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1. (WO2018065968) MEDIA AUTHENTICATION SYSTEM AND METHOD
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MEDIA AUTHENTICATION SYSTEM AND METHOD

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a media authentication system and method. More particularly, but not exclusively, this invention relates to a media authentication system and method for authenticating a user associated with a media streaming profile hosted on a server of a media streaming service provider.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Media streaming services are well known and widely used in the modern-day society. Typically, a user is able to create a profile, over time populate his or her profile with a library of media items including especially video and audio material, and stream the media items to a suitable device.

A common problem associated with these types of profiles is that they are typically managed by a username and associated password. In order for the user to gain access to his or her profile, it is required for the user to be authenticated by entering the relevant username and password onto a computer or mobile device with Internet connectivity. For many users this is a cumbersome process. For example, when the user wishes to stream media to a plurality of different media streaming devices over the course of a day, the user will be required to log into and out of each streaming device, every time having to re-enter the relevant username and password.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

It is accordingly an object of the present invention to provide a media authentication system and method that respectively seeks to, at least partially, alleviate the abovementioned problem, and/or to provide a useful alternative to known media authentication systems and methods.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In this specification, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the term "media" shall be construed to include audio, music, animation, video, and multimedia material which may be a combination of any of the aforementioned, including but not limited to audio, visual and interactivity content forms.

According to a first aspect of the invention, there is provided a media authentication system comprising:

- a sensor for sensing unique identification data of a user;

- a transmitting element, in data communication with a backend, for transmitting the sensed unique identification data to the backend in order to authenticate the user;

- a database at the backend including a profile of the user, the profile being associated with stored unique identification data of the user and a library of media items; and

- a media receiving element, in data communication with the backend, for receiving data relating to the media items from the backend after the sensed unique identification data has been verified against the stored unique identification data at the backend in order to authenticate the user.

There is provided for the transmitting element to not transmit any one or both of data relating to a username and password associated with the user.

According to an example embodiment of the invention, the data relating to the media items may be automatically streamed to the receiving element after the user has been authenticated. Alternatively, the data relating to media items may be automatically transmitted to the receiving element as a block of data after the user has been authenticated.

There is provided for the media receiving element to include at least one or both of the sensor and transmitting element, wherein the first and second communications path comprise the same communications path. Alternatively, the system may further include a user authentication element including at least one or both of the sensor and transmitting element.

The media receiving element may further include a controller and a processor that is operable to execute an operating system.

According to an example embodiment of the invention, the system may include a user identification element including the unique identification data of the user.

According to an example embodiment of the invention, the user identification element may include a radio-frequency identification (RFID) element and the sensor may include an RFID reader for reading the unique identification data of the user on the RFID element.

According to a further example embodiment of the invention, the user identification element may include a magnetic element and the sensor may include a magnetic reader for reading the unique identification data of the user on the magnetic element.

According to a still further example embodiment of the invention, the user identification element may include a smart card element and the sensor may include a smart card reader for reading the unique identification data of the user on the smart card element.

According to a further example embodiment of the invention, the user identification element may include an optical code element and the sensor may include an optical code reader for reading the unique identification data of the user in the optical code element.

According to a yet further example embodiment of the invention, the user identification element may include a biometric feature of the user and the sensor may include a biometric reader for reading the unique identification data of the user, being in the form of unique biometric characteristic of the user.

The user identification element and the sensor may be near-field communication (NFC) enabled and the unique identification data may be received from the user identification element by the sensor via NFC. Bluetooth technology may also be utilized for communication between the user identification element and the sensor. The user identification element may alternatively include any device utilising an automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) method or system.

The communications path may be provided by any suitable means, including an Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL), Fibre to the x (FTTX) or Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and/or GPRS and/or 2G/3G/4G/5G, EDGE, LTE and related or subsequent technologies, preferably utilizing a communications protocol such as Internet Protocol (IP).

The communications path may be any one or both of wireless and wired.

According to a second aspect of the invention, there is provided a media authentication method including the steps of:

- receiving unique identification data of a user that was sensed by a sensor;

- at a backend, verifying the sensed unique identification data against pre- stored unique identification data that is associated with a profile of the user in order to authenticate the user, the profile further being associated with a library of media items; and

- transmitting data relating to the media items to a media receiving element.

There is provided for the unique identification data to not include any one of data relating to a username and/or password associated with the user.

The method may include the further step of sensing the user identification data from a user identification element.

There is provided for the user identification element to include any one of the following:

- an RFID element;

- magnetic element;

- smart card element;

- optical code element; and

- biometric feature of the user.

These and other features of the invention are described in more detail below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE ACCOMPANYING DIAGRAMS

The invention will now be further described by way of non-limiting examples, with reference to the accompanying figures wherein:

figure 1 is a schematic block diagram of electronic components of a media authentication system according to a first embodiment of the invention; figure 2 is a flow diagram illustrating a media authentication method according to the invention; and

is a schematic block diagram of electronic components of a media authentication system according to a second embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the figures, in which like features are indicated by like numerals, a media authentication system in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention is generally indicated by reference numeral 10A in figure 1 , a media authentication method in accordance with the invention is generally indicated by reference numeral 100 in figure 2, and a media authentication system in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention is generally indicated by reference numeral 10B in figure 3.

The system 10A comprises a user identification element 12 which includes unique identification data 13 of a user 14. Also provided is at least a first media receiving element or device 14.1 of a plurality of media receiving elements or devices 14.1 to 14.n. The first media receiving device 14.1 includes a sensor 16 for sensing the unique identification data 13 and a transmitting element 18, in this embodiment being in the form of a transceiver 18, that is in data communication with a backend 22 via a first communications path 20 for transmitting the unique identification data 13 to the backend 22 in order to authenticate the user 14.

A database 24 is further provided at the backend 22 including a profile 26 of the user 14, the profile 26 being associated with stored unique identification data that corresponds with the unique identification data 13 of the user 14. The profile 26 could be recorded and managed on the database 24 by way of, for example, blockchain technology. A library 28 of media items 30.1 to 30. n is further associated with the profile 26 of the user 14. The media receiving element 14.1 receives data relating to the media items 30.1 to 30. n via the first communications path 20 after the sensed unique identification data 13 is verified against the stored unique identification data 13 at the backend 22 in order to authenticate the user 14. According to this example embodiment, the system 10 further includes at least a first output element or device 32.1 for any one or more of playing, streaming and displaying the data relating to the media items 30.1 to 30. n after the user 14 is authenticated when the unique identification data 13 is verified at the backend 22.

The transmitting element 18 does to not transmit data relating to any one or both of a username and password associated with the user 14.

The unique identification data 13 of the user 14 is, in use, stored on a memory arrangement 1 1 associated with the user identification element 12 and on the database 24 at the backend 22. The user profile 26 is created by the user 14 and the media library 28 is associated with the user profile 26, as is well known in the art.

The identification element 12 is preferably in the form of an Automatic identification and data capture enabled (AIDC) device such as a Radio-frequency identification

(RFID) element and the sensor 16 is in the form of an RFID reader for reading the unique identification data 13 of the user 14 on the RFID element. The profile 26 of the user 14 is hosted on a media streaming service provider that is accessible over a communications network, such as the Internet.

When the user 14 wishes to access his user profile 26, user identification element 12 is utilized and sensor 16 senses/reads the unique identification data 13 (user ID) of the user 14 from the user identification element 12. The OS 38 communicates the sensed user ID 13, via the transmitting element 18 and first communications path 20, to the backend 22 where the user 14 is authenticated and logged into the media streaming service provider's system in order to gain access to the media library 28.

During the above process, a first association is created between the identification element 12, first receiving device 14.1 , and user profile 26. Data relating to any one or more of the media items 30.1 to 30. n in the library 28 is then transmitted/streamed to the first receiving device 14.1 via the first communications path 20 and subsequently relayed to the output device 32. Alternatively, data relating to any one or more of the media items 30.1 to 30. n could be transmitted to the first receiving device 14.1 , after which further action could be taken by the user 14 before further data relating to any one or more of the media items 30.1 to 30. n will be streamed to the receiving device 14.1 .

The first receiving device 14.1 also includes a controller 34 and a processor 38 which is operable to execute an operating system (OS) 38 and an application incorporated in the OS for playing media. The first receiving device 14.1 preferably comprises a standalone device which is connected to or integrated with a speaker device and is in communication with the communications path 20, preferably via Internet Protocol (IP). The first receiving device 14.1 may for example be retro-fitted to an existing vehicle or retro-fitted to another apparatus as will be discussed below. Alternatively, the first receiving device 14.1 may be in the form of a mobile device such as a mobile phone which is in wireless communication with the communications path 20 via IP.

The user 14 may control both the library 28 and the media outputted to the receiving device 14.1 via an extra device (not shown). The user may furthermore access and/or control the library 28 via another device with connectivity to the backend 22 while the media is being streamed to the media receiving device 14.1 , without interrupting the streaming process. The streamed media can hence be externally modified by the user 14 while the user 14 is still authenticated via the media receiving device 14.1 and in the process of streaming media to the media receiving device 14.1 .

The user 14 is logged out of the streaming service when further input (not shown) is received or generated by the first receiving device 14.1 . Said further input may comprise input from a clock (not shown) when a predetermined time period has elapsed, alternatively the input may comprise input from the user 14 such as manual input to stop streaming media items 30.1 to 30. n. Once logged out, the relevant media item 30 that is currently played by output device 32 is stopped or paused at a current position. The current position is stored onto database 24 and is associated with user profile 26.

In another embodiment of the invention, the system 10 could be configured that once the user 14 utilizes the identification element 12 to authenticate and gain access to a second media receiving element or device 14.2 (not shown), the user 14 is automatically logged out of the streaming service and re-logged into the streaming service via the second receiving device 14.2. Stated differently, the first association between identification element 12, first receiving device 14.1 and user profile 26 is terminated and a second association is established between identification element 12, second receiving device 14.2 and user profile 26 whereby the user 14 is again authenticated onto the streaming service.

When the user 14 wishes to stream media items onto the second receiving device 14.2, the same process as described above with reference to first receiving device 14.1 is utilized to again log into the streaming service. The system 10 is configured such that the relevant media item continues to play/stream onto the output device 32 from the current position where it was last stopped when the user is authenticated via the second receiving device 14.2.

In a further embodiment of the invention, the identification element 12 and the first receiving device 14.1 are Near-field communication (NFC) enabled devices and the unique identification data 13 is received from the identification element 12 on the first receiving device 14.1 via NFC.

The communications path 20 is provided by any suitable means, including an Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL), Fibre to the x (FTTX) or Global System

for Mobile Communications (GSM) and/or GPRS and/or 2G/3G/4G, EDGE, LTE and related or subsequent technologies, preferably utilizing Internet Protocol (IP). The communications path is preferably a wireless communications path, but may also be wired. The communications network could include the Internet.

In other embodiments, the identification element 12 could include unique biometric data of the user 14 in the form of a biometric feature of characteristic of the user 14 such as part of the users body, including its finger, palm, face, eye, voice, and the like, and the sensor 16 may comprise a biometric reader for reading the unique biometric data of the user 14. The biometric sensor is a transducer that converts a biometric treat (fingerprint, palm, voice, face, eye, etc.) of the user 14 into an electrical signal.

An intermediate device (not shown) may also be provided between the identification element 12 and the first receiving device 14.1 (or between identification element 12 and further receiving devices 14.2 to 14.n as the case may be). The intermediate device may include a portable identification unit that communicates with the identification element 12 and with the first receiving device 14.1 . The intermediate device can hence roam and be utilized with various other authentication devices (not shown) and with the other receiving devices 14.2 to 14.n.

Further alternatively, the identification element 12 may include a magnetic element and the sensor 16 may include a magnetic reader for reading the unique identification data 13 of the user 14 on the magnetic element. Also, the identification element 12 may include a smart card element and the sensor 16 may include a

smart card reader for reading the unique identification data 13 of the user 14 on the smart card element. Further, the identification element 12 may include an optical code element and the sensor 16 may include an optical code reader for reading the unique identification data 13 of the user 14 in the optical code element.

In figure 2 is shown a flow diagram illustrating a media authentication method 100. At 40, the first receiving device 14.1 reads user ID 13 with sensor/reader 16. At 42, user ID 13 is transmitted, via communications path 20, to backend 22 where it is received at 44. At 46, user profile 26 is located in database 24 (shown in figure 1 ). User 14 is then authenticated at 48 by verifying the unique identification data 13 at the backend 22 and logged into the streaming service at 50. At 52, the current position in the media library 28 is identified and at 54, the data relating to the relevant media item of media items 30.1 to 30. n is transmitted/streamed via communications path 20 to first receiving device 14.1 (or receiving device(s) 14.2 to 14.n as the case may be). At 56, first receiving device 14.1 receives the stream of media from backend 22 and, at 58, plays the stream to the output device 32.

The system 10B, depicted in figure 3, is similar to the system 10A described herein above save for further including at least a first user authentication element 60.1 that fulfils the same function as the receiving element 14.1 described above in relation to authenticating the user 14. The element 60.1 includes the sensor 16 and transmitting element 18 and is in data communication with the backend 22 via the first communications path 20. Upon successful authentication of the user 14, as defined hereinabove, data relating to the media items 30.1 to 30. n is streamed/transmitted to the receiving device 14.1 , in a similar manner as described above, however now via a second communications path 62 that the receiving device 14.1 is in data communication with the backend 22 over a communications network.

The systems 10A and 10B and method 100 described herein will be useful in that it will alleviate a user from having to enter his or her username and password a profile needs to be accesses over the Internet from one or more communication devices.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the invention is not limited to the precise details as described herein and that many variations are possible without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. For example, various other receiving devices 14.3 to 14.n can be utilized. Receiving device 14.3 may, for example, include a device implemented in a vehicle such as a taxi (not shown). The second association could, for example, be terminated when a predetermined parameter is met such as when the taxi journey of user 14 ends. Also, receiving device 14.3 may for example comprise a streaming device integrated into an exercise machine (not shown) at a location such as a gym. Many other receiving devices 14.4 to 14.n are possible without departing from the spirit and scope herein, including earphones. The output device 32 comprises any device capable of streaming media such as but not limited to a speaker and/or a display device. The output device 32 typically forms part of the receiving device 14.1 , such as when the first receiving device 14.1 is in the form of a mobile phone. Alternatively, the output device 32 is separate from the first receiving device 14.1 but in data communications with the first receiving device 14.1 . A plurality of users (not shown) may also form part of the system 10, each having a respective profile and media library at the backend 22.

A further embodiment is envisaged wherein the user identification element 12 is incorporated into a device such as a mobile phone, whereby the mobile phone, now functioning as an AIDC device, is utilised to authenticate the user 14 as described hereinabove by, for example, bringing the mobile device into close proximity of the sensor 16, hence enabling an NFC link between the mobile device and the sensor 16. Once the user 14 has been authenticated, data relating to the relevant media item, say 30.1 , is then transmitted/streamed to the media receiving device 14.1 and played via output device 32.

The description is presented in the cause of providing what is believed to be the most useful and readily understood description of the principles and conceptual aspects of the invention. In this regard, no attempt is made to show details of the invention in more detail than is necessary for a fundamental understanding of the invention.