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A method to improve the speed of switching digital television channels

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000199409D
Publication Date: 2010-Sep-01
Document File: 4 page(s) / 29K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

This disclosure illustrated a serials of methods to enable the DTV to switch the channels more smoothly by predicting the next channels and performing some decoding to predicted channel’s signal before the user actually switches the channel.

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A method to improve the speed of switching digital television channels

The introduction of Digital television (DTV) technology enables many exciting improvements to the user experience. As the adoption of DTV is just a beginning, some annoyances still exist when audiences watch DTV.

One annoyance when watching DTV is the slow switch rate when users change to another channel. One typical rate for switching to a new channel is fairly long (0.5 seconds ~ 2 seconds). When DTV is switching to another channel, DTV always shows some unexpected and random color blocks. This may even deteriorate the user experience. This is unacceptable comparing to the traditional analog signal based TV.

Based on an investigation of the DTV and set-top box's internal mechanism, the root cause for slow switching rate and random color blocks is a slow decoding rate of the set-top box. The goal is to develop a cost-effective, software-based solution.

The disclosed solution is a way to predict the next channel the user will select and perform some decoding to predict channel's signal before the user actually switches the channel. When the predicted channel matches the user's selection, the switching rate is shorter.

The following components are necessary in order to solve the problem of a slow decoding rate of the set-top box:

• Better hardware-capability support: a baseline to accelerate the switching speed. But it cannot solve the problems perfectly. Advanced hardware costs much and is not suitable for large deployment. Most importantly, DTV uses some encoding mechanism that can only be decoded when the key frame comes; therefore, even if the hardware is fast enough, it still has to wait for the key frame to come before encoding.

• New mechanisms to optimize the user experience: introduce some strategies to predict the channels the user will select and perform background decoding. When users switch to that channel, the time for decoding is decreased and the user experience is improved.

The key to this solution is the prediction strategies. A suitable prediction strategy provides a better hit rate, thus improving the user experience.

The disclosed method provides four different prediction strategies. Each prediction strategy is dedicated to a specific user behavior and provides a better hit rate in that circumstance. Upon implementation, the end user dynamically switches between these strategies in order to better suit their watching behavior.

The implementation contains the following aspects:

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1. User Mode and Prediction strategies

2. Strategy switching

Research identifies four common user- behaviors when changing channels.

1. Switch channels incrementally/decrementally: Select TV channels one-by-one and steadily increase/decrease the channels one- by-one. This is a very common behavior for all TV watchers and the next channel is easily predicted.

2. Switch channels in group: Select TV channels in a small group such as group for entertainme...