represent sub
sets of a genre or subcategories for the content. For example,
one massive island may be called “Talk Land,” and represent
talk radio stations. One portion of the island can be dedi
cated to sports talk, another sub-region may focus on Chris
tian talk, and so on.
connection, an Integrated Services Digital NetWork
(“ISDN”) connection, an Asynchronous Transfer Mode
(ATM) connection, a frame relay connection, an Ethernet
connection, a coaxial connection, a ?ber optic connection,
satellite connections (e.g. Digital Satellite Services, etc.),
Wireless connections, radio frequency (RF) links, electro
magnetic links, tWo Way paging connections, and combina
tions thereof.
[0038] System OvervieW
[0039] A description of an exemplary system, Which
incorporates embodiments of the present invention, is herein
described. FIG. 1 shoWs a system block diagram of one
embodiment of a netWork system 10 in Which the system and
methods of the invention are used. Referring to FIG. 1, the
netWork system 10 comprises a service center 12 that is
connected over one or more communication links 20 to a
remote netWork 30 (e. g., a Wide area netWork or the Internet)
or a remote site (e.g., a satellite, Which is not shoWn in FIG.
1) to one or more user computer systems 401-40N (“40”). In
one embodiment the service center 12 maintains or is
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
otherwise associated With a Web site. The service center 12
[0043] Referring to FIG. 2, the computer system 100
includes one or more servers 22 and one or more databases
(representing either of computer 26 or 40) comprises a
24. As used herein, server 22 may refer to a single server or
processor or a central processing unit (CPU) 104. The
illustrated CPU 104 includes an Arithmetic Logic Unit
a plurality of cooperating servers. In one embodiment, the
server 22 includes softWare modules for performing the
processes of the invention, as described in detail in the
folloWing sections.
[0040]
The server 22 may be coupled to one or more
veri?cation entities such as entity 60 for veri?cation of
credit information and for processing credit transactions.
The service center 12 may also include one or more com
puters 261-26M. If a plurality of computers are used, then the
computers 261-26M may be connected by a local area
netWork (LAN) or any other similar connection technology.
HoWever, it is also possible for the service center 12 to have
other con?gurations. For example, a smaller number of
larger computers (i.e., a feW mainframe, mini, or other
computers) With a number of internal programs or processes
running on the larger computers may be capable of estab
lishing communication links to the user computers.
[0041] The remote netWork 30 or remote site alloWs the
service center 12 to provide information and services to the
(ALU) for performing computations, a collection of regis
ters for temporary storage of data and instructions, and a
control unit for controlling operation for the system 100. In
one embodiment, the CPU 104 includes any one of the X86
or PentiumTM family of microprocessors as marketed by
IntelTM Corporation, the K-6 microprocessor as marketed by
AMDTM, or the 6><S6MX microprocessor as marketed by
CyrixTM Corporation. Further examples include the AlphaTM
processor as marketed by Digital Equipment CorporationTM,
the 680X0 processor as marketed by MotorolaTM; or the
PoWer PCTM processor as marketed by IBMTM. In addition,
any of a variety of other processors, including those from
Sun Microsystems, MIPS, IBM, Motorola, NEC, Cyrix,
AMD, Nexgen and others may be used for implementing
CPU 104. The CPU 104 is not limited to a microprocessor
but may take on other forms such as microcontrollers, digital
signal processors, reduced instruction set computers (RISC),
application speci?c integrated circuits, and the like.
Although shoWn With one CPU 104, computer system 100
user computers 401-4N, using softWare that is stored at the
may alternatively include multiple processing units.
service center 12. The one or more databases 24 connected
[0044]
to the service center computer(s), e.g., computer 261, are
used to store data. Each user computer 401-40N is connected
Way of a CPU bus. The bus controller 112 includes a
over a corresponding communication link 421-42N such as a
memory controller 116 may be external to the bus controller
112. The memory controller 116 provides an interface for
access by the CPU 104 or other devices to system memory
124 via memory bus 120. In one embodiment, the system
local carrier exchange to a respective ISP 441-44N, through
Which access to the remote netWork 30 is made. By inputting
the URL address of the target Web site With Which the user
desires to interact, the user may be connected to various Web
sites, such as Web sites 501-50NN. In an alternate embodi
ment, each user may be connected over a corresponding
communication link 481-48N to the service center 12, Which
provides Internet access and service to the user computer(s)
40. In a further embodiment, the display screen for vieWing
the graphical user interface of the invention may be located
The CPU 104 is coupled to a bus controller 112 by
memory controller 116 integrated therein, though the
memory 124 includes synchronous dynamic random access
memory (SDRAM). System memory 124 may optionally
include any additional or alternative high speed memory
device or memory circuitry. The bus controller 112 is
coupled to a system bus 128 that may be a peripheral
component interconnect (PCI) bus, Industry Standard Archi
case, navigation through the graphical user interface of the
invention may be provided through the use of control
tecture (ISA) bus, etc. Coupled to the system bus 128 are a
graphics controller, a graphics engine or a video controller
132, a mass storage device 152, a communication interface
device 156, one or more input/output (I/O) devices 1681
168N, and an expansion bus controller 172. The video
controller 132 is coupled to a video memory 136 (e.g., 8
buttons on a remote control unit for controlling vieWing of
the television, or by other means knoWn in the art.
Megabytes) and video BIOS 140, all of Which may be
integrated onto a single card or device, as designated by
[0042]
numeral 144. The video memory 136 is used to contain
display data for displaying information on the display screen
148, and the video BIOS 140 includes code and video
on a television coupled to the netWork 30. For example, the
end user may be a vieWer of a television that communicates
With a set-top box or an equivalent control device. In this
One aspect of the present invention relates to the
development of softWare and a graphical user interface for
presenting, locating, and identifying streaming media pro
may occur on a computer that is not coupled to the com
services for controlling the video controller 132. In another
embodiment, the video controller 132 is coupled to the CPU
104 through an Advanced Graphics Port (AGP) bus.
[0045] The mass storage device 152 may include (but is
not limited to) a hard disk, ?oppy disk, CD-ROM, DVD
munication netWork. Upon completion of the development
ROM, tape, high density ?oppy, high capacity removable
vided on a Web site. Such a development process may occur
on a computer system that is separate and apart from the
service center 12, or may be developed using one of the
computers 261-26M. Alternatively, the development process
process, the code may be stored in the database 24. Alter
natively, the code may be stored on a machine-readable
medium, such as a diskette, CD or DVD. In one embodi
ment, the service center 12 that is connected over one or
more communication links to a remote netWork (such as the
media, loW capacity removable media, solid state memory
device, etc., and combinations thereof. The mass storage
device 152 may include any other mass storage medium.
The communication interface device 156 may include a
netWork card, a modem interface, or other device for access
ing netWork 164 via communications link 160. The I/O
Internet) may be requested to provide the code for use on a
client Web site. In this embodiment, the code is stored on the
database 24. Alternatively, the code may be provided on a
devices 1681-168N may be realiZed as a keyboard, mouse,
machine-readable medium such as a diskette, a CD or DVD,
1681-168N may be realiZed as a disk drive, such as a compact
for use by a client to enhance his/her Web site.
disk drive, a digital disk drive, a tape drive, a Zip drive, a jaZZ
audio/sound card, printer, and the like. The I/O devices
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
drive, a digital video disk (DVD) drive, a magneto-optical
disk drive, a high density ?oppy drive, a high capacity
removable media drive, a loW capacity media device, and/or
any combination thereof. The expansion bus controller 172
is coupled to non-volatile memory 175, Which includes
system ?rmWare 176. The system ?rmWare 176 includes
system BIOS, Which is for controlling, among other things,
hardWare devices in the computer system 100. The system
?rmWare 176 also includes ROM 180 and ?ash (or
EEPROM) 184. The expansion bus controller 172 is also
coupled to expansion memory 188 having RAM, ROM,
and/or ?ash memory (not shoWn). The system 100 may
additionally include a memory module 190 that is coupled to
the bus controller 112. In one embodiment, the memory
module 190 comprises a ROM 192 and ?ash (or EEPROM)
194.
[0046] As is familiar to those skilled in the art, the
computer system 100 further includes an operating system
(OS) and at least one application program, Which in one
embodiment, are loaded into system memory 124 from mass
storage device 152 and launched after POST. The OS may
include any type of OS including, but not limited or
restricted to, DOS, WindoWsTM (e.g., WindoWs 95 TM, Win
doWs 98”‘, Windows NTTM), Unix, Linux, OS/2, OS/9,
Xenix, etc. The operating system is a set of one or more
programs Which control the computer system’s operation
and the allocation of resources. The application program is
a set of one or more softWare programs that performs a task
desired by the user.
[0049] As discussed earlier, upon completion of the soft
Ware and/or graphical user interface development process,
the corresponding code may be stored in the database 24 or
on a machine-readable medium. The code may then made
available to users such as those located at user computer
1-N, i.e., computers 401-40N through service center 12 or by
means of the machine-readable medium. If the softWare or
graphical user interface is presented via the machine-read
able medium, the computers 401-40N may not necessarily be
linked to the remote netWork for purposes of using the
invention.
[0050]
In the context of a practical system, an end user
vieWs the navigation interface display by accessing service
center 12. In particular, after a user computer system 40
establishes tWo-Way communications With the service center
12, the user is invited to select use of the programs devel
oped and stored at the service center 12. In one embodiment,
the user may be able to locate and identify streaming media
using the graphical user interface of the invention, or to tune
to one or more stations, or to doWnload one or more
programs as provided by the invention. Such doWnloading
may occur either upon payment of a predetermined amount
or upon signing on as a member of a program. The user may
also be invited to make transactions such as purchasing of
additional services or goods. In making payments or pur
chases, veri?cation of the user’s identity or credit may be
provided via veri?cation entity 60.
[0051] A Web portal that incorporates techniques of the
present invention is preferably used by listeners of live
streaming audio (Internet Radio) and/or end users seeking
[0047] In accordance With the practices of persons skilled
in the art of computer programming, the present invention is
described beloW With reference to symbolic representations
of operations that are performed by computer system 100,
unless indicated otherWise. Such operations are sometimes
referred to as being computer-executed. It Will be appreci
ated that operations that are symbolically represented
include the manipulation by CPU 104 of electrical signals
representing data bits and the maintenance of data bits at
memory locations in system memory 124, as Well as other
processing of signals. The memory locations Where data bits
any streaming media content. Such a Web portal may
achieve the folloWing objectives easily and quickly:
[0052]
Present a user interface that displays a large num
ber of available stations ef?ciently, but doesn’t overWhelm
the user With information;
[0053] Quickly ?nd Internet Radio Broadcasters (“sta
tions”) by genre;
[0054] Identify stations broadcasting at a suitable band
Width, i.e., fast enough to meet the user’s minimum quality
electrical, magnetic, optical, or organic properties corre
expectation, but not faster than the respective Internet con
nection Will support;
sponding to the data bits.
[0055] Suggest stations Which might have “similar” pro
are maintained are physical locations that have particular
[0048] When implemented in softWare, the elements of the
present invention are essentially the code segments to per
gramming to stations that are currently selected by end
users;
[0056] Encompass any number of available broadcast
form the necessary tasks. The program or code segments can
be stored in a processor readable medium or transmitted by
technologies, e.g., WMA, MP3, Real Audio, QuickTime,
a computer data signal embodied in a carrier Wave over a
and any future media; and
transmission medium or communication link. The “proces
sor readable medium” or “machine-readable medium” may
include any medium that can store or transfer information.
Examples of the processor readable medium include an
electronic circuit, a semiconductor memory device, a ROM,
a ?ash memory, an erasable ROM (EROM), a ?oppy dis
kette, a CD-ROM, an optical disk, a hard disk, a ?ber optic
medium, a radio frequency (RF) link, etc. The computer data
signal may include any signal that can propagate over a
transmission medium such as electronic netWork channels,
optical ?bers, air, electromagnetic, RF links, and the like.
[0057]
Remember a user’s preferences, favorites, and his
tory.
[0058] This speci?cation describes the functional speci?
cations of an exemplary portal and navigation display inter
face, including a description of its core features.
[0059] Web Site
[0060] A Web site according to the present invention can
be accessed With a standard Web broWser by entering a
suitable target URL, e.g., WWW.SonicIsland.com or WWW
The code segments may be doWnloaded via computer net
.SonicIsle.com. In the folloWing description and for the
Works such as the Internet, an intranet, a LAN, a WAN, and
purposes of discussion, reference Will be made to SonicIs
the like.
land.com as an exemplary Web site, service center, or
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
administrator of the streaming media portal system. It is
understood that any other Web site or corresponding URL
may be used. In one embodiment, the navigation interface
display, Which is rendered on the end user’s presentation
device, is preferably divided into different functional areas
Which can be selected via a “tabbed” or otherWise selectable
interface. A number of exemplary tabs are:
[0061] Map Tab;
ance of an active map item (e.g., map item 702) preferably
differs from the appearance of an inactive map item (e.g.,
map item 704). In addition, the appearance of a selected map
item (e.g., map item 724) may be further distinguishable.
The user can Zoom-in and Zoom-out (by using, e.g., a Zoom
tool 706 rendered on the navigation interface display), scroll
to other portions of the map (by using, e.g., a panning tool
708 rendered on the navigation interface display), click on
a station icon to ?nd out more information about the station,
[0062] YelloW Pages Tab;
[0063] World Tab;
and perform other functions. The display is preferably “live”
in that information displayed for the station Will change
dynamically as the station’s status changes. For example, if
[0064] Search Tab; and
[0065] Preferences Tab.
a station becomes “full”, the map item appearance may
change immediately to re?ect the neW status.
[0066] FIG. 3 depicts a tab bar area 300 in Which such tabs
may be rendered. The tab bar area 300 is also shoWn in FIG.
[0071] The navigation interface for the map may be ren
dered in the form of a Navigation Bar (see FIG. 5) attached
to the right-hand side of the navigation map. It preferably
4, along With these speci?c tab elements. The ?rst four tabs
includes a number of arroWs that alloW the users to scroll the
may represent different “vieWs” into the World of Internet
Radio Stations or into any appropriate environment associ
map in any direction, Zoom controls to change the level of
magni?cation (e.g., 3 or 4 different Zoom levels), and map
siZe controls (for the user to change the siZe of the displayed
ated With a number of streaming media sources. As shoWn
in FIG. 3, these tabs may have common interfaces on the left
hand side (e.g., the Information Bar 302) and the top (e.g.,
the Station Data element 304). The exemplary layout can be
see graphically in FIG. 3. In addition, one example of the
graphical user interface of FIG. 3 is shoWn in FIG. 4, and
FIG. 7 is a schematic representation of a sample navigation
map 700 that may be rendered for use by an end user.
map).
[0072] At the minimum magni?cation level, the Whole
virtual World may be displayed With only the high-level
genres and only a feW stations visible as active map items.
As the user Zooms in, more sub-genres may appear With
more stations visible as active map items.
[0067] Map Tab
[0073]
[0068] The Map Tab shoWs a number of available stations
using a graphical “map.” An exemplary map 700 is shoWn
station’s information can be displayed in the Station Data
element 304. In the alternate embodiment shoWn in FIG. 7,
information related to the speci?c content selected by the
end user may be displayed in a content description area 726,
a previeW of clip of the selected content may be displayed
in a previeW WindoW 728, and information related to the
in FIG. 7. The map preferably features a mythical group of
islands, continents, seas, and possibly other features, each
With a set of map items or control points representing
available broadcasters. The map 700 may include any num
ber of active map items 702 (Which represent content,
stations, or channels that are accessible from the currently
rendered map) and any number of inactive map items 704
(Which represent content, stations, or channels that are not
accessible from the currently rendered map).
[0069]
Each region on the map is preferably labeled to
represent a different genre or category, With different map
items and/or broadcaster identi?ers located Within the appro
priate region. Subsets of a genre may be represented by
logical sub-regions Within a given region. For example, one
massive island may be called “Talk Land,” and represent
talk radio stations. One portion of the island can be dedi
cated to sports talk, another may focus on Christian talk, and
so on. FIG. 7 shoWs a “News” region 710 identi?ed by a
“News” label 712, a “Sports” region 714 identi?ed by a
“Sports” label 716, and a “Movies” region 718 identi?ed by
a “Movies” label 720. FIG. 7 also shoWs a “Comedies”
sub-region identi?ed by a “Comedies” label 722.
[0070] The map may be displayed With rolling hills, Water,
When the user clicks on a station icon or active
map item, the icon may be suitably highlighted and the
selected station or channel (e.g., programming data, sched
ules, advertising, or the like) may be displayed in an
item-speci?c area 730.
[0074] YelloW Pages Tab
[0075]
The YelloW Pages tab may be used to display the
radio stations and/or other content providers in a hierarchical
format organiZed in any fashion, e.g., by genre. Like
YAHOO!’s interface, the user may be permitted to “drill
doWn” to the genres in Which they are interested. Each
station’s listing can contain the name of the station, a URL,
the transmission bandWidth, the currently playing song
broadcast technology, and the station reliability. Each station
may also have an associated “Map” button Which, When
clicked, Will immediately display the Map Tab With the
selected station’s map item displayed in the center of the
map. Selecting a station Will display the station’s informa
tion in the Station Data element 304.
[0076] World Tab
forests, deserts, and other terrain. Stations are preferably
displayed as map items, icons, or graphic elements. The
display can be dynamic in nature to re?ect What is happening
[0077] In the example embodiment, the World Tab dis
plays real World radio stations (e.g., FM and AM stations).
Instead of the virtual World displayed in the Map Tab, the
at the moment. The appearance of the map items can change
based on advertised bandWidth, Whether the stations are
World Tab may employ an actual map of the World. In one
embodiment, When a user ?rst enters the World Tab, Soni
currently broadcasting, Whether they are full, Whether they
cIsland.com Will display the United States, since the major
are currently active or inactive, Whether they are marked as
ity of users Will be from the United States and Will Want to
listen to stations based in the United States. In an alternate
“favorites”, and/or other criteria. For example, the appear
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
embodiment, the end user’s IP address might be used to
determine the default region displayed. Using the same
navigation bar displayed on the Map Tab, the user can Zoom
into a state or region to locate a traditional radio or television
station.
[0078]
[0097] Station Area
[0098]
This is an area that may be positioned beloW the
tabs on the Map Tab, List Tab, World Tab, and Search Tab.
It preferably contains live information about the currently
selected station, including:
When the user clicks on an active map item, the
icon Will be highlighted and the station’s information Will be
displayed in the Station Data element 304.
[0079] Search Tab
[0099] Station Name.
[0100] URL. The end user may click on the URL to jump
directly to the station’s WEB site.
[0080] The Search Tab preferably displays a standard
search engine-like interface. At the top is the search boX. The
[0101] BandWidth, expressed in kbits/sec.
user types desired search criteria and the SonicIsland.com
ously updated.
system Will automatically search according to any criteria,
e.g., by Artist, Station Name, Genre, and/or Song.
[0081] The search results can be grouped logically by:
[0082] Genre;
[0102]
[0103]
Current song or content. This ?eld can be continu
Number of users in the selected station. This ?eld
can be continuously updated.
[0104] Popularity Ratings. These ratings may include
rankings such as “X of Y displayed”, and/or “A of B in
[0083] Station Name;
Genre”.
[0084] Artist;
[0105] Broadcast technology. This information may be
displayed iconically to represent different content delivery
formats, e.g., RealAudio, QuickTime, WMA, or streaming
[0085] Song played in the last 24 hours; and/or
[0086] Song being played noW.
[0087] Like the YelloW Pages tab, each station entry may
shoW live information. When a station is selected, the
station’s information is preferably displayed in the Station
Data element 304.
[0088] Preferences Tab
[0089] In accordance With one practical embodiment, a
Preferences Tab Will be made available to registered users.
This alloWs end users to change their ?ltering criteria and
preferences. For eXample, the user can change any of the
folloWing:
[0090] BandWidth Filter. This ?lter may be used to only
display stations broadcasting Within a speci?ed range of bit
rates. In this respect, the system may also provide selections
for common Internet connections (e.g. 33.6 modem, 56K
modem, DSL, T1, High Speed, or the like).
[0091] Active Only Filter. This ?lter may be used to only
display stations that are currently broadcasting.
[0092]
Not Full Filter. This ?lter may be used to only
MP3.
[0106] Station Reliability. This data can be represented by
a “signal strength” graphical bar or other display element.
[0107] Play Button. This element Will launch the appro
priate media player for the end user, thus initiating playback
of the selected streaming media ?le.
[0108]
SonicIsland.com may alloW radio stations to use
custom buttons.
[0109] Rate Button. This element alloWs the user to “rate”
the station. This feature can be used in combination With
actual station listening patterns to judge station popularity. It
can also enhance SonicIsland.com’s “stickiness”, Where
users Will tend to stay at the SonicIsland.com Web site as
long as possible.
[0110]
Add Bookmark Button. This element adds the
bookmark for the selected station to the user’s broWser
bookmark or “Favorites” list. Selecting the bookmark Will
return the user to the eXact station and VieW in SonicIsland
.com, so that they can immediately click on the station to
display stations Which haven’t reached capacity.
play it.
[0093] Quality Filter. This ?lter may be used to display
stations meeting the SonicIsland.com system quality heu
current station to the end user’s Favorites list. If the user
ristics.
[0111]
Add to Favorites Button. This element adds the
isn’t registered, he/she may be asked to register before this
feature is enable.
[0094] Only Certi?ed Stations. This ?lter may be used to
only display stations associated With “real netWork stations”.
[0095] Preferred Media Player Filter. Since some stations
broadcast using a multiplicity of media streams (e.g. Real
Audio and WMA), this ?lter alloWs the user to select their
preferred streaming media format. Users may also be
alloWed to eXclude some types of streaming media if they do
not have a supported player installed on their system. For
eXample, LinuX users might Want to eXclude WMA.
[0096] Mailing information. This ?lter alloWs end users to
select Whether they Want to receive the opt-in mailings sent
by SonicIsland.com.
[0112] As discussed herein, there may be different inter
faces available, depending on the broWser technology used
by the user. Given a broWser application of suf?ciently
recent technology (i.e. IE 4+ or NS 4+), the Station Area
feature may also be able to check the client-to-station
connection in real time.
[0113] Information Bar
[0114] The Information Bar is con?gured as a multifunc
tional area on the left side of the Map, YelloW Pages, World,
and Search tabs. In accordance With one eXample embodi
ment, the Information Bar includes several panes:
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
[0115] Quick Filters. This ?ltering allows the user to
quickly ?lter the stations Without having to sWitch to the
Preferences Tab.
[0129] Map.SonicIsland.com—this can point to the Map
Tab display.
[0116]
Search Tab display.
Similar Stations. This element displays other sta
[0130]
Search.SonicIsland.com—this can point to the
tions Which are “similar” to the currently selected station.
Similar stations can be rated based on other SonicIsland.com
[0131]
users behaviors.
World Tab display.
[0117]
Search. This feature alloWs the user to search for
stations by Artist, Station Name, Genre, and Song. Entering
information into this boX Will immediately sWitch to the
Search Tab.
World.SonicIsland.com—this can point to the
[0132] Yp.SonicIsland.com—this can point to the YelloW
Pages Tab display.
[0133] Any number of other entry points may be utiliZed
to automatically display maps at pre-de?ned locations, With
[0118] CD Image. This element may contain an image of
a compact disc, shoWing the currently playing music on the
currently selected station. Clicking on the image Will trans
stations pre-selected. For eXample, broadcasters can add this
type of link to their Web sites.
fer the user to a CD purchase Web site. In a commercial
[0134] Favorites
embodiment, the CD purchase Web site Will likely be a
strategic retail partner of the administrator of the user
interface system.
[0119] History. This element may list a number of recent
stations (e.g., the last 10) that the user has listened to.
Clicking on a station in the history Will shoW it immediately
in the current vieW. Clicking on the play button Will activate
that station. This element may also include “forWard” and
“back” buttons that alloW the user to navigate throughout the
history.
[0120]
Favorites. This element may contain a listing of the
user’s favorites. Clicking on a station name Will display it
immediately in the map. Clicking on the play button Will
activate that station.
[0135]
When users ?nd a station that they like, they can
automatically memoriZe the station by clicking “Save Favor
ite”. This Will add the selected station to their list of favorite
stations. In one commercial embodiment, users Will be
required to register to use this feature.
[0136] History
[0137]
Regarding this feature, When a user listens to a
station, the station Will be added to the user’s History. A
number of recent stations, e.g., the last 10 stations, Will be
displayed in the Information Bar.
[0138] Advertising
[0122] User Registration
[0139] The Portal may also have appropriate areas for
advertising. For eXample, the Web site may reserve a space
for a standard siZed (468x80 pixel) banner across the top of
the display. SonicIsland.com can also offer “in map” adver
[0123] Users Will be encouraged to register With SonicIs
tising space.
land.com; registering Will alloW them to use some of the
more advanced SonicIsland.com features. This Will alloW
SonicIsland.com to track usage by user name. There may be
some optional demographic information Which the user Will
[0140] Station Interface
[0121] Additional Features
be asked to enter When they register, including age, seX, and
income. There may also be a checkboX asking them if they
Want to “opt-in” to SonicIsland.com mailings. When users
re-enter SonicIsland.com they need not be required to reen
ter their user name; their “cookie” Will be used to look up
[0141] Stations administrators may be permitted to have
their oWn entry point into the SonicIsland.com site. For
eXample, registered radio stations Will be able to change
their title, URL, chat, genre, map location, etc. The interface
Will support manual and automatic updates of this informa
tion.
this information in the system database.
[0142] Suggest Station Interface
[0124]
[0143] Using this feature, end users can suggest stations to
SonicIsland.com through a suitable interface and register the
suggested station as a preferred station.
Certain features of the SonicIsland.com system
may only be available to registered users. This includes
Favorites, Weekly mailings, automatic entry into contests,
and other preferred features.
[0125] State Saving
[0126] The SonicIsland.com system is capable of storing
the user’s current Tab, map location, Zoom level, history,
preferences, and other parameters. Using this information, it
may automatically restore the state When the user returns to
SonicIsland.com. This feature can be managed via cookies.
If the user’s broWser does not accept cookies, then the state
[0144] Instant Messaging Integration
[0145] In one practical embodiment, the SonicIsland.com
site Will feature instant message noti?cation. Using standard
instant messaging protocols used by AIM, ICQ, iCAST, or
others, users can be noti?ed When certain stations become
available, When particular songs are played, etc.
[0146] Data Mining Interface
information can be saved via the user ID.
[0127] Alternate Entry Points
[0128] In addition to the standard WWW.SonicIsland.com
entry point, there may be a number of alternate entry points
Which can be used (and the user can bookmark). These
include:
[0147]
The system administrators may collect and/or orga
niZe statistical survey or user preference data. In this respect,
subscribers to SonicIsland.com’s data mining service Will be
able to remotely query the database and retrieve up-to-the
minute station, song, and artist information. This Would
likely be implemented through an XML interface.
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
[0148] Implementation Details of One Embodiment
[0149] Server Architecture
[0150] In the preferred embodiment, the SonicIsland.com
site Will be driven by a set of servers co-located at the
appropriate site or sites. In one embodiment, an n-tiered
server architecture may be used. The application may be
split into three layers. These layers are:
[0151] 1) Presentation layer;
[0152] 2) Application logic; and
[0153] 3) Data.
[0154] One embodiment of the architecture is shoWn in
FIG. 1. An alternate embodiment of the architecture is
shoWn in FIG. 6.
[0155]
[0165] The data stored by the database 608 may include
any of the folloWing tables:
[0166]
Station tables. These tables include any relevant
station information, including Name, URL, Map location,
physical location (if applicable), WEB address, current
song, uptime history, current status, netWork affiliation.
[0167] Song, Artist, and Album tables. These tables con
tain knoWn songs, albums, and artists, and music purchase
information (e.g., the appropriate URL to launch if a user
Wants to purchase this CD).
[0168] User table. This table identi?es the SonicIsland
.com users (Whether registered or not) and includes their
cookies, user IDs, e-mail addresses, preferences, etc.
[0169] User Favorites table. This table stores the users’
favorites.
In one practical embodiment, all of the servers that
support and maintain the SonicIsland.com site operate on an
[0170]
industry standard platform (Intel or Sparc-based) With the
tions and stores stations that users have accessed or content
Linux or WindoWs NT operating system. Each server mod
presented to the users.
ule may run on one or more physical computers. The server
modules and their functions are listed beloW:
[0156] Web Server (Presentation Layer)
[0171]
User History table. This table maps Users to Sta
Station Song History Table. This table maintains a
historical record of the content or ?les played by each station
over a speci?ed period of time.
[0172] The actual tables, indices, prede?ned queries, and
[0157] In one current embodiment, the presentation layer
employs an industry standard Web server 602 (e.g.,
APACHE) Which Will handle the user interface. The front
other parameters of the database may be de?ned at imple
mentation time.
end Will be coded using industry-standard technologies such
as HTML, XML, Java, and ActiveX. In the preferred
[0173] Data mining (queries) can deliver interesting infor
mation from the database, including:
embodiment, the Web server 602 has a direct connection to
the Internet.
[0158] The Web server 602 preferably handles both the
end-user interface and the station interface.
[0159] Map Server (Application Logic)
[0160]
The map server 604 dynamically generates maps
requested by end users. Given a location in either SonicIs
land.com’s virtual World (Map Tab) or the World map
(World Tab), the map server 604 generates a graphical
navigation map (e.g., map 700) to be displayed by the Web
server 602. As described herein, the map server 604 can
[0174]
Given Station X, What other stations do users like
to hear?
[0175]
What are the most popular stations in a given
genre?
[0176] What stations play artist X most often (ranked by
popularity)?
[0177]
What are the most reliable stations?
[0178] What stations are most often shoWn in user’s
favorites?
render the map data in several different formats.
[0179] Map Interface
[0161] Monitoring Server (Application Layer)
[0180] The map interface is a unique display paradigm
used in the Map and World Tabs. The design goal is to alloW
[0162] The monitoring server 606 sends requests to knoWn
stations at prede?ned intervals to determine their status,
including the currently playing song, number of available
listener slots, etc. Whenever a station’s status changes
(including current song, number of users, etc.), the moni
toring server 606 Will update the station’s entry in the
Database Server 608. In the preferred embodiment, the
monitoring server 606 has a direct connection to the Internet.
The monitoring server 606 may be con?gured as a custom
application.
[0163] Database Server (Data)
the user quick navigation to stations by balancing display
space With the large number of possible stations. Because
different users use different technologies to connect to the
Web, e.g., different broWsers, different levels of security,
different connection speeds, and the like, there really isn’t a
“one interface suits all” approach. Therefore, SonicIsland
.com’s map interface is con?gured as a hierarchy of tech
nologies, Which Will be enabled based on the capabilities and
desires of the end user. The system may automatically detect
the user’s broWser capabilities and “gracefully degrade” to
give the user the best possible experience.
[0181] Basic Interface (AKA Least Common Denomina
[0164] The database server 608 is preferably con?gured as
an industry standard database such as Oracle, DB2, or SQL
server, Which Will be scalable as the system requirements
increase. The database 608 preferably stores all of the data
utiliZed by the SonicIsland.com site and the data utiliZed by
played Will only be updated When the user clicks “Refresh”.
the navigation display system.
This interface can be implemented using a combination of
tor Interface) This interface is suitable for users Who don’t
like, don’t Want to use, or Whose broWsers are incompatible
With Java. The map Will not be live and information dis
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
standard HTML and basic graphics (GIF & JPEG). Navi
gating throughout the Map Will reload the appropriate GIF
?le from the Web Server.
[0182] Advanced Interface This interface may use
advanced technologies such as Java, DHTML, and Active X
to create a “live” interface With station statistics changing on
the user’s screen in real-time and live icons on the map. This
interface may be limited to certain Web broWser applica
tions, e.g., NS 4+ and IE 4+ broWsers (Which are approXi
mately 80% of all installed broWsers).
[0183] ActiveX Interface Users Who Want an enhanced
SonicIsland.com experience can doWnload the ActiveX
interface. Since ActiveX components run locally and
natively on a user’s PC, they can be extremely fast. The
ActiveX interface Will give the user very rapid map navi
gation. When the user clicks on the Navigation Bar to scroll,
instead of Waiting for the neW map to doWnload from the
SonicIsland.com servers, the map information Will display
immediately, because the component Will cache map data on
the user’s PC and only doWnload station state information.
[0190]
The present invention has been described above
With reference to a preferred embodiment. HoWever, those
skilled in the art having read this disclosure Will recogniZe
that changes and modi?cations may be made to the preferred
embodiment Without departing from the scope of the present
invention. These and other changes or modi?cations are
intended to be included Within the scope of the present
invention, as expressed in the folloWing claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A system for displaying a number of interactive navi
gation maps, said system comprising:
a map server con?gured to process map data for a
navigation map having a number of map items repre
senting content, ?les, or data available to an end user;
a processor con?gured to determine a number of display
capabilities associated With a presentation device uti
liZed by said end user; and
a plurality of end user display interfaces in communica
tion With said map server, each of said end user display
It can also have tighter integration With Media players.
interfaces being con?gured to process said navigation
[0184]
map in a manner that is responsive to said number of
Both the Advanced Interface and ActiveX interface
Will be able to test server connections directly from the
user’s PC. This connection status information can be sent to
SonicIsland.com (With the user’s permission) to give Soni
cIsland.com valuable station reliability data.
[0185]
The ActiveX-based interface can also be the basis
for SonicIsland.com’s stand-alone (Win32) application. This
Would be implemented as a simple Win32 Wrapper around
the ActiveX control.
[0186] Commercial Implications
[0187] Based on the principles of the invention, revenue
may be sought from three major sources: advertising,
e-commerce, and data sales. The demographics of target
users (they’re young, have money, love the Internet, spend
their dollars on-line, etc.) make them highly desirable adver
tising targets. Even as spending on Internet advertising
diminishes over time (Which may be an inevitable function
of virtually in?nite space vying for ?nite dollars), advertis
ers Will naturally become more selective and direct their
resources toWards audiences With the highest quali?ed
value. Sites With mundane hit rates and marginal customer
quali?cation Will be undesirable resource drains, Whereas
users of the invention are relatively affluent and technology
savvy, and Will likely remain the most sought after audience
and premium target market, and consequently Will retain the
highest value to advertisers.
display capabilities;
said processor being further con?gured to select one of
said end user display interfaces for rendering of said
navigation map.
2. A system according to claim 1, Wherein said processor
is further con?gured to format said navigation map for
compatibility With said end user display interface.
3. A system according to claim 1, further comprising a
database in communication With said map server, said
database containing navigation map data corresponding to
said navigation map.
4. A system according to claim 1, further comprising a
monitoring server con?gured to determine the current status
of a number of streaming media stations that provide stream
ing media content represented by said number of map items.
5. A system according to claim 4, further comprising a
database in communication With said monitoring server,
Wherein said monitoring server is further con?gured to
update said map data in response to a status change of any
of said number of streaming media stations.
6. A system according to claim 1, Wherein said end user
display interfaces are associated With at least one Web server
in communication With said map server.
7. A system according to claim 1, further comprising a
plurality of presentation layers in communication With said
map server, each of said presentation layers being con?g
[0188] E-commerce revenue can be generated through
click-through sales of CDs and related music products.
Users of the apparatus and method of the invention Will have
ured to transform said map data into displayable map data
formatted in accordance With a number of display capabili
ties of a respective end user presentation device.
8. A system according to claim 1, Wherein:
the capability of immediately buying CDs on-line, Whenever
said map items represent streaming media content; and
they hear an artist they like.
[0189]
Fees can also be generated by selling data access to
users listed in a database. The database Will be continuously
updated With on-air status, current artist, current song,
number of users, and other information culled from a
number of knoWn Internet radio broadcasters. This is valu
able demographic information that can be sold to media
companies, broadcast netWorks, ratings servers, and others
Who need real-time broadcast/listener information.
said presentation device is compatible With at least one
streaming media player format.
9. A method for providing an interactive navigation dis
play to an end user comprising:
generating a navigation map for display to an end user,
said navigation map comprising a number of map items
representing content, ?les, or data available to said end
user;
May 9, 2002
US 2002/0054134 A1
determining a number of display capabilities associated
With a presentation device utilized by said end user; and
selecting an end user display interface to process said
a second graphic region rendered With said navigation
map, said second graphic region representing a second
programming genre; and
navigation map, said selecting step being responsive to
said number of display capabilities.
10. Amethod according to claim 9, further comprising the
a third number of map items displayed in said second
step of transmitting a streaming media ?le to said end user
in response to a map item selection by said end user.
said second programming genre.
19. An interactive navigation interface for streaming
media access, said interface comprising:
11. Amethod according to claim 9, further comprising the
step of formatting said navigation map for compatibility
With said end user display interface.
12. Amethod according to claim 9, further comprising the
step of retrieving navigation map data from a database, said
navigation map data corresponding to said navigation map.
13. A method according to claim 12, further comprising
the steps of:
graphic region, each of said third number of map items
representing a different streaming media ?le related to
a navigation map comprising a graphic region represent
ing a programming genre;
a number of map items associated With said graphic
region, each of said map items representing streaming
media content related to said programming genre; and
a station data element containing information related to a
determining the current status of a number of streaming
media stations that provide streaming media content
represented by said number of map items; and
updating said navigation map data in response to a status
change of any of said number of streaming media
stations.
14. A method according to claim 12, Wherein said navi
gation map data comprises streaming media station infor
mation.
15. A method according to claim 12, Wherein said navi
gation map data comprises streaming media content infor
mation.
16. A method for accessing a streaming media ?le com
prising:
accessing a target Web site With an end user presentation
device;
interacting With a navigation map displayed on a Web
page associated With said Web site, said navigation map
comprising a graphic region representing a program
19, Wherein said station data element contains a bandWidth
indicator that represents the effective transmission band
Width of streaming media content accessed via said currently
selected map item.
21. An interactive navigation interface according to claim
19, Wherein said station data element contains a broadcast
technology indicator associated With a number of available
content delivery formats for streaming media content
accessed via said currently selected map item.
22. An interactive navigation interface according to claim
19, Wherein said station data element contains a quality of
service indicator associated With streaming media content
accessed via said currently selected map item.
23. An interactive navigation interface according to claim
19, Wherein said navigation map is rendered in connection
With a map display WindoW accessible from a Web page.
24. An interactive navigation interface accor ding to claim
ming genre and a number of map items located on said
23, further comprising a directory listing WindoW accessible
from said Web page, said directory listing WindoW contain
graphic region, each of said map items representing
ing information related to a number of content sources or
streaming media content related to said programming
content providers.
25. An interactive navigation interface according to claim
23, further comprising a second navigation map rendered in
genre;
selecting an active map item rendered on said navigation
map; and
playing, at said end user presentation device, a streaming
media ?le corresponding to said active map item.
17. An interactive navigation interface for providing
access to streaming media ?les, said interface comprising:
a navigation map comprising a graphic region represent
ing a programming genre;
a ?rst number of map items displayed in a ?rst area of said
graphic region, each of said ?rst number of map items
representing a different streaming media ?le related to
a ?rst sub-genre of said programming genre; and
a second number of map items displayed in a second area
connection With a World map display WindoW accessible
from said Web page, said second navigation map comprising
a number of map items representing traditional radio or
television stations.
26. An interactive navigation interface according to claim
23, further comprising a search WindoW accessible from said
Web page, said search WindoW facilitating end user search
ing for streaming media content according to speci?ed
criteria.
27. An interactive navigation interface according to claim
23, further comprising a preferences WindoW accessible
from said Web page, said preferences WindoW enabling end
user ?ltering of streaming media content according to speci
?ed criteria.
of said graphic region, each of said second number of
map items representing a different streaming media ?le
related to a second sub-genre of said programming
28. An interactive navigation interface according to claim
19, further comprising an information bar comprising a
number of panes associated With different features related to
genre.
end user interaction With said interface.
18. An interface according to claim 17, further compris
mg:
currently selected map item.
20. An interactive navigation interface according to claim
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