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1. WO2012060803 - SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PROVIDING OBJECT SUBSTITUTION IN VIDEO

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

[ EN ]

SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PROVIDING OBJECT SUBSTITUTION IN VIDEO

BACKGROUND

Digital video recorders (DVR) have become prevalent in the market. A digital video recorder (DVR) records video in a digital format onto storage media, such as a disk drive, USB flash drive, SD memory card or other memory medium. A DVR makes it relatively easy for a person to fast forward or skip through the advertisements interspersed with a video program. Watching pre-recorded programs allows users to fast-forward through

commercials, and some technology even allows users to remove commercials entirely. As a result, in response to this trend, alternative forms of advertising have been developed. For example, content creators have begun to create advertising opportunities within the video program itself, such as putting television advertisements or advertised products directly into the TV shows themselves. For example, rather than run an advertisement about a Brand X cereal in between the playing of the program, you might see a box of Brand X placed on a table during some portion of the program itself. This effectively constitutes a promotion of Brand X cereal and is done in such a way that the viewer would not fast forward through the promotion.

Typically, the exact products that are decided to be advertised in a video must be determined at the time of creating the video. However, this can be limiting since the resultant video can only be used for the specific products included therein. That is, a show filmed and produced showing a Brand X cereal box will show an advertisement for Brand X in every live and subsequent viewing of the program, including every successive playback from a stored copy. New products that are desired to be advertised in lieu of Brand X would require that a new video be created for each new product, which is costly and time-consuming.

Accordingly, a system and method for providing and facilitating efficient customized substitution of objects in a video program, e.g., without requiring a new video to be created each time, is highly desirable.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment according to the present principles, a system and method are provided for enabling the overwriting of a portion of video with a predetermined or

dynamically synthesized replacement video. The replacement video provides the ability to replace or substitute objects embedded in the video with certain desired alternate objects. Advantageously, the replacement video can be used to provide a varied or targeted advertisement by way of such customized and/or real-time substitution.

In one embodiment according to the present principles, a system and method are provided for creating a video with embedded object(s) that are provided in a generic form.

According to another embodiment, a system and method are provided for enabling a desired portion of video to be overwritten with a predetermined or dynamically synthesized replacement video. For example, a particular embedded object(s) in a video can be substituted with an alternate object(s), e.g., by altering its text, image, color, pattern, shape, overall appearance, etc.

Advantageously, the replacement video can be used to provide an updated or targeted advertisement to viewers by replacing selected objects embedded in the video with customized objects that are different or more appropriate, useful or interesting to the target viewer.

According to another embodiment of the present principles, a system and method is provided for enabling object substitution in a video program to be implemented at various sites, e.g., at the point of broadcast or at a user receiver. Furthermore, the option as to whether to apply a 'generic' image (e.g., a default image comprising, e.g., a generic image of the product or a blank image) or a 'custom' image (e.g., depicting a specific advertisement or type of product) is advantageously provided according to the present invention. For example, at a broadcast site, the options of performing a generic or a custom object substitution are possible. When custom object substitution is implemented at the broadcast site, all viewers to which the embedded video is disseminated see the same type of object(s) in the video. Any subsequent re-broadcast of the program could carry the same or different substituted objects.

When generic object substitution is implemented at the broadcast site, this presents the possibility of enabling custom object substitution to be performed at individual user receivers, or to 'sell' the program(s) having the generic objects, wherein each buyer can thereafter perform their own custom object substitution as desired. Namely, each program embedded with generic objects can be auctioned separately to each venue (cable, satellite, etc.) airing the program, or to each broadcast region. Custom object substitution can thereafter be performed on the generic objects by the specific 'buyer' venues or broadcasters, or at a user receiver.

When object substitution is implemented at a user's receiver, in the instance where, e.g., the user's receiver is configured for storing video programs and/or is configured for providing object substitution for a stored copy of a video program, any replay of the stored copy of the program can be processed to display the same or different substituted objects, taking into consideration such factors as passage of time between repeat viewing, each individual user profile, etc.

In one aspect of the present principles, a system for providing object substitution in a video program is provided comprising an object selector module stored on computer readable storage medium configured for selecting desired objects in the video program, a

determination module configured for determining whether to apply a generic or a custom image to each selected desired object, and a review module configured for determining whether there are previous object substitutions in the video program and determining whether to replace each previous object substitution with a replacement object.

According to another aspect, a system for providing object substitution in a video program is provided comprising a program selector configured for selecting a desired video program, a review module stored on computer readable storage medium configured for determining whether the video program includes embedded objects, and a substitution module configured for applying a custom object in place of an embedded object in the video program.

According to yet another aspect, a method for providing object substitution in a video program is provided comprising the steps of selecting at least one object in the video program for which object substitution is desired to be performed, wherein said step of selecting is provided by an object selector module stored on a computer readable storage medium, and determining whether to implement object substitution at a distribution side or a user side.

These, and other aspects, features and advantages of the present principles will be described or become apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, which is to be read in connection with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote similar elements throughout the views:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an exemplary system configured for providing object substitution in video program content at a distribution side according to an aspect of the present principles;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an exemplary receiver device configured for providing customized object substitution at a user side, according to an aspect of the present principles;

FIG. 3 is an exemplary method flow for providing object substitution according to an aspect of the present principles;

FIG. 4 is an exemplary method flow for providing custom object substitution at a receiver side according to an aspect of the present principles;

FIG. 5 is an exemplary video shot showing embedded generic objects according to an aspect of the present principles; and

FIG. 6 depicts the video shot of FIG. 5 in which the embedded generic objects are replaced with custom objects according to an aspect of the present principles.

It should be understood that the drawings are for purposes of illustrating the concepts of the present principles and are not necessarily the only possible configurations for illustrating the present principles.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

A method, apparatus and system for customized object substitution for embedded advertising in video is provided according to various aspects of the present principles.

Although the present principles will be described primarily within the context of video programs, the specific embodiments of the present principles should not be treated as limiting the scope of the invention. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art and informed by the teachings of the present principles that the concepts of the present principles can be applied in other environments in which customized and targeted object substitution in embedded video is desired.

The functions of the various elements shown in the figures can be provided through the use of dedicated hardware as well as hardware capable of executing software in association with appropriate software. When provided by a processor, the functions can be provided by a single dedicated processor, by a single shared processor, or by a plurality of individual processors, some of which can be shared. Moreover, explicit use of the term "processor" or "controller" should not be construed to refer exclusively to hardware capable of executing software, and can implicitly include, without limitation, digital signal processor ("DSP") hardware, read-only memory ("ROM") for storing software, random access memory

("RAM"), and non-volatile storage. Moreover, all statements herein reciting principles, aspects, and embodiments of the invention, as well as specific examples thereof, are intended to encompass both structural and functional equivalents thereof. Additionally, it is intended that such equivalents include both currently known equivalents as well as equivalents developed in the future (i.e., any elements developed that perform the same function, regardless of structure).

Thus, for example, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the block diagrams presented herein represent conceptual views of illustrative system components and/or circuitry embodying the principles of the invention. Similarly, it will be appreciated that any flow charts, flow diagrams, state transition diagrams, pseudocode, and the like represent various processes which can be substantially represented in computer readable media and so executed by a computer or processor, whether or not such computer or processor is explicitly shown.

The television broadcasting industry consists of television stations and networks that create content or acquire the right to broadcast prerecorded television programs. Networks transmit their signals from broadcasting studios via satellite signals to local stations or cable distributors. Broadcast television signals then typically travel over cable television lines or satellite distribution systems, from a station's transmission tower to viewers' televisions. Cable and other pay television distributors provide television broadcasts to most viewers in the U.S.

FIG. 1 is an exemplary illustration of a system configured for providing object substitution at a distribution or 'broadcast' side according to an aspect of the present principles. Namely, an exemplary Network Station 101 is shown which can be configured for, e.g., creating and/or distributing television program content to television stations or pay-TV providers.

To distribute program content, the network station 101 can be configured for broadcasting programs (e.g., via terrestrial television broadcast signals 107) to various broadcast regions (e.g., Regions 1 17, 118) each having a plurality of respective users 1 5, 1 16. The network station 101 can be further configured to output signals via alternate venues 109, 11 1 to their respective groups of users/subscribers 1 19, 121. Exemplary venues 109, 11 1 can include cable, satellite, etc.

Object substitution can be performed at the distribution broadcast side. For example, the network station 101 preferably includes an object selector 102 to enable selection of at least one desired object(s) in a video. 'Desired objects' can comprise any items or images shown in a video program for which a customized advertisement is to be provided.

Once a desired object(s) is selected, either a generic (default) image or a custom substituted image can be applied. The station 101 includes a generic/custom determination module 106 for determining whether to apply a generic or a custom image to each selected desired object.

The network station 101 preferably includes a generic substitution module 103 and a custom substitution module 105 for applying generic and customized embedded objects, respectively, into selected objects in video content. In particular, the Generic Substitution Module 103 creates and applies an indicator such as a 'generic object' (e.g., a default image serving as an indicator that the image/object can be substituted) to indicate the objects selected for custom substitution. That is, each object selected for substitution can be replaced with a generic object. For example, in the example of a cereal box, a generic object/default image can comprise, e.g., a blank box, or a box that says the generic term "CEREAL." In the example of a beverage cup, a generic object/default image can comprise, e.g., a blank cup or a cup that says "SODA."

The Custom Substitution Module 105 provides a custom object substitution (e.g., an image of a certain product bearing a particular advertisement, logo or brand name) to replace the generic object to provide a targeted advertisement.

This provides a flexible and easily customized advertising model. For example, in a case where cereal is desired to be advertised, rather than committing at the time of creating a video program to advertise a particular brand (e.g., Brand X) of cereal in the program, the video program can be created or processed to use a generic (e.g., a blank) cereal box. This advantageously enables various possible scenarios later in the lifetime of that video program. For example, a broadcaster airing the program can auction the right to specify the brand/type of cereal that appears in the program. If desired, this right can be auctioned or sold separately for each venue airing the program: terrestrial, satellite, cable broadband, etc. Furthermore, the right to specify the brand/type of cereal can be auctioned or sold separately for each broadcast region 1 17, 118.

For example, broadcast object substitution can be performed hierarchically such that substitution occurs at a point within a broadcaster's distribution network that allows region-based substitutions. A generic-object embedded version of the broadcast can be sent into a distribution network and at a point close to the final node in the network the custom substitution can be performed. All receivers attached to that final node receive the same

substitution(s), but receivers attached to a different node within the distribution network can receive a different substitution(s).

In addition, a video program can be reviewed and further altered, if desired, to show different/new advertised objects upon subsequent or repeat broadcasts of the same program. Namely, a time-dependent component to this advertising model can be provided at the 'broadcast side' which allows the original broadcast to show one brand of cereal and subsequent airings of the program to show a different brand(s) of cereal. In this exemplary model, the determination and substitution of a specific brand/type of cereal is preferably made at the point of broadcast.

The network station 101 can include an Object Review module 104 for determining whether there were any previous object substitutions applied in a program (e.g., in a previously broadcasted/distributed version of the program), and for determining whether to replace each previous object substitution with new/replacement object substitutions, prior to that program being re-broadcasted. The Object Review module 104 can operate in conjunction with generic substitution module 103 and/or custom substitution module 105, e.g., to apply generic objects and/or custom objects to reviewed objects. The Object Review module 104 can be configured to perform its review of objects automatically at predetermined times and/or for pre-determined reasons, or it can be manually implemented.

According to another embodiment, an individually customized advertising model can be provided for enabling advertisements targeted to individual users. For example, customized object substitution can be performed at a receiver in a user's home. Such customized object substitution can be guided by, e.g., profile data of the viewer(s) associated with and stored on a specific receiver. The receiver can comprise, e.g., a set top box which is enabled to record video, such as a digital video recorder (DVR).

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an exemplary receiver 200 configured for providing customized object substitution, according to an aspect of the present principles. The receiver 200 (which may or may not include video program storage capability, such as e.g., a DVR, and/or be connected to a storage/playback/recorder device, such as a DVD, Blu-ray Discâ„¢ player, etc. for playing a stored copy of a program) includes a tuner 203 configured to receive input audio/video signals 201 and send them to a program selector 205.

The program selector 205 selects a particular desired video stream from a plurality of video streams. In an Internet Protocol (IP) system the program selector 205 can comprise, e.g., an IP packet filter. In a cable, satellite or Terrestrial broadcast system, selection of a program can be implemented by a transport packet filter that selects specific PIDs (Packet IDs) from a multiplex of packets.

The receiver 200 preferably includes a storage medium 211 (e.g., a HDD or other non-volatile storage medium) which can be configured for, e.g., storing user-desired programs (in the instance where the receiver includes DVR capability), and/or a database of images, e.g., substitution content such as advertisement images, which can be used for custom object substitution in video programs.

According to an alternate embodiment, object substitution does not require storage of 'substitution content' (substitution objects) in a user's receiver. Substitution content can be delivered 'in-band' or 'out of band' in real-time with the video content for which the object substitution(s) is made. For example, a receiver can be configured to select from a plurality of substitution objects in-band with a video program, and/or Out-of-band' with a video program. That is, for example, a receiver can be configured to dynamically fetch a substitution object through a communication interface (e.g., an IP connection) from a repository of possible substitution objects which can be in the user's home (e.g., networked DVRs) or outside a user's home.

The receiver 200 can be connected to any playback/storage/recorder device 250 (such as a DVD player, Blu-ray Discâ„¢ (BD) player, solid state storage device, etc.) for providing, creating and distributing a stored copy 260 of video content. For example, substitution objects can be preloaded onto a storage media 260 (a DVD disc, storage card, etc.) and selected at the time of playback and/or dynamically delivered to the playback device if such a communication path exists (e.g., BD Live player). A receiver 200 can accordingly perform object substitution on a program stored on, e.g., a DVD or other storage media. Thus, object substitution according to the present principles can be performed on any stored copy of video content, e.g., such as from an external playback device.

For example, if the substitution content is delivered in-band then object substitution at a user's receiver can be performed from a plurality of available substitution objects without any requirement for a DVR or similar storage device within the receiver.

It is noted that the receiver 200 can comprise, e.g., a DVR including multiple tuners (not shown), allowing users to record different programs on different channels at the same time.

Upon selection of a desired video stream, the data is processed by CPU 207 and decoded by MPEG Decoder 217. The selected video program can be analyzed by a Review Module 208 which is configured for determining whether it includes any embedded

objects, such as generic objects, and/or previously substituted objects. If it is determined that the video program includes generic objects, it can be processed by object substitution module 209 to replace the generic objects with customized objects. For example, the substitution module 209 can perform customized object substitution according to user profile data 215 stored in the receiver 200. The user profile data can, e.g., be implicitly or explicitly collected. With respect to the above-mentioned example where a cereal box was chosen as a desired object, consider the instance where a receiver is in a home known by the service provider to contain four children under the age of ten. (Alternatively, user profile information 215 reflecting such information can be explicitly provided by the homeowner and stored in the receiver 200). Accordingly, it can be decided to substitute a child-oriented product, such as a Brand Y cereal box in place of the original generic cereal box in such a home.

Alternatively, if the receiver was known to be in a home with senior citizens it can be decided to substitute an adult-oriented product such as a Brand Z cereal box in place of the original generic box.

According to an aspect of the present principles, such targeted advertising at the

'receiver side' can also take into account a 'time component' such that the original viewing and subsequent viewings of the same program can be caused to have different substituted objects. In particular, in the case where the receiver 200 is configured for storing video programs and/or accessing recorded copies of programs, such a re-evaluation and re-substitution of objects could apply to subsequent viewings of a same program from a recorded copy of the program. As discussed above, the Review Module 208 can be configured to find and review any embedded objects or substituted objects previously applied/used in stored program content, and determine what object and/or whether the same or a different object is to be substituted in repeat viewings of the program. The Review module 208 can be included in CPU 207 and can work in conjunction with the Substitution module 209, to perform, e.g., steps 308, and 318 of FIG. 3, described further below.

That is, in the example where the receiver 200 is configured to play back stored content, the Review Module 208 can be further configured for reviewing any object substitution(s) applied in a previously stored program, and for determining whether to apply new object substitutions, prior to that program being re-played.

Alternatively, video content can be stored (either in the receiver 200 or in an external device 250) with or without custom object substitutions in place and thus custom object substitutions can be performed in real-time during playback of the content. An indication of previous substitutions can be stored along with the video content to provide a known history

of previous substitutions which can, e.g., be used as part of the decision process when choosing the substitution to make during any subsequent playback. Preferably, this substitution history would be updated during each playback and stored with the video content.

For example, a program can be broadcast which is configured to allow substitution of a generic cereal box with certain pre-selected cereal types (e.g., Brand X, Brand Y, or Brand Z for a viewer having small children). The default cereal type for the original broadcast viewing can be Brand Y, while subsequent viewings of the same program by the user can be configured to cycle through each of the allowed substitutions (Brand X, Brand Z).

According to another aspect, user-profile targeted advertising can also include an interactive component via a user interface 213 that would allow, e.g., a viewer to take action in response to a targeted advertisement to get more information, receive coupons, promotional offers, etc. The user can also use user interface 213 to enter or revise user profile information 215.

In one embodiment, the custom object substitution can involve the use of a graphics engine to implement an object overlay on top of the decoded video. In this way, the generic objects in a video stored in the storage medium will remain unchanged and can thereafter be substituted with different substitute objects during subsequent playbacks as desired.

FIG. 3 is an exemplary method flow for providing object substitution according to an aspect of the present principles. In step 301 , at least one object(s) or image(s) in a video program which are desired to be targeted advertisements is determined. Objects which are selected for substitution in the video program content are preferably indicated (step 303). For example, objects which are selected for substitution can be replaced with a default image of the selected object(s). Such a default image can comprise, e.g., a generic object (e.g., a generic image or a blank image.

In decision step 305, it is ascertained whether object substitution is to be implemented at the video distribution/broadcast side or at the user/viewer (receiver) side. If it is determined to perform object substitution at the user side, the method proceeds to step 307 in which the video program having the generic objects is distributed to the user (e.g., via broadcast to a user receiver, or via distribution of storage media such as DVD discs, etc). In decision step 308 it is determined whether the program has embedded objects, e.g., generic objects. If no, the program is played as is (step 310), and the process is done 315. If yes, the method proceeds to step 309.

In step 309, user profile information is evaluated for determining an appropriate custom object substitution for the generic object(s). In step 31 1 the embedded generic objects are replaced with the desired customized objects and the program is played.

In decision step 313, it is ascertained whether the video program having the embedded objects is to be stored (e.g., either stored in the receiver in the instance where the receiver has PVR/DVR capabilities, or on an external storage device) or, comprises a stored copy on a storage media. If no, the process is done (step 315). If yes, it is determined whether the stored video program having embedded objects is desired to be re-played (step 317). If the program is desired to be re-played, it is reviewed and analyzed to determine whether it has any embedded generic objects and or any previous substituted objects displayed in the program (step 318). This is to determine whether and how any generic and/or prior substituted objects (e.g., at least one custom object) are to be replaced.

Following step 318 the process reverts back to step 31 1 in which the desired substitutions are applied, e.g., wherein the at least one generic/custom object is replaced with a 'replacement object' (e.g., a new custom object).

In an exemplary alternate scenario where object substitution is desired to be performed at the distributor/broadcast site, objects which are to be substituted can be determined prior to the creation of the program and the desired custom object substitutions can be applied either prior to or during the broadcast/airing of the program, (step 321 ). That is, in step 321, at least one desired custom object substitution is applied for each generic object in the video program.

The video embedded with the desired a least one custom object is

distributed/broadcast to viewers (step 323). In decision step 325, it is determined whether the program is to be re-broadcast/re-distributed. If no, the process is done (step 329).

If yes, any object substitutions displayed/applied in the prior broadcast(s) can be determined and reviewed and new or different object substitutions can be applied at the distribution side (step 327). The process reverts back to step 323 wherein the program is broadcast to viewers.

FIG. 4 is an exemplary method flow detailing steps 308, 309, 310 and 31 1 of FIG. 3 for providing custom object substitution at a receiver side according to an aspect of the present principles. In step 401, input signals are received at a receiver. The receiver selects the desired video stream from a plurality of video streams (step 403) which corresponds to the video program which is desired to be viewed.

In step 404 the signals are decoded and it is determined if the selected video program includes embedded generic objects. If no, the program is played as-is, and the process is done (step 406). If yes, then the method proceeds to step 405 in which user profile information is evaluated. In step 407, using the profile information, customized selection of objects is performed by reviewing images stored in the receiver and/or program provider site and selecting pertinent images to replace the generic objects in the decoded video.

The appropriate custom object images are preferably overlaid on top of the decoded generic video objects in step 407. Advantageously, this enables the generic video images to remain as-is in the storage medium, thus enabling alternate substitutions to be easily performed during subsequent playbacks as desired.

The resultant video program including the customized substituted objects is output to a display device for viewing (step 409).

FIG. 5 is an exemplary video shot showing exemplary generic embedded objects according to an aspect of the present principles. This video shot depicts three people sitting at a table with beverage cups. According to an exemplary aspect of the present principles, the video program can, e.g., be filmed or created with a default image comprising a 'generic' or blank image of drink cups 501. Here, a blank image of drink cups 501 is shown by way of example.

FIG. 6 depicts the video shot of FIG. 5 showing the results of custom object substitution being performed on the generic embedded objects according to an aspect of the present principles. For example, during a live broadcast of the video program, custom object substitution can be performed, which will allow the generic drink cups to be replaced by or overwritten (e.g., via object overlay) with desired 'advertised' cups 503 that carry a paid advertisement (e.g., to display a specific brand name or product type, e.g., "Brand X").

The custom object substitution can be implemented at the distribution/broadcast site such that all viewers (e.g., within a region, or under a certain venue) see the same

advertisement. Alternatively, the custom object substitution can be implemented at the in-home receiver of each viewer, allowing each viewer to see an advertisement targeted to that particular home or viewer.

According to a further aspect of the present principles, any subsequent re-broadcast of the program from the distribution broadcast site could be processed to carry the same, or a different advertisement. Furthermore, when object substitution is performed at the in-home receiver, any replay from a stored copy could display the same or a different advertisement.

In the above examples depicted in FIGS. 5 and 6, the live audience would see the people at the table drinking from cups that bear no advertisement. The TV viewers would see the result of custom object substitution, in which each of the advertisement-free cups is replaced with one or more paid advertisements.

Thus, one significant advantage of the present system and method is that truly customized targeted advertising in television programming can be performed and

disseminated in a way which ensures that they will be viewed. The substitution of objects in video programs can be performed flexibly and efficiently, with customized targeted advertisements enabled to be applied at the broadcast side and/or receiver side. When applied at the distribution/broadcast site, targeted advertisements can be applied to a specific region of users, and/or to users receiving programming via different venues. When applied at the receiver side, advertisements can be targeted at the individual user level.

Furthermore, repeat broadcasts/viewings of a program can be re-evaluated and a different object/target advertisement can be accordingly substituted, e.g., to keep the advertisements current in instances where a program is replayed at later dates, to update the ads to make them more relevant to a changing user profile, etc.

Accordingly, a system and method according to the present principles solves many of the prior art limitations with regards to embedded advertising.

Although the embodiments which incorporates the teachings of the present principles have been shown and described in detail herein, those skilled in the art can readily devise many other varied embodiments that still incorporate these teachings. Having described preferred embodiments for a system and method for providing object substitution for targeted advertising in video programs (which are intended to be illustrative and not limiting), it is noted that modifications and variations can be made by persons skilled in the art in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that changes can be made in the particular embodiments of the principles disclosed which are within the scope of the inventive principles as outlined by the appended claims..