Verizon Invents Automatic Channel Surfing System

Two Verizon engineers have invented a system that could automatically tune a pay TV set-top to a new channel “without receiving an input from the user,” according to a patent application published Thursday.

Eggerl
Edward Eggerl

Brian McSweeney and Edward Eggerl, distingushed members of technical staff at Verizon Laboratories, are named as inventors on the patent application. Verizon filed the application, titled, “Automatic channel selection and control,” in July 2014.

Abstract: A selection of a television program through a set-top box (STB) may be detected, and a counter value associated with the program may be incremented after the STB presents the program for a certain amount of time. The incremented counter value may be evaluated to determine whether the incremented counter value satisfies a threshold. When the incremented counter value satisfies the threshold, another broadcast associated with the program, such as another episode in a related series, may be identified. The identified broadcast is presented on a particular channel at a particular time, and the STB may automatically tune to the particular channel at the particular time to cause the STB to provide the broadcast without receiving an input from the user.

Patent Application

Claims:

1. A method comprising: detecting, by a processor, a selection of a program through a set-top box (STB); determining, by the processor, whether the STB provides the program in connection with the selection for at least a threshold amount of time; incrementing, by the processor, a counter value associated with the program when the STB provides the program for at least the threshold amount of time; determining, by the processor, whether the incremented counter value satisfies a counter value threshold; presenting, by the processor and when the counter value satisfies the counter value threshold, a menu, wherein the menu presents a first option related to automatically tuning to another broadcast related to the program, a second option related to ignoring the selection of the program and continuing to monitor for other selections of the program, a third option related to ignoring the selection of the program and the other selections of the program, and a fourth option related to recording the other broadcast related to the program; receiving, by the processor, an input associated with the menu; detecting, by a processor, another selection related to the program through the STB; re-presenting, by the processor, the menu based on detecting the other selection when the input corresponds to the second option, wherein the menu is not re-presented when the selection corresponds to the third option; identifying, by the processor and when the input corresponds to one of the first option or the fourth option the other broadcast related to the program, wherein the other broadcast is presented on a first channel at a first time; causing, by the processor, the STB to tune to the first channel at the first time when the input corresponds to the first option; and causing, by the processor, a digital video recorder (DVR) to record the first channel at the first time when the input corresponds to the fourth option.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the selection is associated with a second channel at a second time, and wherein identifying the other broadcast includes: accessing, based on the second channel and the second time, an electronic program guide (EPG) to identify a first set of metadata set associated with the selection; accessing the EPG to identify a plurality of sets of metadata associated with a plurality of broadcasts, wherein the plurality of broadcasts include the other broadcast; comparing the first set of metadata and the plurality of sets of metadata; and identifying, based on comparing the first set of metadata to the plurality of sets of metadata, a second set of metadata, wherein the second set of metadata corresponds to the first set of metadata, and wherein the second set of metadata is associated with the other broadcast.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the selection is associated with a user, and wherein accessing the EPG to identify the plurality of sets of metadata includes: identifying channels subscribed to by the user, wherein the plurality of broadcasts are carried on the channels.

4. The method of claim 1, further comprising: causing the STB to tune to a default channel at a time that differ from the first time, wherein the default channel differs from the first channel.

5-7. (canceled)

8. A device, comprising: a memory configured to store instructions; and a processor configured to implement one or more of the instructions to: detect a selection of a program through a set-top box (STB), determine whether the STB provides the program in connection with the selection for at least a threshold amount of time, increment a counter value associated with the program when the STB provides the program for at least the threshold amount of time, determine whether the incremented counter value satisfies a counter value threshold, present, when the counter value satisfies the counter value threshold, a menu, wherein the menu presents a first option related to automatically tuning to another broadcast related to the program, a second option related to ignoring the selection of the program and continuing to monitor for other selections of the program, a third option related to ignoring the selection of the program and the other selections of the program, and a fourth option related to recording the other broadcast related to the program, receive an input related to the menu, detect another selection related to the program through the STB, re-present the menu based on detecting the other selection when the input corresponds to the second option, wherein the menu is not re-presented when the input corresponds to the third option, identify, when the input corresponds to one of the first option or the fourth option, the other broadcast related to the program, wherein the other broadcast is presented on a first channel at a first time, cause the STB to tune to the first channel at the first time when the input corresponds to the first option, and cause a digital video recorder (DVR) to record the first channel at the first time when the input corresponds to the fourth option.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein the selection is associated with a second channel at a second time, and wherein the processor, when identifying the other broadcast, is further configured to: access, based on the second channel and the second time, an electronic program guide (EPG) to identify a first set of metadata set associated with the selection, access the EPG to identify a plurality of sets of metadata associated with a plurality of broadcasts, wherein the plurality of broadcasts include the other broadcast, compare the first set of metadata and the plurality of sets of metadata, and identify, based on comparing the first set of metadata to the plurality of sets of metadata, a second set of metadata, wherein the second set of metadata corresponds to the first set of metadata, and wherein the second set of metadata is associated with the other broadcast.

10. The device of claim 9, wherein the selection is associated with a user, and wherein the processor, when accessing the EPG to identify the plurality of sets of metadata, is further configured to: identify channels subscribed to by the user, wherein the plurality of broadcasts are carried on the identified channels.

11. The device of claim 8, wherein the processor is further configured to: cause the STB to tune to a default channel at a time that differ from the first time, wherein the default channel differs from the first channel.

12-14. (canceled)

15. A computer-readable memory device, to store instructions, the instructions comprising: one or more instructions that, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to: detect a selection of a program through a set-top box (STB), determine whether the STB provides the program in connection with the selection for at least a threshold amount of time, increment a counter value associated with the program when the STB provides the program for at least the threshold amount of time, determine whether the incremented counter value satisfies a counter value threshold, present, when the counter value satisfies the counter value threshold, a menu, wherein the menu presents a first option related to automatically tuning to another broadcast related to the program, a second option related to ignoring the selection of the program and continuing to monitor for other selections of the program, a third option related to ignoring the selection of the program and the other selections of the program, and a fourth option related to recording the other broadcast related to the program, receive an input related to the menu, detect another selection related to the program through the STB, re-present the menu based on detecting the other selection when the input corresponds to the second option, wherein the menu is not re-presented when the input corresponds to the third option, identify, when the input corresponds to one of the first option or the fourth option, the other broadcast related to the program, wherein the other broadcast is presented on a first channel at a first time, cause the STB to tune to the first channel at the first time when the input corresponds to the first option, and cause a digital video recorder (DVR) to record the first channel at the first time when the input corresponds to the fourth option.

16. The computer-readable memory device of claim 15, wherein the selection is associated with a second channel at a second time, and wherein the one or more instructions, when causing the processor to identifying the other broadcast, further cause the processor to: access, based on the second channel and the second time, an electronic program guide (EPG) to identify a first set of metadata set associated with the selection, access the EPG to identify a plurality of sets of metadata associated with a plurality of broadcasts, wherein the plurality of broadcasts include the other broadcast, compare the first set of metadata and the plurality of sets of metadata, and identify, based on comparing the first set of metadata to the plurality of sets of metadata, a second set of metadata, wherein the second set of metadata corresponds to the first set of metadata, and wherein the second set of metadata is associated with the other broadcast.

17. The computer-readable memory device of claim 16, wherein the selection is associated with a user, and wherein the one or more instructions, when causing the processor, to access the EPG to identify the plurality of sets of metadata, further cause the processor to: identify channels subscribed to by the user, wherein the plurality of broadcasts are carried on the identified channels.

18. The computer-readable memory device of claim 15, wherein the one or more instructions further cause the processor to: cause the STB to tune to a default channel at a time that differ from the first time, wherein the default channel differs from the first channel.

19. (canceled)

20. (canceled)

21. The method of claim 1, wherein the selection is received from a user, and wherein the method further comprises: identifying an average amount of time that the user watched one or more other programs; and calculating the threshold amount of time as a portion of the average amount of time that the user watched the one or more other programs.

22. The method of claim 1, further comprising: determining a time period between the selection of the program and the other selection related to the program; and decreasing the counter value when the time period is more than a threshold length of time.

23. The method of claim 1, wherein the selection is received from a user, and wherein incrementing the counter value further includes: receiving a review of the program from the user, wherein the review corresponds to a positive review or a negative review; incrementing the counter value rating by a first value when the review corresponds to the negative review; and incrementing the counter value rating by a second value that is greater than the first value when the review corresponds to the positive review.

24. The device of claim 8, wherein the selection is received from a user, and wherein the processor is further configured to: identify an average amount of time that the user watched one or more other programs, and calculate the threshold amount of time as a portion of the average amount of time that the user watched the one or more other programs.

25. The device of claim 8, wherein the selection is received from a user, and wherein the processor is further configured to: determine a time period between the selection of the program and the other selection related to the program; and reset the counter value when the time period is more than a threshold length of time.

26. The method of claim 1, wherein the selection is received from a user, and wherein the processor, when incrementing the counter value, is further configured to: determine a length of time that the STB provides the program in connection with the selection; increment the counter value rating by a first value when the length of time is less than a threshold length of time; and incrementing the counter value rating by a second value that is greater than the first value when the length of time greater than or equal to the threshold length of time.

27. The computer-readable memory device of claim 15, wherein the selection is received from a user, and wherein one or more instructions further cause the processor to: identify an average amount of time that the user watched one or more other programs, and calculate the threshold amount of time as based on the average amount of time that the user watched the one or more other programs.

28. The computer-readable memory device of claim 15, wherein the input is received from a first user, and wherein the one or more instructions further cause the processor to: determine whether the first user or a second user is using the STB at the first time, wherein the process causes the STB to tune to the first channel at the first time further based on determining that the first user is using the STB at the first time.