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1. WO1997027698 - PRINTOUT FOR TELEVISION DISPLAY

Considered void:  29.07.1997
Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

Title

PRINTOUT FOR TELEVISION DISPLAY

Field of the Invention

This invention relates to television
displays, and particularly to methods and means for printing an image of instantaneous televisions
displays.

Background of the Invention

Television advertisers usually conclude their promotions by flashing their purchase requirements such, as telephone numbers and/or addresses on screen. Often the perspective customer has insufficient time to obtain a writing instrument and paper to copy the information. Also, the advertiser, or other television producer, has no way of conveying printed information, such as a coupon, to the viewer.

An object of the invention is to improve methods and means for conveying information to viewers.

Summary of the Invention

According to a feature of the invention, the object is obtained by capturing one or more television images with a video import device in response to a viewer signal, and printing the captured image.

This and other features of the invention are pointed out in the claims. Other objects and
advantages of the invention will become evident from the following detailed description when read in light of the accompanying drawings .

Brief Description of the Drawings

Fig. 1 is a block diagram of a system
embodying features of the invention.

Fig. 2 is a block diagram of yet another embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 3 is a block diagram of yet another embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 4 is a flow chart illustrating operation of an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 5 is another flow chart illustrating operation of an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 6 is another flow chart illustrating operation of an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 7 is another flow chart illustrating operation of an embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 8 illustrates another embodiment of the invention.

Fig. 9 illustrates operation of the system of Fig. 8.

Fig. 10 illustrates another embodiment of the invention where the processing occurs on site.

Fig. 11 illustrates another embodiment of the invention where signals arrive into a television set by wireless communication.

Fig. 12 illustrate the operation of Fig. 10

Fig. 13 illustrates yet another embodiment of the invention.

Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments

Fig. 1 illustrates a system embodying the invention. Here, a video cassette recorder VCR1 receives or transmits video and audio signals to or from a television set TSl in the usual manner. A standard computer CP1 contains a processor PR1, memory MEM1 in the form of hard drive and floppy drives and random access memory (RAM), a keyboard KEY1, etc. The computer CP1 also contains a video import VII in the form of a printed circuit computer card of the type available from Creative Labs, Inc. as Video Blaster SE 200. The import VII can import and export video images and still frames. A remote control RCI communicates electromagnetically, such as by infra red light, in the usual manner with a sensor on the television set TSl to change channels .

In response to signals from the processor PRl and initiated from the keyboard, the import VII captures one or more still video images from the television set TSl and stores them in the memory MEM1. A viewer presses the keys of the keyboard KEYl to control the time during which the video import VII captures images . The keyboard KEYl also controls the processor PRl to cause printer PRN1, connected to the processor PRl, to print the images memorized in the memory MEM1 of the computer.

In operation, a viewer watches the television set TS of Fig. 1. When an image which the viewer wishes to preserve in print appears, the viewer presses the appropriate key or keys on the keyboard KEYl as set forth in the instructions of the video import VII to start capturing images. The viewer then presses the other keys set forth in the instructions of the video import VII to stop storing images .Alternatively the timing for the end of the capture is set by the
keyboard, or the video import, or the processor at the start of capture. The timing may also be a preset default set in the processor PRl ar the vide import, or it may be set by the user. At the end of the image capture, the processor PRl starts the computer's print program. This initiates printing by the printer PRN1. The images that the viewer wishes to print may for example be one with a telephone number in an
advertisement, an address, or a coupon that an
advertiser wishes to distribute to viewers . It may also be in the form of a newsletter.

According to an embodiment of the invention, the computer CP1 counts the number of frames and then signals the video import VII to end the capture and storage of images after a predetermined number of image frames. In present import devices, one minute of video requires 6 Megabytes of memory in the memory MEM1. In one second, the video import VII captures approximately 20 frames, a sufficient amount for printing. One second of capture may require 1 to 2 Kilobytes of memory. Thus the amount of memory necessary for printing is small enough for RAM.

Fig. 2 illustrates another embodiment of the invention. Here the remote control RCI also
communicates electromagnetically, such as by infra red light, in the usual manner with a sensor SE1 on the television set TSl to change channels. The remote control RCI here forms a second signal in response to a push button PB1 for actuating a second sensor SE2 that controls actuation of operation in the processor PRl which starts image capture by the video import VII. According to one embodiment of the invention, a second press of the push button PB1 sends a second signal to the sensor SE2 to end image capture. According to yet another embodiment of the invention, a program in the processor automatically ends image capture image capture after a predetermined time, such as one second, after the initial press of the bush button PB1.

In operation, a viewer, while watching a television presentation, selects a particular image the viewer wishes to print in the set TSl of Fig.2. An example of such a image would be an advertisement showing a telephone number to call . Another example is an address to which the viewer is to write to obtain information. When the viewer presses the print button PB1 on the remote control RCI, the latter sends a signal electromagnetically, such as by infra red light, which the sensor SE2 receives. The processor PRl then initiates operation of the video import VII which starts capture of the images on the television set . The processor PRl receives the captured images and stores them in the memory MEM1. The processor then commands the printer PRN1 to print the image. The viewer then can utilize the image without having to write the information on a separate piece of paper.

According to one of the two latter
embodiments of the invention, the viewer presses the push button PB1 a second time. This causes the remote control RCI to send a second signal to the sensor SE2 to end image capture. According to the other of the two latter embodiments of the invention, a program in the processor PRl automatically ends image capture after a predetermined time, such as one second, after the initial press of the bush button PB1.

Fig.3 illustrates another embodiment of the invention. Here, the television set TSl includes a screen SCI, a video import circuit VIC1, a
microprocessor MPl with RAM, and the sensors SE1 and SE2. The video circuit VC1 performs in the customary manner in the television set TSl. The video import circuit VIC1 connects to the video circuit VC1 and operates in the same manner as the video input VII. The microprocessor MPl includes a RAM sufficiently large to store images as required. The microprocessor MPl responds to the sensor SE2 receiving a signal from the remote control RCI and causes the video import circuit VIC1 to capture images from the video circuit VC1, and then stores the captured images in its RAM. Then, either according to one embodiment, in response to a second signal from the remote control RCI to the sensor SE2 , or according to anther embodiment , in response to a setting in the microprocessor MPl, the microprocessor MPl actuates the printer PRNl . The latter then prints the image.

In operation, the viewer, while watching a television presentation, selects a particular image the viewer wishes to print in Fig. 3. When the viewer presses the print button PB1 on the remote control RCI, the latter ends a signal electromagnetically, such as by infra red light, which the sensor SE2 receives. The microprocessor MPl then initiates operation of the video import circuit VIC1 which starts capture of the images on the television set . The microprocessor MPl receives the captured images and stores them in its RAM memory. The microprocessor MPl then commands the printer PRNl to print the image . The viewer then can utilize the image without having to write the
information on a separate piece of paper.

According to one embodiment of the invention, the viewer presses the push button PB1 a second time. This causes the remote control RCI to send a second signal to the sensor SE2 to end image capture.
According to another embodiment of the invention, a program in the microprocessor PRl automatically ends image capture after a predetermined time, such as one second, after the initial press of the bush button PBl .

Fig.4 is a flow chart illustrating another embodiment of the operation of Fig.l. Here, when an image which the viewer wishes to preserve appears, the viewer presses the appropriate key or keys on the keyboard KEYl as shown in step 404. In step 407, the processor PRl responds by asking whether automatic timing (auto timing) arrangement has been set. If yes, the processor PRl accesses the auto timing in step 410. In step 414, it signals the video import VII to start. In step 417 the video import begins to capture images. In step 420, the processor ask periodically whether timing in set in step 407 is complete. If no, it instructs the video import VII to continue capturing images by going back to step 417. If yes, the
processor tells the video import to end image capture in step 424.

If the answer to step 407 is no, the viewer sets the time with a key in step 430 and signals the video import to start in step 434. In step 437, the video import begins to capturing images and ends the capture in step 424. At the end of the capture, the processor PRl signals the printer PRNl in 440 and starts the printer in step 444.

Fig.5 is a flow chart illustrating another embodiment of the system in Fig.2. Here, when a viewer wishes to print an image in a screen, he presses the print button on the control RCI in step 504. In step 507, a sensor SE2 senses the start signal, and the processor PRl, in step 510 asks whether automatic timing exists or has been selected. If yes, in step 517, the processor accesses the automatic timing and instructs the video import VII to capture images in step 520. In step 524, the processor asks whether timing has been complete as set in step 517. If no, the processor returns to step 520 and instructs the video import to continue capturing images. If yes, the processor proceeds to 527 and ends the capture.

If the answer to step 514 is no, processor PRl signals the video import to start in step 534. In step 537, the video import VII captures images. The capture of images continues until the viewer sends an end signal in step 540. It then proceeds to step 527 to end the capture. In step 544, the processor PRl signals the printer PRNl to start printing which occurs in step 548.

Fig.6 is a flow chart illustrating another embodiment of the intention with respect to the system in Fig.3. Here, the viewer, while watching the
television presentation, selects a particular image the viewer wishes to print by pressing the print button in step 604. In step 607 the microprocessor MPl then asks whether an automatic timing arrangement exists or has been set. If the answer is yes, the microprocessor MPl accesses the auto timing in step 614, and in step 617, the video import VII starts capturing images . At regular intervals, the microprocessor MPl asks whether the timing set in 610 has completed. If no, it
instructs the video import to continue capturing images as in step 617. If yes, the microprocessor MPl goes to step 624 to end the capture.

If the answer to step 610 is no, the
microprocessor MPl signals the video import to start in step 630. In step 634, the video import captures images. In step 637 the viewer sends an end signal to the sensor SE2 and the microprocessor MPl proceeds to step 624 to end the capture. The microprocessor MPl then signals the printer in step 614, and in step 644 the printer PRNl begins to print .

Fig.7 is a flow diagram illustrating another embodiment of the operation of the system in Fig.3. Here, step 704 to step 744 correspond to respective step 604 and 644. However, step 710 differs from step 610 in that the microprocessor MPl asks whether a frame count in the television presentation has been set or exists. If yes, it proceeds to step 714 which differs from 614 in starting to count frames. Step 720 differs from step 620 in asking, after each frame, whether the frame counts set in steps 710 and 714 is complete. If not, it returns to step 717. If yes, it proceeds to step 724.

According to an embodiment of the invention, for operation with steps 4, 5, and 6 the processor PRl, PR2, and the microprocessor MPl each include an
automatic timer of hardware or software type which may be set by the user or is set by a default condition. The timer times the image capture.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the microprocessor MPl of Fig.3 includes a framer counter for operation with the steps of Fig.7. The frame counter counts the frames being captured by the video import. According to another, each of the timers in Figs. 1, 2, and 3 is replaced by a frame counter and operates in accordance with Fig.7. In that case, the step of pressing the print button in Figs.l and 2 is replaced with operation of the keyboard KEYl.

The system according to the invention permits a television programmer to issue coupons to viewers. To accomplish this end, the advertizer displays the coupon on the television and the viewer, if the viewer wishes such a coupon, presses the button PBl and initiates the steps which cause the printer PRNl to print an image of the coupon. The viewer can then use the coupon as necessary.

The system according to the invention also permits the television programmer to transmit
newsletters and other printed information to the viewer for the viewer's later review. Again, the programmer displays the image of the written document on the screen and the viewer, by pressing the button PBl initiates the steps that cause the printer PRNl to print out the document .

Fig. 8 illustrates another embodiment of the invention. Here, the printing process is provided by a telephone company. Both a TV set TS8 and a telephone set TE8 connect to an incoming cable CB8 from the telephone company. A printer set PS8 connects to the TV set . According to another embodiment the printer set PS8 is part of the television set TS8.

While watching, if a viewer sees a telephone number or text on the screen which the viewer wishes to record, the viewer pushes a number and a star key into the telephone set during the display. According to an embodiment the printer PS8 connects to a port on the back of the TV set TS8 which includes chips. According to yet another embodiment of the invention, the printer set is built into the TV, and yet another embodiment the connection from the printer set PS8 is through an adapter box.

The number which the viewer dials on the telephone set TE8 is, for example, a special number assigned to identify the channel and identify the viewer.

Fig. 9 illustrates operation of the system of Fig. 8. Here, in step 904, signals are received and collected by the television set through the incoming cable CB8. In step 907 the television displays the received image . When a viewer wishes to obtain a printout of text from the image, the viewer dials the telephone as shown in step 910. In step 914, the cable company any issues a signal. The signal passes to the television set TS8 as shown in step 917. In step 920 the processor within the television set converts the signals from analog to digital form, and in step 924 separates the text. In step 927 the processor prints the text .

In another embodiment of the invention, the processing occurs on site. This is shown in Fig. 10. Here, signals from a cable company pass to a cable box CB101 and then to a processor PR101. From the
processor the signals pass both to the TV set TS101 as well as to a printer PRN101. A remote control RCI01 controls both the cable box CB101 and the processor PR101.

Fig. 11 illustrates another embodiment of the invention where signals arrive into a television set by wireless communication. Here, an antenna AN111
connects to a tuner of a processor PR111. The
processor includes a video receiver which passes signals to a TV set TSUI. The processor also has a processing section which passes outputing signals to a printer PRN111. A remote control RC111 in remote contact with the processor PR111 tunes the tuner section of the processor PR111 and contains a key code signalling the processor to print images or the text portion of images with a printer PRN111.

Fig. 12 illustrate the operation of Fig. 10 where processing is performed by the cable company.
Here, in step 1204 an image is collected and step 1207 an image is received. When a viewer wishes to print the image or the text portion thereof, the viewer dials a telephone or a push button on a remote control as shown in step 1210. The signal to the cable company in step 1214 indicates what channel is being watched, what product is involved, and any additional information from their memory. The cable company, in step 1217 sends the data back and step 1220 also saves the section being watched in the memory box of the
customer. In step 1224, the viewer receives a signal form the cable company and the processor PR101, in step 1230, converts the signals from analog to digital form. In step 1234 the processor PR101 separates the text from the image in step 1237 the printer PRN101 prints the desired information.

Fig. 13 illustrates yet another embodiment of the invention. Here, an antenna AN131 passes
television pictures to a TV set TS131. Within the TV set TS131 chips freeze the picture when necessary. A processor PR131 processes the frozen picture to
separate text if necessary, and a printer PRN131 prints the desired information. The freezing of the picture is initiated when a viewer operates a remote control RC131 and initiates freezing of the picture, operation of the processor PR131 and the printer PRN131.

While the embodiments of the invention have been described in detail, it will be evident that the invention may be embodied otherwise without departing from its spirit and scope.