Method and apparatus for selecting a playback queue in a multi

Method and apparatus for selecting a playback queue in a multi
US008886347B2
(12) United States Patent
Lambourne
(54)
(56)
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR
SELECTING A PLAYBACK QUEUE IN A
MULTI-ZONE SYSTEM
Inventor:
Robert A Lambourne, Santa Barbara,
CA (US)
Notice:
References Cited
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(73) Assignee: Sonos, Inc, Santa Barbara, CA (US)
(*)
Subject to any disclaimer, the term of this
patent is extended or adjusted under 35
WO
WO
May 10, 2013
8/2004 Champion
10/2006 Hollstrom et al.
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2005013047 A2
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Rane: DragNet software; availabe for sale at least 2006*
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Sep. 26, 2013
Related US. Application Data
(63)
(Continued)
Continuation of application No. 11/853,790, ?led on
Sep. 11, 2007, now Pat. No. 8,483,853.
(60) Provisional application No. 60/825,407, ?led on Sep.
12, 2006.
(51)
(52)
Primary Examiner * Paul McCord
(74) Attorney, Agent,
or Firm * Hanley,
Flight and
Zimmerman, LLC
Int. Cl.
G06F 17/00
H03G 7/00
H04R 3/12
G06F 3/16
(2006.01)
(2006.01)
(2006.01)
(2006.01)
H04N21/436
(2011.01)
(57)
In general, techniques of controlling a plurality of multimedia
US. Cl.
CPC .. H03G 7/00 (2013.01); H04R 3/12 (2013.01);
(2013.01)
USPC
ABSTRACT
players in groups are disclosed. According to one aspect of
the present invention, a mechanism is provided to allow a user
G06F 3/16 (2013.01); H04N21/43615
(58)
2/2005
10/2012
OTHER PUBLICATIONS
Prior Publication Data
US 2013/0253679 A1
10/2003 Kowalski et al.
FOREIGN PATENT DOCUMENTS
(21) Appl. No.: 13/892,230
(65)
Leeke et a1. ................ .. 715/765
Brown et al. ............... .. 700/276
(Continued)
U.S.C. 154(b) by 0 days.
(22) Filed:
Nov. 11, 2014
U.S. PATENT DOCUMENTS
(71) Applicant: Sonos, Inc., Santa Barbara, CA (US)
(72)
US 8,886,347 B2
(10) Patent N0.:
(45) Date of Patent:
.......................................................... ..
700/94
to group some of the players according to a theme or scene,
where each of the players is located in a zone. When the scene
is activated, the players in the scene react in a synchronized
manner. For example, the players in the scene are all caused to
play a multimedia source or music in a playlist, wherein the
multimedia source may be located anywhere on a network.
Field of Classi?cation Search
None
See application ?le for complete search history.
20 Claims, 11 Drawing Sheets
240
244
242
246
248
ow Playing
Scroll
Wheel
250
252
US 8,886,347 B2
Page 2
(56)
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* cited by examiner
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US 8,886,347 B2
1
2
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR
SELECTING A PLAYBACK QUEUE IN A
MULTI-ZONE SYSTEM
living room are grouped for the music. Over the weekend, the
audio players in the den, the living room, and a kitchen are
grouped for party music. Because the morning group, the
evening group and the weekend group contain the den, it can
be dif?cult for the traditional system to accommodate the
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
APPLICATION
requirement of dynamically managing the ad hoc creation
and deletion of groups.
There is a need for dynamic control of the audio players as
a group. With a minimum manipulation, the audio players
may be readily grouped. In a traditional multi-zone audio
system, the audio players have to be adjusted one at a time,
resulting in an inconvenient and non-homogenous audio
environment. Further, there is a need to individually or sys
This application is a continuation of and claims priority to
patent application Ser. No. 11/853,790, ?led Sep. 11, 2007,
entitled “CONTROLLING AND MANIPULATING
GROUPINGS INA MULTI-ZONE MEDIA SYSTEM,” and
US. Provisional Application No. 60/825,407 ?led on Sep. 12,
2006, entitled “CONTROLLING AND MANIPULATING
GROUPINGS IN A MULTI-ZONE MEDIA SYSTEM,”
tematically adjust the audio volume of the audio players.
each of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its
entirety for all purposes.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Field of the Invention
20
This section is for the purpose of summarizing some
aspects of the present invention and to brie?y introduce some
preferred embodiments. Simpli?cations or omissions in this
The invention is generally related to the area of consumer
section as well as in the abstract or the title of this description
electronics and human-computer interaction. In particular,
may be made to avoid obscuring the purpose of this section,
the abstract and the title. Such simpli?cations or omissions
the invention is related to method and apparatus for control
ling or manipulating a plurality of multimedia players in a
25
are not intended to limit the scope of the present invention.
multi-zone system.
An enduring passion for quality audio reproduction or
In general, the present invention pertains to controlling a
plurality of multimedia players, or simply players, in groups.
system is continuing to drive demands from users. One of the
demands includes an audio system in a house in which, for
example, one could grill to classic rock on a patio while
According to one aspect of the present invention, a mecha
30
another one may cook up his/her own music selections in a
kitchen. This is all at the same time while a teenager catches
a ballgame in a family room, and another one blasts pop in a
bedroom. And the best part of such audio system is that each
family member does not need his or her own stereo systemi
one system gives everyone access to all the music sources.
Currently, one of the systems that can meet part of such
demand is a conventional multi-zone audio system that usu
35
nism is provided to allow a user to group some of the players
according to a theme or scene, where each of the players is
located in a zone. When the scene is activated, the players in
the scene react in a synchronized manner. For example, the
players in the scene are all caused to play an audio source or
music in a playlist, wherein the audio source may be located
anywhere on a network.
According to another aspect of the present invention, the
scene may be activated at any time or a speci?c time. A user
may activate the scene at any time so that only some selected
ally includes a number of audio players. Each of the audio
players has its own ampli?er(s) and a set of speakers and 40 zones in an entertainment system facilitate a playback of an
audio source. When the scene is activated at a speci?c time,
typically installed in one place (e.g., a room). In order to play
the
scene may be used as an alarm or buzzer.
an audio source at one location, the audio source must be
According to still another aspect of the present invention, a
controlling device (also referred to herein as controller) is
provided locally or from a centralized location. When the
audio source is provided locally, the multi-zone audio system
functions as a collection of many stereo systems, making
source sharing dif?cult. When the audio source is provided
45
centrally, the centralized location may include a juke box,
many compact discs, an AM or FM radio, tapes, or others. To
send an audio source to an audio player demanding such
source, a cross-bar type of device is used to prevent the audio
provided to facilitate a user to select any of the players in the
system to form respective groups each of which is set up per
a scene. Although various scenes may be saved in any of the
members in a group, commands are preferably sent from the
controller to the rest of the members when one of the scenes
source from going to other audio players that may be playing
is executed. Depending on implementation, the commands
include parameters pertaining to identi?ers of the players,
other audio sources.
volumes settings, audio source and etc.
50
In order to achieve playing different audio sources in dif
According to yet another aspect of the present invention, a
ferent audio players, the traditional multi-zone audio system
is generally either hard-wired or controlled by a pre-con?g
ured and pre-programmed controller. While the pre-pro
grammed con?guration may be satisfactory in one situation,
con?gurable module is implemented in the controlling device
that provides interactive graphic user interface for forming,
managing and controlling groups in the system, de-grouping
55
a group or adjusting audio volume of individual players or a
it may not be suitable for another situation. For example, a
person would like to listen to broadcast news from his/her
group of players.
The present invention may be implemented in many forms
favorite radio station in a bedroom, a bathroom and a den
including software, hardware or a combination of both.
According to one embodiment, the present invention is
while preparing to go to work in the morning. The same
person may wish to listen in the den and the living room to
music from a compact disc in the evening. In order to satisfy
such requirements, two groups of audio players must be
established. In the morning, the audio players in the bedroom,
the bathroom and the den need to be grouped for the broadcast
news. In the evening, the audio players in the den and the
directed to a method for groupings in a multi-zone media
system, the method comprises providing a mechanism to
65
allow a user to determine which players in the system to be
associated with a theme representing a group; and con?gur
ing the theme with parameters pertaining to the players,
wherein the theme is activated at anytime or a speci?c time so
US 8,886,347 B2
3
4
that the players react in a synchronized manner. The players in
processing devices coupled to networks. These process
descriptions and representations are typically used by those
a scene are synchronized to play a multimedia ?le when the
scene is activated.
skilled in the art to most effectively convey the substance of
their work to others skilled in the art. Numerous speci?c
details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understand
According to another embodiment, the present invention is
directed to an entertainment system for grouping players, the
system comprises: a plurality of players, each located in one
ing of the present invention. However, it will become obvious
zone; and a controller providing a mechanism to allow a user
to those skilled in the art that the present invention may be
to select which of the players to be associated with a theme
representing a group; and con?gure the theme with param
eters pertaining to the selected players, wherein the theme is
practiced without these speci?c details. In other instances,
well known methods, procedures, components, and circuitry
activated at anytime or a speci?c time so that the selected
players react in a synchronized manner. As a result, the
obscuring aspects of the present invention.
have not been described in detail to avoid unnecessarily
invention is to remotely control a plurality of multimedia
Reference herein to “one embodiment” or “an embodi
ment” means that a particular feature, structure, or character
istic described in connection with the embodiment can be
included in at least one embodiment of the invention. The
appearances of the phrase “in one embodiment” in various
players in a multi-zone system, playing and controlling the
audio source synchronously if the players are grouped
the same embodiment, nor are separate or alternative embodi
selected players are synchronized to play a multimedia that is
in a digital format and retrieved from a source over a network.
One of the objects, features, and advantages of the present
together, or playing and controlling the audio source indi
vidually if the players are disassociated with each other.
places in the speci?cation are not necessarily all referring to
20
ments mutually exclusive of other embodiments. Further, the
order of blocks in process ?owcharts or diagrams represent
Other objects, features, and advantages of the present
ing one or more embodiments of the invention do not inher
invention will become apparent upon examining the follow
ing detailed description of an embodiment thereof, taken in
ently indicate any particular order nor imply any limitations
conjunction with the attached drawings.
25
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
in the invention.
Referring now to the drawings, in which like numerals
refer to like parts throughout the several views. FIG. 1 shows
an exemplary con?guration 100 in which the present inven
tion may be practiced. The con?guration may represent, but
These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the
present invention will become better understood with regard
to the following description, appended claims, and accompa
not be limited to, a part of a residential home, a business
building or a complex with multiple zones. There are a num
30
nying drawings where:
FIG. 1 shows an exemplary con?guration in which the
present invention may be practiced;
FIG. 2A shows an exemplary functional block diagram of
a player in accordance with the present invention;
and 106 are shown as audio devices. Each of the audio devices
may be installed or provided in one particular area or zone and
hence referred to as a zone player herein.
As used herein, unless explicitly stated otherwise, an audio
35
understanding of the present invention, it is assumed that the
con?guration 100 represents a home. Thus, the zone player
40
FIG. 3A provides an illustration of one zone scene, where
the left column shows the starting zone groupingiall zones
are separate, the column on the right shows the effects of
grouping the zones to make a group of 3 zones named after
“Morning”;
source or audio sources are in digital format and can be
transported or streamed over a data network. To facilitate the
FIG. 2B shows an example of a controller that may be used
to remotely control one of more players of FIG. 2A;
FIG. 2C shows an exemplary internal functional block
diagram of a controller in accordance with one embodiment
of the present invention;
ber of multimedia players of which three examples 102, 104
45
102 and 104 may be located in two of the bedrooms respec
tively while the zone player 106 may be installed in a living
room. All of the zone players 102, 104 and 106 are coupled
directly or indirectly to a data network 108. In addition, a
computing device 110 is shown to be coupled on the network
108. In reality, any other devices such as a home gateway
device, a storage device, or an MP3 player may be coupled to
the network 108 as well.
The network 108 may be a wired network, a wireless net
work or a combination of both. In one example, all devices
FIG. 3B shows that a user de?nes multiple groups to be
gathered at the same time;
FIG. 4 shows an exemplary user interface that may be
displayed on a controller or a computer of FIG. 1;
including the zone players 102, 104 and 106 are coupled to
FIG. 5A shows a user interface to allow a user to form a 50 the network 108 by wireless means based on an industry
standard such as IEEE 802.11. In yet another example, all
devices including the zone players 102, 104 and 106 are part
scene;
FIG. 5B shows another user interface 520 to allow a user to
form a scene;
FIG. 5C shows a user interface to allow a user to adjust a
volume level of the zone players in a zone scene individually
of a local area network that communicates with a wide area
network (e.g., the Internet).
55
or collectively; and
FIG. 6 shows a ?owchart or process of providing a player
Many devices on the network 108 are con?gured to down
load and store audio sources. For example, the computing
device 110 can download audio sources from the Internet and
theme or a zone scene for a plurality of players, where one or
store the downloaded sources locally for sharing with other
more of the players are placed in a zone.
devices on the Internet or the network 108. The computing
device 110 or any of the zone players can also be con?gured
to receive streaming audio. Shown as a stereo system, the
device 112 is con?gured to receive an analog audio source
(e.g., from broadcasting) or retrieve a digital audio source
60
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED
EMBODIMENTS
The detailed description of the invention is presented
largely in terms of procedures in terms of procedures, steps,
logic blocks, processing, and other symbolic representations
(e.g., from a compact disk). The analog audio sources can be
converted to digital audio sources. In accordance with the
present invention, the audio source may be shared among the
that directly or indirectly resemble the operations of data
devices on the network 108.
65
US 8,886,347 B2
6
5
include necessary circuitry to process analog signals as inputs
to produce digital signals for sharing with other devices on a
Two or more zone players may be grouped together to form
a new zone group. Any combinations of zone players and an
network.
Depending on an exact implementation, the module 212
may be implemented as a combination of hardware and soft
existing zone group may be grouped together. In one instance,
a new zone group is formed by adding one zone player to
another zone player or an existing zone group.
ware. In one embodiment, the module 212 is used to save a
Referring now to FIG. 2A, there is shown an exemplary
functional block diagram of a zone player 200 in accordance
with the present invention. The zone player 200 includes a
network interface 202, a processor 204, a memory 206, an
audio processing circuit 210, a module 212, and optionally, an
audio ampli?er 214 that may be internal or external. The
scene. The audio ampli?er 214 is typically an analog circuit
that powers the provided analog audio signals to drive one or
more speakers.
Referring now to FIG. 2B, there is shown an exemplary
controller 240, which may correspond to the controlling
device 140 or 142 of FIG. 1. The controller 240 may be used
to facilitate the control of multi-media applications, automa
network interface 202 facilitates a data ?ow between a data
network (i.e., the data network 108 of FIG. 1) and the zone
player 200 and typically executes a special set of rules (i.e., a
protocol) to send data back and forth. One of the common
protocols used in the Internet is TCP/IP (Transmission Con
trol Protocol/ Internet Protocol). In general, a network inter
face manages the assembling of an audio source or ?le into
smaller packets that are transmitted over the data network or
tion and others in a complex. In particular, the controller 240
is con?gured to facilitate a selection of a plurality of audio
sources available on the network, controlling operations of
one or more zone players (e. g., the zone player 200) through
a RF interface corresponding to the RF interface 216 of FIG.
2A. According to one embodiment, the wireless means is
20
based on an industry standard (e.g., infrared, radio, wireless
The network interface 202 may include one or both of a 25
standard IEEE 802.1 la, 802.1 lb or 802.11g). When a par
ticular audio source is being played in the zone player 200, a
picture, if there is any, associated with the audio source may
be transmitted from the zone player 200 to the controller 240
for display. In one embodiment, the controller 240 is used to
synchronize more than one zone players by grouping the zone
players in a group. In another embodiment, the controller 240
is used to control the volume of each of the zone players in a
zone group individually or together.
reassembles received packets into the original source or ?le.
In addition, the network interface 202 handles the address
part of each packet so that it gets to the right destination or
intercepts packets destined for the zone player 200.
wireless interface 216 and a wired interface 217. The wireless
interface 216, also referred to as a RF interface, provides
network interface functions by a wireless means for the zone
player 200 to communicate with other devices in accordance
with a communication protocol (such as the wireless standard
IEEE 802.1 la, 802.1 lb or 802.11g). The wired interface 217
30
provides network interface functions by a wired means (e.g.,
an Ethernet cable). In one embodiment, a zone player
includes both of the interfaces 216 and 217, and other zone
players include only a RF or wired interface. Thus these other
35
retrieve audio sources via the zone player. The processor 204
is con?gured to control the operation of otherparts in the zone
player 200. The memory 206 may be loaded with one or more
244 activates a zone management screen or “Zone Menu”,
40
embodiment of the present invention is executed, the proces
sor 204 operates in accordance with the software module in
reference to a saved zone group con?guration characterizing
a zone group created by a user, the zone player 200 is caused
45
to retrieve an audio source from another zone player or a
device on the network.
According to one embodiment of the present invention, the
memory 206 is used to save one or more saved zone con?gu
50
ration ?les that may be retrieved for modi?cation at any time.
Typically, a saved zone group con?guration ?le is transmitted
to a controller (e.g., the controlling device 140 or 142 of FIG.
which is described in more details below. The “back” button
246 may lead to different actions depending on the current
screen. In one embodiment, the “back” button triggers the
current screen display to go back to a previous one. In another
embodiment, the ‘back” button negates the user’s erroneous
selection. The “music” button 248 activates a music menu,
which allows the selection of an audio source (e.g., a song) to
be added to a zone player’s music queue for playback.
The scroll wheel 250 is used for selecting an item within a
list, whenever a list is presented on the screen 242. When the
items in the list are too many to be accommodated in one
screen display, a scroll indicator such as a scroll bar or a scroll
arrow is displayed beside the list. When the scroll indicator is
1, a computer, a portable device, or a TV) when a user oper
ates the controlling device. The zone group con?guration
up/down button 264, a set of soft buttons 266 corresponding
to the labels 268 displayed on the screen 242.
The screen 242 displays various screen menus in response
to a user’s selection. In one embodiment, the “zones” button
zone players communicate with other devices on a network or
software modules that can be executed by the processor 204
to achieve desired tasks. According to one aspect of the
present invention, a software module implementing one
The user interface for the controller 240 includes a screen
242 (e.g., a LCD screen) and a set of functional buttons as
follows: a “zones” button 244, a “back” button 246, a “music”
button 248, a scroll wheel 250, “ok” button 252, a set of
transport control buttons 254, a mute button 262, a volume
55
provides an interactive user interface so that various manipu
lations or control of the zone players may be performed.
displayed, a user may rotate the scroll wheel 250 to either
choose a displayed item or display a hidden item in the list.
The “ok” button 252 is used to con?rm the user selection on
the screen 242.
There are three transport buttons 254, which are used to
control the effect of the currently playing song. For example,
the functions of the transport buttons may include play/pause
The audio processing circuit 210 resembles most of the
circuitry in an audio playback device and includes one or
more digital-to-analog converters (DAC), an audio prepro
60 and forward/rewind a song, move forward to a next song
cessing part, an audio enhancement part or a digital signal
track, or move backward to a previous track. According to one
processor and others. In operation, when an audio source is
retrieved via the network interface 202, the audio source is
embodiment, pressing one of the volume control buttons such
processed in the audio processing circuit 210 to produce
analog audio signals. The processed analog audio signals are
then provided to the audio ampli?er 214 for playback on
speakers. In addition, the audio processing circuit 210 may
65
as the mute button 262 or the volume up/ down button 264
activates a volume panel. In addition, there are three soft
buttons 266 that can be activated in accordance with the labels
268 on the screen 242. It can be understood that, in a multi
zone system, there may be multiple audio sources being
US 8,886,347 B2
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8
played respectively in more than one zone players. The music
tion. In the above description, unless otherwise speci?cally
transport functions described herein shall apply selectively to
one of the sources when a corresponding one of the zone
described, it is clear that keys or buttons are generally referred
to as either the physical buttons or soft buttons, enabling a
players or zone groups is selected.
user to enter a command or data.
FIG. 2C illustrates an internal functional block diagram of
an exemplary controller 270, which may correspond to the
music playback is to link a number of zone players together to
controller 240 of FIG. 2B. The screen 272 on the controller
270 may be a LCD screen. The screen 272 communicates
form a group. To link a number of zone players together, a
user may manually link each zone player or room one after the
One mechanism for ‘joining’ zone players together for
with and is commanded by a screen driver 274 that is con
other. For example, there is a multi-zone system that includes
the following zones.
Bathroom
Bedroom
Den
trolled by a microcontroller (e.g., a processor) 276. The
memory 282 may be loaded with one or more application
modules 284 that can be executed by the microcontroller 276
with or without a user input via the user interface 278 to
achieve desired tasks. In one embodiment, an application
module is con?gured to facilitate grouping a number of
Dining Room
Family Room
selected zone players into a zone group and synchronizing the
zone players for one audio source. In another embodiment, an
Foyer
application module is con?gured to control together the audio
volumes of the zone players in a zone group. In operation,
when the microcontroller 276 executes one of the application
20
If the user wishes to link 5 of the 6 zone players using the
current mechanism, he/ she must start with a single zone and
then manually link each zone to that zone. This mechanism
modules 284, the screen driver 274 generates control signals
may be sometimes quite time consuming. According to one
to drive the screen 272 to display an application speci?c user
interface accordingly, more of which will be described below.
The controller 270 includes a network interface 280
together using one command. Using what is referred to herein
embodiment, a set of zones can be dynamically linked
as a theme or a zone scene, zones can be con?gured in a
referred to as a RF interface 280 that facilitates wireless 25 particular scene (e.g., morning, afternoon, or garden), where
communication with a zone player via a corresponding RF
a prede?ned zone grouping and setting of attributes for the
grouping are automatically effectuated.
interface thereof. In one embodiment, the commands such as
volume control and audio playback synchronization are sent
via the RF interfaces. In another embodiment, a saved zone
group con?guration is transmitted between a zone player and
a controller via the RF interfaces. The controller 270 may
control one or more zone players, such as 102, 104 and 106 of
FIG. 1. Nevertheless, there may be more than one controllers,
For instance, a “Morning” zone scene/con?guration com
30
3A provides an illustration of one zone scene, where the left
column shows the starting zone groupingiall zones are sepa
rate, the column on the right shows the effects of grouping the
each preferably in a zone (e.g., a room) and con?gured to
control any one and all of the zone players.
35
In one embodiment, a user creates a zone group including
at least two zone players from the controller 240 that sends
signals or data to one of the zone players. As all the zone
players are coupled on a network, the received signals in one
zone player can cause other zone players in the group to be
mand would link the Bedroom, Den and Dining Room
together in one action. Without this single command, the user
would need to manually and individually link each zone. FIG.
zones to make a group of 3 zones named after “Morning”.
Expanding this idea further, a Zone Scene can be set to
create multiple sets of linked zones. For example, a scene
creates 3 separate groups of zones, the downstairs zones
would be linked together, the upstairs zones would be linked
back an identical audio source or a list of identical audio
together in their own group, and the outside zones (in this case
the patio) would move into a group of its own.
In one embodiment as shown in FIG. 3B, a user de?nes
sources in a timely synchronized manner. Similarly, when a
user increases the audio volume of the group from the con
multiple groups to be gathered at the same time. For example:
an “Evening Scene” is desired to link the following zones:
40
synchronized so that all the zone players in the group play
troller, the signals or data of increasing the audio volume for
45
zone players in the group to be increased together in volume
and in scale.
According to one implementation, an application module
is loaded in memory 282 for zone group management. When
Group 1
Bedroom
Den
the group are sent to one of the zone players and causes other
Dining Room
Group 2
50
a predetermined key (e.g. the “zones” button 244) is activated
Garage
Garden
where Bathroom, Family Room and Foyer should be sepa
on the controller 240, the application module is executed in
the microcontroller 276. The input interface 278 coupled to
rated from any group if they were part of a group before the
and controlled by the microcontroller 276 receives inputs
Zone Scene was invoked.
from a user. A “Zone Menu” is then displayed on the screen 55
One important of the features, bene?ts and objects in the
present invention is that that zones do not need to be separated
272. The user may start grouping zone players into a zone
group by activating a “Link Zones” or “Add Zone” soft but
ton, or de-grouping a zone group by activating an “Unlink
Zones” or “Drop Zone” button. The detail of the zone group
manipulation will be further discussed below.
As described above, the input interface 278 includes a
before a zone scene is invoked. In one embodiment, a com
mand is provided and links all zones in one step, if invoked.
60
following attributes:
number of function buttons as well as a screen graphical user
Set volumes levels in each zones (each zone can have a
interface. It should be pointed out that the controller 240 in
FIG. 2B is not the only controlling device that may practice
the present invention. Other devices that provide the equiva
lent control functions (e.g., a computing device, a hand-held
device) may also be con?gured to practice the present inven
The command is in a form of a zone scene. After linking the
appropriate zones, a zone scene command could apply the
different volume)
Mute/Unmute zones.
65
Select and play speci?c music in the zones.
Set the play mode of the music (Shuf?e, Repeat, Shuf?e
repeat)
US 8,886,347 B2
10
Set the music playback equalization of each zone (e.g.,
600 is presented in accordance with one embodiment of the
present invention and may be implemented in a module to be
located in the memory 282 of FIG. 2C.
The process 600 is initiated only when a user decides to
bass treble).
A further extension of this embodiment is to trigger a zone
scene command as an alarm clock function. For instance the
zone scene is set to apply at 8:00 am. It could link appropriate
proceed with a zone scene at 602. The process 600 then moves
to 604 where it allows a user to decide which zone players to
zones automatically, set speci?c music to play and then stop
the music after a de?ned duration. Although a single zone
be associated with the scene. For example, there are ten
players in a household, and the scene is named after “Mom
ing”. The user may be given an interface to select four of the
ten players to be associated with the scene. At 606, the scene
is saved. The scene may be saved in any one of the members
in the scene. In the example of FIG. 1, the scene is saved in
one of the zone players and displayed on the controller 142. In
operation, a set of data pertaining to the scene includes a
may be assigned to an alarm, a scene set as an alarm clock
provides a synchronized alarm, allowing any zones linked in
the scene to play a prede?ned audio (e. g., a favorable song, a
prede?ned playlist) at a speci?c time or for a speci?c dura
tion. If, for any reason, the scheduled music failed to be
played (e. g., an empty playlist, no connection to a share,
failed UPnP, no Internet connection for an Internet Radio
plurality of parameters. In one embodiment, the parameters
include, but may not be limited to, identi?ers (e. g., IP address)
of the associated players and a playlist. The parameters may
also include volume/tone settings for the associatedplayers in
station), a backup buzzer will sound. This buzzer will be a
sound ?le that is stored in a zone player.
FIG. 4 shows an exemplary user interface 400 that may be
displayed on a controller 142 or a computer 110 of FIG. 1. The
interface 400 shows a list of items that may be set up by a user
to cause a scene to function at a speci?c time. In the embodi
the scene. The user may go back to 602 to con?gure another
20
ment shown in FIG. 4, the list of items includes “Alarm”,
“Time”, “Zone”, “Music”, “Frequency” and “Alarm length”.
“Alarm” can be set on or off. When “Alarm” is set on, “Time”
is a speci?c time to set off the alarm. “Zone” shows which
zone players are being set to play a speci?ed audio at the
25
speci?c time. “Music” shows what to be played when the
scene if desired.
Given a saved scene, a user may activate the scene at any
time or set up a timer to activate the scene at 610. The process
600 can continue when a saved scene is activated at 610. At
612, upon the activation of a saved scene, the process 600
checks the status of the players associated with the scene. The
status of the players means that each of the players shall be in
speci?c time arrives. “Frequency” allows the user to de?ne a
condition to react in a synchronized manner. In one embodi
frequency of the alarm. “Alarm length” de?nes how long the
ment, the interconnections of the players are checked to make
sure that the players communicate among themselves and/or
audio is to be played. It should be noted that the user interface
400 is provided herein to show some of the functions associ
ated with setting up an alarm. Depending on an exact imple
30
It is assumed that all players associated with the scene are
in good condition. At 614, commands are executed with the
parameters (e. g., pertaining to a playlist and volumes). In one
mentation, other functions, such as time zone, daylight sav
ings, time synchronization, and time/ date format for display
may also be provided without departing from the present
invention.
embodiment, data including the parameters is transported
35
tion con?gured in the scene. The operation may cause all
players to play back a song in identical or different volumes or
to play back a pre-stored ?le.
40
One of the features, bene?ts and advantages in the present
invention is to allow sets of related devices (controllers and
operating components) to exist as a group without interfering
FIG. 5A shows a user interface 500 to allow a user to form
a scene. The panel on the left shows the available zones in a
household. The panel on the right shows the zones that have
been selected and be grouped as part of this scene. Depending
from a member (e.g., a controller) to other members in the
scene so that the players are caused to synchronize an opera
According to one embodiment, each zone player in a scene
may be set up for different alarms. For example, a “Morning”
scene includes three zone players, each in a bedroom, a den,
and a dining room. After selecting the scene, the user may set
up an alarm for the scene as whole. As a result, each of the
zone players will be activated at a speci?c time.
with a controller if there is such a controller in the scene.
with other components that are potentially visible on the same
wired or wireless network. Each of the sets is con?gured to a
45 theme or a scene.
The present invention has been described in suf?cient
detail with a certain degree of particularity. It is understood to
those skilled in the art that the present disclosure of embodi
on an exact implementation of a user interface, Add/ Remove
buttons may be provided to move zones between the panels,
or zones may be dragged along between panels.
FIG. 5B shows another user interface 520 to allow a user to
ments has been made by way of examples only and that
form a scene. The user interface 520 that may be displayed on 50 numerous changes in the arrangement and combination of
parts may be resorted without departing from the spirit and
a controller or a computing device, lists available zones in a
system. A checkbox is provide next to each of the zones so
scope of the invention as claimed. While the embodiments
that a user may check in the zones to be associated with the
discussed herein may appear to include some limitations as to
scene.
the presentation of the information units, in terms of the
FIG. 5C shows a user interface 510 to allow a user to adjust 55 format and arrangement, the invention has applicability well
a volume level of the zone players in a zone scene individually
beyond such embodiment, which can be appreciated by those
or collectively. As shown in the user interface 510, the ‘Vol
skilled in the art. Accordingly, the scope of the present inven
umes . . . ’ button (shown as sliders, other forms are possible)
tion is de?ned by the appended claims rather than the forgo
allows the user to affect the volumes of the associated zone
players when a zone scene is invoked. In one embodiment, the
zone players can be set to retain whatever volume that they
ing description of embodiments.
60
1. A method comprising:
displaying, by a controller device, a plurality of zone
currently have when the scene is invoked. Additionally the
user can decide if the volumes should be unmuted or muted
when the scene is invoked.
FIG. 6 shows a ?owchart or process 600 of providing a
player theme or a zone scene for a plurality of players, where
one or more of the players are placed in a zone. The process
The invention claimed is:
names for user selection via a display interface, each
zone name of the plurality of zone names representing a
65
respective particular zone of a plurality of zones that
contains at least one player con?gured for multimedia
playback in that zone;
US 8,886,347 B2
11
12
receiving, by the controller device, an indication of a ?rst
plurality of playback selections identify the different
zone name and an indication of a second zone name
multimedia content being played by the ?rst zone and
selected from the plurality of zone names to form a zone
the second zone;
receive an identi?cation of one of the different multimedia
group, Wherein the zone group comprises at least a ?rst
zone and a second zone of the plurality of zones repre
sented by the ?rst zone name and second zone name,
content identi?ed by the plurality of playback selec
tions;
transmit a zone group con?guration to the zone group,
respectively;
Wherein the zone group con?guration includes instruc
determining, by the controller device, that the ?rst zone and
tions to facilitate synchronized playback of the identi
the second zone of the plurality of zones are playing
?ed one of the different multimedia content by the zone
group.
back different multimedia content;
based on the determination that the ?rst zone and the sec
9. The multimedia controller of claim 8, Wherein the mul
timedia controller is con?gured to transmit the zone group
ond zone are playing back different multimedia content,
displaying, by the controller device, a plurality of play
back selections, Wherein the plurality of playback selec
tions identify the different multimedia content being
con?guration to a ?rst player of a zone in the zone group,
Wherein the ?rst player is playing the multimedia content
played by the ?rst zone and the second zone;
receiving, by the controller device, an identi?cation of one
of the different multimedia content identi?ed by the
plurality of playback selections;
20
transmitting, by the controller device, a zone group con
?guration to the zone group, Wherein the zone group
group con?guration further comprises one or more attributes
associated With the zone group.
con?guration includes instructions to facilitate synchro
nized playback of the identi?ed one of the different
multimedia content by the zone group.
2. The method of claim 1, Wherein the zone group con?gu
ration is transmitted by the controller device to a ?rst player of
a zone in the zone group, Wherein the ?rst player is playing the
multimedia content identi?ed in the second user input.
3. The method of claim 1, Wherein the zone group con?gu
ration is transmitted by the controller device via a network
interface.
4. The method of claim 1, Wherein the zone group con?gu
identi?ed in the second user input.
10. The multimedia controller of claim 8, Wherein the
multimedia controller is con?gured to transmit the zone
group con?guration via a network interface.
11. The multimedia controller of claim 8, Wherein the zone
12. The multimedia controller of claim 11, Wherein the one
or more attributes comprises one or more of (i) a volume level
25
for audio playback for each zone in the zone group, (ii) a mute
or unmute setting for audio playback, (iii) a selection and play
of speci?c music, (iv) a play mode setting, (v) an equalization
setting for audio playback, and (vi) an audio alarm.
30
13. The multimedia controller of claim 8, Wherein the zone
group con?guration further comprises a name associated With
the zone group.
14. The multimedia controller of claim 8, Wherein the
different multimedia content comprises a ?rst multimedia
content from a ?rst multimedia source and a second multi
ration further comprises one or more attributes associated
35 media content from a second multimedia source.
With the zone group.
5. The method of claim 4, Wherein the one or more
15. A non-transitory computer-readable medium including
attributes comprises one or more of (i) a volume level for
a set of instructions for execution by a processor, the set of
audio playback for each zone in the zone group, (ii) a mute or
instructions, When executed, implement a controller con?g
ured to:
unmute setting for audio playback, (iii) a selection and play of
speci?c music, (iv) a play mode setting, (v) an equalization 40 display a plurality of zone names for user selection via a
setting for audio playback, and (vi) an audio alarm.
display interface, each zone name of the plurality of
6. The method of claim 1, Wherein the zone group con?gu
zone names representing a respective particular zone of
a plurality of zones that contains at least one player
ration further comprises a name associated With the zone
group.
7. The method of claim 1, Wherein the different multimedia
con?gured for multimedia playback in that zone;
45
receive an indication of a ?rst zone name and an indication
content comprises a ?rst multimedia content from a ?rst
of a second zone name selected from the plurality of
multimedia source and a second multimedia content from a
second multimedia source.
zone names to form a zone group, Wherein the zone
group comprises at least a ?rst zone and a second zone of
8. A multimedia controller including a processor, the con
troller con?gured to:
50
the plurality of zones represented by the ?rst zone name
and second zone name, respectively;
display a plurality of zone names for user selection via a
determine that the ?rst zone and the second zone of the
display interface, each zone name of the plurality of
plurality of zones are playing back different multimedia
zone names representing a respective particular zone of
a plurality of zones that contains at least one player
con?gured for multimedia playback in that zone;
content;
based on the determination that the ?rst zone and the sec
55
of a second zone name selected from the plurality of
zone names to form a zone group, Wherein the zone
group comprises at least a ?rst zone and a second zone of
the plurality of zones represented by the ?rst zone name
and second zone name, respectively;
60
content identi?ed by the plurality of playback selec
plurality of zones are playing back different multimedia
transmit a zone group con?guration to the zone group,
Wherein the zone group con?guration includes instruc
content;
ond zone are playing back different multimedia content,
display a plurality of playback selections, Wherein the
the second zone;
receive an identi?cation of one of the different multimedia
tions;
determine that the ?rst zone and the second zone of the
based on the determination that the ?rst zone and the sec
ond zone are playing back different multimedia content,
display a plurality of playback selections, Wherein the
plurality of playback selections identify the different
multimedia content being played by the ?rst zone and
receive an indication of a ?rst zone name and an indication
65
tions to facilitate synchronized playback of the identi
?ed one of the different multimedia content by the zone
group.
US 8,886,347 B2
14
13
16. The computer-readable medium of claim 15, wherein
the instructions that When executed cause the controller to
transmit the zone group con?guration to a ?rst player of a
zone in the zone group, Wherein the ?rst player is playing the
multimedia content identi?ed in the second user input.
17. The computer-readable medium of claim 15, Wherein
the instructions that When executed cause the controller to
transmit the zone group con?guration via a network interface.
18. The computer-readable medium of claim 15, Wherein
the zone group con?guration further comprises one or more
attributes associated With the zone group.
19. The computer-readable medium of claim 18, Wherein
the one or more attributes comprises one or more of (i) a
volume level for audio playback for each zone in the zone
group, (ii) a mute or unmute setting for audio playback, (iii) a
selection and play of speci?c music, (iv) a play mode setting,
(v) an equalization setting for audio playback, and (vi) an
audio alarm.
20. The computer-readable medium of claim 15, Wherein
the zone group con?guration further comprises a name asso
ciated With the zone group.
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