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Instant Messaging for Video Display Devices Disclosure Number: IPCOM000016129D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21

Publishing Venue



Many Television sets have a capability known as "picture-in-picture (PIP)" where an image different than the 'main' image is displayed in a separate rectangular area of the screen, thus providing the ability to simultaneously view images from two different sources. In order to provide this capability, a TV or other video-display unit must have at least two tuners either both tuners are built into one TV or a second device with a TV tuner (such as a VCR) is connected to the TV and the output of that device is sent to the TV for display in the PIP window. It is the object of the present invention to utilize such a capability to display on one TV a text message sent from another TV. 1. Given a TV or other video-display unit with the capability of displaying a PIP window and accepting video input from an external device. The TV may accept standard composite video or alternatively provide an optical or coaxial digital input. If the TV only accepts composite video, it will be necessary for an intermediate device to format a suitable video stream; eg, a solid-color background with the text to be displayed super-imposed on it. 2. Given a source device that allows a user to enter a message and choose a recipient device. Set-top box technology currently provides a means for users to interact with the TV via a standard remote control and is a good choice for implementing the proposed capability. The user indicates his intention of composing a message in some manner, such as pressing a function button on a remote control. The set-top box or alternative device providing the capability displays a window on the TV where the characters of the message being composed are displayed as they are typed. Upon completion of the message, the user presses another function button that indicates that the message is to be sent to the recipient device. 3. The source device that composed the message now sends the message to the recipient device(s). In one embodiment of the invention, the source device acts as a hub to which the display devices are physically connected. The outputs of the hub are connected to the video inputs of the TVs or other display devices. If the inputs to which the hub are connected are digital inputs and the device contains an MPEG decoder, the message may be sent as an MPEG stream. If the inputs to which the hub are connected accept composite video only, then the hub formats a suitable video stream; eg, a solid-color background with the text super-imposed on it, before sending it to the TV's inputs. In another embodiment of the invention, a wireless tranceiver is connected to the TV's digital inputs and the hub sends the digital signal through the air. In order to indicate to the recipient device that a message is inbound, either a control signal is embedded in the digital stream to indicate that the display device should activate its PIP feature and display the incoming stream in the PIP window or in the case of composite video, the messaging hub may act as a switch with video-switching capability to force the output device to switch to the input containing the incoming message. Alternatively, the messaging hub is not capable of performing the video switching, but sends the