Comcast Device Could Power Video Calls, Facial Recognition, ITV

Comcast has designed customer premise equipment capable of delivering new interactive services that rely on facial recognition cameras to Xfinity customers.

The “passthrough device,” detailed in a patent application that was published on Thursday, could help Comcast introduce video calling and chat services through connected TVs and mobile devices without replacing millions of digital set-tops.

“The adapter may include one or more additional local device interfaces, such as USB ports, which can be used to communicate with any desired type of local device, such as camera. The camera may include its own processing and storage capability to recognize faces and/or gestures (e.g. for use in facial detection and user profile sign-in), process images to improve quality, perform voice recognition using built-in microphones, etc,” Comcast states in the patent application.

Images of the adapter contained in the patent application show a device with two HDMI ports. It appears similar to the PassBox that Denver-based aioTV has been marketing as a platform service providers could use to hijack the user interface of a competitor.

“We are surprised to see this patent application given how long we have been promoting/creating this approach,” aioTV CEO Mike Earle told The Donohue Report in an e-mail on Thursday.

Comcast notes in the patent application that the adapter can be switched “between a passthrough mode in which an original incoming video signal is simply passed through to its output, and an overlay mode in which one or more graphical overlay objects are added to the video signal before sending it to the output.”

Comcast doesn’t state that the invention could be used to market interactive services to homes that subscribe to a rival broadband or pay TV service. But it does note that the adapter could run on a number of platforms, including satellite and wireless.

“Network may be any type of information distribution network, such as satellite, telephone, cellular, wireless, etc.,” Comcast states in the patent application, which was filed on May 19.

Comcast VP of Strategic Development Michael Connelly is named as lead inventor on the patent application, titled, “Video Presentation Device And Method.”

Abstract: A computing device may include a video input interface and video output interface to allow insertion into a video system. The device may be configured to perform passthrough operation on the incoming video, allowing the incoming signal to appear at the output interface. When overlay video operations are desired, the device may resize the incoming video, generate one or more additional overlays, and generate a modified version of the incoming video signal, where the modified version contains the one or more additional overlays along with (if desired) the original video. The device may have data network connections, and can thereby serve as an easy way, for example, to upgrade an existing video system with network and/or interactive features.

Patent Application

Claims: 

1. (canceled)

2. A method comprising: sending, by a computing device and to a display device, a signal comprising a first graphical panel and a second graphical panel; associating a first sub-space within a three-dimensional space in front of the display device to the first graphical panel; associating a second sub-space within the-three dimensional space in front of the display device to the second graphical panel, wherein the first sub-space and the second sub-space are non-overlapping; and responsive to detecting a gesture made in the first sub-space, sending the gesture to the first graphical panel associated with the first sub-space.

3. The method of claim 2, further comprising: responsive to detecting a gesture made in the second sub-space, sending the gesture to the second graphical panel associated with the second sub-space.

4. The method of claim 2, wherein sending the gesture to the first graphical panel comprises: determining an application associated with the first graphical panel; determining a command associated with the gesture; and sending the command to the application.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein the application is a thermostat control application and wherein the command is a thermostat control setting.

6. The method of claim 4, wherein the application is a home security application and wherein the command causes video from a security system at a premises to be displayed.

7. The method of claim 2, wherein the first graphical panel comprises a first outline of the first graphical panel and a first graphical object within the first graphical panel, and the second graphical panel comprises a second outline of the second graphical panel and a second graphical object within the second graphical panel.

8. The method of claim 7, further comprising: generating a modified signal that comprises the first outline and the second outline, and omits the first graphical object and the second graphical object; and transmitting the modified signal to a second computing device.

9. The method of claim 8, further comprising: receiving, at the second computing device, a user command associated with the first outline of the first graphical panel; transmitting the user command to the computing device; and sending, by the computing device, the user command to the first graphical panel.

10. The method of claim 9, further comprising: manipulating, by the computing device, the first graphical panel in response to the user command.

11. At least one non-transitory computer-readable medium having computer-executable instructions stored thereon that, when executed, cause at least one processor to: send, by a computing device and to a display device, a signal comprising a first graphical panel and a second graphical panel; associate a first sub-space within a three-dimensional space in front of the display device to the first graphical panel; associate a second sub-space within the three-dimensional space in front of the display device to the second graphical panel, wherein the first sub-space and the second sub-space are non-overlapping; and responsive to detecting a gesture made in the first sub-space, send the gesture to the first graphical panel associated with the first sub-space.

12. The at least one non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 11, having additional computer-executable instructions stored thereon that, when executed, further cause the at least one processor to: responsive to detecting a gesture made in the second sub-space, send the gesture to the second graphical panel associated with the second sub-space.

13. The at least one non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 11, having additional computer-executable instructions stored thereon that, when executed, further cause the at least one processor to: determine an application associated with the first graphical panel; determine a command associated with the gesture; and send the command to the application.

14. The at least one non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 13, wherein the application is a thermostat control application and wherein the command is a thermostat control setting.

15. The at least one non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 13, wherein the application is a home security application and wherein the command causes video from a security system at a premises to be displayed.

16. The at least one non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 11, wherein the first graphical panel comprises a first outline of the first graphical panel and a first graphical object within the first graphical panel, and the second graphical panel comprises a second outline of the second graphical panel and a second graphical object within the second graphical panel, and the at least one non-transitory computer-readable medium having additional computer-executable instructions stored thereon that, when executed, further cause the at least one processor to: generate a modified signal comprising the first outline and the second outline, and omitting the first graphical object and the second graphical object; transmit the modified signal to a second computing device; receive, by the second computing device, a user command associated with the first outline; and responsive to receiving the user command at the computing device, send the user command to the first graphical panel.

17. The at least one non-transitory computer-readable medium of claim 16, having additional computer-executable instructions stored thereon that, when executed, further cause the at least one processor to: manipulate a size of the first graphical panel in response to the user command.

18. A computing device, configured to: associate a first sub-space within a three-dimensional space in front of a display device to a first graphical panel output for display to the display device; associate a second sub-space within the-three dimensional space in front of the display device to a second graphical panel output for display to the display device, wherein the first sub-space and the second sub-space are non-overlapping; and responsive to detecting a gesture made in the first sub-space, send the gesture to the first graphical panel associated with the first sub-space.

19. The computing device of claim 18, further configured to: manipulate the first graphical panel in response to the gesture.

20. The computing device of claim 18, further configured to: responsive to detecting a second gesture made in the second sub-space, send the second gesture to the second graphical panel associated with the second sub-space; and manipulate the second graphical panel in response to the gesture.

21. The computing device of claim 13, wherein the first graphical panel comprises a first outline of the first graphical panel and a first graphical object within the first graphical panel, the computing device further configured to generate a signal comprising the first outline and omitting the first graphical object; transmit the signal to a second computing device; receive, from the second computing device, a user command associated with the first outline; send the user command to the first graphical panel; and modify a location of the first graphical panel in response to the user command.