Virtual USB Key
Publication Date: 2010-Nov-08
The IP.com Prior Art Database
Disclosed is a "virtual USB disk", which enables devices such as laptops or other multimedia sources to be attached to a media center and appear as a USB mass storage device. Abstracting a multimedia source to appear as a mass storage device provides a convenient and secure method by which to access media files from various sources.
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Virtual USB Key
Many media centers now have the ability to read video/audio content directly from standard media types (for example, compact flash). Others even allow a user to plug in a USB mass storage device. The media center will search that USB device for media content it knows how to play, prompt the viewer to select what they want to watch, and then play that content directly from the USB mass storage device. This is a very popular design because of the growth in media content distributed online. A user can download a digital video online, copy that media to a memory key, plug their key into a media center, and watch the movie on their home entertainment center.
Clearly, there is an inconvenient step in this process - copying the media onto the USB mass storage device. Ideally, the media center would be able to play content directly from your computer. There are several issues with this.
There must be some form of connectivity. Some media centers connect directly to your local network so that they can access shared material (hosted by a media server) on that network. This is a complex and costly solution. Consider the difference in hardware and complexity of a system that reads from a USB mass storage device versus a system that has a NIC, knows how to log onto a media server on a LAN, and download shared files. There are also security concerns with this paradigm.
So, with cost, security, and complexity holding back smart media centers and media servers, there is room for a simple solution that allows cheap hardware to achieve the same behavior.
Consider a simple USB device with two USB Type A plugs, as shown in the figure.
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On side S1, the standard PC requires a special driver to communicate with the device. That driver/application allows the user of the PC to configure a set of files that the device should share (e.g. the application allows the use...