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Managing multiple audio streams in a single room

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000212643D
Publication Date: 2011-Nov-21
Document File: 3 page(s) / 43K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Disclosed is a method to maintain good audio quality when multiple audio streams occur in a single room, especially when multiple people join a meeting from the same room using the audio from their computers rather than a centralized conference room phone. The invention introduces the concept of a "Gatekeeper" which acts as the intermediary between all computers in a room and the remote audio/video bridge.

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Managing multiple audio streams in a single room

As technology has evolved, audio in meetings is no longer handled solely by speaker phones, but often involves each person joining the audio stream from their own computer. This can cut down costs, and makes for an easy interaction; however audio feedback (e.g., echo) issues arise when multiple users in the same room all have their microphones and speakers turned on. Users attempt to work around problems such as an echo manually muting and unmuting microphones, but a more automated solution would be helpful.

The problem occurs when multiple people join a meeting from the same room using the audio from their computers rather than a centralized conference room phone. In the presence of many microphones and speakers, acoustic echo cancellation becomes quite challenging. In these cases, audio/video communication needs to be better coordinated.

The disclosed invention introduces the concept of a "Gatekeeper" which acts as the intermediary between all computers in a room and the remote audio/video bridge. This invention solves the problem of having multiple microphones and speakers in the same room, and includes techniques to manage acoustic echo cancellation across the distributed devices, with a choice between optimizing for network traffic or for computational load on the Gatekeeper. The solution breaks the problem into three parts:

1. Selecting a single computer to act as "Gatekeeper" for all audio/video transmissions to and from a remote audio/video bridge (or even a single remote participant)

2. Selecting one microphone at a time to source local audio to remote participants, and allowing that selection to change dynamically as different people in the room speak


3. Selecting one or more computer speakers to play remote audio within the room.

The Gatekeeper also decides which computer speaker(s) are used to play the audio coming from the audio bridge. There are many ways that this selection could occur. Once the selection is made, the Gatekeeper distributes the incoming audio for playback.

The Gatekeeper plays a critical role in this solution, by acting as the focal point for all audio entering and leaving the room. There are many ways to select the Gatekeeper, including (but not limited to): the first computer in the room to dial into a conference, the fastest computer in the room, or a dedicated computer that always acts as Gatekeeper in a given room. Regardless of how the Gatekeeper is chosen, its roles are as follows:


• Connect to the remote participants, either directly (for a 2-way call) or through an audio/video bridge (for n-way

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conferencing). Either way, the Gatekeeper provides the illusion of a single audio/video device in the room, regardless of how many computers are actually there.


• Connect to all other computers in the room, to enable the effective distribution of audio/video streams within the room...